Getting Kids to Do Chores

Being the natural late sleeper that I am I should have read the signs that I was going to have a bad day when I was forced to set the alarm clock the night before for a mind-boggling 6:00 a.m. due to a much needed and over due appointment an hour away in the larger neighboring city. I hate mornings, in fact I proudly wear an old tattered nighty that states that “I Don’t Do Mornings.” All things considered, I was being a trooper about it by tip toeing out of the bedroom as not to wake up the hubby who works swing shift, and I even greeted the kids with a smile. I quickly popped into the shower to grab some sense of awareness that I would need to prepare for the tedious drive ahead of me. Getting done with my war paint and hair slightly ahead of schedule, I decided to vacuum, make the bed, and wash the few stray dishes that had accumulated from last nights late night snacks, and the morning breakfast dishes. All in all the house was left in a neat and orderly state.

The drive was boring, traffic was congested, and my appointment took way too long. To make matters worse I was sent to this major city’s gargantuious local hospital to get some blood work. I was getting hungry, I had a headache, and I was hopelessly lost. I stopped at a gas station, got some quick directions and eventually landed myself into the parking lot of the beast of a building that awaited my arrival. I thought that they would never call my name, but to my relief a pleasant looking woman bellowed my name. I have never been so happy to hear my own name being called, and for a brief second I actually contemplated jumping for joy. With my blood work completed I exited the building as fast as my tired legs would carry me, and I headed toward the always packed to the hilt with aimless shoppers Superstore to fulfill my grocery list from hell. I headed to the checkout line with full steam ahead, completely ready to go home and take a twenty minute power nap.

Upon walking in the door with my hands loaded down with grocery bags, I knew that this day was destined to keep me in my own private little hell at any cost. I was greeted by two nervous kids, and it didn’t take long to see why. My kitchen had EXPLODED, and I was about ready to myself. I could not begin to fathom the mess that lay in front of me. There were school books, coats, and wet shoes thrown about, and enough dishes lay on the table, stove, and counter tops to have fed a small army. The sink was heaped to its full capacity, the garbage can was over flowing and little strands of grass on my new area rug called my attention to they’re unsightly dried up state, almost like they were staring back at me, daring me to suck them up. It was more than I could take at the moment as I still had several grocery bags to unload from the car. Now I had this to deal with, and all I wanted was a nap! I was dangerously close to losing my temper.

These undesirable chores wouldn’t have been so bad if I had been the one who had committed these offensive crimes of trashing the house, but the guilty suspects were able-bodied humans, who had obviously been taken over by aliens. From what I could make out of the mess, my hubby had wolfed down a meal of left overs, and hadn’t so much as rinsed the discarded bowls or his plate. The other two smaller able bodied aliens who lived with me had consumed the remaining remnants of the contents of the refrigerator, tossed the casserole dishes along with their plates on top of the already dangerously growing hill made from my glass dishes that beckoned me to now clean them with a chisel or throw them away and forget about it. Instead of screaming, which I felt like doing, I remained silent. The kids must have taken this as a very dangerous signal, because they quietly went about putting the groceries away, took out the garbage and dried the dishes in an eerily strange silence. I heard the vacuum being pulled out of its home base, and my middle alien even offered me two Tylenol. I gladly consumed them and announced that I was taking a nap.

I awakened awhile later to some more of that strange silence. The alien people were quietly doing their homework, and there wasn’t one dish in the sink. I offered them my assistance with their homework, and they offered me an apology. The aliens and I had a good heart to heart talk that day about respect for our home and respecting each other, and I gave them each a small chore list. They will each receive a weekly allowance upon fulfilling their obligations to the household. I have since learned that most of my anger came from getting up at that dangerous hour when nobody is awake except for the chickens, and that I am only one person.

Avoiding Disasters
Children need to feel important, and praising them for a job well done or for unexpectedly doing a chore is the key to getting them even more involved with aspects that involve a household running smoothly. Allowances give kids the incentive to complete weekly tasks on time and in an orderly fashion. Eventually they become used to the idea that things are done a certain way, and the daily routine including chores becomes normal. Giving too many chores or chores that take up all of the child’s free time will cause resentment, and possible rebellion. Its better to give them a list that they can comfortably handle. If they can easily do a good job they will feel better about the chores and themselves.

I did some research on suitable chores for teenagers and found a really cool site that organizes household chores for kids. Chore Buster generates a weekly chore list that is e-mailed to the kids. They get to talk about undesirable chores, and there is a forum for kids to share, complain, and voice their opinions. The best part about it is they see that other kids do similar chores and the site is absolutely free. For more information go to:

Author Bonnie Maslin visited the set of “The Early Show” last year, and suggested that you make chores kid friendly instead of overwhelming. The respected author claims that you should keep it simple, but predictable. This orderliness can feel soothing to kids, and promotes getting things back where they belong. It helps children gain respect for possessions, and sets up as a calming ritual that things get taken care of. Maslin is the author of the book, “Picking Your Battles: Winning Strategies For Raising Well-Behaved Kids.”

Jim Wiltens, author of No More Nagging, Nit-Picking and Nudging, told the Chicago Tribune that one reason children hate chores so much is that they are usually required to do only tedious jobs, such as taking out the garbage, washing dishes and cleaning up after the dog.

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