Here is a lie that I tend to believe: everyone has their act together except for me. I know that this is not ultimately true, but it’s easy to think so.
It’s so easy for me to look around and see all these seemingly-perfect women, running seemingly-perfect households, and then feel very inadequate and very imperfect.
Everyone else seems to have their act together, but I know without a doubt that I don’t.
One thing that I know I do not have a handle on—but I tend to think that all other women I know DO have a handle on it—is making my kids do consistent chores and implementing a fail-proof chore system.
I have never been able to stick to chore charts. They are made and then never used. They look nice up on the wall. It looks like I have my act together. But that’s about it.
We have a rhythm when it comes to laundry. Basically, my older two kids must do their own laundry on Monday (or sometimes Tuesday) and I make my six-year-old fold and put away her own laundry. Typically, however—let’s be brutally honest—her laundry sits unfolded for five days until she has already worn most of it again.
We have the older three kids rotate weekly through kitchen-help chores. Every Sunday, the kids switch to a new task, of three tasks: 1) setting the table, 2) sweeping up afterward, and 3) helping with dishes. They will continue to help with that chore all week, and then switch again on Sunday.
The kids are also supposed to pick up after they play and they are supposed to make their own beds. Theoretically.
Otherwise, they are just expected to pitch in and help with other random chores, as needed, like vacuuming and cleaning bathrooms.
When I tell them, “Hey, please vacuum. Pronto. No playing outside until this place is vacuumed,” I expect them to do it. Speak softly and carry a big stick, I say.
Generally, this works for us, and we are pretty happy. And I don’t think we live in a total pig sty, although some might disagree.
But then I visit other people’s houses and notice these gleaming chore charts on their wall, indicating that Suzy always dusts the bookshelves on Wednesday. “Wow, Mrs. So-and-So really has her act together, and I’m sure Suzy will turn out so well because her mom is so disciplined. I should be more like that.”
But, then again, maybe Mrs. So-and-So is just like me and only makes chore charts for the purpose of abandoning them a few weeks later. Does anyone out there successfully use chore charts? Like, your kids actually check things off the chart every day consistently and they get a sticker at the end of the week? I want to know about this, if that really happens for you.
Because, I definitely think you have your act together. DO YOU?
Maybe it’s time I stop feeling inadequate when I see these chore charts in other people’s homes and I just own the fact that I’m not good with them, they don’t work for us, and that’s okay!
The other day, if you had driven past our house, you would have thought WE had our act all together. A storm was coming and we had just had mulch delivered to our driveway. All hands were on deck and every single person in our family pitched in to get the mulch spread around our landscaping.
It was a pulsating few hours of work that ended victoriously. We beat the storm! Everyone was covered head to toe in filthy mulch and everyone was smiling. It was an adrenaline rush and a bonding experience, for sure. The kids worked hard and we were proud of them.
A neighbor, in fact, texted me to say that she was impressed by our family effort and by how hard the kids were working.
Heh, heh, heh.
She probably thinks I totally have my act together! Boy, is she fooled.
Photo Credit: First image graphic design by Charity Klicka; all other images by Amy Koons.