What kind of chores do your kids do at home? Do they do the dishes, clean their rooms and take care of your pets? These are some of the things that I expect my children to do…for free I might add. Pioneer children had a very different life, when it came to chores. Many of them did not attend school because there may not have been a school available and the children were needed for work at home. (Oh yes, I could use my children for work at home.) Even if they did attend school, most of them would not have graduated, having to drop out of school at a very young age to help with the work at home. Some of the chores these children had to do might have looked similar to this chore list:
* Get up at sunrise and milk the cows, feed the farm animals.
* Work all day in the fields plowing, planting, weeding and harvesting.
* Bring in water from the creek or rain barrel for cooking and washing.
* Hunting for food.
* Cleaning and preparing food, which may include cleaning and salting or smoking the meat as well as cleaning, drying and canning the vegetables.
* Looking for firewood, then chopping and stacking it.
* Spinning plants to make thread. Using thread to make material. Using material to make clothes.
* Searching for herbs for cooking and healing.
* Assisting with the building of homes or barns.
* Taking care of younger brothers or sisters.
* Helping with any repairs on the property such as mending fences and fixing leaking roofs.
By reading this list of chores you can clearly see that pioneer children had very little time to play. Very often, the play time they got was when they snuck off from doing their chores to go take a swim in the creek! I am sure that once in a while they also snuck away on a cold, snowy winter day similar to today to have a snowball fight or two. I am sure they could not help themselves and a few snowballs were thrown. I bet that there were also a few snowmen made to stand as a welcoming figure at each pioneer home. In those days there were no video games and no allowance for work done. By the time they got to go to bed, they were so tired that they welcomed bedtime! Oh, how I wish my children welcomed bedtime. Maybe today I should spend the afternoon in a very large snowball fight followed by some hot chocolate and a warm, crackling fire, then maybe, just maybe they would welcome bedtime. (If not, I could always give them a list of pioneer chores to complete.)