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Chores!

needlework

Very few people enjoy doing chores around the house. However, we all know that they must be done. Kids living in the age of George Washington had chores to do to help their family every day. The chores were different for different kids. Kids living on a farm may have had jobs that a child living in the city did not have. Children from poor families may have jobs to do that children in wealthy families would never have.

Some of the things kids did back then may be just like chores that you do today. Unlike today, many of the kids in Colonial times did not get paid or get an allowance for doing chores, but had to work like everyone else in the house to "earn their keep." In other words, they worked in order to eat, have a nice place to sleep, and help their families.

See how many of these activities you do to help at home:

  • Helping mother with the laundry
  • Gathering the eggs the chickens laid
  • Working with mother in the kitchen garden or scaring away birds from eating seeds planted in father's fields
  • Babysitting or helping to take care of younger children in the house
  • Fetching water for cooking, cleaning dishes, washing faces, and doing laundry
  • Bringing in fire wood to cook, do laundry and keep the home warm
  • Helping your mother cook, preserve foods for winter or turning vegetables kept in the root cellar (under ground cold storage room) to keep them from going bad
  • Visiting the sick — children were told to visit sick family members and neighbors to bring them good cheer and news from the outside world as well as bring them treats or things needed to help them feel better
  • Gathering acorns to feed the pigs, scattering food to feed the chickens, or milking the cows
  • Walking to the market or store to trade items for your family, deliver goods your family sells to the store, or buy things needed for your home
  • Sewing items for the family like fixing (darning) holes in socks, carding (like brushing hair) wool from the sheep to be spun into thread, weaving narrow tape (strong threads for tying on clothing and other goods), and knitting
  • You might start to learn your family business at a very young age — like a blacksmith, a tinsmith, a miller, or even working with a doctor or a store clerk. If your family knew someone in town who could teach you some of these things, they may send you to live with them and learn the activity as their apprentice.
  • Emptying the chamber pots (no indoor bathroom)