Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Not raising helpless monkeys - hopefully

I have really good intentions when it comes to teaching my kids to help around the house. I want them to grow up to be self-sufficient humans whose future spouses won't curse my name for doing everything for them and never teaching them to take care of themselves. When I read blog posts or articles about why kids should help around the house, I totally agree with everything they say!

But I'm not very good at making it happen in my home.

The root of the problem is me. I'm lazy and rather adept at procrastination. These are not my best qualities and certainly something I need to work on, for the sake of my own sanity as well as the upbringing of my children and comfort of my family. But there it is. I'm not great at keeping the house cleaned, being organized and minimizing clutter. I have the best of intentions, but without some action, intentions aren't worth much.

I decided a while back that the best thing to do is start small. I instituted "morning chores" for my boys (they are now 5 and 7). I'm sure they are capable of doing more than this, and I'm equally sure I could find some supermama of 10 kids who has them all folding their own laundry at 3. Looking at it that way always made me feel overwhelmed and quit before I even started. So babysteps. They each have one "morning chore" - putting away silverware for my oldest, and putting away the "kid" cups and bowls for my younger son. They're expected to do this each morning and for the most part, we've actually done it. It even gets me in gear and the majority of the time I empty the rest of the dishwasher and put away the breakfast dishes, which gives me a nice jump start to the day.

My other goal was to make picking up toys a regular part of the nighttime routine. I've had less success there, and again, it is all ME. Granted, it is like pulling teeth to get my five year old to clean up toys. He will go from happily playing transformers to writhing on the floor because he's "just too tired" to do anything so strenuous as pick up a lego. It isn't always pleasant and like many things with that particular child, I know the payoff will be worth it in the long run, but the process is rather painful. Plus, I tend to look around and think, "Well, it isn't even that bad. We'll just leave it." But if we didn't "just leave it" and picked up the small messes every day, we'd never get to the terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad messes that make my boys groan as soon as I say, "We need to clean up!" The concept of picking up daily instead of waiting for it to really tick me off is something I clearly agree with in my head, and have an unreasonable amount of trouble implementing. Those darn good intentions again.

At this point, I feel like I need to add something more to the mix. I'm awfully tired of the caked toothpaste all over the bathroom and it occurred to me, I ought to make them responsible for cleaning it up. What a concept, right? I know, I'm a little slow. So my next order of business is to come up with a weekly chore list - items that could be done once a week and they could do one thing each day. One of them could be wiping down the bathroom sink and counter. Not so hard. I haven't come up with the entire list yet, but I'm sure I could come up with a few things the boys could do each week that would actually make a bit of a difference in the cleanliness level of our house - dusting, wiping down baseboards, cleaning the sliding glass door. Pretty much anything that involves a spray bottle is a huge hit with them, so as long as I remember to remind them to get their chores done, it should work fairly well. It's just that me-being-lazy thing that gets in the way and conspires to undermine my carefully laid plans.

As for my daughter, well, she's 2. Her time is coming. Just you wait, sister. By the time you're old enough to genuinely help, I'll have this stuff in the bag!

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