My oldest is nearly a teenager, so I’ve been trying to hack household chores for close to a DECADE, you guys. It was always a battle and ended up being more headache than it was worth, so I always resigned to do housework myself. And I felt some serious mom-guilt because GOOD moms teach their kids to do chores, right?!
Sticking to the routine chore list was a
freaking nightmare challenge. We'd start with someting like this...
Clean the bathroom
Vacuum the Living Room
Put Away Laundry
Wipe the NASTY DOG PRINTS off the window
But what if the bathroom needs cleaned on a non-chore day? Do we live with pee on/around the toilet until then? Do I do it myself (DUHYESIDO)? What happens when we’re busy for our entire designated chore day? Or a kid is at a sleepover? And SO.MUCH.WHINING. The structure of a routine chore list never worked for me or my kids. I thought that delegating chores to my kids chores would make my life EASIER, not MORE COMPLICATED, but every time, it was a giant mom fail.
So this fall, I tried something new. I made a large dry erase board on the door in our kitchen and wrote in sharpie: “Family Chores.” I looked around the house and wrote out the chores that needed to be done at THAT MOMENT. I showed the list to the kids, and we each initialed by the chores we picked.
Now, we’ve adapted it even further. I invite my kids to write the list themselves, further empowering them to take responsibility for their home. We also write out how long each chore should take... typically 5-10 minutes. Then, I’ll tell my kids something like “choose 15 minutes each!” (For younger kids, I’d ask their input to create the list and then draw a picture that represents the chore.)
Using a more flexible approach, I’ve negated the battle by giving them the control back. The kids are writing the list; they are choosing the chores. They are less overwhelmed by the task, knowing it will only take 15 minutes. The list is flexible and changes based on our needs and schedule. It can be done whether I’m home or at work. To go one (IMPORTANT) step further, I’ll chose my own chores on the list, to send the message that I’m willing to work as part of the team, too.
This is the first time we’ve found a chore routine that worked for our family long-term. It has encouraged greater responsibility and a healthy respect for what it takes to run a household. Rather than expectation that mom will take care of it all, they have found their place as part of a team at home.