If you don't make them work...
It was new to me to consider housework a fun thing to be done with a happy attitude, but as it has changed my life and because it fit in so well with the other unschooling issues, I've collected things to help others consider this change as well.
In the same way that food controls can create food issues, forcing housework on children can cause resentments and avoidances which neither get houses clean nor improve the relationships between children and parents.
Also, studies of separated identical twins suggest that the desire and ability to clean and organize have more to do with genetics than "training."
I hope you enjoy and are inspired by some of the collected writings below, few to none of which are my own.
If a parent makes something sound like a really big deal, it becomes even bigger in a child's mind. If it's a big, negative deal, it may become even more negative for a kid. A positive attitude sets a much more pleasant stage for others to walk out on. Set the example you would like others to follow.
There is definitely a transition period after a proclamation like "NO MORE CHORES" is given. For a kid it may be like being set free from prison, and for awhile they may want to push their newfound freedom to the limit. But slowly, cleaning and picking up will be no big deal, as long as the parents are not making it a big deal. My kids do a lot more picking up now than they did a couple of years ago, and there are more and more days when I get home and the dishes have been run, the counters are wiped down, and the house is almost....clean. Not everyday, but there are days when I don't want to do it either. And some days I don't. The kids have that same right.
Plan on doing most of the cleaning for awhile. Better yet, plan on doing ALL of the cleaning for awhile, and whenever someone else pitches in, you may appreciate it more. Try not to look at it as "I have to do it all!", because you don't have to do it all. There's always a choice. If you don't feel like cleaning today, then don't. Will the house get messier? Yup. Is it a big deal? Shouldn't be. During "de-choring" your house is going to be messier. It's a fact. But little by little things will change, and you will notice things getting done that you didn't have to do and didn't have to demand done. It won't happen overnight. It probably won't happen in three months. It may not happen in the first year if a parent walks in day after day, exasperated with the fact that a room isn't clean and tidy. When you say to your kids, "hey, why didn't you clean that up?", the first thing that may go through their minds is, "well why didn't you?" It works both ways.
Cleaning doesn't have to be a big deal. Don't make it a big deal and your kids may be more inclined to follow in your footsteps.
We don't clean up messes to have a clean house. We clean up messes so there is room for more mess!
Now I think of cleaning up after my kids as replacing a canvas. I do it with the thought that by giving them room again and a bare floor and organized toys to pick from I'm handing them the tools to write another mess onto our house. It's meant that at the end of a day, or sometimes a few days in a row, I just let the mess stay, because really, it's a work of art or a story. Maybe it isn't finished. Maybe it's too interesting to be gotten rid of so soon. It also clears up my feelings of resentment about doing the bulk of it. I like being the one to reset the house so that we all can live another, different mess the next day.
Anyway, thought I'd share since it's really helped me bring more joy into the housework!
By removing the burden of "Chores" from him, he is now much more likely to help out and to do things spontaneously because he sees us helping each other, doing things that need doing simply because they need doing, not because it's "my turn" or "my job"— we don't have assigned jobs, whoever is able and available does what nees doing. If we ask him to do something, we are learning to accept yes or no or I'll do it after this show is over.
There are some things that need doing now— for example, picking up dishes in the living room— because we have two big dogs that would get into it and possibly get sick or whatever. But, those aren't arbitrary, DS knows why he needs to bring his dish to the kitchen. If I'm heading that way, I'll take it and vice versa— if he's going to take his dish, he often picks mine up too on the way.
Ditto for things like leaving toys out—the lab mix is a plastic chewer and DS left a toy or two out when we were heading out of the house or at bedtime and got them chewed, now he knows better. (We hadn't noticed it or we would have picked it up ourselves. It wasn't a "I'll leave it so he'll learn" malicious kind of thing.)
As far as housework, getting all the nitty-gritty cleaning stuff can almost be done in half a day...toilet cleaning, bathtub, dusting, vaccuming, etc, especially if you're not a picky person. :o) I don't clean when I'm tired, or cranky, because that tends to bring out the pity party in myself. Sometimes I'll clean while the kids are still sleeping, or gone for the day.
In our home, I realized that the bulk of the mess was everyone getting stuff out, and leaving it there for someone else to pick up. I don't mind messes, and projects, at all. But it helped to talk with the kids about coming home and flinging their jackets on the ground instead of hanging them, leaving toys out, not putting their dishes in the dish washer, etc. It's not a matter of having "jobs" or chores, it's just love and respect for each other. I usually don't even have to remind someone, because another child will remind them instead.
I like in the book, "How to Talk so Kids Will Listen, and Listen so Kids Will Talk" the idea of using one word to help motivate; "Kelsey...jacket." There is a chapter on how to enlist help without nagging or putting guilt on a kid too. Instead of saying, "Bill, you left the milk out again, you are always doing this! What's wrong with you!"...you don't even say the child's name, and instead make a comment like, "milk goes bad when it's left out." You are not accusing or pointing fingers, instead, you're giving information. It really, really works.
Anyhow, just saying that getting everyone to pick up their own things, IMO, isn't wrong. It's just teaching a child kindness and respect for each other. That will leave a lot more time for moms or dads to rush through and get the real cleaning done, or make it possible for the cleaning people to come less.
Oh...one more thing! :o)
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