Lately I’ve noticed that I have absolutely no time to myself. None. Zero. Zilch. I used to love to read and sew and, I don’t know…… have friends. But now it seems all I do is take care of my family. Which is a great job and I love them, and all that crap, but good lord, it gets tiring when you’re doing it all by yourself.
My kids are smart, and funny, and really great human beings in general. They are extremely polite, and well-behaved in public, and every night they each say “thank-you” to me at the dinner table, for preparing their meal. But they are undoubtedly the laziest kids on earth. The kind of lazy that makes a person throw their pajama pants on top of the lid of the hamper, rather than lift the lid. The kind of lazy that makes a person eat a granola bar and leave the wrapper on the side table in the living room (where they are not allowed to eat, but sneakily eat anyways). The kind of lazy that makes a person spill sugar all over the floor and just leave it. If I don’t run behind them constantly and remind them to do things, i.e., hang up their backpacks and coats, put their toothbrush and toothpaste away, or carry their toys back to their rooms, they will not do it. Sometimes, even if I tell them that they have to do something, for example, put their clean laundry away, they will just ignore me. They might hang up a few things and then stop, or they may just not do it at all.
Now, you might be thinking right now that the reason why they’re comfortable ignoring me is that there are no consequences. Not true. There is always someone in our house who is grounded from television, computers, video games, time with friends, etc. And even after I ground them, they are still expected to do the task that they ignored doing. But they just don’t seem to care.
On top of that, the kids are getting older. Years ago I had a simple chore chart that included things like brushing their teeth and putting their dirty clothes in the hamper. But my kids are at the age where they could quite easily clean a sink, or toilet, or vacuum the rug. I mean, it’s great for them to keep their own rooms tidy and take care of themselves, but they all use the entire house so it seems only right that they should all start helping to keep it nice in some small way. Because besides keeping the house clean, taking care of the kids, and completing renovations and d.i.y. projects, I’ve also started cleaning other people’s houses for a little extra cash. I need help. I deserve help. And now, I’m demanding help!
I’ve had different chore charts in the past; a large laminated chart with pictures instead of words, that the kids used magnets to mark off what they’d done. It didn’t work so well for me because the kids just basically had fun moving the magnets all over the place, and it was hard to ever really keep track of what chores had been completed.
We also printed out lists and framed them. Each kid had their own dry erase marker, and their list on the back of their bedroom doors. That didn’t work either. They just used the marker to draw pictures on the chart.
My latest idea involves pretty sticky notes, and the side of my crappy old fridge (which will be replaced when we finish renovating the kitchen). I’ve made myself a “Help Wanted” board, and each day I indicate on the board how many chores they are to pick. There is much less complaining about helping out, and they enjoy having the option of choosing their own chores. The “Weekly Goals” at the top are mine. I find it helps me to stay motivate and accomplish things throughout the week if I have to see what I need to get done every time I walk into the kitchen.
So now you’re thinking, “Ok, great lady. Now you’ve drawn on your fridge with markers, and you have sticky notes all over the damn place. But how do you make sure that the kids actually DO the chores?”
Well I’m glad you asked!
1. Pair very young children with older children if you have them. My 13-year-old daughter, Hayden, has lots of patience and is crazy in love with my 4-year-old daughter, Isabella. I always pair them together when it’s chore time because otherwise, Isabella will sit and play with her toys rather than pick them up.
2. Let kids clean with cleaning cloths and cleaner. Let them vacuum. Let them mop. Kids love to clean when they get to spray stuff and suck stuff up with the vacuum. It’s WAY more fun then just putting stuff in drawers.
3.Turn off all of the televisions and computers. That means you won’t be online either. I know, it’s not fair. But you still need to supervise, and the kids will be resentful punks if they think that you’re lazing around while they’re busting their humps. Turn on some music, and encourage the kids to have fun with their chores. Trust me, I’ve tried relaxing while they did their chores. A few “Cinderella” and “Wicked Stepmother” references later, all work had ground to a halt. Seems the kids were more motivated to work if they see mom working too. Which makes sense…. just think of how grumpy you feel when your husband is reading the paper on the sofa while you’re vacuuming around him with a cranky baby on your hip!
4. Force the kids to get to work as soon as they get home from school. They’ll try to convince you that they’re starving to death and therefore, can’t clean. They’ll tell you they’re exhausted from using their brains all day and they need to lay on the sofa and watch horrible afternoon children’s programming. They’ll suddenly take an interest in doing their homework. ANYTHING to keep from having to do their chores. They will not perish from doing a few measly chores before they take time for themselves. Just the same as us adults, once we sit down at the end of the day, it’s harder to get back up and work again. Encourage them to just get it done.
5. Some kids respond to receiving an allowance for their chores. That’s great if you can afford it. If you can’t, or you choose not to pay your kids for helping out, there is a way to encourage them to get the work done, and that is with cookies. Cookies are a great way to encourage the kids to quickly finish their chores. You could also promise a board game together, or a trip to the park, or some time to paint or play with Playdoh. Whatever will motivate them to finish their chores. For my kids, it’s cookies.
Well, there you have it! It’s a work in progress, and certainly not a perfect process, but I’m beginning to have a little extra time at the end of the day, thanks to my family starting to pitch-in.
How do you get your kids to help around the house? I’d love to hear your ideas and suggestions!