Reasons Why We Should Teach Children to Do Invisible Jobs at Home

Teach your children to do invisible jobs at home so that they become empathetic, fair, and autonomous people. We'll tell you how to do it.
Reasons Why We Should Teach Children to Do Invisible Jobs at Home
Elena Sanz Martín

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Elena Sanz Martín.

Last update: 25 February, 2023

Teaching children to collaborate at home is fundamental. This helps them to become responsible people, to trust themselves, and to understand that family life involves teamwork. You’ve probably already started to assign your children certain tasks, but today, we suggest you go one step further: Teach them to do the invisible jobs at home.

It’s obvious that a child won’t have the same responsibilities or the same burden as an adult. The organization of a household is ultimately the responsibility of the parents.

However, it’s important to convey to children the idea that participating in housework not only means fulfilling their chores, but also ensuring that the home is a pleasant space for everyone.

What are invisible jobs in the home?

Invisible jobs are all those tasks that can’t be seen, but that have to be done for the smooth running of the home. They include planning, organizing, forecasting, and constantly improving spaces.

Many of these everyday jobs are undervalued or go unnoticed because they’re small and simple actions, such as picking up the shower towel that someone leaves on the sofa.

Some of these tasks are clearly invisible, as they take place in the mind of the person who undertakes them. For example, remembering that a certain item of clothing has to be clean before Friday and organizing to order put the washing machine on in advance.

The most curious, paradoxical, and unfair thing about this type of work is that often the person who completes it gets the credit and not the one who bears the mental burden of taking it into account, planning, and anticipating it.

Therefore, perhaps the achievement is attributed to the one who goes shopping and not to the one who was in charge of thinking and writing down everything that was needed and who asked the other to go shopping for it.

A mom organizing the family calendar.

Why is it important to teach this to children?

In general, we don’t think about the need to teach children the importance of these invisible jobs. However, it’s a very beneficial learning experience for them to acquire for a variety of reasons:

  • It helps them become aware of the real burden of running a household, and they’re better able to appreciate the work of other family members.
  • They learn to collaborate proactively. They don’t limit themselves to fulfilling a series of assigned tasks, but are motivated to make the home a pleasant and functional space for everyone. They can understand that their contribution, even if it’s small and no one notices it, is important to everyone.
  • They discover that keeping a house organized and in working order isn’t a one-time thing or something that’s done only on Saturday mornings. On the contrary, it requires daily effort and work.
  • It’s a fundamental learning process for adulthood, and when they have to take charge of their own home, they’ll know all that it entails. In addition, they’ll be used to taking on practical tasks and invisible jobs.

In this way, we do our bit to combat sexism. Likewise, we prevent children from becoming the kind of adults who just do “their part” and burden their partner with all the invisible work, which causes enormous wear and tear.

How to teach your children to do invisible jobs

To instill in your children the habit of doing invisible jobs at home, you can follow the following recommendations:

Act correctly at the time

Many children, out of laziness or simple carelessness, tend to leave clothes and other items out of place. However, we can get them used to putting everything in its place at once, so that they don’t have to make a greater effort later.

For example, taking the backpack to their room when they get home instead of leaving it in the kitchen or in the hallway, or putting their dirty clothes in the hamper when they get out of the shower.

This is a simple habit that makes an important contribution to the cleanliness and organization of the home, as it prevents items from accumulating in inappropriate places.

Be responsible

If they need a clean gym shirt in two days, they’ll need to let you know and put it in the wash in advance–or wash it themselves if they’re old enough. And if they have to do a project with green posterboard by next week, they should remember to ask you to buy it well before it’s due.

All of these tasks are solely for their own benefit; however, parents often take on the mental burden of organizing and planning them.

To help children take responsibility for them, we need to allow them to experience the natural consequences of their actions. For example, wearing a different T-shirt to gym class because they didn’t plan ahead. This won’t have a major negative impact on their lives at the time, but instead, will teach them the value of those invisible jobs.

Improve the space you live in

familia padre hijos limpian hogar sala trabajo compartido responsabilidades

Finally, we can get children used to observing the spaces they use and let them become aware of what needs to be done there.

For example, before leaving the room, they can check that the blanket on the sofa needs to be picked up or that the table is full of crumbs from their snack and needs to be cleaned.

The goal is to leave all spaces as tidy, clean, and organized as they were before their arrival, or even more so. They may resist at first, but with patience, dialogue, and reinforcement, they’ll eventually incorporate the habit.

In short, invisible jobs are part of the day-to-day life of families and usually fall mostly on mothers. For this reason, it’s important that all members cooperate and share the mental workload equally. If you work on these aspects with your children from an early age, you’ll be able to raise more empathetic, responsible, and autonomous adults.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.