The other day, before bedtime, I was doing dishes and cleaning up, per usual and my beautiful children were on the couch watching SUPER WHY!. While I was picking up yet another shoe, I looked at my children and thought, “Why am I doing this?”
I dropped the shoe and said, “You’ve had a nice, easy childhood but it’s over starting NOW.”
Here’s the thing about kids and chores. For so very long, Nat and I have done everything regarding the kids. And we simply got used to handling the total load. It’s not because we wanted to, but because we had to because they were helpless babies. Thus, we became programmed.
I’m not sure why it took that exact moment to realize I had two able-bodied helpers who weren’t pulling their weight but it was a beautiful revelation.
They can help! THEY CAN HELP!
Now, everyone is cleaning up at 6:30 on the dot because I’ve programmed the timer on Alexa to go off at 6:30 p.m. When it does, we all stop what we’re doing, scream CLEAN UP TIME, pause the TV and Get. To. Work. (You can also have the timer be a song but I am too uncreative at the moment to think of what that song should be.)
6:30 p.m. is as follows:
Kit: Collects all shoes scattered throughout the house and puts them in our glamorous shoe basket by the front door. (Note: If you’re currently in the market for a house, GET A HOUSE WITH AN ENTRYWAY. Our front door opens directly to the living room and it’s not great for THE STUFF). Any spare clothing that is on the floor (what happens in our house during the 2 hours we spend in it after daycare / school / work before we go to bed? An orgy?) and puts them in the washing machine. Throws away any other garbage. Puts pillows back on the couch.
Sam: Cleans up LEGOS and turns off lights in the basement. Takes out the day’s warm ice packs out of lunch boxes and puts them in freezer. Soon, I’m going to have him take out the day’s recycling.
Mom and Dad: Dishes, kitchen clean-up, next-day prep, collect the artwork they come home with and lovingly glue it into a scrap book. (JK: We throw it away.) Speaking of throwing things away, I also pick TWO THINGS that are hanging around the house and I THROW IT AWAY. Right on top of the kid’s art work. It feels SO GOOD.
So far, it’s working! The kids are used to clean-up time because they do it all the time at school / day care. Somehow the alarm is Pavlovian; because it’s coming from a robot and not their parental units, they obey it.
Try it! The worst that can happen is a total screaming fight right before bedtime!