“Oh RIGHT,” said a kid when asked to finish cleaning up the kitchen. With a scorn only raging adolescent hormones can generate, “Why does the hardest working member of the family always get asked to do the most work?”
I thought, “Wow! My child has finally recognized what I do around here!”
Then I realized my child was NOT referring to me.
Now, our kids work, often quite diligently, especially in school. They’re incredibly helpful when babysitting or volunteering or even camping with youth group. But when it comes to household chores in our house, our home can feel like a warzone, parents against kids, with neither side about to wave the white flag. The kids shriek that no one’s doing their fair share each night with kitchen cleaning. They take 45 minutes to do what could easily take 10 just because of all the bickering, accusations and sloth. They whine that no other kids in our town have to clean, wipe, sweep, vacuum, scrub, shovel, or weed.
Scott often thinks we need Nanny 911. I wish Mary Poppins would magically appear singing “A Spoonful of Sugar” while dishes magically clean themselves. We are the familial example of how joyful tilling in the Garden of Eden became painful toil when sin entered the world.
Since then I’ve realized this child has internalized the biggest ongoing stupid fight in our marriage. We don’t accuse the other of not working hard enough, recognizing we both work really hard—at day job, in home life, as parents. Instead we accuse the other of not appreciating how hard we work.
I whine that Scott doesn’t appreciate that I:
- Shop: food, clothes, school supplies, household supplies, etc.
- Manage all our schedules
- step in on snow and sick days
- Keep track of school, doctors, dentists, piano lessons, swimming etc.
- All while holding down a job.
He whines that I don’t appreciate that he:
- works a full-time high-pressured day job
- manages the trash (we don’t have trash pick-up in our town)
- Ensures the house doesn’t fall apart
- Keeps the pool clean and running (why anyone in New England has a pool that can only be used 2.5 months/year is a constant question)
- Maintains all technology
- Picks-up and organizes most of the detritus that floats around our house
- Oversees the kids every morning while I go to the gym
- All while managing everything each time my nice flexible job takes me out of town or out at night.
It’s a useless bicker-fest that’s the result of being over-tired. From working so hard.
It helps when we stop and say “Thank you.” It helps when someone says, “Wow, you’ve been working really hard, why don’t you take a long hot bath and I’ll help the kids clean the kitchen?” (Sadly for him, usually it’s Scott who says that)
So maybe that’s the next step—appreciating what each member of our family contributes and thanking them for it. Especially since we’re each the hardest working member of the family.
How does your family get its work done? How do you motivate kids? How do you create teamwork and togetherness through drudgery?