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The Family That Cleans Together

I hope you all have your kids doing chores! Even kids as young as 3 can dust a coffee table!

But here's the problem. Even if you've got your act together and you've assigned chores, you may be undermining yourself if you don't check your attitude.

Have you ever sent your 8-year-old in to clean a bathroom, and then you've gone along behind her, and noticed that she hasn't done it very well? So you've sat there and berated her for it, and just finished it yourself?

Not a good thing.

We need to mentor our kids when it comes to doing chores. They don't know how to do it right the first time! And if we are always on their cases about it, they're going to lose heart.

Today I want to look at chapter 6 in my book To Love, Honor and Vacuum. Heart of the Matter Online has been following it in their online book club this fall, and we took a break for Christmas, but I want to get back into it now!

The first half of the book deals with the changes that we can make ourselves: with how we spend our time; our attitudes; our method of serving, and more. You can find the links to these studies here.

But now we're in the second half, and that really has to do with changing how we interact with our loved ones so that we do create the kind of loving, respectful home we want.

Now, part of responsibility is getting kids to do chores! But part of keeping them doing chores, and keeping the peace, is changing how we ask.

Lori, who's been doing this study, summarizes my points in chapter 6 like this:

Positive reinforcement is a better motivator than criticism.
(Focus on complimenting that they cleaned the bathroom, rather than the missed toilet bowl~it’s ALL in how we say it!)

People need Practice
(Sorry ladies, but there will be few immediate results :))

The goal is to get them to do a task, not control their feelings.

(Just as I’m never going to LOVE emptying the dishwasher, my goal is not to “make” anyone love vacuuming; I need to remember that.)

You are doing your children a favor by teaching them skills and responsibility.
(I want to teach my children to truly appreciate the blessings that they are surrounded by, and by having them help in the household does far more than just talking about gratitude ever will.)

Your husband needs to feel that he is helpful to you.
(Come on girls, we need to give him the “pat on the back too!” We have to be quick to notice when he pitches in too, especially after a hard day’s work AND when it’s not done EXACTLY the way we’d have done it, we have to encourage!)

It’s really about changing attitudes, including our own when it comes to the responsibilities of the home. If we pray and begin to change our hearts from frustrated and nagging, to hearts that have a clear plan of appropriately asking and implementing help, we can be well on our way to not only a clean and managed house, but a happier and more productive, appreciative, loving family unit.

There's a lot more in the chapter, including how to ask them in the first place and the fairest way to divvy up chores (especially when your husband is involved!), and you can find some of that here.

But I want to focus today on how we can undermine our own efforts by obsessively criticizing everybody.

Do you realize that when you have a perfectionist attitude towards your home, it will be harder for you to have your kids do chores? After all, they may not do them right! And then it would be easier for you to just do it yourself.

But you're missing an important component here: in the larger scheme of things, is it more important to have a sparkling bathroom, or to have a child who knows how to clean a bathroom properly? You're not going to achieve the latter until you can give up your dreams of the former! If you want everything sparkly, you'll either clean everything yourself, or go behind your children and do it over again. And then they're not really learning, and they're not held accountable.

When they're younger, they won't clean to your standards. But make them clean anyway! It's how we train our kids. And don't just train the girls!

The best gift you can give your future daughter-in-law is a son who cleans toilets!

Think how great their marriage will be!

So don't focus on perfect. Focus on training your kids.

I've focused on children today, but what if it's husbands you need to ask? What if you feel like you work constantly, and you'd just like them to maybe bathe the kids and put them in bed for a change?

Well, there are ways to phrase your request, and ways to NOT phrase your request. That's all covered in the book! But here's one of the key points: never nag. It's disrespectful, and it makes him feel like you think he's incompetent. Men thrive on appreciation. If they feel rejected, they will retreat. It's as simple as that.

That doesn't mean you can't ask; it just means we have to watch the way we do it.

At the beginning of this chapter, I talk about the benefits of having a family meeting to organize chores. Everybody probably prefers choosing who does what than just having it assigned to them! And if you ask them, they may have some good ideas, too. They also may have different priorities than you: maybe you're preoccupied that the living room is neat, but your husband wants the garage kept better. It's his house, too, so let's hear everyone's point of view!
In this family meeting, it's helpful to have a chart of all the things that need to be done so that you can divide it up.

Today, if you purchase To Love, Honor and Vacuum, I'm going to give you a big copy of that chart, plus all sorts of kids chore charts and your own checklists that you can modify to work for your family!

Just to say thank you, and because this is my dream when it came to writing this book: I see so many Christian women frustrated at their families. They feel taken for granted, tired, and they don't know how to change.

How can we change the world and model Christ if in our families we're exhausted and feel disrespected?

If we can get a hold of our homes, imagine how much better we can be at affecting the world!

That's what I want from this book, and that's what I want to share with you.

Buy it today, and you'll get those charts! What a great way to start the new year! It's just $11 + S&H, a significant discount off of my usual $13, just for reading along with this online book club!

Now, will you share with us what's the biggest challenge you find about chores? Or about asking your hubby to help? We want to hear from you!

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At 4:55 PM , Blogger SanDe said…

Hi Sheila

Helping our children contribute willingly to the "existance" workload has constantly been an "open box" in my brain for the last 18 years. And you are right; emerging as precious has been relationship which is alive and breathing and changing.

Practically though, the one thing that I have struggled to walk out with the older children is following up work they say will be done and allowing predetermined consequence to happen (which by the way is not only disciplinary but direct result of ommission or slackness)

Another effort for me is changing seasons and letting go of work that they can do and doing what they cant. I guess change is unsettling and embarrasingly, I recon I placed a lot of my identiy, my value, in my work load. This is changing already though.

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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