My kids have chores. They are both old enough now to lend a hand that’s actually useful. They ought to be able—and feel obligated—to assist in the smooth running of our household.
And, for the most part, they do. With some nagging required, absolutely, but they are good kids and reasonably helpful.
I’ve posted before about the best option I’ve found for keeping the kids on track with relatively less nagging: a chore checklist. Where I used to have one master list for the whole family, the enforced togetherness of the pandemic—and our loss of our usual paid help for the heavy cleaning—has prompted me to print a separate list for each kid, and even a new list* to remind my husband of the jobs I need him to cover.
For your reading pleasure, here are copies of my teen’s daily chore list and the middle schooler’s version. By all means, use them to prove to your own kids that they are not, in fact, the only children forced to help out around the house. Or, if your kids work much harder than mine, please let me know in the comments so I can educate my own wee punks the next time they complain about sweeping the kitchen.
And speaking of crumbs…
Am I the only mom in America whose family seems oblivious to visible schmutz on the floor?
If you peeked at the chore chart PDFs, you may have noticed that both kids are assigned to sweeping the kitchen tile once per day, and that it’s a totally separate job from plain old vacuuming which is also meant to include the kitchen. This isn’t because my standards are all that high; it reflects the reality that the dust bunnies threaten to outweigh we mere humans on a regular basis.
The floors really are pretty filthy in spite of all of these assignments and my own quick swipes with broom, brush, or hand vac a few times each day. This fact leads inexorably to my new habit of sending the kids “filthy” photos via text message with disturbing regularity. Here are a few examples:
There’s hardwood with dust bunnies…
Corners with cobwebs very tricky to photograph spider silk, by the way…
And the supposedly “dusted” windowsill covered in not just pollen, but also an unused alcohol wipe still in its package that left a visible outline when shifted! Can that even be a mere week’s accumulation?
I’ll spare you the picture of the toilet visibly in need of scrubbing. Even the teen objected to that disturbing image, asking me if sending it was really necessary.
“Do your chores,” I replied. “Believe me, I wish I hadn’t had to see it either!”
Perhaps it is an extreme reaction on my part. Should I stop sending them the filthy photos?
Then again, here’s a squeaky clean picture that still led to nagging:
That turquoise blue plastic visible in the suds inside my washing machine is a thumb drive someone forgot to remove from his pocket before dumping clothes in the laundry.
Not sure that’s what’s scrubbing your files is supposed to look like…
A persistent, unequal distribution of household labor has pounded the mental and physical health of mothers during the COVID pandemic. The demands I place on my kids to shoulder their share of the load are my reaction to that. I think it is a rational one.
Sometimes, I give in to the urge to take over a job myself, unable to stand literally! on that sticky spot on the tile any longer, but, mostly, I squawk at the kids instead. It’s for my own benefit, of course, but it’s for their own good, too. Children who pitch in at home are going to become more useful adults.
Perhaps these boys I’m raising will grow up to be more equitable partners to their own spouses someday. That’s my hope. For the time being, I will keep nagging, provide clear instructions† on how tasks can be done effectively, and remind my kids that they are valuable, contributing members of our family and household.
I’ll probably keep doing that via lots of dirty pictures.
* My husband’s list is pretty short as he already works something-teen hours per day in his full time job while also running a side hustle as a self-employed scientific consultant. I do need his help with the physically demanding tasks, such as vacuuming multiple floors with the full-size machine. (The kids just use the lightweight Dyson hand vacuum which doesn’t have the same power to tackle the *sigh* wall-to-wall carpeting as our plugged in, full sized Miele canister vac.) I’m not quite ready to watch the boys bash the woodwork with the machine, either.
DH’s new list does also include the task I need help with most: reminding the kids to do their own damn chores before he gives in to all of their demands for attention and snacks in the evening! It’s only fair that Dad take on his share of the nagging duties, though he’s better at science than he is at disciplining his own children.
† For anyone who’d like to piggy-back on my step-by-step approach to getting effective assistance from older kids who might do a job half-heartedly without definitive instructions, here are links to PDF documents describing How to Clean the Microwave Oven, How to Wipe Clean the Kitchen Counter, and How to Clean the Bathroom. Inflict them on your own hapless helpers with my blessing!