Monday, August 29, 2011

Housework Blows

I have heard tales of people whose children joyfully help clean the house; whose homes are neat and organized; who cheerfully fold laundry and scrub doodie out of the toilet bowl with a smile on their faces.

These people are either heavily drugged or liars.

Because I have never, ever, met a real life mom who did not (at least once) feel like it would be easier to just burn the fucker down and start from scratch than to get it all clean.

It's an impossibility. There is always something to do. Get all the laundry done? They wear more clothes. Wash the dishes? They insist on eating again. Mop the floor? Some dog comes along and rubs her impacted anal glands on it and gets butt juice all over the place.

I'm a pretty organized person. I am a clean person. If I lived alone, I could probably manage something close to sparkly. Add in these other people (and dog) and I have to bust my ass to keep us off Hoarders.

Every few months, I call a family meeting and give my State of the House Address.

OK, you guys. I really need you to pitch in! Girls, that means keeping your rooms neat!
Oh, yes, Mommy! We will.
And putting away your clothes.
And helping Mommy clear the table!
Look! Something shiny!

And I lose them.

Like most kids, they help, but rarely willingly. Every time I ask them to do something, it's like the first time.

Hey, guys. Please set the table.
Whaaaaat? Set the table? What do you mean? Why do we have to set the table?
Katie, put your clothes away.
Whaaaaat? Again? I just did that yesterday?

Several years ago, I helped facilitate a women's group aimed at helping mothers grow and develop a deeper spiritual life (totally worked, obviously). One of the catch phrases of the program was 'Ordinary Holiness' - finding joy in the every day. So that when you're folding clothes or preparing a meal for your family, you recognize it as an act of love.

Based on the state of my laundry room, I love my family a lot.

While I appreciate the idea, and do embrace my work in our home on one level, on another level I just want everyone to pick their shit up. Mama gets tired. So the Husband and I have decided to work on it as a family, and he's asked me to figure out what I want done, and how I want it done, and then to ask them to do it.

Easier said than done. So, I'm taking any and all suggestions on what works for your family. How do you get them to pitch in?


  1. Oh, gurl . . . . a few years ago, I set a deadline of things that had to be picked up by a certain time. 6:00p.m. was it. All things had to be picked up from public areas of the house by then. They got one warning at 5:50. If things weren't picked up, I charged per item. 10 cents. It went up weekly. Once it caught on, some asses and elbows were flyin' around the house come 5:50! Whew!

  2. My husband does the majority of the chores in my house... but when I visit the bbf, I get him to help by splitting chores in half (I'll load the dishwasher if you clear it)and I throw in guilt (because it REALLY hurts my back to lift the plates!!!) and by refusing to feed him if it doesn't get done. I suppose that doesn't really work with children if you'd like to avoid a visit from the man, though.

  3. honey, screw it... I just pay someone to come in and clean... nobody gonna help... they would live in pig stys if I let them...

  4. Kelly, I had to post! I promise I'm not drugged as I tell you of life at our house. About 3 years ago I got Manangers of Their Chores for the kids. I worked and worked at it and it worked. It wasn't easy, but you have to get your kids to do the same chores over and over until 2 things happen. They become a habit and they get good at it. This could take a few months, but the it's worth the effort. I'm proud to say that my kids are AWESOME and kick-ass as housecleaning. Yea, they might whine or complain about it...but they do it! If I tried to clean my house alone, it would probably take me a couple of days. With the kids helping, I can get it done in half a day (it's a pretty big house). Yea...I'm bragging. Come on. If I can get my kids to clean 6 bathrooms, 2 kitchens, keep their rooms clean, vacuum, pick up and do whatever else I tell can do it too!!!

  5. I will be watching this post like a HAWK b/c I am willing to try E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G for less yelling/pleading/demanding/giving up :)

    My kids are younger than yours (5, 3 and one on the way), so this is probably not going to work for me in the future, I get that. BUT, here my mantra is "We all live here, we all help here". I know my kids are already tired of hearing it in their young years. Also, before they get breakfast in the mornings, they have their 'stuff' they have to do while I shower and it has to be done BEFORE THEY GET BREAKFAST. This works for them b/c they are eaters, hence they do not like to miss a meal :) One of those things (among the normal get dressed, brush teeth, make their beds, etc.) is to straighten their rooms. The 3 year old has to clean up 10 things, so hers isn't always completely done, but the 5 year old's room has to have everything picked up and in it's place (he's been doing this since he turned 4). Then, they have to clean out the dishwasher while I'm making breakfast for them (5 year old makes stacks of things on the counter under the cabinet it belongs in, the 3 year old sorts all the silverware into piles. I go through when they are done and sweep them into the proper cabinets/drawers). We also have things throughout the day they have to do (put away laundry, clear the table, etc.) - but, the motivator is if they complain, they hang out in their bed 'taking a break' until they are ready to do it without complaint (or until mommy is ready to see their darling faces again, haha) b/c obviously if they are complaining about it, then they are tired and need a rest (haha). Now, this has a 75% success rate - we all aren't perfect, lol! Oh and we have a list of "money jobs" that they are not allowed to do until they can show me they do the other things without complaint. The money jobs (.25 and .10 each) are highly sought after (so far) b/c it involves an eventual trip to the toy store. So, this works so far, but I'm ALWAYS looking for improvements. Oh and I have been known to bribe on occasion ;)

  6. Oh that was good to read! I love you! Okay, yes, I've been into the wine, but seriously thanks for the laughs. I'm a single mom & at times... whew! She's 16 now, & quite sweet, but no angel. You helped make it funnier for now :)
    As far as help with that?? I'd like to know too!

  7. Ok, so bribe, threaten, schedule and give uo. Hmmm, it seems I have a system after all! Loving the comments, and Screw It Anonymous wins favorite comment of the day, lol!