They won’t do chores!

This may be trivial but it’s causing so much unhappiness in my house. My children take me for granted but i don’t know what to do about it. I can’t get them to do chores. I just don’t have the time. I know it would lead to endless fights just getting them to do what I ask and if they did do them, they’d do them so badly I’d just have follow round picking up the mess and doing them all over again. It all sounds very nice, but it isn’t realistic. I just wish i could make them do the, though!

Certainly, if you go into sharing the household tasks with a pessimistic, powerless attitude it’s likely to backfire. If you assume they’ll do it badly, if you follow on behind doing the things you’ve asked them to do, children have no incentive to fulfil their responsibilities. So let’s see how you can turn this around.

For a start, stop thinking of it as something you’re getting or asking them to do. What is happening is that all of you are going to have a discussion about what it takes to keep a home running and they are going to recognise you have enough on your plate and can’t do it all. They are going to see if they live here and expect their clothes to be cleaned, food to be put on the table, and for the health and safety offices not to charge in and condemn the house, some sharing out of chores needs to be done. It’s not an argument or a request – it’s a recognition of realities.

When you simply put it that this will be done – full stop, no argument…kids usually fall in. Especially if they understand how much you need their help and how much it will mean they can be relied on.

Secondly, start trusting them. Yes, it may take some time to work out and begin but the work is all in the setting up. After that, you gain so much time since you’re not doing it all.

Thirdly, you have to accept that some task swill not be done to your exacting standards – and so what? Get your priorities right; does it matter that the dusting is done so the house gleams all day and every day, or that you can sit down and share a coffee with your kids and chat because you don’t have to do it all?

But suggest all of you think about natural consequences. The natural consequence of your doing all the chores is that you are tired, resentful and not available to talk or play with them. The natural consequence of their doing a task badly is that you’re upset and that they don’t have a clean cup or a clean shirt for school. Once they begin to see that not doing what is required actually effects them, and you, then they will pull their weight. All it needs is for you keep faith in yourself and then, and hold the line.

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