...don't be the only sad sap in the house doing it.
Seriously. The days when Mum dutifully dashed after everyone in the house who puddled piles of mess behind them are so over. And about time. Certainly, since my job is at home with the children, the bulk of the work falls to me. But it will do no harm and the world of good for the other members of the house, so drag them away from the TV to do their share!
They will learn
- valuable skills that serve them in later life (that includes DH, by the way) - please don't raise tomorrow's useless flatmate or partner
- how much effort it is to clean up and therefore gain some consciousness about making the mess
- that it isn't respectful for everybody in the house to be relaxing while Mum keeps on going and going and going and going....
- Setting and clearing the table - even tinies can carry an empty plastic cup or sauce bottle or some cutlery - graduate them as appropriate. They can even "wash" the table.
- Doing laundry - handing me dirty clothes to put in the tub, help pouring soap, pushing the start button on the machine, removing small dry things from low bars on an airer, putting clothes in the basket, handing me clothes from the basket to put in drawers or even putting clothes in drawers
- Cooking - I can have kids up on chairs while I do dangerous things like cutting, and they can put pieces in cookware and push some buttons on the microwave
- Tidying their own toys, putting things in the rubbish...
Often kids will have lots of fun joining in. And sometimes not. Wait for a natural break in their other activities, and if necessary, use the resumption of that activity (or something else) as motivation to get the job done. When there are major dramatics, I remind myself that I am not asking them to walk long distances to the river to beat clothes against rocks, or pump their own water from village wells and carry the bottles back strapped to their foreheads. And I persist until I get some measure of cooperation.
You won't be surprised to hear that I don't believe in the tidy-up fairy - and that I don't want my kids to either. (The untidy fairies? Of course they exist!) So even when I don't enjoy the mess, I try not to spend my precious after-kid-bedtime tidying up their toys if we haven't managed to do it earlier. Past a certain age, it's counterproductive to let them experience making a playful mess, and then another, and then another, and then make that mess magically disappear without any of their participation.
Husbands are even less likely to get excited about household chores. But if we agree on even one helpful task that he doesn't hate to do, we''ll all be better off. And many husbands, including my DH, will do quite a lot if asked politely. And will do even more if yelled at, but it's better to save that for emergencies.
Next, I'll write about specific things I do to minimise different types of housework around our house.
How do you get your family involved in the house business?