Monday, October 5, 2009

Help Me...

I woke up in a mood this morning. You know the mood, the one where I'm quite certain that I am the only one in this household that bothers to pick up, clean, move, or remember the needs of anyone other than myself. OK, maybe it's just me...

It's not pretty. It involves me huffing around muttering under my breath about the slobiness of all. I think the word "ungrateful" may have been thrown in as well. Along with the phrase, "WHY AM I THE ONLY ONE THAT *fill in the blank*"

Poor, poor pitiful me.

I do this. It's a cycle. I go for quite a long time cleaning up after everyone, not minding it all that much. After all, my job is to stay at home and take care of the stuff that needs to be taken care's what I choose to do. I reason that the others go to school and to work, so I should pick up more slack. In part, that is true. But the other part....well that's a whole other story. The other part is what causes me to snap every so often. The other part is that in reality, there are not enough hours in the day for me, myself and I to do all that needs to be done around here for everyone else.

The other part is now called Picking Up After Ones Self. Oh, I say it around here all the time. Maybe they just don't know what I mean. They claim they "just don't see" the stuff. *insert eye roll*

I need your help. They need your help. How do you get the family to pitch in without throwing a fit first? :) What are reasonable expectations for them? How do you keep track? How many chores, how often? Rewards for them? Punishment for them? :)

*disclaimer: My hubby does a great job (most of the time) about helping out...but if you have a system that works for husbands, I'd be happy to listen ;) *

Anyone else throw fits? Seriously, I just need to know...


  1. I'm afraid I'm not much help - I've just got a one year old who doesn't yet understand the concept of picking up after oneself :) But I'll be curious to read the comments and file them away mentally for a later date!

    Oh, well I guess I lied because I did read a book that had some seemingly helpful suggestions on chores, etc. -- called "On Becoming Childwise" by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam. I can't testify that their suggestions work, but they seemed to be good ideas.

  2. Oh, ho, ho, ho, ho...I think you got into my head and wrote this post for me...I am YOU today! I'm coming back later to see what answers you get, because I need them too. It is a cycle...fortunately, I have, with the help of the HS, pulled myself up off the pity pot..its such a horrible place to be, and I agree that its a place of ungratefulness. I often think, "I have to this..and that...and then this...and so on, but night, very late, it hit me that I am so privileged to have the physical ability to do those things, and that I had all these gifts to open each day. That's as far as I've gotten, but I pray the Lord shows you andme more, so we don't go back to that pity pot again.

    God bless you!

  3. I am with you. I can throw a mighty fine pity fit. So lovely.

    This usually catches my family completely off guard. 'What is up with Mom?'

  4. The only thing that ever worked for me was AFTER they left the stuff out. I used to call "10 minute blitz." For the next 10 minutes--everyone had to work as fast as they could to clean up the communal living areas by hauling things back to their rooms or putting things away. They could handle anything for 10 minutes. It was amazing how much could be done in just 10 minutes if we were all doing it and not just me!

    I suppose if you called that in the middle of a favorite activity or program often enough--they might decide to put it away to begin with. I was too dumb to try that trick!

  5. I am a fit thrower just like ya. And 3 little babies who don't do chores, laundry, dishes, clean up....etc, etc :)

    But! I'm like Mrs. E, I'm trying to do a 10 minute blitz before I go to bed every night, and before Hayden goes to bed--have him "help"pick up toys. That way, when I wake up in the morning, I'm not annoyed to no end because my house is a terrible horrible mess :)

  6. Oh I can so relate. I just had my big fit of the week. At least I hope I can keep it together and not do that again...

    It's SO hard to keep up with every thing. And I know it is good for THEM to learn responsibility. SO, my favorite is "I am going to throw all of your toys away if you keep leaving them laying around every where!" :)

    On a more realistic note, I have been trying to teach the boys to simply put a toy away before they get another one out - or they are not allowed to get anything else out. They had this horrible habit of having the whole contents of the toy box spread all over the house. Made me kind of panicky and heart attack-ish. :) It took them a while to catch on to that, but they are doing great with that now.

    I am so just learning as I go...

  7. Wow, I had to make sure this was your post and not mine. I could have written this, word for word. It is my life too. We have three kids, 7, 3, and 22 months. They all know how to clean, but don't know how to pick up after themselves. This is our new system...
    Mainfloor: The kids and myself.

    Upstairs: The kids and my husband.

    Laundry: Me, but they have to collect all of their dirty clothes and bring them down to the main floor laundry-room.

    Meals: The kids set the table, bring condiments, serve each other. I plate up the meals, or we eat by passing the food around. Dh is in charge of the drinks. The kids clear the table, wash it off, and sweep.

    Right now the upstairs is a DUMP, but I am learning to let go of my control because it is their job.

    I stay at home, dh works full-time. We both take classes, so homelife has to be balanced, or else it is total chaos!

  8. Oh, I forgot to add that we do as much as we can before we go to bed, so we wake up to a new day and not the mess of the prior day. It doesn't get done every night, but when it does, it is wonderful!

  9. Yep, I throw fits too. If you get any magical hints about how to handle this, I'd love to know too!

  10. One time I put all of Mike's dirty clothes in his side of the bed and made the bed that way. I thought maybe he'd understand to pick them up. Instead, he just crawled in on top of them. GOOD LUCK!

  11. I just checked my email and Simple Mom's new blog post was in my inbox. You might want to check it out. I think I'll print it out, haha. :)

  12. I can soooo relate. I have to laugh at Michelle's comment as I have done the same thing and my husband reacted the same!

    I just try to stop all activity and tell everyone to pick up there stuff, along the lines of the 10 minute clean-up listed above. But I find I feel like a drill seargent 24 hours a day. I used to sound like one but now I try to change my tone of voice to be very pleasant (which can be VERY hard) and ask them to pick their things up and after things are done the way they should be then they can have the tv/game/computer/toy...or whatever activity they were doing back. Grumbles are automatic no privelages after done cleaning! That works!!!!!!

    It's a learning process and very frustrating....
    Good luck!! :)

  13. I don't have my own kids, but in my job as a special education teacher, I am a behavioral modification specialist, These are my ideas from that perspective.

    Ask yourself what areas are the most crucial. I would start with 2 very specific items. You might think of one "individualized" item per child (such as making their own bed or correctly emptying/packing their own book bag each day) & one "family" item per child (such as setting the table for everyone or something else that helps the entire family).

    If you want to involve your kids in this process (which helps them take ownership), then sit down for a family meeting for a brief conversation & be honest about your feelings. Kids love to help & feel needed, & to be talked to like adults. So, by being honest that you really do need their help, they should respond positively and eagerly. If not, bribe them with pumpkin bars. Just kidding!

    You also could come up with your own ideas & lead them into picking those items for their chore. For example, you might say something like, "One thing that makes it hard for me when it's time to do laundry is that the clothes are everywhere! I have to bend over a lot to pick them off the floor, which makes my back really hurt. What could you do about your clothes to help me?” At which point, angelic child A responds, “Mommy, I could put them in the hamper each night after I take them off!” Now the child thinks he thought of the idea, so he has more ownership over it.

    Also, never assume a child “knows” how to put their clothes in the hamper or clean out their book bag, etc. You will have to show them how it should be done & probably do some practice runs.

    In order to modify their current behavior into more appropriate behaviors, new behaviors also need to be reinforced. In the beginning, reinforcement should occur frequently until behaviors become a habit. You can do this very simply through verbal praise & hugs. Instead of saying something general like “Great job!”, make sure to give very specific praise. “I am so glad you didn’t just throw your book bag on the floor when you came home from school today. You hung it up on the hook so no one would trip over it. Thank you!” or “You did such a great job making sure there are no wrinkles on your bed when you made it this morning. It looks awesome!” It might feel cheesy at first, but if you genuinely mean it, it’s definitely not cheesy.

    Side note: I also find giving very specific praise like this helps the kids who aren’t doing what they are supposed to do without stirring up an argument. For example, if 1/3 kids hang up the book bag and 2 leave it spilled on the floor, it’s VERY tempting to just criticize the 2 who left it on the floor. Instead, give very specific verbal praise to the child who did it right, & make sure to do it where the others can hear you! They will hear the praise you gave the other child, & realize the error of their ways without you having to say one negative word to them. 9 times out of 10, the kids who didn’t do it right will also fix the problem without being officially told. Then you can praise them for taking initiative.

    Finally, you might find you need more than just verbal praise & encouragement. I find that writing it down (such as making a chart) helps both myself AND the child remember what is expected. You could make a chart with each person’s name on it as well as the specific chores you want them to complete. Once it has been completed to your satisfaction, it could be “Xed” off or even given a sticker. You also might choose to use a jar and let the kid put in a marble each time a chore is completed.

    (more to come since I am long-winded)

  14. (Part Deux)

    No matter how you choose to monitor it, I would suggest having it build up to something special. For example, once everyone does their chores successfully all week OR the entire jar fills up, etc. then the family could have a special event together. Let the kids talk about what they would like to do ahead of time so they know what they are working towards. For example, it could be a Family Fun Night with board games, special treats, or a movie and popcorn. Maybe it would be a family outing to a museum or something else. Anything would work as long as it is something the kids all would enjoy doing. I prefer this method than to buying tangible items because it reinforces the value of spending time together as a family.

    My final word of advice is this… I can say from experience that this works with even the toughest kids (many of my students are also juvenile offenders). However, it does take a lot of initial effort & a moderate amount of on-going effort from the adult. I have found when the kids tend to slack off in doing their chores correctly, it is also when I have slacked off on consistency or reinforcement. So just keep that in mind. :) Hope this helps!

  15. I understand. I was in that "mood" yesterday. No ideas to help you out. I found a way to get my hubby to help clean up -- stash his stuff in secret hiding places when he doesn't clean up. ;)

  16. I'm so with you! Actually I dealt with some of these feelings this weekend at a church retreat I mentioned on my blog today. I hate feeling like I'm the only one who does boys are still young, but they are perfectly capable of helping keep their room clean, etc. I have picked simple chores and made a list for each child for each day of the week. Like Mondays, Brayden has to vacuum the living room rug and Caleb sweeps the kitchen floor, etc for each day. It's helpful to make them do their chores in different rooms of the house, that way they don't get in each others way. We are definitely still perfecting our system, but I'm really trying to stick with it! Hope you get some great ideas I can read too...ha.

  17. whatever the girls don't pick up right before bed gets thrown in a bin and put at the top of our closet for a week.

    the closet bin stays empty!

    my five year old wipes the bathroom sink every night after she and jade are doing w/teeth/faces.

    that's all i've got...but i agree with what beth said at the end...if we relax on these routines, they pick up on it immediately. it has to be constant...which is exhausting...which leads to occasional mommy tantrums on my part!

  18. Oh Sarah, I SO get you on this. I go through the same thing. Even though I work, I pick up the extra slack around the house because 1, I'm a woman, and 2, my hubby goes to school full time, works full time, and is a youth minister. His plate is substantially fuller than mine so I try (TRY being the key word) not to grumble too much because at least I'm not under the mental strain that he is under.

    I can tell you what works for us. I don't know if it would fit in your situation because two of your boys are in school so you don't see them all day. But when he gets home, it's his time with my little girl. They go to the park and or to her room or something, and I put on my ipod and do what needs to get done. It's a break for me because I've been with her all day long, but at the same time because it's my "alone time" I don't even really realize I'm working; I'm just enjoying being by myself. Ahem, not that we moms ever get TIRED of having someone around us 24/7. I know this isn't really an answer to your question. And there are things he still does that I've told him about a million times and I've just had to learn the hard way I can't control what others do, only how I respond to them. The "break" in the day really helps me keep my attitude in check, if for nothing else than it's a little selfish moment of alone time in my day.

    As for my little girl, if she starts slacking on what she's supposed to do, we do a system of rewards and/or punishments. She loses storytime before bed if she doesn't pick up her toys after she's done playing with them, etc. Things like that. I think every child responds to different things. Sometimes you have to try 3-4 different methods to find out what works with your kids, which can make you want to tear your hair out. :)

    I'm going to go read your other comments. I'm sure there's some good wisdom in there! *hugs*

  19. hooooooOH yeah can I relate! Just this weekend I threw up my arms and said "I'm NOT cooking!"
    When asked why I said "Nobody listens to ME so I don't want to hear anybody crying about being hungry."
    It was the FIT of all fits. ;)
    (I won't get into what they weren't listening about, but finally I went out to the garage and cleaned out there, because A) they couldn't SEE me and B) I wasn't tempted to pitch everything in the garbage.)

  20. I'm no help. Just a fellow pity partier. I bet my house is messier than yours....

  21. I heard this lately by a few others. I often feel the same way. It comes and goes in spirts. I was just feeling this way the other day. I'm looking forward to reading what others are doing about it.

  22. I don't have any wise words to say other than I feel ya. I had a minor fit yesterday, that may or may not have involved both yelling and sobbing. I blame pregnancy. :)


Thanks for commenting, you make blogging fun. :) If your comment doesn't appear right away, it's because it's awaiting moderation, but it will show up soon!

Web Hosting Pages