Growing up my parents were all about chores.
Aside from going to school and rocking at it, we really only had one other thing to do: pull our weight at home and don’t be annoying about it.
They didn’t make us work outside of the home, although we were encouraged to if we wanted to have extra money, to buy Cross Colors t-shirts and junk. I foolishly got a job at a surf shop which didn’t help me in my quest nearly as much as I’d hoped (the, um, Cross Cross Colors selling store, wasn’t hiring).
Looking back, I do see that my parents were a tiny bit chauvinist pig-ish about the whole chores thing. I did “chick” chores and my brother mostly did “dude” chores.
Maybe this was because the two times my dad asked me to go out and mow the lawn I cried like he was asking me to go out and drown a couple of baby goats or something (I was afraid someone would come by and see me working in the yard, thereby removing whatever street cred I had built up to that point).
Probably he just got tired of my dramatics and left me to my mother.
Whatever the reason, I spent at least two-thirds of every weekend in the house scrubbing toilets, folding laundry, sweeping, mopping, intermittently avoiding my mother while hiding in the bathroom, and making that house shine for with my mom, while my brother spent about one quarter of his weekends in the garage playing with cars and standing around the yard trying to get someone else to mow it with my dad.
It’s no wonder I am such a hard worker and he’s, um, different.
I am taking a different approach with The Dudes.
Basically, I just don’t believe in “dude” chores and “chick “ chores. Maybe I would if there was a chick or two around here to brush some of this housework off on, but there’s not. And, it’s not fair that I have to stay in the house and cook and clean and fold and such while Dumb Dad gets to take them out in the yard and have them do his bidding for an hour and then spend the rest of the afternoon shooting hoops with them.
Totally no fair.
Plus, I want my Dudes to be able to take care of themselves. You know, in the unlikely event that they ever decide to move out of my Casa.
And, I want them to be of the awesome-to-marry sort so it will be easier for me to find them a wife they will be contributing members in their future relationships should they choose to marry who I pick someone. Which means, they can’t lay around scratching their junk and waiting for a woman (at this point, me) to pick up their socks and serve them hot wings.
So, I’m all about the adequate home training of young Dudes. Even if they rebel, even if they are sort of sucky at it, and even if no matter what I say or do, their inability to aim worth a darn makes me want to drown a goat my bathroom perpetually smell like a New Orleans bus station in the middle of Mardi Gras no matter how hard I clean it.
Dumb Mom’s Guide to Domesticating Dudes
1. Find things they can actually do. They can NOT ensure that all of the pee gets into the toilet. We’ve established that. But, they can do other things. What that is, of course, varies by age (see below). So, while my 10 year old has started washing, folding, and putting away his own clothing, a great chore for the 4 year old is simply putting his back pack away after school and making sure his underwear make it into the hamper (for the record, they mostly still don’t).
2. Be consistent. This is the number one parenting rule in every parenting book about being better at parenting ever made for parents, right? I mean, nothing ever works if you sorta do it when you feel like it and not so much other times. Same with chores. Once they know that doing a shoddy job at sweeping will get them out of it, you can rest assured that they will never get it right, ever. So, make them keep at it, even if that means you have to secretly go behind them and do it for real until they learn how to do it correctly.
3. Spend some time in training. This will help you in the long run. When #1 started being in charge of emptying the dishwasher, figuring it was pretty straight forward, I left him to it and went about my business with the joy upon my face of having one less chore on my plate. Only, not so fast. Because the very next time I went to get a drink I was nearly concussed by a downpour of plastic bowls crashing into my skull. Back to the drawing board with a session on the finer points of NOT jamming dishes into cupboards they clearly don’t fit into safely. Spend a little time here, and #2 might actually be easier for you too!
4. Don’t use it as a punishment and don’t reward them for doing it. Having responsibilities is part of life so we like to remind The Dudes that things like clearing the table and putting away their shoes is just what you have to do as a member of our family, and the human race. So, we don’t make them do their chores only to punish them and we, likewise, don’t reward them for doing them either. They are an expectation, and like all of the other expectations they have, they need to be done whether they’re stoked about it or not. That doesn’t mean we don’t give them allowances or require them to clean the toilet with a toothbrush when they’ve royally effed up. It just means that they have certain things they are required to do daily or weekly and those certain things are nonnegotiable no matter how awesome or annoying they are at any given moment (we do give them days off though, just because we like to).
5. Just do this and then revise as your children are able to handle more responsibility…
Naturally, #1 can do all of the things #2 & #3 can do, but we try not to make him feel like an indentured servant so we limit his responsibilities to just a few!
How do you get your kids to help out around the house?