I have a strange dislike of the word “chores.” It sounds so malicious, to say “do your chores or you can’t do X!” I feel like running away when it’s described thus. (I don’t think people who do use that word are malicious, I just connect that word with malice for whatever weird reason.) Like most people, I don’t enjoy cleaning, per se, but I do manage better in a clean, orderly house.
With my kids, rather than assigning chores, I explain to them that if our house is not picked up, the laundry is not folded, and the dishes are not washed, then we can’t play, find clothes, or eat. We work together to put our house in order because we are all equal contributors to the messes.
Sometimes, in the middle of teaching and persuading, I wonder if what I say is making an impact. My kids help me, sure, but it takes a bit of cajoling to get them going. At least, it usually does. But something changed on Tuesday.
We woke up from our nap, ready to eat snacks. I told the kids that before we could eat our snacks, we needed to pick up the living room and their room. I came out of my bedroom (they had already escaped to the living room) – ready to rally the troops – and found the room already clean with Emily asking for help to put the last cushion on the couch. I teared up.
Together, we finished picking up the rest of the toys, clothes, and shoes and moved to the kids’ room. Once there, she helped me put the toys away in the bins, put the clothes in the dressers, and pick up the trash. Meanwhile, Andrew found lingering toys around the house and brought them into the room to put away. Within 20 minutes, the rooms were clean and we were ready to eat a snack.
I placed the kids on my lap and thanked them, profusely, for helping me keep our house in order. I cried, a little, and hugged them plentifully.
It reminded me of something I learned in my undergraduate – kids are willing to help if you give them the opportunity, especially if you gently persuade rather than harshly criticize or direct.
Once we were eating our snacks, Emily looked at me and said, “Are you proud of me for helping?” I responded, “Emily, I am always proud of you. I feel so lucky to have you as my daughter.” You can imagine her excitement as she relayed this story to her dad later, and the tears that traced my cheeks as I listened to her sweet voice, with great pride, telling her dad all that she had cleaned that day.
What about you? Do you have your kids help? Do you use chore charts? Do you have an equal dislike of that word, or am I just odd?
**Just a reminder, the book club has started! Join in on a fascinating discussion about Women Who Run With the Wolves.