(Child) Labor Pains

When I was a kid and my mom would ask me to do the dishes or something, I'd slump my way to the sink, griping with each step: "The only reason you had kids was so you'd have somebody else to do the dishes!"

Now that I'm a mom, I realize how silly that was. Of course people don't have kids so they'll do the dishes.

People have kids so they'll do the dishes and the laundry and the yard work and all the other crap. I mean ... free labor! Less work! More time to devote to other valuable adult pursuits such as, I don't know, watching funny cat videos on the Internet. Dishes? Pssssh. That's the tip of the iceberg. It takes a lot of work to run a household, and I've made a decision: if my kids are going to ravage the contents of the fridge, poop in our toilet, and lounge around watching the TV and using the Internet, then they're damn well going to pitch in.

They've had it relatively easy up until this point. They've had chores, but mostly related to taking care of their personal messes: cleaning up their rooms, clearing the table after a meal, stuff like that. But here we are, with less than a month of summer left, and I am sick to death of the constant cleanup I've had to do with the kids home all-day-erry-day for what seems like eons. (Seriously, shouldn't they be going off to college or something by now?) I feel like all I get done is following them around picking up crumbs and washing mountains of laundry and disposing of wrappers that they've blithely tossed around the room because apparently the trash can is all the way in the kitchen.


So now I've decided that the little ingrates children are going to help me with my chores. Although there's a bit of a problem: they're careless young boys who are immune to squalor, and I'm a control freak.

Up until now, I've done things myself because it's easier. (Well, sort of.) I mean - I've got this joint running like a well-oiled machine. I could do my regular household maintenance routine in my sleep. I've been doing this for so long that I've mastered the most efficient way to do, well, just about everything around here.


I'm not doing myself, or my kids (or their future spouses), any favors by shouldering the bulk of the responsibilities. Because if I don't allow them to learn to do this stuff by themselves, or expect them to, they'll figure it's not their job. AND THEY'LL BE WRONG. And I'll be stuck with a houseful of teenagers who expect Mom to clean up after them ... who will then grow into men who expect their significant others to clean up after them.

I'm not allowing my sons to develop into unhelpful douchebag man-children. NO SIR. So, for the sake of everyone involved, I'm sucking it up and trying my best to put aside my perfectionistic ways while my boys bumble through things I could get done in two minutes learn how to do things around here.

And it's driving me crazy.

I stand by and supervise - just in case - while they do this stuff, biting my lip to keep my mouth clamped shut. But my inner dialogue is raging. When my seven-year-old is scooping out the cats' litter box, for example ...

Okay. There's a turd. Get that one. NO! Don't try to get all the clumps at once! Ewwww you're getting it all over your hands. Now. Shake the scoop so the excess grains of litter fall back into the box. SHAKE! THE SCOOP! You're getting litter all over the floor! No. Don't pretend you're a grizzled old prospector panning for gold. Just DO THE JOB. Gaaahhhhh! You dropped a turd on the floor! NO! DON'T PICK IT UP WITH YOUR FINGERS!

... And so on. When they're pouring a little too much detergent into the washer, I envision my laundry room filling with bubbles. When they're cleaning the toilet, I cringe at how many pee-crusted nooks and crannies they miss. It's kind of like how they want to brush only the fronts of their teeth and call it good: it's my job to correct them, but they have to learn to do it properly themselves.

And the only way for that to happen is if I stand back, loosen the reins, and let it happen.



  1. I can't tell you how many times I've stood by, gritting my teeth, and watching you kids learn to do things on your own. But all of you have turned out to be good, responsible adults, so it was worth it! Hang on, they'll get there!

  2. Wiser words were never spoken! Let's hope their spouses' moms have the same mindset.

  3. Oh my, this is hilarious and true. My boys are [just turned] seven and four and a half. The older one BEGS to help with chores around the house, from washing dishes, doing laundry, sweeping and mopping, to cleaning up after a meal. It's actually easier to get him to help with my chores than it is to get him to do his (pick up the war zone, aka the play room). I too am a control freak and while a part of me appreciates others wanting to, say, help with the dishes (which are all hand washed), the part of me who is really, really anal about the order in which dishes are washed and put in the dish strainer usually takes over. I am learning to let go and let the kids (well, the one who wants to help) do what he can, then I secretly go behind him and re clean what he didn't really clean well the first time. :) It's more time consuming, but I'm appreciative of having a kid who gets mad if he can't help.

  4. Yes, I have to learn to stand back as well. I'm working on it.

  5. Dana White at aslobcomesclean.com has a book for training kids to clean that you might find helpful ;).


Post a Comment

Commenting makes you big and strong! Okay, maybe just strong. Okay, so it's only your fingers. But still ...

Popular Posts