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The Chore of Chores

Charts, lists, gold stars, jars with chores written on slips of paper, family chore time, allowances - the list goes on and on. Over the years my husband and I have tried just about everything to get the kids to help out without too much moaning and groaning on either side. All of this has been with mixed levels of success.

Now don’t get me wrong. The gang helps out. They “fold” and put away their own clothes. They clean their own rooms with varied amounts of success. It is rare that I unload the dishwasher, empty trash, take down the re-cycling, or clean out the cat boxes.

Recently, though, I found myself feeling understaffed and frazzled around meal time.  So it was time for a “new” system. Over dinner I announced that I had come up with an idea to help us all. I needed help, and they needed to learn certain skills. So we would have rotating chores. In week one, Child One would set the table. Child Two would help cook dinner. Child Three would help with clean-up. Child Four would get the week off. The next week all chores would rotate. My husband- who doesn’t have a PhD for nothing- immediately vetoed the idea of a week off and added properly folding laundry (ours, towels, etc.) to the list for Child Four. That idea was greeted with one, “Excellent!” drowned out by a chorus of moans.

We started that night. We are almost through a full rotation of chores. It has not been without its bumps.

We have had requests for chore trades. No go. Each kid needs to learn each skill. Plus, this way we can keep track and keep everything “fair” for everyone.

We have had a sudden increase in kids being away from home when their chore needs to be done. We are still working out that kink.

And the oldest tried the “get out of it by being super annoying” tactic. I have to admit it almost worked. He blathered and complained until my IQ began to dip and my temper began to rise. I was tempted to just send him to his room for a little peace and quiet.

But then it occurred to me... this was my chore. I have told my kids on numerous occasions, chores may not be fun, but they need to be done. Neither of us were having fun that night, but he needed to learn how to prepare a meal. He also needs to learn how to set a table, clean up a kitchen, and properly fold clothes. It takes practice to learn those things. As his mom it is MY chore to see that he practices.

So we stuck with it that night. He ended up making a dinner that was devoured by the family. That evening on Facebook he posted, “ Just made two pizzas from scratch and a berry medley... I guess I'm not too bad at this cooking thing.”

So the rotating chore experiment will continue. But every now and then I think I will give us all a day off from our chores. Fixing a meal or washing dishes without teen commentary sounds like a peaceful day off from chores to me!