Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Spoonful of Sugar. A Little Rant About the Kids Chores

This is much prettier than what my kids get. Crafty I'm not.
In my never-ending quest to be the "perfect" mom, I keep trying new motivational challenges to inspire my children to actually do the chores they have been assigned. I've tried lists. I've tried lists with points. I've tried websites. I've tried charts with checkboxes. I've tried charts with checkboxes in sheet protectors to use with dry erase markers. I've tried simplifying and fancifying. I've tried the magnet board with jobs they just move over when they're done (similar to the photo, only much, much simpler. Just a magnet board and words-- my kids are way too old for pictures to be effective). I've tried attaching chores to money. I've tried discussions and letting them share their input. I've tried end-of-the-week prizes. I've tried everything.

What works? None of those things. Our household has never really been one of rigid schedules and drill-sergeant control. I've also never been much of a "helicopter" parent- hovering and supervising my kids to death. I haven't taught them to really "manage" their time (they get so much of that at school that I figure home can be less scheduled). But I still have kids with decent to amazing grades (all their own work). And I still have well-behaved kids. And they do mostly get their chores done. The main requirement at our house is that chores are done before video games or TV is turned on, so the boys do theirs. My daughter is another story-- her chores only get done if someone actually walks along with her, pointing things out. She lives on another planet. I used to live there, too, so I totally understand. It's a day-dreamy, imaginative place, and I do feel bad drawing her out of it to do boring chores, but I worry that I'm raising a slob who won't be good at keeping house. Like... well, like me.

By golly, I'm a good mom after all. Thanks, random sign.
So what to do? I tend to just nag and nag until we're all tired, or I just ignore it and later I get upset that the electronic toys are all in use, but the house is still what I consider a mess. I can't seem to find a balance. Part of the problem is that I'm not here much anymore. Now that I work full time (and I know I talk about that a lot, as if it's a problem. Because it IS...) I'm not here to check and make sure the jobs are done before the iPod comes out or the TV goes on. They're on the honor system. And I don't want to start taking stuff away to force them into compliance. 

I need a so-called "natural" consequence. I'm considering not saying a word about chores for a full week. Maybe I won't do any, either. If my husband could stand it. We could see just how bad the house gets if no one is reminded or coerced or otherwise convinced to do chores, laundry, dishes, etc. Of course, that would be VERY hard to recover from. And would require more effort from me than just the daily nagging. Hmm...

Maybe what I need to do is come home from work fully expecting to have to gather the children around for a quick house-tidy-pickup and kitchen-job review each night. It wouldn't have to be miserable... just consistent.

Which is probably my entire problem. I'm inconsistent. Sometimes I'm so tired I just don't care about the house and other times it makes me crazy. Hormones fluctuate, moods shift, fatigue ebbs and flows and everything else is affected.

I don't want robot children, though. Nor do I want rebels. I have to find balance...

Time for another Family Home Evening conversation about sharing the housework responsibilities, I suppose. Maybe I could just ask them to list what work needs to be done and then they could decide who will do what... hmm... 
I thought this was just beautiful.
If only my children could wiggle their noses or wave their wands and march all their belongings back to their proper places. Of course, then their noses would be "too tired" or their wands would be misplaced and the house would still look a bit cluttered, a bit dusty and a lot lived in.

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