Throwback Thursday #23 & JusJoJan – Chores and Allowances

Welcome back to Throwback Thursday. This week we will delve into the area of responsibility. This should be an interesting way to see how generations changed over time. Lauren will be back to host again next week. If you want to join in, it’s easy:

  • Write your own post sharing your memories and leave a pingback to this post in the comments.
  • You can use the photo above in your post to make it easier to find.
  • Tag it with #TBTMemory or #IRememberWhen.
  • If you do not wish to write your own post, feel free to tell your story in the comments below.

This week’s prompt is: Chores and Allowances

Did you have chores you were responsible for? At what age did that begin?

Were you required to make your bed and keep your room tidy? Did you have the responsibility for those chores for siblings or others in the house? Were chores evenly distributed?

Were you asked to take out the trash, mow the lawn, or do the dishes? How about cooking?

Were you given an allowance? If so, at what age and how much?

Were there repercussions if you did not do your chores? 

How did you establish chores once you had a home of your own?

My post follows:

I don’t think we used the term chores when I was growing up unless we were talking about farm work at my maternal grandparents’ house.  Cows had to be milked morning and night.

We had unspoken expectations and responsibilities placed on us.  We were raised understanding what it took to support a household. As children, we did a small share of the work although we thought it was a HUGE share.

We depended on a garden for the vegetables we would consume in the winter. That meant in the spring there was preparing the land, then planting, then weeding, and finally harvest.

In the spring, the garden would be filled and we were responsible to walk the plowed rows and toss out any rocks turned up. In the summer, we helped plant – usually seeds. We learned about protecting the soil by rotating crops.

In the summer we pulled or hoed weeds and hilled potatoes. Of course in the fall we spent many hours on the porch shelling peas and beans, shucking corn and stringing and snapping green beans – all in preparation for “putting away” the veggies for winter.

There were a couple of strawberry farms nearby and we would also go pick strawberries. Our grandmother always had us pick for shares – meaning we received strawberries as payment for picking. I always wanted to pick for money, but we needed the berries for jellies and jams. We also picked beans at other locations – I remember thinking it was nearly impossible to fill a bushel basket one bean at a time. Picking beans is back breaking work. They tend to grow under the leaves so finding and picking only the mature beans was a lot of work for a kid.

We also depended on farmers who drove to Virginia from Georgia to deliver crops we could not grow or vegetables that may not have produced well in a given year. We LOVED seeing the watermelon trucks but not so much the peach flats. Watermelon meant fun and peaches meant work. 

I never heard the term allowance when I was growing up. We did what we were asked to do. We learned by doing. We were as an important part of the family as anyone else. My grandmothers always kept their houses clean and did all the cooking and canning. They did their fair share of work in the gardens, too.

When I was in high school, my sisters and I split the housework and dishes since both our parents worked. We were not required to make our beds. Our room was ours and as long as we kept any untidiness behind a closed door, our parents allowed us that freedom. If it got carried away, there would be a final straw day!

When I decided I needed spending money, I got a job. I do not remember refusing to do what we were tasked to do. It never would have occurred to me.

When I was the last child at home, I did the housework including the laundry, ironing and cooking. My mom insisted on a wringer washing machine and all our clothes were hung on a line to dry. We had no clothes dryer so laundry was a lot if work! Mom and Dad both worked at the post office so there were always uniforms to iron. 

Even with all the chores I had, I still seemed to have all the time in the world to hang out with friends and date. Our friends were always welcome in our house. 

My children were given chores to do when they were growing up. I started them at a very young age. I am not sure they received an allowance. I do not remember. I will have to ask them!

Written as part of Linda Hill’s Just Jot It January.

Prompt word today (understanding) submitted by Kim from Words on a Page.


41 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday #23 & JusJoJan – Chores and Allowances”

  1. I always find it fascinating how memories are made and retained. I remember very little of childhood routine, it just happened! I do, however, remember very well times of enjoyment, great joy, occasional hurt. I had great freedom as a child and pity every child today whose life is so structured and controlled. No wonder there has to be so much emphasis on wellbeing and mental health.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Peter, even though we had work to do, I don’t remember it as bad in any way. As you said, it just was our life. All my memories of my childhood, outside the death of family members, are good ones. We had tremendous freedom and for that I am forever grateful.

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      1. I quite enjoyed doing some “chores” and still do. I love to weed and tidy the gardens, digging (although my bones don’t enjoy that), cooking, washing dishes, ironing, shopping. It all leads to a life of contentment!

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  2. I’m quite sure that we didn’t get an allowance, but were definitely expected to make our beds, do laundry, etc. For some reason, I recall being taught how to iron (by my mother), so I could iron my clothes (what a concept to think about now!) I helped with the dishwasher unloading and loading, cleaning the kitchen, and did some of the cooking. I don’t think we talked about “chores” – just part of keeping up the household. We didn’t have a lawn or a vegetable garden, aside from a shady little spot when I tried to grow things….

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    1. Lisa, I learned to iron by practicing ironing my father’s cotton boxer shorts! I had not thought about that in years. I even have a scar on my stomach caused by a glancing blow with a hot iron. I don’t think I ever ironed in a halter top again! I still have an iron, but no ironing board. I remember my grandmother ‘sprinkling’ her clothes to dampen them before ironing. We never had a dishwasher, but I do remember a very detailed lesson from my grandmother instructing me on the correct way to wash dishes.

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  3. I was taught to iron my father’s oxford dress shirts. I have to say it is a skill I have never needed in the rest of my life! As the oldest, the bulk of my responsibilities involved looking after the younger ones and helping them with their struggles. I earned my own money from 11 on. In those days I was regularly hired as a babysitter when I was only 11.

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    1. I babysat at an early age, too. Maybe not as young as eleven though. I was the baby of the family so my sisters we the first choice as sitters simply because of their age.

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        1. The idea of giving that responsibility to someone so young seems a bit of a risk in retrospect. Maybe it is because we live in such different times.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. So many questions so I’ll chose one: Were chores evenly distributed?

    Here’s the thing about being an only child with parents who believed in instilling a work ethic in me, the answer to that question is NO. In our small family I had more chores, of a wider variety, than my friends with siblings who were able to find their chore niche within their family. I seemed to get stuck with everything, while my friends got off doing a few specific things.

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  5. I was given money to buy lunch at school, but no ‘spare’ money. I had to wait until I was 16, and allowed to work in the school holidays, or at weekends. Then the money I earned in those jobs (not a lot, even then) I was allowed to keep. Meanwhile, everything I needed was provided for me; clothes, school uniform, food, transport, and gifts. I am not complaining.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lots of good memories! I liked hearing about your ‘farm living’. I always wanted to live on a farm, but we lived in the outskirts of the city. We did have a small garden. My mom & grandma did a lot of canning too, but we always went to a farm that was selling the vegetables, then we’d fix them at home – like shucking corn, shelling peas, etc. I also remember the wringer washer and clothesline!
    I’ll have my post soon. 🙂

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