Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Life is one big Chore sometimes

Doing jobs in pairs. Why they fought over who has the baby as their helper, I have no idea why :)

A lazy mother is one who does everything for her children

I have been thinking about kids and chores for weeks.

Slowly upon slowly over the last few months we have been expecting more of our children and EVER SO SLOWLY we are getting there.

There used to be tears, wailing and gnashing of teeth over the dishes. (and all they have to do is help stack the dishwasher, or wash the plastics) Like some nights would be major meltdown central with unbelievable crying and whining and physically throwing their bodies around. Now after months of (not quite) gritting and bearing my teeth they are finally helping without so much crying/fighting us.

However that is about the extent of their help. Sometime they help get the back yard into order, they sometimes will spray and wipe down walls, tables, bench etc but it isn't good enough.

I knew I needed a chore list/chart and to pray for the help to see it through. To be blessed with the energy to make help little ones ACTUALLY CARRY IT OUT. As parents we all know it is EASIER to do things by ourselves. But alas that teaches NOONE ANYTHING.

I was shocked back into action when chatting with another mum. We were lamenting our unhelpful children. I joked about the wailing that goes on with dish washing. She looked at me like 'you actually make your kids wash dishes?' She told me that she would Never let her kids help with the dishes. It would take too long and they would never do it right'  She also told me at another time that she would never let her kids get breakfast for themselves because 'they would make a mess and might spill the milk.

Now these aren't young children. These are a almost 10 and 8 year olds.

Don't get me wrong,  she is a lovely lady and acquaintance. Her kids are great. But her answer was just what I needed to hear. I'm a firm believer of answers to my questions/prayers coming in the form of other people.

The thought once angain hit me with so much force. YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE LIKE THAT. You remove so much power from your childrens hands already.You are  not teaching or empowering or instilling the pride of hard work into anyone. By doing all the work myself it's a wasted opportunity of learning.

She sadly said to me ' unlike you, as a working mum I don't have the time/priveledge of being able to get my kids to help me'. In a way that is heartbreaking, because the exact person who deserves help is her.

It is true, I do have more time than her to clean up our messes. Her comments were able to remind me that I am a stay at home mum for a reason. I choose this, therefore I need to step up and let my years of being home with kids equal something. That I have the ability to invest much time into my children and that I want them to be wonderful contributing members of society who know how to function WITHOUT ME.

I've been reading in several places about chores lately. I find that the universe often muses on the same topics I do at the same time. It's amazing how answers just come. In the comments I came across good reviews about this book The Parenting Breakthrough by Merrilee Boyack

It lists things that children of certain ages should be able to do and how to teach and instill these things into them.  I really would like to buy it.

Here is an online version of part of the list of things children of certain ages *should* be able to accomplish. It  is so good to see a list and what we need to work on. I realise there is much that my 10 year old does not know how to do. Oh how this is a kick in the pants to hurry up and teach this child what she needs to know to cope in the big wide world. I've printed out THE LIST and put it up in a place I can look at often. Have I taught my children what they need to know? Have we accomplished most of what is on the list?

I've also read about 10 years old (or another family was 8)  being the magic 'age' when you became responsible for laundry or the more bigger jobs in the home. When you mastered it, you were no responsible to teach it to younger siblings. Siblings being put into pairs and responsible to 'help eachother' do folding, laundry, kitchen, lounge, bedrooms.

So starting this week my girls are doing laundry in pairs, before they go to school. Funny enough the older two were fighting over who got paired with the baby (even though I pointed out that perhaps she 'wouldn't acutally be that helpful )

I know that if its not started young enough, it will never happen. A nice chore/job list that is an expectation of being part of this family while assisting them to be able to do these things with skill later in life.

I want to do this without having to do endless chores on saturday. I grew up in a house where we were able to lounge around all saturday and watch cartoons, have fun and I admit we didn't help our parents very much - which is why I am not surprised when MY kids act the way they do - they inherited it from me. Whist I want my children to do chores and work hard, I also don't want to become a house of forced labour. I want it to be a natural ebb and flow of living in this house daily, not a 5 hour+ boot camp on Saturdays to 'fix our weekly mess'

So heres to cleaning and teaching my kids. For that was the reason they were gifted to me for this short time known as mortal life.

Have I been a good teacher so far? The question I must ask myself everyday.

What are your chore tips for getting kids to help out?

Some online inspiration

Family Work

I need a job chart

Job Balls

Cleaning Realities for young children

Chore Sticks

and THAT list again!

as a funny side note I've found that watching the TV show "How clean is your house" with my older girls really opened their eyes as to WHY housework was important. I would point and say ' that is what happens when you never sweep/vacuum/clean the toilet etc. The show is often so gross they were horrified and I've been able to use it as an example since. If you don't help out, we'll end up like those people on "how clean is your house'. I've found my girls to be more helpful since they started watching that show!! lol


likeschocolate said...

I know it is so hard to give up the control. I have been trying to get my boys to do more and more because I am afraid that they will go out on their missions and not be able to do a single thing.

likeschocolate said...

I know it is so hard to give up the control. I have been trying to get my boys to do more and more because I am afraid that they will go out on their missions and not be able to do a single thing.

Chocolate on my Cranium said...

My two oldest are sick with sore throats and the achy flu. For the past two days I've had to do their chores (kitchen/cooking, and bathrooms) and I am worn out! I am so glad I took the extra time to teach them while they were young because they really have been a HUGE help now that they are older. The younger ones have also stepped up to the plate and helped do the older girls chores as well.

Keep at it!

MamaQ said...

thanks for your comment on our blog wabisabi mama. working together as a family is something i am super passionate about, but i never even thought about it until i read this article in byu magazine several years ago (way before i had my baby): http://magazine.byu.edu/?act=view&a=151. it rocked my world and still informs a lot of my parenting philosophy. i enjoyed reading your thoughts on the subject as well.
thanks for coming by to visit, too!

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