Last week I promised to write about how to get your kids to stop whining when it is time to clean up or do chores. This trick also helps the chores get done well.
This is a really old coffee can I found at my grandmother’s house while helping sort through a lifetime of treasures in order to prepare for her move to assisted living.
I thought it was beautiful, they don’t make coffee cans like that anymore.
I wanted to do something special with it.
How or where this idea came from I have no idea. But it works like magic.
I labeled the can and filled it with slips of paper that had special jobs written on them.
By special I mean a few things, first, I mean things that were not a part of our daily or weekly routine cleaning.
Clean walls in the kitchen and dining room.
Clean all doors, both sides.
Wipe down every light switch in the house.
I have always expected my kids to do their chores well and without complaint.
But sometimes expectations are not enough. You need a motivation. A reason why they will put in the effort required to do a chore to the best of their ability and without whining before, during, and after the job.
That is what this machine/can/bucket is for, motivation.
If a child does an obviously poor job, they draw a card. (We are compassionate humans if they just missed something we send them back, that is different than not trying.)
If they whine about work they get to draw a card. Life is full of work and we all need to learn to stop whining about it.
It is irresponsible to try to inflict our work upon someone else by attempting to whine our way out of it.
Of course, we can use the bucket for other forms of irresponsibility. But this manifests most often as not taking care of the share of work that has been assigned to them. Either skipping it, making no attempt to do it right or having a bad attitude while doing it. Yes, I will make my kids pull a card for internal whining, they don’t just need to be quiet, they need to change their heart. Believe me, after they pull enough cards (number required varies dramatically from child to child) they will give up on the idea that life is unfair because they have to work. Instead of feeling entitled, like the whole world should be serving them and doing their work, the will be servants, knowing that everyone works, and they are not somehow magically above rinsing and loading their own dishes.
We moved a year ago, and this house needed different cards in the bucket.
It has taken me a year to write the new cards. I had to do it. Although the older kids don’t need it, the younger (7 & 8) still need some major lessons in a job done well and with joy.
I let the older kids help me think of cards, which thrilled them, I did warn them to be careful, they will draw a card if they prove to me they need it.
The next Friday my little boys cleaned their room like they had never cleaned it before. Under the bed, under the dresser, the floor was actually (as opposed to theoretically) clean when they brought me in to inspect. (Honestly, I am a very easy-to-please inspector, I just go for general decency.)
Me: “Wow, you guys did a really great job here!”
8-year-old boy: “I think it is because of the Irresponsibility Repentance Machine.”
Funny thing is, he hasn’t even had to draw a card yet, the machine is just that powerful.
Hope this tip helps you on the journey to a whiny free, clean enough home!