It's not my job...

My husband, Scott, with Candice "mowing the laundry" 1986

My husband, Scott, with Candice "mowing the laundry" 1986

"Mommy, I'll do that for you when I'm big, OK?" These were the sweet words of my three-year-old daughter, Candice, as I was scrubbing the toilet one day. Needless to say, I wrote it down and had her scribble a "C" next to it. 

   When my second-born, Rachel, was four she announced, "Mommy, I'm going to do all your work for you today!" So I asked, "What kind of work are you going to do?" She replied, "Like mow the laundry." Why is it that kids want to do stuff only until they're actually big enough to do it?

   My friend, Deanna's, little boy was telling his family about his day at school and said they talked about the chores they have at home. He said all the kids thought he was so lucky when he told them he didn't have any. His mom replied, "What are you talking about? You set the table, empty the dishwasher, clean your room, sort, fold, and put away laundry, make your bed, and clear the table after meals." He looked at her strangely and said, "Those aren't 'chores,' those are just the things I do."

   That little guy has it right! Being part of a family is like being part of a baseball team. When the ball comes to you, you don't consider it a chore to catch it and put it where it needs to go next... that's just what you do. And you wouldn't expect the coach or manager to cover your position on the field. Does your family function as a team? Check out Timely Tips for some family team building strategies. 


The Five "C's" of Family Teamwork 

1.  Create the Climate - Whether you're tweaking established routines, or introducing family chores for the first time communicate how important each family member's role is to the success of the family team. Choose an analogy that your family can relate to - a sports team, band, cheer squad, etc. Note how winning teams encourage each other with high fives and hugs. Thank your kids for doing their chores even though it's expected, and let them catch you and your spouse thanking each other for daily duties. We all like to feel appreciated! 

2.  Clearly Define Duties - A pitcher isn't just told to throw the ball as fast as he can to the backstop. He's trained to aim for home base between the shoulders and knees of the batter. Likewise, everyone in the family needs to know what's expected of them. Not simply - "clean your room." Show and tell them exactly what that looks like. Chore charts are a handy tool too (

3.  Cover - If the ball is hit to left field, the center fielder doesn't just stand there thinking, "It's not my job to catch the left field balls." He runs over to cover, in case the left fielder isn't able to complete the play. Family teams are strengthened as Dad and Mom model this type of character and kids are on the giving and receiving end of occasionally covering for one another.  

4.  Consistency - Practice, practice, practice! Following through is as draining on parents as it is on children, but have you ever seen a successful team that doesn't consistently practice? Be consistent in requiring your kids to follow through with their clearly defined duties. You and they will reap the benefits!

5.  Consequences - Every family must determine their own reward/punishment system for this training process. Personally, I like the idea that there are some things family members do, just because they're part of the family. There may be other occasional jobs that they are paid for. A negative consequence for one who has failed to meet his/her obligations might be to assign an additional chore from your backburner list. That way you benefit either way! : ) 

Wise Words

The name we give something shapes our attitude toward it.    --Katherine Paterson