Friday, August 3, 2012

A Mommy's To Do List

Last week I made to-do charts for my kids. I know, how awesome is that. My purpose was motivated by pure selfishness with a close secondary interest for their character.

For far too long I have taken 100% responsibility for all the household chores (my husband helps). Occasionally, I would ask the kids for help, but we didn't have anything official. Most of the time it was just easier and faster for me to do it myself. And I like having a clean house so waiting for them was torture.

One day it dawned on me (for the thousandth time) that these little people are perfectly capable of cleaning up their own messes and I was ready to do something about it. Yes, I knew that before. I was just seriously overwhelmed by what it would take to actually do it, and before I knew it they were well past the age that they should have been doing it.

There was always something keeping me from it. The bottom line was I didn't have the patience to teach my kids to clean. Let's face it, patience is a skill that isn't mastered easily. It takes... well, patience. Have I mentioned that I am not a patient person? I like things done right and done now. That methodology doesn't work well with small children. It doesn't work well with adults either!

The configuration of our rental house has helped spur my desire to get them working and taking responsibility for the work they create for others. Finally, we have separate spaces for children and adults. The downstairs has the kitchen, living room, and master bedroom - I can keep my spaces as clean as I want them. The kids rooms are all upstairs and the only reason I have to go up is to put the baby down. I don't have to look at dirty rooms. What a brilliant floor plan!

So I have tinkered and tried a few things and I think we are on our way to something that might actually last. I have thought about, introduced, and given up multiples times. We are starting small and will add things to it as we go.

They have basic responsibilities like making their bed, getting dressed, and putting their clothes away that they have to do. And then I have attached specific rewards to completing extra assignments. I have no problem whatsoever with my children taking all day to clean their room. Sure, I would like it to be done sooner, but the longer it takes them the less My Little Pony I have to hear, the less often I have to find something for them to do - because the "to-do" is clean your room. There is less TV watching, less computer time, less game system time, less of all the stuff I knew they should be doing less of anyway!

Sure there was some complaining in the beginning, but after a few short weeks we have finally reached the place where they know what needs to be done without me asking/nagging. Pure Heaven! I walk into the kitchen and see little bowls and spoons removed from the table and put in the sink. We are making progress. And as a bonus, they have started to entertain themselves and play again.

The other day I told the kids that when they had finished cleaning their rooms and the play area that we could go swimming. It was 4:00 before that happened. It might have been earlier but we still have naps for the baby to work around. Eventually they will catch on to what most of us know - you can play when the work is done.

And then the big mommy moment - I don't play by my own rules! See I usually do the fun things first and save the hard work for latter. Just ask my floors. I have been meaning to get on my hands and knees and scrub that grout until it shines. But I would rather do something else. Here I am.

What am I teaching my children?

So in the spirit of shared responsibility and accountability I made up my very own Mommy Reminder  to help me do what I already know I should.

And maybe if I am a good girl and finish all my work I can play with my friends. Have a great weekend!

Don't forget the blog hop starting on Monday at 12:00 am EST. It's Medical Mondays - You can read more about it here.



  1. A while back I realized I was being hypocritical too. Harping on the kids to tidy up, etc. I would log on to the computer first thing in the morning to check blogs, FB, email etc, and end up taking more time than I should have and neglecting my own chores.

    I totally agree with you about music. I hardly ever have the TV on during the day, but my iPod is constantly playing. It helps wake me up and keeps me energized.

  2. I usually do all of the list except for #1. Maybe if I do the last rule I can then do the first one!...I need sleep:) Thanks for the post - good reminder to live by everyday.


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