Short of Captain Von Trapp’s whistle, I had tried just about everything known to mom to get my kids to do their chores, to do them well, and to do them on time (which in mommy-tongue means: when I wanted it done.) I finally knelt down and asked for help, and then---did my kid’s chores. And right in the middle of a squirt of Clorox into the toilet – a hint of an idea bubbled up. Mother –" it said – “teach your children that chores are an opportunity to learn and become really accomplished at something of worth.
With my creative river suddenly running like springtime, it was easy to draft up a document that we used every Saturday for years. It looked like this:
1.Chore____Student / Apprentice / Professional / Expert / Teacher
2.Chore____Student / Apprentice / Professional / Expert / Teacher
3.Chore____Student / Apprentice / Professional / Expert / Teacher
Here’s how it worked…
I wrote out a chore list for each kid. The worker-bees understood that the list had to be completed THAT day; however, they also knew they could decide when and in what order. Remarkably, this blend of expectation, agency, and trust bred far more self-determination than all my nagging. The chores were usually finished by lunch. That’s Part I of the scheme.
Part II (their favorite part) was about the “ratings”. When each chore was completed, I and the worker-bee would decide which rating the job fit under. For instance, if the child watched ME scrub the toilet as I explained the ins and outs of the job, he/she was, for that day, a “STUDENT”.
If, on the other hand, it was me who watched the CHILD scrub the toilet, offering helpful suggestions as needed, then, for that job that day, he/she was an “APPRENTICE”.
When the child eventually got to the point where he/she could do the job as well as Mom without any assistance whatsoever, he/she was a “PROFESSIONAL” (this was a BIG day). But if the child eventually took the initiative to go one step further and experimented with ways of doing the job even better than Mom, he/she was an “EXPERT”.
Lastly, and ultimately, if our worker-bee had been something of an “EXPERT” or “PROFESSIONAL” for a while, he/she had the prerogative of “graduating” from that particular assignment: passing it onto a sibling by becoming their “TEACHER” (sibling = "STUDENT"). I wanted the kids to assimilate my conviction that sharing your experience and knowledge with others so they can achieve, was the highest and noblest of th e rankings. This approach pleased not only our children, but their friends as well. The worker-bees often had visiting bees from other hives at their side, finishing things off even sooner. By the time they were teenagers, it was a piece of cake to round up the usual suspects for a yard project.
Creative parenting is fun and rewarding: share or link your ideas. Here’s a good one: "Toy catalog" at Making Bread.
Mona's muses inspirational every Sunday at Mona's Gospel Musings and preaches romance in marriage at Mona's Musings with a Hint of Romance. She is the mother of four plus three, grandmother of two, back to doing her own chores, and the award-winning author or With Mine Own Hand: The Musical Account of Nephi. For a daily Hint of Romance, go to Mona's Musings on Facebook.
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