Let Them Contribute To The Family
Lie #1: The right system will make chores flow seamlessly in our day.
Lie #2: You can make any chore fun.*
Lie #3: Kids will grumble through chores and it's not worth the fight.
Lie #4: It's easier for me to do it myself.
Lie #5: They're too young/They'll mess up.
OK, so there's a nugget of truth to some of these, but here's the deal: You aren't running a Bed & Breakfast. These are human beings, and they aren't the Queen of England, so they can darn well help with the laundry. I won't bore you with the details of our children's chores. Suffice to say we have printed workable chore charts for the three olders, shoved the chart in a page protector sleeve, stuck it to the fridge and we cross stuff off with a dry erase marker as it is accomplished. We (the parents) are the ones preoccupied with the structure of chores. You'll notice no kids are scouring Pinterest looking for the ideal chore system. That's why I'm not sharing the specifics of our system. You don't need any more ideas; Just give something a whirl and tweak it as needed to fit your family.
More than cleaning games and children's annoyingly peppy cleaning songs, your attitude will make or break the deal. If we approach cleaning as just another part of life, eventually you'll meet with less resistance. Eventually. I was struck with the truth of this last night as I asked my oldest to unload the dishwasher. She was in the middle of playing...with a friend...who was spending the night. She didn't bat an eye (or roll them either). She just did it, because it's one of her chores this week. Our kids clue in to our attitudes. If I grumble my way through cleaning and gnash my teeth over messes, why would I expect my kids to do otherwise?
It's NOT easier for me to do it myself, and it IS worth the fight. We've heard it before. We've read it in books and other blogs. We all know that it's trying at first, and we just need to persevere, because it's worth it in the end. Right? Right. Here's what I have to add to that: Their future room mates, spouses, children and house guests will benefit. Your family will benefit. One reason gangs are so tight is because each member contributes, is held to a standard and has responsibilities. We could learn a thing or two. If we want our children to have strong bonds within the family, they need to make real contributions (not just letting the dog out or fluffing pillows). They need to be held to a standard.** Real responsibilities leave a person knowing that others depend on them to complete a task. If my kids can say, "Oh well. Mom will do it." Nu-uh. No dice Kemo Sabe. They need to know that everyone in the family is depending on their contribution or else there will be something undone, something lacking in the home. Now I'm not claiming that slapping a broom in your kid's hands will keep them off drugs, but just like the family dinner, it's bound to have a positive effect. And that is easier for me and is worth the fight.
Some kids truly are too young. Our youngest can barely hold her head upright, let alone a dish (Psh. Slacker). I refuse to give you a system, but I will say this: If they can reach it, they can help with it.*** A toddler can reach the laundry basket. A grade-schooler can reach the stove top.
We all know they will mess it up. There's grace.
We all know it's hard work. Training our children is worth it.
And sometimes you will need to secretly go back over a chore. But if you get caught, you'll have a heck of a time explaining yourself.
Grab A Duster,
*I'm sorry, but cleaning behind the toilet is not fun no matter what song and dance accompanies it.
**The room shouldn't look like an F3 tornado just leveled it.
***For the vertically challenged I present The Footstool. Use it. Learn to love it.