The other day I was talking to a class mate who has been having trouble with her son. He doesn’t want to do his chores, will fight her tooth and nail, and it’s just really wearing her out. She is in school all day, works, has a lot of health problems going on (gallbladder issues and sever carpal tunnel to name a few), and just needs a little help. Before we started talking about it, I had forgotten about chores.
The way I look at it is that everyone living in a home should help out, but that no one should have to do something someone else isn’t willing to. Corey and I decided that rather than assigning chores, we would all help each other. From the time he could crawl I would ask Caleb to help me with easy tasks. “Please pick that up.” He could pick things up while I put them away. As he got older my requests could be a little more complicated, and he was able to help with more of my tasks. The key is to work together joyfully. When it’s time to pick up toys, I ask him, “Please come help me put the toys where they belong.” He will come help me, happily without a fight, because he sees me, with a big smile, enjoying the task. When I do dishes, he stands on a chair and pre-rinses each item. For laundry I take an item from the washer, and he puts it into the dryer. Every task I do he helps with. It saves time, the task gets done properly, and he learns about taking care of every aspect of the home.
Now that he’s two, he does have a few responsibilities of his own. I will help, but I wait for him to feel done. These tasks include putting the train at the library away before we leave. I ask him to clean up the train mostly by himself because it’s part of the leaving process where if I were to start the picking up process he wouldn’t have the chance to make the choice to leave. Some days I have to help more than others, but slowly and surely it’s become routine. Another task that is his own was chosen by him. On bottle day, he transfers all the bottles from the box to bag. It’s a game for him and he feels proud to have that job.
It’s all about having fun! Instead of turning taking care of a home into a punishment or something boring/frustrating, find ways to make it enjoyable. The fights are avoidable, things get done, and many lessons are learned.