It was my husband who saved the day when it came to organizing the laundry duties. I attribute his time in the Army to his delegation skills. It’s not that I didn’t have expectations for my kids, I did, but not enough. When they were young I had them match up socks or fold towels. Then, it got to the point where I felt like if I wanted it done right, I had to do it myself. All my kids were responsible for was putting their own clothes away in their dresser drawers and that was pretty much it. My husband gently reminded me that the kids should be expected to do more. He was right. They need to learn responsibility and with me doing most of the work they weren’t learning it. I then taught my eight and nine year old sons how to run the washing machine.
I wasn’t sure what to expect but they both caught on quickly. Once they knew which colors were washed in cold water and which ones in the hot, they were golden. It has been a tremendous blessing having them help when needed and it gives them an extra boost of confidence knowing that they are helping the family in this way.
I’ll admit, there are times when my toddler is destroying the house and my kids walk by a piece of trash on the floor and they don’t pick it up. I then look around at the messy bathroom, the toys all over the floor and all I see is mess, mess, mess. It is at this point that I almost break and want to pull my hair out. I am only one person, how in the world am I going to keep this house in order? The answer?
The thing is, I know my kids can do it. They can clean their room, and they can do it well. They can wash the pots and pans and efficiently. It’s just a matter of me letting go of control. Rather than just popping in a movie for them to watch so I can clean in peace or sending them outside so I can have a moment of quiet, I need to remember that they do have it in them.
To be honest, I don’t always give them the opportunity to shine because I don’t want to deal with the whining and complaining. But once I press through all that and basically make it known that they don’t have a choice, the work gets done. And then, the next time I tell them to do it, it’s easier.
Once in awhile I need to force myself to delegate. Terrible, I know. It’s just a matter of letting go and trusting that the can do it. It really is amazing though that after a bit, my kids actually are willing to help and it isn’t such a struggle to have them work extra jobs that need to get done around the house.
The key, I’m learning, is persistence. Being persistent in teaching them to be responsible. The fact that we are home all day, with our children, means that the house is “lived in.” There will be more messes than the family whose kids are in school and the parents who are at work all day. That is just the simple facts. Turn this reality into an opportunity. An opportunity to teach your children how to keep a house running, and running smoothly, it will be a lifelong skill that they will eventually thank you for.
A couple resources to help teach responsibility: