The Constant Battle

We have a constant battle in our house. It’s over chores.

We have an 11 year old son with a ton of free time. He is homeschooled, which only takes a few hours a day. We also have quite a collection of animals to care for, and two young children in the family. My husband and I both work full time outside of the house. (Three days each…he’s Saturday to Monday and I work Wednesday to Friday. ) We need our 11 year old to help keep our many obligations taken care of. So, my husband and I tried making a chore chart, we’ve tried an allowance based on housework, and we constantly drop hints to get him to offer his help. Nothing has worked! His efforts are not up to our standards either. He seems totally content to live in a messy house, or to complain about smells or inconveniences. He will even put on headphones or leave the room if the baby starts screaming while I’m busy doing something. Seriously, picking up the baby makes him groan and grumble. 😞 With my husband and I having strong work ethics, we don’t know how we ended up with such a lazy kid.

We once used a large white board with a list of chores and the three of us had designated markers to put check marks next to chores we did. My son was not phased by the fact my husband and I put many more marks on the board, and each work full time outside of the house. We’re not expecting him to be our slave or anything,  but if he enjoys having our pets, or makes some of the messes we expect him to help maintain a tidy home.

What works for you to get a pre-teen to offer help? Does that even happen?

We have sat down and explained how we want to work as a team to keep the house tidy, care for our pets and of course care for the 2 little children of the family who are very demanding. He’ll get emotional, say he’s horrible for not helping and then help more for a day or two before slipping back into old habits.

He asks me what he can do to remember to help, and I want to say “Open your eyes!”. I told him he could make a list and keep it in a place he will see it every day. I like to make lists to keep myself on task, so I made an example of one last night. It’s long, and doesn’t all have to be done today, but most of it does.

Today with my list waiting on my coffee table, was one if his helpful days. I was in bed nursing the 15 week old when I heard him get up and head to the kitchen to start chores. He emptied the dishwasher which ran overnight while we slept, he emptied our dryer, washed a load of laundry, salted the slippery spots on our porch and driveway, and has put the laundry he washed in the dryer. I want this helpfulness to continue because he is proud of helping, not because he feels guilty. Maybe our most recent chat about needing him to help has sunk in. We will all be happier if none of us feel like we’re doing all the work ourselves and we are living in a tidy space.

He has finished his school lessons for the day, and is now outside playing in the snow while we still have some daylight. Earlier today he said he would help tackle more of my list after having some play time. We’ll see if he follows through with it. I am hopeful. 😉



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