September 04, 2012

I've Finally Discovered Child Labour!

I’ve long suspected that I am too soft on these kids of mine. I’m a stay-at-home mom with a Type-A personality who thinks that in order to get things done right, I should do it myself. And I wonder why I’m so exhausted and frustrated with the household duties? 

In the past, we’ve had half-hearted attempts at chore lists. My biggest downfall was not being consistent and insistent, letting things slide and then never getting things back on track. I often made things too complicated. Charts are great but we spent far far too much time choosing our stickers then actually getting things done.

Well, my children have had a rude awakening this week. I was inspired in part by a recent visit to a friend’s house whose dutiful children (aged 9 and 11) assisted with the dinner set-up and clearing with nary a rolled eye in sight. I was awestruck! How could I get a piece of this action, I wondered? It wasn’t long before I was dropping suggestions at our weekly family meeting and drawing up various lists of daily and weekly chores, hoping that I could get the kids to buy into a paradigm shift in our home.

When the children awoke today for the first day of school, they were greeted by their expected updated-for-the-new-year morning and evening to-do lists. The usual items were there: feed fish, brush teeth, empty lunch bag, homework, etc. But there was something different.

This year I included some fresh new items: clear breakfast dishes AND put them in the dishwasher, make sandwich and assemble lunch bag, clear dinner dishes AND put them in the dishwasher and...”daily chore: see chart.” I directed the puzzled minions, I mean munchkins, to a new addendum to the fridge clutter: a list of daily and weekly chores, divided among the three of them. I’ve kept it simple: unload the dishwasher, help with dinner, sweep kitchen floor daily and clean bathroom (with help), dust & vacuum main floor and wash kitchen floor weekly.

With some gentle and persistent encouragement this evening, I was positively amazed at what these 7 and 9 year olds are capable of contributing to the household! I enjoyed their company in the kitchen before and after dinner and was thrilled to not have to do every little thing myself. Eureka! I am kicking myself for not getting this started earlier but I am looking forward staying the course. I’m hoping that if the kids feel more like a contributing member of the household perhaps they’ll feel like contributing more. It’s a long shot but I’ll let you know how it turns out.
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