It happens without fail every single day: I remind all of my kids at least once (and that is on a good day) to do a chore around the house they already know they are supposed to do.
Take my son, for example. He’s in charge of taking out the dog after school and dinner. The dog starts to cry at the door — I remind my son to take him out. The dog continues to cry — I remind him again. After the third time, I am out of friendly reminders, and my son wants to know what I am suddenly in a bad mood.
Then there’s my daughter. When she’s in charge of folding the laundry (chores operate on a rotation in my house), it sits in the dryer until about the third reminder as well. Then she says, “Oh, why do we have so much laundry? I hate this!”
I get it, I really do. I mean, don’t we all hate laundry? I am just glad I have kids who are old enough to fold it for me. The way I look at it, I never have to fold laundry so long as my kids are living here. I love my life.
Most parents I know are big believers in having their kids do chores. It teaches them responsibility, gives them long-lasting life skills, and is a good way to raise non-asshole kids who don’t feel entitled.
But I have to say, instilling a work ethic in them is, well, hard work. Probably some of the hardest work we will do during our time as parents. It is so tempting to correct a job they have done or just freaking do it ourselves since we most likely lose half of our daily energy arguing with our kids to get their chores done.
I have two tweens and a teen, and we have been at this for a while now. At this point in the game, they know what is expected of them each day, but they still resist. They still flop around when it comes to chore time and put up quite a fight.
But it doesn’t fucking matter. They can try to get out of their daily duties all they want. They are stubborn, but so is their mama, and I’ll be damned if they are going to live here and not pull their weight.
There are four of us living under this roof. We all produce laundry, make a mess in the bathroom, and carry dirt in on our shoes. We can all pitch in. And now that they are older and I have put the time into teaching them how to put a little effort into doing things around here (even though I’ve lost my shit more often than not), it has started to pay. And it is glorious, minus the complaining and flopping around of course.
Although they don’t believe me, I do realize there are other things that are way more fun than folding laundry or picking up dog turds. And I tell them all the time they will appreciate me later for teaching them how to cook, clean, and maintain their personal hygiene (which seems to be the biggest chore of all). And I know they won’t get it for a while. Hell, they might not even see the light until they are parents themselves and witness how a child can rip through a freshly cleaned house like a tornado and undo a lot of hard work.
But I am hoping it will be when they are on their own and they feel empowered because they know how to cook a meal, keep their clothes clean, and steam clean a rug. And if they only do all those things before I come and visit that will be good enough for me.
For now, while they are under this roof and I’m paying the bills, I refuse to relent. I refuse to do all the work myself. I refuse to bust my ass while they are chilling on the couch, with their snacks, watching other kids play with toys on YouTube.
My kids can continue to try to beat me at this game, but I will always win. After all, mothers have more endurance than anyone.