Thursday, January 05, 2017

Kids and chores and motivation, oh my

Howdy! I'm glad you're here.  
This post probably contains run-on sentences, sentence fragments, 
affiliate links, and unnecessary ellipses.  If none of that bothers you, let's be friends.

Interview question nine:

"Are there tasks/chores that your kids have entirely overtaken? Have you ever had to deal with a kid who goes into slow motion when it's time to do chores, and if so, how do you deal with that? Not that I've ever had a five-year-old who does that to me ten times a day."

Yes yes yes!  I mean, if they're not home for one reason or another, we will still do them, but here are things I generally don't do anymore:

 Wash the dishes
Do anything related to the chickens
Clean either of the bathrooms
Vacuum anything
Take out the trash or take down/bring up the dumpster
Clean the play room
Feed the dogs

There are many other things that get done around the house that I or other people do, but it's more of a rotating/as needed thing.  But the above stuff I really don't do.  I schedule and I assign and I remind, but the actual doing is not mine anymore.  Many hands make light work!

As for slow motion during chore time, I think a better question might be "have you ever had to deal with a kid who DOESN'T go into slow motion when it's time to do chores?"  There's gotta be an entire chapter in the how-to-be-a-kid manual devoted to stalling and complaining when it comes time to do undesirable or even vaguely less than exhilarating activities.  It's crazy.  My favorite* is when a person spends more time pontificating about the unfairness of the situation than it would take to just complete the assigned task.    

So.  Motivation, yes?  One thing is that when it's "clean up time," I am also cleaning up.  I'm not doing the things they can and should be doing, but I'm doing the other things that need to be done, so that it feels like a team effort.  There's a certain energy created by everyone working together that helps move the crowd along, an energy that you lose if some people are lounging on the sofas painting their collective nails (for example). 

Another thing I sometimes do is to tap into the children's natural competitive streak with speed cleaning competitions and other ridiculous things like that.  I also do a set small task with fun break after it.  Like "we're gonna clear this table and then we can find that chicken dance video on Youtube.  Go, go, go!"  And then I have to actually find the chicken dance video and not move the goal post (by adding one more requirement) or come up with a reason not to do the dance, which is definitely the hardest part for me.  Can't we just keep cleaning non-stop until the house is spotless?  Why aren't you young people motivated by an unreasonable vision of perfection?!?  Oops.  Was that out loud?

I am also not above bribery.  Screen time (one episode of some kids' show on Amazon prime video or playing on the computer for 20 minutes) is a reward for finishing _______________ task, usually cleaning up a certain number or type of thing in the play room.  Friday night family movie nights can only happen if the den and playroom are "vacuum clean," which means for real actually totally clean and vacuumed, not that weird kind of fake cleaning where everything ends up along the edges of the room and there's a clear circle in the center that's roughly 2.6' in diameter.

Even with all of this there can still be a lot of frustration and general grumbling and often that's because people need food or sleep or a potty break. Never overlook the physical when someone is being downright unmanageable, know what I'm sayin'?   But sometimes you do everything right and kids go ahead and dig in their heals, assert their free will and well, that's just mom lyfe I guess.  It's boring to say it but consistency, setting a good example, and establishing a culture of service will eventually pay off.  It's just that getting to eventually might require manymanymany evening glasses of wine.  Not all on the same day. know...manymanymany days.  So don't stress.  If a 5 year old is doing chores at all, you're already winning!

Posting for the 12 days of Christmas...
12 in 2016 (a photo year in review)
Stuff That Makes My Life Better
Where did all these children come from?!?!
Homeschooling High School
I Dream of Houses
Dollah Dolla Billz
Wood Shed, Wood Box, Wood Stove: heating with wood in Michigan
Tiny everyday, every day, miracles
House Fixin'

*not actually my favorite

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  1. Lol at your description of the fake clean family room! 😂😂😂😂😂 I feel like I know adults who do the same thing in their kitchens...."Imma just gonna wipe the front edge of the counters and sweep in some places that don't include the toekick space under the cabinets...." 😆😈😲😖😔😂 -FarmandAway

  2. I'm so happy that you've posted for 12 days of Christmas! (heart emoji)
    Best = "not that weird kind of fake cleaning where everything ends up along the edges of the room and there's a clear circle in the center that's roughly 2.6' in diameter." Truly, the best. (beer cheer emoji, laughing emoji)

  3. This is so helpful! My oldest is about to turn 6, and I'm (finally?) realizing that he's plenty old enough to have some regular chores and why am I still putting his clean clothes away in his dresser for him instead of asking him to do it? (Because I like to know the clothes are folded neatly and put away in the RIGHT places, even if they're not my clothes... why do I even care? I have no idea!).

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