Bajans Do Chores

When I was a young boy I told  my mom that I needed more than the 6⊄ per day that I was given for milk money, I wanted an allowance. She agreed to give me an additional 25⊄ a week for cleaning the bathroom IF she did not have to remind me to do it. This meant, I would have to miss a few minutes of the Saturday morning cartoons or a few minutes from playing with my brothers. Needless to say there were not many quarters in my pocket and  I had to clean the bathroom anyway.

Black belly sheep

I had a conversation with some Bajans between the ages of 8 to 80 and we talked about chores that we disliked or had to do as children. It was interesting to see how the chores of the children of today compared with the chores of children 50 to 70 years ago! These are just a few of their stories.

We had to clean the pig pen every morning. The first thing we had to do was to go to the standpipe to get water which was a chore in itself. Next we had to scrape the pig poo from the cement floor of the pen. Then we had to rinse the floor with the water we brought . Finally we had to remove as much of the muck as we could that was in the cesspool that surrounded the pen and carry it away. The smell was so awful it  was indescribable. In fact, all the neighbors knew when the pigpen was being cleaned. They would say, “Mrs. Crawford must be cleaning out de pigpen.” The next chore was to go back to the standpipe to fill the barrel with water. We still weren’t done, the final chore was to take the sheep out to the pasture. By the way, all of this was done before we went to school in the morning.

We did not have to do anything before school but there were chores on the weekend and during school vacations. The most difficult one was to wash clothes using a jukking board with blue soap because it took most of the day. Fortunately our next door neighbor had running water they let us use. My brothers still had to go to the standpipe to get our drinking water though. We made our own starch by mixing the powder with boiling water. White clothes were harder to clean especially if they had stains. You would have to put the clothes in the grass or the white marl and let the sun bleach them. You had to keep the clothes wet so they would not burn and get brown spots near the creases. All of the other clothes were hung out on the clothesline.

Scare crow

I still dislike Ironing today. When I became a teenager I was responsible for pressing my school uniform. It was so hot and it took a while to get the fabrics to lay down straight. I never got any money for doing things around the house.

The one chore I dislike is helping to hang out the clothes. Sometimes I have to do it by myself and the sun is so hot, besides that I have to keep my room clean. I really don’t like doing chores at all, but at least I get  $10 per week.

Its amazing how chores have changed over the past 4 generations. As you read this post it was obvious that  it used to be a work first and education second, now it  school first as it should be! You should also be able to tell the age group by the description of the chores.

Barbados has the second highest percentage of centenarians  in the world! When asked about their secret to longevity somewhere on that list the centenarians will mention working hard. It seems that each succeeding generation wants their children to have more but to do less than they did growing up. It is as if working hard as a child is a negative. Maybe the elder Bajans knew that hard working children (chores), would lead to hard working adults, that would ultimately lead to long and healthy lives.






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  1. It’s true. Children had a lot of chores during my childhood and i was never paid for doing them. You knew you had them to do and you just did them if you did not want some lashes from your parents. The thing is everyone did chores back then. So if you had to go and cut grass for the animals you had friends who were also going to do the same thing so you did it together … it was hard work but you made it seem like fun. If your pigs or cows got out of the penyou and your friends would round them up together all the while laughing when the animal ran after you. We made life fun and our chores fun.
    Our parents would also send us tto the shop to buy groceries and quite often you would see your friends there and you woukd waste tije talking and playing instead of buying the items until your parents sent another sibling to see what was taking so long. So we made our hard lives fun and enjoyable.

    1. Great comments especially about the togetherness! I can see that you cherished your childhood and can see where doing some of those chores could be fun!

  2. This article brings back so many memories of growing up in Bim . Yes , chores came before schoolwork , but education was still a priority. The discipline I learned stays with me to this day

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