I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of this whole chore thing. Inertia is pulling me back in the direction of just of doing it myself. We had so many nights this past week where one or even both of the dinner cleaner-uppers weren’t at dinner, or were sick, that the idea of ownership of the chore just really lost momentum. If it’s everybody’s job, it’s nobody’s job. And the one night when I wasn’t home, all the kids that were apparently just walked away from the table—waiting for the clean-up elves, presumably. When my husband came in 20 minutes later, he called them back to clean, but they sure didn’t tackle it on their own.
I knew this would take time. But I think that in my excitement about getting it going, I forgot that my enthusiasm wasn’t shared. The kids haven’t been reading books about building habits and research about the importance of chores. They’d really rather go upstairs and play knee hockey. Sometimes I get the idea they just don’t even want to be raised right.
To push us all forward, I gathered a few words of encouragement from parents who are on the other side. How did they get chores established? “It took time and persistence.” “Reiteration and patience.” “Training and follow-up.” “Tolerating the complaints and resistance.” “I did have to hang in there for a lot of whining and incompetence for a while.” “My kids are now 10 and 15- they’ve been assigned simple chores forever but it’s taken this long to have some peace with some of them!!”
Parents who stop and start, change chores and strategies, and give up and do it all themselves for months on end—like me—will find themselves, as I have, back at square one again and again. But not us, not this time.
I hope your kids are emptying the trash, doing the laundry, or setting the table, even if they’re not even a little excited about their new skills or their increased sense of contributing to the family. Remember the plan (and I’m talking to myself here, too): You will not falter. You will not do her a favor just this once. You will not cut him some slack.
I’m about to make a sticker chart for myself, I think. If I can remind them to clean up after dinner, all the way to completion, trash out and counters shining, every night this week, I’m the one who deserves the reward. I’m thinking Heath bar.