Passionate About Des Moines
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Help! My “Little Helpers” Don’t Love to Help

I think I’m failing as a parent.

Okay—maybe not in an all-around way, but in this one area I seem to be falling miserably short.

My kids despise chores. Is that too strong of a word? Well, anyway, they certainly don’t love them. And instead of the happy heart and willing attitude I expect when I ask for help, I get shoulders dropping to the floor, feet dragging, and voices whining.

Help! My "Little Helpers" Don't Love to Help

I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that. I think I’m raising pretty nice kids, really. They’re generally kind and obedient and fun to be with. Respectful of others. So I guess I’m not doing everything wrong, but this anti-chore attitude is definitely concerning.

Gosh, I guess it’s been a year already since I initially set this goal: my kids were going to start learning to do chores. Yeah, I’ve always expected the normal, basic things—pick up your toys, clean your room, take your plate to the sink—but last spring I had this vision of me taking time and effort to teach the kids some household chores. It was going to be hard for a while, I knew, but so worth the investment once I had developed my “team.”

It lasted for a while. I taught Elliana how to wipe the table clean. I taught Abel how to sweep and mop. I taught Amariah how to wash dishes. And I taught Isabel how to fold laundry. The idea was that once they had each mastered their chore, we would rotate or add in something new.

I don’t know what happened. Life? But the chore training died somewhere mid-second rotation. So now here I am a year later, without a “team,” and totally disappointed in myself for doing my family this injustice.

I mean, this has been a problem for a while. But it really struck me again last week. I had happily announced to the kids that we were going to have a fun, family cleaning day—work really hard, all of us together, and get a lot done around the house. (And truly, I was excited about this. The inspiration had hit, you know?) Of course, the groaning and complaining ensued. They apparently had some grandiose plans of their own, and mine were interfering.

And then a neighbor kid came ringing the doorbell, and I told the kids they’d have to say no to playing because they had some chores to do.

The (brutally truthful) objection came from seven-year-old Amariah:

But we don’t do chores!

And it struck me. No—you don’t. And that’s my fault.

Here’s more truth: I’m drowning in laundry, I could probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve vacuumed in the last six months (cringe)… I need a little help around here!

For one thing, I need some new systems. Whatever laundry and housecleaning schedule was working so well for me when the kids were little and still napping is so six years ago—life looks different now, and I need to find a housekeeping routine that fits. And for the other thing, the bigger the kids get, the bigger the workload gets; and I just can’t seem to do it all anymore.

Nor should I. I have four little helpers who need to learn and experience chores—not because Mommy is tired and failing to get it all done, but because these are important life skills that are best learned now while they’re still young.

I know I need to do this, but I’m not entirely sure what my next step should be. My previous method—giving each of them one chore to master at a time—worked while it lasted. But how do I stay in it? How do I make it a part of everyday life? And how does it move from dutiful completion of a chore on a list to natural, non-scripted helpfulness?

With four kids, a few thousand square feet, and failure to have carried this chore thing out sooner, I’m overwhelmed. I don’t know where to start or how not to quit.

Help! My "Little Helpers" Don't Love to Help

Will you help me today? I need some ideas.

What approach to chore training and execution has worked in your house, and how have you seen the realization of your expectations play out?

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One Response to Help! My “Little Helpers” Don’t Love to Help

  1. Stacey Schrier April 8, 2015 at 5:49 pm #

    Angela, you are not quite the failure you think you are! You are so awesome in so many ways; but, we all have our areas we can use a little help! I have a few of my own too!

    First things first, kids do not like chores! 🙂 We have found different methods that have worked at different ages and stages that have made chore time a little bit more fun! When they were really young and couldn’t read yet, I made a magnetic chart with pics of their chores and they would move them to the done pocket. Since they were a little bit older, we found an awesome program that pretty much put everything together that I had been making and trying to put together on my own with fake coupons/dollars, chore cards, etc. (It was also nice not to have to put it altogether homemade myself again too!) It is called Accountable Kids and we absolutely LOVE it! 🙂 Once you’ve taught the kids different chores, you pick the chores for each child (which I rotate weekly) and they are labeled morning, day, and evening. Especially in the beginning, I put together whatever their normal daily routine is within those cards like eat, get dressed, brush teeth, etc. so that they can get in the habit of what their normal routine on their own is supposed to look like! They automatically go to their daily chores because they receive a reward for doing so (whether it’s electronics time, playtime, monetary, or whatever means the most to each child). They get whatever you choose for them to get a long with a one-on-one date with mom or dad (after they have done this for so many days). It takes extra time and effort to do a one-on-one; but, it really helps them strive for their “date night” too! 🙂 It is a little expensive; but, it is so worth it! We still use it today, it’s just a little more advanced now than what it used to be! Oh yeah, here is the link: http://www.accountablekids.com/

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