Who Do You Think I Am? The Maid?

Evidently, that’s what my kids must think I am and it’s prompted me to ask the question:

“Are we doing too much for our children?”

I know I’ve been guilty of this. Some days, we’re rushing so much that it just seems easier to do things for them instead of nagging and nagging and nagging them only to be the one to do it in the end because we’re running late and I can wait no longer.

Eventually I started to get annoyed that I was the one doing everything – including putting the dirty clothes in the laundry hamper that were left on the floor just two feet away from the basket! Then I saw the chart on age-appropriate chores for kids by age from The Happy Housewife and discovered that my kids weren’t even doing the chores for toddlers, let alone the stuff that’s listed under their respective age groups!

What kind of mother had I become that I would allow my kids to get away with such indolent behaviours? It was ironic that the reason I didn’t want our family to have a live-in maid was so my boys could learn to pick up after themselves rather than have someone else do it for them but now, instead of having the maid pick up after them, I’m the one picking up after them!

My father thought that they could be motivated to do chores with the promise of pocket money for the stuff that they did. Interesting comment from a man who never paid me to do household chores when I was a child… Well, I’m sure G1 would be motivated with the promise of pocket money, but my philosophy is that if he lives in the house, he should be contributing to the clean up without requiring an incentive. That’s just the way I think and you’re entitled to think differently if you do dish out pocket money for household chores.

So if bribery isn’t on the table then how else could my boys be motivated?

I decided to start with baby steps – small changes were easier to make and they were better than nothing. I made the boys handle the stuff they should be responsible for, like emptying out their schoolbags after school – dirty clothes in the laundry hamper and lunch boxes in the sink. Nothing happens until they do that – no snack time, no TV, no reading, no playing. Period.

They used to leave their dirty clothes and empty dishes lying around and I would pick up after them. Now, whenever I see stuff that isn’t where it should be, I interrupt whatever they are doing until they put their stuff away first. If they are watching TV, I turn it off; if they’re reading a book, I take the book away; if they’re playing with a toy, I take the toy. It’s tedious and it takes more effort than if I just put the stuff away myself but it has to be done if I don’t want to be the one picking up dirty laundry when they’re 16 years old.

The idea is to introduce one extra chore at a time until it becomes the “routine”.

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

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