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Monday, November 19, 2007

Housekeeping Paraphernalia


by Tracee Sioux

Mommy, can I have that Kid's Washer & Dryer by Little Colorado for Christmas?

No way. You don't need to pretend to do laundry. If you want to do laundry, you can do it for real. I promise there will be plenty of opportunities for laundry when you grow up.

I don't know if I'm right about this or not. It's just gut instinct, but these toys piss me off.

On one hand, I can't get over how much my life looks exactly like my mother's life did. I don't know what I was thinking, but I absurdly expected feminism to do away with the drudgery of housework. Now I realize it's not feminism that will banish housework from my life - it's money to pay the housekeeper. Duh.

Sometimes - usually while I'm doing the perpetually defeating job of cleaning the house - I come to the realization that housekeeping really was a full time job in the first place. It was a falacy that housewives did nothing all day. All the feminist revolution got me was more work. Too much work. More work than I can do.

I'm pissed off about these toys and the expectation that my daughter will grow up to be a housewife or a housekeeper. But, why shouldn't she?

I do want motherhood for her. I don't necessarily want her to miss out on being home with her children for several years.

There's also a big part of me that believes these toys should be marketed to BOYS for a few decades to see if we can even out the housework load still being heavily born by women. To be fair, several of the commercials and ads are inclusive of boys this Christmas season.

I realize that my life might have been easier, better organized and cleaner, had I accepted that keeping house was going to be an inevitable part of it. Especially while raising young children.

But, still my gut instinct is to ignore requests for these kinds of toys and steer her in less stereotypical "housewife" direction.

Why does she want cleaning supplies as toys anyway?

What is your stance on housekeeping paraphernalia as play?

9 comments:

jen said...

Honestly, I think it is fine. I bought my boys a vintage metal kitchen outfitted with fridge, stove, sink, etc... Jack played with it plenty, but his daddy was none to happy about his boy playing house.

It's a part of life, housework, for both men and women so I don't see the problem with the toys. I do get your point on them being marketed towards girls in the mainstream toy market, but if you look at the natural toy catalogs they market them as gender neutral most of the time.

mom said...

It's not, for me, the toys, it's the distribution - as you mention. No one will be giving my son one of these. He'll get a train table. I allowed them, but I ended up trying to balance the impossible to balance -- I am the one who bought the tool bench, the doctor's kit, the lincoln logs.

Truth is, my dd doesn't play with any of it.

I feel your pain though - it's hard when they ask you for something for the holiday or birthday that you don't want to buy. My dd never requested anything (other than a candy cane and a stuffed duck) and then yesterday morning she comes out with "I want Santa to bring me dora boots for the rain and a dora backpack." I hate characters.

My strategy was not to make a big deal/ignore and to wait and see what happens, plant other seeds of exciting things Santa could bring, and then see how her list unfolds. If she ends up super excited about the dora goods - I'll probably buy one of them. We only have one character thing now -- so one won't kill us.

Besides, shes 4.5, I'm lucky it wasn't princess crap.

Tracee said...

Of course my brothers and Zack play with these types of toys because they had sisters.

Good for you Jen to get these types of toys for your sons. They will make better husbands because of it, I'm sure.

Mom, you're right, you should count your blessings that it's not a princess or Bratz your daughter asked for. I've not been able to find any objection to Dora - especially because boys seem equally drawn to her as a character.

Ainsely, and her BOY cousins' favorite game is house. It seems only natural that in the "house" and "family" the toys would be cleaning toys. That's what they see us do. They see us to laundry and dishes and cooking. They are pretending to be us. She also has an Office where she does her Work - so it's not like she's missing the part where I work also.

I'm making too much of it. Projecting my own disappointed expectations onto her.

I should try to stop that.

But, she's still not getting it for Christmas this year.

Maybe Zack will get it next year. LOL. Then she can resent me for giving Zack the toy she wanted.

Klanet said...

I guess I'm with Jen, housework is as you say an everyday part of life, and the toys reinforce this idea. Perhaps they'll grow up thinking housework is just a game and fun to do...hahaha

Violet said...

When I see ads like the recent one for Rose Petal Cottage, I kind of want to gag. If you haven't seen it, it has a little girl singing, "I love it when my laundry gets so clean/ Taking care of my home is a dream, dream, dream!"

Part of what bugs me is the message that "house cleaning" is so great and fulfilling for women. I applaud moms who stay at home, but I feel sad when it is their whole life and identity. Kids grow up you know. You have to have a second act.

(But I confess that the six year old in me wanted that cottage.)

Tracee said...

I guess that's what's wrong with me - I can't imagine wanting that Rose Petal Cottage. The appeal is just lost on me.

Susanna said...

Really little kids want to emulate mom and dad, do the same things they do, so I can understand their wanting these kinds of toys. My almost-2-year-old son loves playing with the toy kitchen in the church nursery and playing with brooms and tools and the vacuum cleaner. (Actually, now that I think of it, maybe if he had his own toy vacuum he wouldn't bug me so much when I try to use the real one.)

Anyway, I think it's fine for these kind of "let's pretend" toys to be out there. It's in the marketing of them when things get sketchy.

Jonna said...

I agree with a few other commenters. I've seen gender neutral kitchen toys at the Pottery Barn Kids (if you're willing to SELL one of your kids to afford the goods they have there!) I think that BOTH genders of children should be encouraged to play at emulating their parents. I hope our unborn son will like to play doctor like his daddy, lawyer like his mommy, and take care of his babies and play house like BOTH of his parents. But maybe I'm being naive since the boy isn't here yet.

Tracee said...

Congradulations Jonna! How wonderful, a boy!

Remember to pass on some empathy AND a love of housework! Make him a good husband.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Housekeeping Paraphernalia


by Tracee Sioux

Mommy, can I have that Kid's Washer & Dryer by Little Colorado for Christmas?

No way. You don't need to pretend to do laundry. If you want to do laundry, you can do it for real. I promise there will be plenty of opportunities for laundry when you grow up.

I don't know if I'm right about this or not. It's just gut instinct, but these toys piss me off.

On one hand, I can't get over how much my life looks exactly like my mother's life did. I don't know what I was thinking, but I absurdly expected feminism to do away with the drudgery of housework. Now I realize it's not feminism that will banish housework from my life - it's money to pay the housekeeper. Duh.

Sometimes - usually while I'm doing the perpetually defeating job of cleaning the house - I come to the realization that housekeeping really was a full time job in the first place. It was a falacy that housewives did nothing all day. All the feminist revolution got me was more work. Too much work. More work than I can do.

I'm pissed off about these toys and the expectation that my daughter will grow up to be a housewife or a housekeeper. But, why shouldn't she?

I do want motherhood for her. I don't necessarily want her to miss out on being home with her children for several years.

There's also a big part of me that believes these toys should be marketed to BOYS for a few decades to see if we can even out the housework load still being heavily born by women. To be fair, several of the commercials and ads are inclusive of boys this Christmas season.

I realize that my life might have been easier, better organized and cleaner, had I accepted that keeping house was going to be an inevitable part of it. Especially while raising young children.

But, still my gut instinct is to ignore requests for these kinds of toys and steer her in less stereotypical "housewife" direction.

Why does she want cleaning supplies as toys anyway?

What is your stance on housekeeping paraphernalia as play?

9 comments:

jen said...

Honestly, I think it is fine. I bought my boys a vintage metal kitchen outfitted with fridge, stove, sink, etc... Jack played with it plenty, but his daddy was none to happy about his boy playing house.

It's a part of life, housework, for both men and women so I don't see the problem with the toys. I do get your point on them being marketed towards girls in the mainstream toy market, but if you look at the natural toy catalogs they market them as gender neutral most of the time.

mom said...

It's not, for me, the toys, it's the distribution - as you mention. No one will be giving my son one of these. He'll get a train table. I allowed them, but I ended up trying to balance the impossible to balance -- I am the one who bought the tool bench, the doctor's kit, the lincoln logs.

Truth is, my dd doesn't play with any of it.

I feel your pain though - it's hard when they ask you for something for the holiday or birthday that you don't want to buy. My dd never requested anything (other than a candy cane and a stuffed duck) and then yesterday morning she comes out with "I want Santa to bring me dora boots for the rain and a dora backpack." I hate characters.

My strategy was not to make a big deal/ignore and to wait and see what happens, plant other seeds of exciting things Santa could bring, and then see how her list unfolds. If she ends up super excited about the dora goods - I'll probably buy one of them. We only have one character thing now -- so one won't kill us.

Besides, shes 4.5, I'm lucky it wasn't princess crap.

Tracee said...

Of course my brothers and Zack play with these types of toys because they had sisters.

Good for you Jen to get these types of toys for your sons. They will make better husbands because of it, I'm sure.

Mom, you're right, you should count your blessings that it's not a princess or Bratz your daughter asked for. I've not been able to find any objection to Dora - especially because boys seem equally drawn to her as a character.

Ainsely, and her BOY cousins' favorite game is house. It seems only natural that in the "house" and "family" the toys would be cleaning toys. That's what they see us do. They see us to laundry and dishes and cooking. They are pretending to be us. She also has an Office where she does her Work - so it's not like she's missing the part where I work also.

I'm making too much of it. Projecting my own disappointed expectations onto her.

I should try to stop that.

But, she's still not getting it for Christmas this year.

Maybe Zack will get it next year. LOL. Then she can resent me for giving Zack the toy she wanted.

Klanet said...

I guess I'm with Jen, housework is as you say an everyday part of life, and the toys reinforce this idea. Perhaps they'll grow up thinking housework is just a game and fun to do...hahaha

Violet said...

When I see ads like the recent one for Rose Petal Cottage, I kind of want to gag. If you haven't seen it, it has a little girl singing, "I love it when my laundry gets so clean/ Taking care of my home is a dream, dream, dream!"

Part of what bugs me is the message that "house cleaning" is so great and fulfilling for women. I applaud moms who stay at home, but I feel sad when it is their whole life and identity. Kids grow up you know. You have to have a second act.

(But I confess that the six year old in me wanted that cottage.)

Tracee said...

I guess that's what's wrong with me - I can't imagine wanting that Rose Petal Cottage. The appeal is just lost on me.

Susanna said...

Really little kids want to emulate mom and dad, do the same things they do, so I can understand their wanting these kinds of toys. My almost-2-year-old son loves playing with the toy kitchen in the church nursery and playing with brooms and tools and the vacuum cleaner. (Actually, now that I think of it, maybe if he had his own toy vacuum he wouldn't bug me so much when I try to use the real one.)

Anyway, I think it's fine for these kind of "let's pretend" toys to be out there. It's in the marketing of them when things get sketchy.

Jonna said...

I agree with a few other commenters. I've seen gender neutral kitchen toys at the Pottery Barn Kids (if you're willing to SELL one of your kids to afford the goods they have there!) I think that BOTH genders of children should be encouraged to play at emulating their parents. I hope our unborn son will like to play doctor like his daddy, lawyer like his mommy, and take care of his babies and play house like BOTH of his parents. But maybe I'm being naive since the boy isn't here yet.

Tracee said...

Congradulations Jonna! How wonderful, a boy!

Remember to pass on some empathy AND a love of housework! Make him a good husband.