I like a good list of tasks to cross off to make me feel accomplished. A couple of children ago, I jumped on the chore chart bandwagon. I, mistakenly, thought it would give me the same feeling of accomplishment and instill in my children responsibility. I was really, really wrong.
I made the chart, gathered the stickers and by day five, wanted to rip that blasted chart to shreds. There are days I struggle remembering to have everyone brush teeth after breakfast, and don’t get me started on attempting to remember what days which child has P.E., library or band. Adding a chore chart and stickers to place on completed tasks was not helpful. It was a burden.
I applaud parents who can make chore charts work in their house without feeling like they’ve just given themselves one more job to do. I managed to teach my children just how giant of a nag I could be. I understand the concept behind a chore chart. In theory, you should only need it up for a short time until your child has learned a new behavior and routine. For my family, it’s just easier to ask for things to be done when they need to be done. No one wanted to deal with a stressed mama who couldn’t find the stickers and just kept asking if the beds were made at 6 p.m.
The dishwasher isn’t conveniently ready to be started or emptied at the same time each day. Sometimes the trash needs to go out when no one but me is here to do it. I don’t care if my kids make their beds or not. Not all of the kids are even tall enough to help with the laundry. We work on a need-to-do basis at our house. I ask. They do, not always willingly. Does anyone really want to stop reading or playing with LEGOs to empty the dishwasher? The deep sigh isn’t them (necessarily) being disrespectful, but really just being human. Countless times I’ve looked at the full laundry hampers disgruntled as if the laundry is piled high to spite me.
No one likes to do chores. I want my children to learn we’re all in this together. This is our home, collectively. We can share the load of taking care of what’s ours. That would also be why I don’t give an allowance. No one pays me for taking care of our home. Doing chores around the house is part of having a home. You don’t do it for money. You do it because you care about the people who live here and the place we call home. I do, however, pay for chores above and beyond normal household duties. We have an apple tree in our backyard. I am more than happy to give a child a few dollars for raking up fallen, rotting apples and collecting ripe ones. That’s a chore I don’t enjoy and really would only do if someone paid me.
It’s in those moments when my oldest offers to shovel snow from the sidewalk and then I look outside to see him doing our neighbor’s sidewalk as well, that I’m glad I took the non-chore chart route. The chore chart was too rigid for this family of mine. Teaching our children responsibility for their environment was helped by being free-flowing in the chores assigned. We all contribute in our own ways, and it ebbs and flows with the current of life’s routines.