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Why Can't My Kids Make Their Beds?!

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According to the First Lady, Sasha and Malia make their beds every morning. When I heard this, I died a little maternal death.

exasperated woman in messy room

Sarah Bowman: Michelle's intention is clearly to keep her girls as regular as the rest of us. But, I suspect there are an appalling number of us normal folk who think of making beds as a chore from a bygone era. My kids regularly feed the dogs, help out with meals, and take in an elderly neighbor's trash bins. I just can't seem to get them to care about making their beds. Neither went to a camp that instilled the habit in them, and in their formative years, I was downstairs, whipping up banana pancakes and hollering instead for teeth to be brushed and backpacks readied.

Each June, I hold my kids' flip-flopped feet to the fire, and for the first few days of summer, they enthusiastically shake out the comforter and punch their pillows into shape. My optimism about their future soars, and I imagine them starting a micro-lending business before they're eighteen. But a single lazy, sleep-in Saturday morning is my nemesis, and I find myself straightening the sheets even as the kids are packing their own lunches for camp. Should I kiss my dreams of the Ivy League goodbye?

Mine are "regular" teens, with a schedule of academic, athletic, and social obligations that would exhaust a political handler. In fact, what I really need is a staffer who can fit a precious thirty seconds into their ridiculously stuffed routine so they can shake out a down comforter. We've all been told that regular chores are key to instilling a sturdy self-reliance in kids. Despite my shortcomings as a taskmaster, I'm beginning to think that the real objective is a lot simpler: perhaps chores are merely meant to lighten the parental load. Every parent has a tone of voice that can make a child do something odious. Maybe Michelle hates to make hospital corners, but I like to save that imperative growl for taking out the garbage.


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6 comments so far | Post a comment now
Jenny July 21, 2009, 12:42 PM

Do you make your bed every morning? If you don’t they why would they feel it is important to make theirs? Have you started them doing it at a young age. My daughter has been putting away her own things since she was a toddler and started helping to make her own bed at 3 and now makes it (not as neatly as I would!) by herself at age 4. BUT I stay at home and have the time to do these thing with her AND she is a born neatnik. Not all kids are wired the same and not all parents focuses are the same, like you said, your thing is taking out the garbage. : )

Kelly Stone July 21, 2009, 3:12 PM

I work at Totally Kids fun furniture & toys in Bloomington, MN. We have a huge showroom with many different styles of beds for kids. Some of the beds are showcased somewhat messed up for those who set their priorities on other issues than a perfectly made bed. At my house however we always strive for the bed to be made first thing in the morning. I always found it to be such an easy habit.

Marilyn July 21, 2009, 4:54 PM

Wait until you have teens trying to get them to think about anything that is not an apparent part of their world is like talking to a brick wall. I have 4 teens their rooms are so bad I just shut the door. I will not clean it or make their beds. they do their own laundry, make themselves food when hungry and help when I am in manaic mode. A Messy bed is the least of my worries…so smile and don’t sweat it. teen logic..We’ll I’m going to sleep there later, what’s the point?

Jen July 21, 2009, 5:08 PM

I have never understood the point of making a bed unless someone is visiting and I’m going to give them a tour of the house. In fact, studies show it might be unhealthy. Google “mites” and “making the bed”.

Anonymous July 26, 2009, 1:53 PM

My parents never bothered making their bed, and they never forced it on us either. At 23, I still don’t bother. I did for my first year of uni while living in residence and having friends in and around my room all the time, but even then, it wasn’t every day. Back to house life, and I stopped caring again, even with friends/housemates and other people around all the time. Now in my own home, we don’t bother and we probably won’t care if the kids do either - again, unless people are coming over and are going to see it. Even then, it’s not a huge priority for us!

baby room August 10, 2009, 6:49 AM

I think beds are very important for children because for us sleeping is one thing which is very important for their growth.


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