Is your house a mess? Would you be mortified if a friend stopped by without calling first? Are your children at an age where they can go to the potty by themselves? Then, there’s no reason your little darlings can’t help you around the house.
Martha Stewart would not be impressed with my shower, nor would she praise me for my windows, but my home is in good enough shape for company. I learned early on that with four children, I had four other helpers to get work done around the house. My children call it slave labor, I call it a benevolent dictatorship.
When friends complain their house is a mess, yet have teenagers at home, I just don’t understand it. When a girlfriend complains about all she has to do, but has capable help at home, I want to scream. Children may not be able to clean a dish like you can, but remember, if they are capable of understanding their Xbox and iPhone, they’re capable of maneuvering a vacuum.
Ok, so this might sting a little bit, but there are a few of you out there who are exhausted. Not only that, you’re tired AND have messy houses. Your kids roll out of bed and make their breakfast, get dressed, and head off to school. When they get home, they do their homework, watch TV, participate in a sport or two, eat dinner, then head to bed and start all over again in the morning.
Meanwhile, you’re still tired and your house is still a mess. So, here are a few tips and tools to help you get some of your sanity back and mold your children into responsible, capable, independent adults.
- Create a chore chart. If you’re the analytical, linear type, this is right up your alley. After twenty years of parenting, I’ve tried the weekly chore list, the monthly chore list etc. We now give a child a responsibility for a year or two. Seriously. I was sick of the fighting and the complaining if one child wasn’t home to do the dishes. So, once Meghan moved out, David had dishes for a few years. When he moved on to mowing the lawn and daily garbage, Grace took over at the sink.
- Daily Responsibilities. Every morning our kids make their beds, clear out the dishwasher, dump the garbage, put breakfast dishes in the sink. If you’ve never asked your little ones to play a part in this type of housework, you’re in for a challenge. Hold tight and hang on, stand your ground. As they come to understand they are a part of a family, a team, they will learn to accept their new responsibilities.
- Make it fun. Daily housecleaning doesn’t have to be drudgery. Put on a song and tell the kids they have until it’s over to finish one of their chores. Reward them each week with a trip to dollar scoop night at Baskin Robbins, or Starbucks for a dollar kiddie-cocoa. I found these adorable chore cards over at iMom that you can download and use.
Remember, it’s never too late to start giving your kids chores. You’re not their social director, you’re their mom. As much as I want their childhood to be one fun-filled, joyous memory, I have to remind myself that doing chores and learning to handle responsibilities are some of the sweetest memories I have now as an adult. Who doesn’t love laughing with their adult siblings about housework and who did what?
Don’t steal this badge of honor from your kids. They may cry and complain now, but you’re giving them something to laugh about later.