I hate this! It isn’t fair! Why does it have to be so hard? Can’t we hire a maid?
I could write the excuses and complaints all day and probably never get all of them recorded. I’m sure you’ve heard the same complaints in your home. It is truly miserable. I dreaded it. I hated asking them to do their chores.
To make things better, I tried bribery. I tried allowance. I tried money. I tried candy. I tried toys. I tried trips. Those were on the positive side of the spectrum. On the negative side, I tried yelling, screaming, cajoling, anger, threats … Nothing seemed to work. Until . . .
My daughter was assigned to clean the kitchen pans. I could hear her in the kitchen moaning and complaining as usual. It was painful to listen to her. She sounded like she was in great agony and pain. It pierced me to my inner soul. I sat quietly and said a silent prayer. Simple. Something like this, “Please, Father, help me to help them learn work ethic and make chores less painful in our home.”
With determination, I walked into the kitchen and started drying the pans she had washed. We sang a silly song we made up and danced. She was soon dancing along with me and laughing. I learned something. It didn’t have to be difficult. Just something simple would make the difference. She wanted someone beside her. Chores changed this day.
What do chores look like in our home? There are still tasks that are done individually, but we work together at the same time. If one person is doing a household task, then everyone is working at the same time. I learned that my children needed to see that their parents were working at the same time that they were. We also work together on some tasks -like kitchen work and lawn.
Kitchen work is done in zones. Counter by the refrigerator. Counter by the stove. Counter by the sink. The one person makes their zone perfect, but we are all in the kitchen together. Sometimes we talk. Sometimes we sing. Sometimes we talk about we learned that day. Other times we will talk only of positive things. Then, of course, we do have our grumpy days. Just such a day happened recently.
While cleaning the kitchen, I started because I was the Queen of Grumpiness. I listed what was driving me most crazy. Then, my daughter added something that was driving her nuts. My son jumped in. When we finished with the serious points, we tried to make it as silly as possible. I shared that I hated the squeaky shoes of the man whose office was next to mine at work. Not only did his shoes squeak, but he didn’t pick up his feet when he walked. His steps had a squeak, thop, thumb, scuff sound -all the way down the hallway! Then, I imitated him, putting the kids into great quantities of laughter.
We have also chosen themes. “Today, let’s figure out what will make our most hated jobs easier.” Colin invented the iLawnMower. Liam decided we need to have eco-friendly, disposable pots and pans so they would never have to be washed again. Kathryn -an automatic iPooper Scooper for the dogs. Not only did we come up with the idea, but we designed them. We talked about what they would look like and how they would function. We discuss the problems with our design and how to improve them.
This is just one way in which we have made chores fun and a learning experience. What have you done which has boosted the morale of your children while doing chores?
By Tracy Atkinson
Tracy Atkinson, mother of six, lives in the Midwest with her husband. She is a teacher, having taught elementary school to higher education, holding degrees in elementary education and a master’s in higher education. Her passion is researching, studying and investigating the attributes related to self-directed learners. She has published several titles, including Calais: The Annals of the Hidden, Lemosa: The Annals of the Hidden, Book Two, Rachel’s 8 and Securing Your Tent. She is currently working on a non-fiction text exploring the attributes of self-directed learners: The Five Characteristics of Self-directed Learners.