I had a thought the other day. In our front hall is a mess of coats and shoes and at the end of this controlled chaos is a spot for the kid’s backpacks. Just behind that is a lovely wall adorned with a mirror, three lovely art prints and hooks for our favourite scarves. So why does it make my kids cringe? Because, silly me, I have decided to put the kid’s chore charts there as well, just beside the scarves and under the art prints. In big BOLD letters it yells at them CHORE CHART. The chores they actually don’t mind. I think it is the wording that puts them off.
Chore is a dirty word, don’t you agree? It’s been hammered in to us that CHORES are something you HAVE to do and everyone hates so just suffer through them silently. Right? I remember hearing my mom sing-song “time to do your chores” and my heart just sink to the floor. I actually have always liked vacuuming. The hum of the vacuum is kind of soothing and no one can talk to you, so the sound plus the repetitive motion is a kind of waking meditation for me. But as soon as it became one of my Chores, that dirty C-word (one of two, I guess!) made it an instant drudgery that I wanted to avoid.
I had this revelation yesterday when my kids curled up their lips at the sight of the charts and then asked whether they could skip their chores today….and then offered to do chore-like things for the next two hours. All of the tasks they wanted to do weren’t on their lists but were definitely still chores.
I have decided that I am going to make a new chart. I am going to name it “things you can do it after school” or some such, and tell the kids that they “get to”, not HAVE to, pick 3 of the 5 every day to complete and I’ll give them a star after. It is all about the wording. I think even if it was something enjoyable, we all tend to get a little defiant if we are told we have to! Think about it. What if someone told you that you “HAVE to eat three cupcakes in one hour!” You get kind of sick just thinking about it, don’t you? Well, I do. My mouth tastes like sticky sweetness instantly and my throat feels jammed closed by doughy cake just at the thought of it. But if someone nicely said to you, “you CAN take any three cupcakes you wish and you have until your next meal to finish them”. Well- then it feels like a gift and something nice added to your day. I’m a big fan of the second one.
Now I know this is not magic. They will still balk some days and want to be lazy or just play. And that is totally fine. I may even give them those days. Everyone has those days. Just this week, I was so overwhelmed that I let the dishes pile up on the counter as a silent F.U. to tasks. As long as it isn’t every day…Right? Balance, balance.
I am going to think of the wording of things around the house. My kids actually requested I make a poster of rules for the house. Simple things: don’t hit, say please, help each other out, don’t swear…etc. It was my daughter’s idea. She loves charts and rules clearly defined. I do too, but I have never forced them on her. It is always her request. So, for the longest time we had a giant poster board with: “Don’t do this” and “Never…”. It seemed so harsh I eventually took it down. I made another one that says, “Our family…” and then a bunch of nice sayings. A couple of examples- “Our family always uses their manners” and “Our family cleans up after ourselves because we like to take care of our things and keep them nice”. The wording seems to have helped. Isabella thought of a couple to add and Hunter would like picture prompts, so we will indulge them and make a newer one, but I like the wording of this one. We even sat down and thought of the house “rules” (there has to be a better word than rules. guidelines?) together. That way it is something we all agree on and want to work on together.
I hope to extend that mindset to how we speak to each other as well. Not that it is all rainbows and sunshine here. A lot of the times I have to lay down the law or send the kids to their rooms. But it is less now and I rarely raise my voice. I try to make it a choice for them. I want them to be independent thinkers. I want them to choose the better path on their own. I want them to WANT to take on responsibility. The wording is just the first step.
If I make a new Non-chore chore chart, who would be interested in a printable?
Have a great day. x.