Getting the Chores Done

I have a confession. I stink at chores. Getting them done and assigning them to my kids. Once upon a time, I was Glenda Good Housekeeper, but these days I’m more like Worn-Out-Mop Mom, so who cares about dusting?

In some ways, I’ve adapted to the necessities of my life. Having a special needs child who seems to be allergic to sleeping has taken its toll on my body and mind, but I’ve let busyness and my foggy brain keep me from teaching both of my girls to be responsible at home. I often get the job done myself because it’s faster, and I don’t have time to think about it.

Chores are important. They’re part of being a family. As a mom, I don’t want to raise spoiled humans who grow up expecting the Housekeeping Fairy to show up while they sleep. It won’t help them maintain adult relationships, such as with a roommate or a husband. Plus, with my special needs child, basic chores like sweeping, vacuuming, and sorting silverware build self-esteem, are good for the body and brain, and are daily living skills she might not acquire unless specifically taught.

This summer I still haven’t managed to make a chore chart, but I’ve been assigning Eldest jobs like sweeping, taking out the trash, or vacuuming each week. I’ve been asking my little one with special needs to hand-over-hand vacuum with me and to put her clothes away. I’ve stood back and talked Eldest through making mac and cheese, even verbally walking her through clean up.

Today, while Eldest swept the tile, I walked past to find her sitting on the floor, sweeping one piece of dirt at time into the dustpan. I had to clamp my mouth shut to keep from making a comment. Seriously, it would have been faster to sweep with Barbie’s miniature broom. And she was holding the broom wrong. And … I thought over what Tracey Eyster said in her book, Be the Mom, about her struggle not to demand perfectly folded towels from her kids.

Yes, I’d like Eldest to sweep in an efficient manner so we can move on with our lives, but is my goal to teach her to be a perfectionist? Should I show her that if it’s not done my way, it’s not worth doing? Or do I want her to learn to finish what she starts and to be proud of  a job completed?

I smiled and kept walking. “Thanks for sweeping!”

She smiled back and a moment later, she stood and finished sweeping in only minutes. Perhaps she was testing me to see if I would gripe at her, and when I didn’t, she decided to just get the job done.

I think, as Tracey has often said, it’s easy for us moms to fall into traps. One of those traps is the desire to have things done just as we would do them. For me, the ever-recovering perfectionist, I must keep in mind that I need to give my kids the opportunity to do chores, even if they fail or do them “wrong.” After all, some of the best lessons in life come from our mistakes. On top of that, my floor is just as swept whether my daughter did it sitting down or standing up. As they age, their accuracy will improve, and when they’re on their own, maybe, just maybe, they’ll be glad Mom taught them a few lessons with grace.

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