I’ve reached the age where my friends and I indulge in fantasies of the good old days. We had chores; our kids had chores; this was good. I came across a passage in The American Frugal Housewife, by Lydia Maria Francis Child, published in 1832, that I wanted to share with you. (Why I read this stuff, I’ll never know.)
By the way, you may want to read this book yourself. It has a recipe for Whortleberry Pie and hints for “How to Endure Poverty” that look too good to be missed. Here’s the passage.
In this country we are apt to let children romp away their existence until they get to be thirteen or fourteen. This is not well. It is not well for the purses and patience of parents, and it has a still worse effect on the morals and habits of the children. Begin early is the great maxim for everything in education. A child of six years old can be made useful; and should be taught to consider every day lost in which some little thing has not been done to assist others.
Children can very early be taught to take care of their own clothes. They can knit garters, suspenders, and stockings; they can make patchwork and braid straw [for hats]; they can make mats for the table, and mats for the floor, they can weed the garden, and pick cranberries from the meadow, to be carried to market.
Provided brothers and sisters go together and are not allowed to go with bad children, it is a great deal better for the boys and girls on a farm to be picking blackberries at six cents a quart, than to be wearing out their clothes in useless play. They enjoy themselves just as well, and they are earning something to buy clothes, at the same time they are tearing them.
Comment if you like. I’d love to read your thoughts.