At this moment, my house is a mess, more than a mess really, it’s a disgrace. The dishwasher needs emptied, the breakfast dishes are piled in the sink, and the crockpot is sitting out, “soaking” with greasy soapy water. There are two loads of laundry dumped on the couch that need folding and the remains of a pretty awesome pillow fort are strewn all over the floor.
This wouldn’t be a big deal except that a friend just texted me to ask if she can stop by in a few minutes to drop some clothes off for the triplets. How can I say no? We love hand-me-downs.
A few years ago, I would have apologized profusely for the mess as I let me friend in the door. I would have explained, in detail, all the very good reasons I had for the place being a mess. You know what else I would have done? I would have apologized for the “mess” even if my house was clean. I would straighten and scrub before inviting people over and still apologize as my mom friends walked in the door.
I’m not even sure why I was apologizing.
Did I imagine other women kept their house cleaner and neater? Was I worried that they were judging my home? I think it had something to do with me trying to present myself as a person who was in control of the chaos that is my life. Then I think it just turned into a habit.
I’ve decided to stop apologizing. I think you should too.
A few years ago, I took my son over to play at a friend’s house. It was his first time there and my first time meeting the mom. They had just moved in and the mom was in the middle of painting a bedroom. There were kids running through the house jumping over toys and shooting nerf guns at each other. Painting supplies and boxes were scattered throughout the house. But there were no apologies. The mom simply stated, “I’m painting today; I’m so excited about how the room is going to turn out.” In the past two years I’ve been to their house a few times and seen it in many stages: neat as a pin as I’m dropping my son off for a birthday party, happily messy as I’m picking my son up after the party and everything in between. Not once has this mom apologized for the state of the house and why should she?
Aren’t our homes the same? Cluttered and chaotic when we put chores aside to play with our kids, when we decide we need to catch up on our latest Netflix binge, or because illness has hit our homes. Sparkling and smelling fresh after a Saturday scrub down or in preparation for a party. We live here and our space reflects that-our kids, our jobs, our busy lives.
So I’m not going to apologize anymore! I’m just going to live in my home, stop caring what others might think and break my habit of apologizing for the mess!
I’m sure you’ve seen a bunch of posts and articles explaining how important it is to teach kids responsibility by having them participate in household chores. This isn’t one of those posts. Even though I absolutely agree it’s important to teach kids responsibility and impart a good work ethic and all that stuff, I’ll let more qualified individuals advise you on that. I’m not here to talk about responsibility, I’m here to share with you the real reasons I make my kids do chores.
1. I’m Tired Of Doing All Chores
Honestly? I’m just tired of it. All these years of doing dishes, laundry, bathrooms, vacuuming, dusting (hahaha just kidding on that one) sweeping and mopping for a family of 6 just kind of got old. Then one day it hit me, “This is bullsnap! These kids are big enough to help!” I don’t know if that aha moment came to me after I saw the classroom list of jobs my triplets happily participated in 1st grade or when my 5th grade son built an incredibly complex Lego structure with moving parts. Either way I figured, if they can do that stuff, they can certainly empty the dishwasher!
2. I Don’t Want Their Spouses to Hate Me
My kids are still in elementary school, but sometimes I walk around my house, stepping over minefields of Legos and Littlest Pet Shop pets and I think, “If I can’t get them to start picking up after themselves what are their spouses going to think of them? What will their spouses think of me? Will they be annoyed that I never taught my kids to actually pick their wet towel up off the floor and hang it up on a hook? Will they be beyond annoyed at me, angry even? Will they let me see my grandchildren?” Ok, maybe I’m getting a little carried away here, but I really don’t want to send them out into the world thinking that it’s okay to be a slob and have other people pick up after you.
3. I Want Them to Make a Connection
You know, the -if I drop a piece of food on the floor it will stay there forever unless someone picks it up-connection. I don’t think they’ve made that connection quite yet. When my kids drop food on the floor, they make no motion to pick it up. I’m pretty sure they think a magical cleaning fairy comes in at night and takes care of all that. Worse yet, they know that I’ll pick it up so they don’t have to. Well not any more kiddos! Grab that broom and get to sweeping! Mama’s off the clock!
So I set up a cleaning schedule for my kiddos. They each have a daily chore to do during the week, and a bigger chore that they do on Saturdays. It’s been heavenly. Sometimes I actually sit on the couch and direct them around. “You there! Empty the cat litter! And you, other triplet! Wipe the table!” At first I felt a little guilty but then I remembered all those parenting articles written by real grown ups who told me this was a good thing for my kids because, you know, responsibility and stuff!
What about you? Do you make your kids do chores?