It was one of those clean-the-because-someone’s-coming-over days that my kids detest. There were toys to be picked up, laundry to be done, the dishwasher to be loaded, trash to be taken out, floors to be vacuumed… it was going to be an all-day venture.
No kid wants to be torn from Saturday morning cartoons to clean house. Only the promise of a night at the movies (and the promise that they didn’t have to clean their own rooms that day) was enough to convince them to contribute cheerfully.
It’s always been hard to figure out methods that work for kids to clean up without World War III. My son is very task oriented. Usually, he’ll participate if he has a number of items to pick up or everything of a certain color. He’s also very good at sorting laundry, dusting, and vacuuming.
Saturday, he insisted on making a list of everyone’s tasks and crossing them off when finished. When I gave him the task of clearing off and cleaning the dining room table, he balked at the clearing but excelled at cleaning… scraping off every bit of sticky stuff off the table and chairs.
My daughter just hates being told what to do, especially if it’s emptying the dishwasher. She’ll clean, as long as she gets to be in charge. Lately, she’s taken over the bathroom, including scrubbing the sink, toilet, and bathtub and organizing the medicine cabinet.
Saturday I gave her the job of organizing our pantry, a closet with shelves used to store rarely used kitchen appliances as well as boxed and canned goods. She really got into it, taking a mental inventory, and was able to tell us what we didn’t need at the grocery store.
Mom’s lesson for the day was if you want help around the house, find out what they really like to do or are good at, and it will make life a lot easier.
It’s true about life, too. No one wants to slave a way at a chore or a job that they don’t enjoy or can’t succeed at. Too many people do for years and years, thinking they don’t have a choice. In my opinion, everyone has a choice.
Except my kids. “Because I said so” is still part of the parental vernacular at my house.