My 3 yr old daughter took this pic of me

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Chore Swapping

Sometimes, around our home, things that are supposed to be done regularly don't get done. I have some expectations of my kids and I find myself, more often than not, being a nag.

"Clear the table, please." (10 minutes later...)
"Hey, you didn't clear the table yet. I want you to do it right now." (5 more minutes go by)
"Please put down what you're doing and go and clear the table! I told you 3 times already. Please do it now, and no more delays!" (3 minutes later...)
"How many times do I have to tell you to CLEAR THE TABLE??!! Do it NOW!" (10 seconds later....)
"THAT'S IT! You are losing all of your privileges for the day. I told you too many times and you..." blah blah blah.

Does this sound familiar? Don't get me wrong. I have great kids and I love them to death. And they are actually not the problem here, although it does seem that I am complaining about them. They are just doing what they have learned to do, from me. See, I don't require them to actually listen to me, so they don't. That's a perfectly normal response. If nothing is expected of me, I am very likely to do nothing. The real problem in this situation is me. I am the one at fault. After reading John Rosemond's "The Well Behaved Child" and Danny Silk's "Loving Our Kids on Purpose" and Kevin Leman's "Have a New Kid by Friday", this is what that scenario looks like now:

Me: "Hey, Sweetie :) I have noticed that the table doesn't get cleared or wiped very regularly and that is something that I expect you to do after every meal. I want it to be done right away, as soon as we are finished with the meal, every time. I won't bother reminding you anymore, so just make sure it's done...Oh, and if it's not done, from now on, I will just go and do it myself. Thanks for what you do around here, it's really a big help :)" (Said with absolutely no sarcasm. Just sincerity and love is communicated)

Kid: "Really?"

Me: "Yup."

So guess what happens after the next meal. Nothing. The kid walks away to go and play cuz they want to see if I'm really going to do the chore for them and not nag.....I wait a few minutes, see that they're not doing it, say nothing, and go and clear and wipe the table....

Later that day....

Kid: "Hey, mom! Can I go over to my friend's house?"

Me: "Sure, honey. Just as soon as you have finished cleaning the toilet and wiping out the bathroom sink."

Kid: "WHAT???!!! Why do I have to do that?! That's not my job!"

Me: "I know, honey, I usually do that job, but earlier I had to clear and wipe the table for you so I didn't have time to get my job done, too. So now you will have to do that for me. Thanks, I'll come and check it when you're done." (said with love and compassion)

The kid looks baffled.
Kid: "But you didn't tell me that I would have to do that disgusting job if I didn't clear the table! It's not fair!"

Me: "I know, I but I did tell you that I expected it to be done right after the meal and that it's your resposibility. Things still need to be done even if you choose not to do them. Someone will end up doing it, so it's only fair that you take over the job I didn't have time for. I'm sorry, I know it's not a fun job, but the toilet does need to be cleaned. Next time go ahead and do your chore and I'll do mine."


Me: "Ok, sweetie. I won't do your chore ever again, as long as you do it. Let me know when the toilet is cleaned and I'll come take a look at it. Then you can go have fun at your friend's house."

This has been a LIFESAVER for me! And my kids. In "Have a New Kid by Friday", Kevin Leman suggests paying a sibling, neighbor, or yourself to do a job that's left by one of the kids, and the money comes out of their allowance. After all, that's the real world. If you don't want to do something yourself, you have to pay someone else to do it. And if you don't give your kids allowance yet, well, it only makes sense that they would take care of one of your chores. The trick is to make sure it is something they won't want to do again. It doesn't need to be a huge job, just an unenjoyable one. There's always a toilet to be cleaned, or a pet cage or whatever. You know the jobs nobody wants to do. Personally, I would rather clear and wipe the table...and I think the kid would, too ;)

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