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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Whatever Your Hand Finds to Do...

I don't know about you but I really hate repeating myself over and over again to three 12 year olds who know exactly what chores need to be done and when they need to do them. Chores are not new to these people! They have been helping with age appropriate tasks around the house since their help was actually a hindrance (you know like when your two-year-old tries to help you put their clothes in the drawers and you end up having to refold EVERYTHING?!)

I have told them that I don't mind washing up the pans each day because I can be sure that they actually get clean and the soapy dishwater cleans up my wedding ring nicely and keeps it shining (which is a great reminder on those days that I don't always feel so shiny in my marriage!) In order for me to do that part of the chores though, they have to take care of the rest of the dishes that go into the dishwasher and clean up the food and counters. Otherwise, the pans are theirs to clean too!

The three of them have been doing this now since second grade. Back then they were all but accusing me of child abuse for making them do something that none of their other friends had to do "MOM! No one else has to load and unload the dishwasher!" They actually said that once to me and I listed the moms that I knew who made their kids do these chores. (We moms do talk after all)

I am not going to argue with them anymore and I have been trying to develop a new strategy. Today it is self evaluation. I started this pile of dishes last Thursday. Many of the pans have been used and washed again. A few have been there since Thursday. One of the children did go on a cleaning binge and washed all of the pans on Saturday but I have since put those dishes away. This is still what sits on my counter.

Self evaluation...let them know the test they are taking and let them determine how they are doing. All have been guilty of walking by something they know they should do but acting like they don't see it. What they don't know or even think about is that I was a kid once too, I didn't like to do chores and I know their ways!

We will see how they respond to the note after school. If it was a perfect world, the counter will be clean and dishes put away with no complaint or comment. These kids are Sloans though. I know their mom and I know their dad. They will have something to say. So, the conversation should be good around the dinner table tonight.

I have had a couple other strategies that have worked out pretty well. My favorite is the photos in the cabinets. In a hurry all of them will just throw a dish or bowl into a cabinet. Never mind that it is teetering on the edge of falling back out on top of them or anyone else who dares open the cabinet next time. I had enough of that a couple months ago so I put everything in the cabinet where it was supposed to go and took pictures of what the shelves should look like. Nothing has fallen out and that particular cabinet looks great every time I open the doors. Now it is just photographing the rest of my cabinets!

I also have labels on the outsides of the cabinets during this stage in my life. It makes things a lot easier and holds the kids accountable as I teach my dad's favorite parenting verse to them Ecclesiastes 9:10 "whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all of your might..." Why would you want to do anything if it isn't done right? It was a great concept when I learned it and it is still a great concept today. Arguing with them gets very old, listening to them point fingers and tell how much THEY have done is extremely annoying. My brain is always devising new ways to cut down on all of that. I am not sure if I am succeeding, but if any of this helps someone else to know they aren't alone or gives them ideas for their own home, then it was worth me sharing today! One day they will be responsible adults and they will probably be labeling their cabinets for their own kids!

P.S. I can't go to bed without reporting about the results of day one of the new strategy:

  1. You will find photographic evidence of my kitchen before bed to the right. I did not ask anyone to do any of their kitchen chores this afternoon/evening.
  2. Supper was made almost completely by one of the 12 year olds without me asking.
  3. Not ONE single complaint about a chore and no one was fighting about who was going to do what.
  4. No one told me that THEY put all of the pans and hand washed dishes away, it was just done!
  5. All three 12 year olds did one or more of the chores.

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