If you think struggling with the kids over household chores might get easier the older they get, think again.
My kids each have several dedicated jobs a week ranging from collecting the trash to sorting the laundry to feeding the cat. The jobs don’t take much time but often, they can’t take the time to do them. Sometimes they forget, other times they claim they don’t have time.
The other day, we reminded Adam to feed the cat — his job for the past several years. The poor cat is always waiting around for Adam, who rarely gets home in time to feed her. This particular night he was in the kitchen when she was clamoring for food, but he had something else he had to do first. He said he’d do it in a minute, and then he totally forgot and went out for the evening.
I texted him the above photo of the poor cat, who was wondering where he went. After that, we gave the job to Maggie since she typically gets home earlier. Adam got demoted to cleaning out the cat litter.
You would think that once the kids were older, they’d handle chores better. And in some cases, they do. Lilly never forgets to separate the laundry but there are days she has too much homework. Unmatched socks will sometime sit on top of the dryer for days because Maggie isn’t around to match them. Jonah can walk by the empty recycling containers on the curb 10 times and fail to bring them in. I’m not sure if he forgets that it is his job or just doesn’t see them.
Often I’ll ask the kids to do extra chores and offer to pay them, but this isn’t very effective. Most of the time, they decline the offer. Jonah is the worst culprit. He’d rather be poor than have to mow the lawn, rake the leaves or pick up trash in the yard. So lately I’ve been telling him he will get paid for the extra jobs only if he doesn’t complain. If he complains, he still has to do the job but with no pay.
Chores are never fun and don’t get easier, but at some point you realize the necessity and just suck it up and do them. Someday they’ll get it. Unfortunately, that will probably be long after they’ve left my house.
FranklyStein is a blog by Chesapeake Family Life editor Betsy Stein, who lives in Catonsville with her husband, Chris, and four children, Maggie, 18, Lilly, 16, Adam, 16, and Jonah, 12.