You're Not Failing at Motherhood if Your Kid Doesn't Have a "Chore List"

So, I’ll be the first to admit that I have struggled with enforcing chores. I don’t know if it’s because I have to actually write up the list or if I hate nagging my kids just to get attitude, or if it's because I have enough to manage around here, but the “chore list” has never been a big strength of mine.

I know it’s good for kids to have responsibilities from a young age. I’ve read the parenting books and they all cover just this topic.I know it makes them more responsible later in life. I realize that 2-year olds can clean up a few toys, that 4 year olds can help with dishes and that 6 year olds can help pack lunches. I know they’re capable of doing all of these things, but do you know where I get stuck? It’s the fact that it all takes monitoring from me. Have you ever waited for a toddler to “tidy up”?

In my experience it goes something like this:

  1. A 2-minute warning (“In 2 minutes we’re going to play the tidy up game!”)
  2. Announcing it’s time with a really tight smile because you know what’s coming.
  3. Toddler starts jumping up and down, screaming "NO!!" when you try to gently remove the toy to put it into the bin. The smile just got tighter.
  4. More screaming and pulling back on the toy.
  5. Trying to reason with the toddler. (“Cleaning up is fun!”)
  6. Toddler does not agree.
  7. Give up and tell the toddler that it’s time for a cookie.
  8. Toddler stops everything and starts running to the kitchen.
  9. Strap toddler into booster seat and give the cookie.
  10. Go and clean up the damn toys yourself.

And 4 year olds with dishes?  Other than the water and soap EVERYWHERE, there’s the small issue with none of the dishes being clean. So basically you have to wait until they aren’t looking and redo the dishes anyhow, because you don't want to ruin their self-esteem.

Letting a 6 year old make a school lunch? Hmmm…. nevermind that lunches either need to be made after the dinner rush or in the morning before school. Most 6 year olds are picky eaters and won’t eat what they pack anyhow. I can’t tell you how many times my kids have gone to the office for a different lunch because they didn’t like what I packed. I’m pretty sure the school thought we were struggling to get by for awhile there whenever the kids showed up and declared, “I ate all my lunch and I’m still hungry.” Lesson here: kids are great liars too.

Now, my daughter is 15 and she has a job.

A hard job, actually. She’s responsible for turning out horses, mucking stalls, throwing hay, pouring food, filling water buckets and cleaning up the barn. She has to get up every Saturday and Sunday morning around 6:30 so she can get to work, which means we do too. She can’t drive yet, so our weekends start pretty early these days. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to throw her some cash to quit her job so I can sleep. But, she loves her job, making money and contributing to her riding lessons. And I love her so we make it work, even when it sucks.

Even though I’ve been pretty bad about chores over the years, I think I’m still doing some of this mom-stuff right. Having a teenager that loves to work is a pretty great feeling. And at the end of the day, a little hard work didn’t kill anyone. Not even our precious kids. Not even moms who hated chore lists.

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Joanne Ilaqua - CEO of MamaSoup

Hey there, I’m Joanne.

I’ve spent about 20 years serving women as a nurse, doula and Lamaze educator. I have 4 kids and I know firsthand how lonely and isolating motherhood can be, so I created MamaSoup. I'm mostly known for my love of red wine, spontaneously singing and my confidence in being my true self on social media. When I’m not busy building women up, you can catch me taking Instagram stories of my bulldog Ruby, watching The Handmaid’s Tale, playing MUber (Mom Uber) to my kids or vacationing in my favourite town: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

I love serving the world by providing a space for moms to connect and support each other. In my opinion, moms are the backbone of communities because they are (literally) raising the future!

As the founder and CEO of MamaSoup, I’ve been featured on CHEX TV Morning Show, KawarthaNOW, Economic Development- The City of Kawartha Lakes and MyKawartha.

Still with me? Join me over at MamaSoup to keep the conversation going!

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