I feel like I’ve won the minion lottery this summer. The boys are now doing all of the dreaded chores I usually do and I
kinda don’t feel guilty about it at all. I could knock out these chores much quicker without there being a scavenger hunt for bowls and utensils the next time I cook a meal, but I think chores are a great way to teach life skills and responsibility. More importantly, it teaches the boys how much work actually goes into running a household so hopefully they will have a greater appreciation for what I do for them, and later on for what their wives will be doing, if they ever get married that is.
Two Years Ago
A couple of years ago when they were 8 & 10 years old, I was tired of the house being a mess and I was tired of picking up their juice boxes, toys, and blankets so I typed up a list of chores for each of them to do. I also wanted them to complete these chores, in addition to reading for a set amount of time, before getting screen time for the day.
To keep things fair & bickering to a minimum, I divided the chores out so they would alternate days. I chose the areas of the house where they tended to leave the most things out of place and went from there.
If Reid picked up and vacuumed the office and living room, then Grey would do the same for the bonus room. This would be reversed the following day.
See? No one is having to do more than the other one. Completely fair and completely doable for their ages and abilities. It also made them hold each other accountable. If Reid made a mess in the bonus room but it was Grey’s day to clean it up, then Grey would hold his brother accountable. You made the mess so you need to come help me.
They also had to take care of their own rooms, feed their pets (Grey has a snake and bearded dragon, while Lucy belongs to Reid), etc. Since Stew and I pick up after ourselves then this meant the boys were just cleaning up any mess that they had made. Other chores were thrown in here and there, but these were their set chores that had to be done each day. Vacuuming was done on an as needed basis by the way.
Whenever they complained, I reminded them the mess was from them and not us.
The point was: You’re making the mess so it should be you who has to deal with it!
It took awhile but it did finally sink in, and they became more aware of the mess they were creating before moving onto to a creating a new mess with different toys or games.
So I’ve added more things to the list this summer because they seldom ever leave a mess unless there’s a Nerf war that went down. They’re old enough to empty the dishwasher and fill it back up without chipping and breaking the dishes, to take out the trash, and to sweep and mop their own bathrooms, etc.
If they bring their empty coat hangers to the laundry room, then I’ll be happy to hang their shirts when they come out of the dryer, but if they don’t bring them down, then they will get to hang their own clothes up in addition to putting up the rest of their laundry. It didn’t take them long to realize that being too lazy to gather their unused coat hangers and bring them downstairs created a whole lot more work. Sometimes this lesson has to be repeated though and I no longer feel bad about it. I’ll think about going to get their hangers, but I don’t do it. I may be a stay at home mom, but it doesn’t mean I’m their maid and I expect them to pull their own weight on some of these matters.
The Dreaded Dishwasher
The dishwasher is a daily chore and Grey seems to hate it as much as I do. We came back from vacation last weekend and a day or so later it was time to empty the dishwasher. I asked Grey (the tween) to do it and he gave me a list of reasons why he shouldn’t have to, starting with him believing it was Reid’s turn to empty it.
“Hello! We’ve been gone for 8 days where you did nothing buddy, except play in the pool or the ocean. I’m pretty sure you can and will be emptying the dishwasher today and every day that I ask you to or you’re electronics will be mine. “
I went on to tell him it was a 5 minute chore at the most and when I was a child we had a dishwasher and it’s name was Tammy and I spent a whole lot more than 5 minutes washing dishes from the homemade dinner my mom cooked every single night. And did he want to become the dishwasher because I could make that happen???
He’s a very bright kid. He decided the dishwasher was a much better way to go than having to hand wash the dishes. And yes, that’s how most of our arguments go, but electronics are his weak point and I use it against to get what I want.
At the end of summer two years ago…
At the end of summer two years ago, we gave the boys the allowance they had earned from “working” all summer and they were so very proud of their accomplishments. They may have grumbled about the chores, but when it was time for their big pay day they felt like they had “earned” the money which was a lot different than when we randomly gave them money.
Grey had saved his money from his birthday and Christmas, which he used along with his summer chore money, to buy a new game system. At the neighborhood pool the next day he told some of his friends about earning enough money to get this new system. The other kids ran over to their moms and asked why they didn’t get paid. The moms’ (2-3 different moms) replied: “I can’t get you to do anything around the house, so why would I pay you?”
Moms, YOU are in charge. If you want them to do something, then make them do it, especially when they are 10 years old! If my two kids which had been on the autism spectrum at one point in time can do chores, then your normal kids can, too.
You’re not doing them any favors by letting them run all over you and you’re not getting free help and a clean house from your minions! Do yourself a favor and put those minions to work!