Kids and personal responsibility

Amy and Bethany asked for a post about personal responsibility and early elementary-aged kids, so first and second and third grades.

This is a topic that is near and not-at-all-dear to my heart, with a Kindergartener and a third grader. It feels to me like I have spent half my life matching socks and wiping butts and keeping track of all my childrens things, and that at a certain point they should just be able to take responsibility for things like changing their own underwear (No, I should NOT have to specify "a clean pair" when I ask you to put on underwear) and putting the lunchbox I hand them into their backpacks.

I'm wondering what is reasonable to expect from kids at each age. I'm also wondering if we had a list of things that were "reasonable to expect" from 30 years ago if that list would be different from one we come up with now for a given age.

I also think that personality and learning style comes into play a lot here, as my younger one is far less forgetful about physical objects than his older brother is, so my sense of what is reasonable to expect at certain ages is off because of that.

(As a total aside, I read all these stories about how men in Italy do not want to get married because they can continue to live at home and have their mothers do everything for them. Back when my kids were tiny I scoffed at that, and thought those mothers were facilitating a lifestyle that was not sustainable, but now I'm beginning to think that it would actually be easier to do everything for my sons because at least then all of our expectations would be in alignment. Sigh... Paola, any thoughts on this?)

I don't know where I'm going with this, really. My kids get their clothes in the hamper about 50% of the time, at best. And every third day one of them has to run back up to the apartment to get something they forgot, after we come down to leave for school. But they clamor all over each other to help me carry grocery bags, so I must be doing at least something right.

One thing that did help a lot while we were actually doing it was a suggestion from Susan that she used with her own daughter, of having the child write out a schedule of what they needed to do and at what time in the morning. She found that her daughter was far more likely to actually stick to the schedule and complete all the tasks when she made up the schedule herself. So we may go on that plan when spring break is over.

Thoughts? Frustrations? Tips? Any sense of whether your kids are more or less responsible than you were at that age? Are we expecting too much of kids or enabling them?