Picking Up Some Responsibility

I mentioned last week that we’ve been struggling with getting the girls motivated to clean up their room. It’s a near constant battle.

We took the TV out of their room during the first week of summer, with the instruction that they could have it back when the room was clean. I thought this would shake them into action. It didn’t do a thing. Apparently, they didn’t care about watching iCarly as much as we thought they did.

Lakin’s Nintendo DS went next, followed shortly after by Addah’s DS (when we realized that, since she never plays it, Lakin was “borrowing” it when we weren’t looking).

Still, the room stayed a mess. When I’d complain and insist that it be done NOW, they would whine and tell me they “don’t know how”…. which they do, because they’ve “helped” me do it 1450 times since they were toddlers.

Last week, I got so frustrated with the mess that I announced that I would not be making lunch until the job was done, to my standards. They hemmed and hawed until it got to be around 1:30, when they got hungry. I repeated myself: not making lunch until the room is clean. Still they just played at it. It got later… 4pm rolled around and they realized I wasn’t kidding. And then… they started cleaning.

An hour and a half later… it wasn’t quite “Mama clean”, but that room looked a whole lot better than it has since the last time I cleaned it. I was happy and proud, and told them so. They even vacuumed! Truly amazing!

I guess the way to a tween girl is through her stomach.

This week, we’ve instituted a brand new Chore Chart. Everything that needs to be done is listed and everyone has their jobs assigned. The girls switch off days on things like feeding the kitties, helping to water the garden, and sweeping the kitchen and front porch.

Picking Up Some Responsibility - Chore Chart

Their favorite is the newly created position of “Bedroom Manager”. The Manager for the day has the happy task of delegating which parts of the bedroom they will each clean. At first, they took great pleasure in assigning the least fun parts (and the majority) of the clean-up to each other, until they realized that the next day, the other girl would be in charge, and would pay them back for their “generosity”. It’s actually working out quite nicely, so far anyway.

My favorite part is that I don’t have to settle squabbles about whose turn it is to feed the kitties and clean the bathroom. There are no arguments over who did it yesterday… it’s all on the chart.

David and I have our chores as well, so the girls can see that we’re not expecting them to do everything, by any means. This is actually the first time that they’ve ever had structured chores that they are assigned to do. I’ve always been kind of a push-over mom, I suppose. I finally came to the conclusion that they are more than old enough to help, and that I am doing them a disservice by doing everything for them.

A 9-year old should know how to put a pillowcase on a pillow without help, after all.

The girls seem to appreciate that they have jobs to do, and surprisingly (to me anyway), their attitudes have been better these past few days. Maybe what they’ve been needing isn’t more restrictions, but more structure and responsibility.

This new path that we’re on has a beautiful view…. I hope we can stay on it.

(Oh and they haven’t even mentioned the TV. Shhh… I hope it stays that way!)

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I'm Heather, a married mama of two teen girls, a stillborn baby girl (7/1/12), and a sweet and wild preschool girl (4/2/14). I've been blogging at The Destiny Manifest since 2001. I like to write about appreciating all of the beautiful little things that surround us, particularly in the face of grief, infant loss and mental health issues. Every day is an adventure!

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  • phasesofme

    So glad you found something that works! I also resorted to the chore chart at one time, complete with chores Hubby and I did. Come to find out, Mini-Me is a Martyr. Still is, btw.

    Hope it continues to work!

  • LOVE the idea of a “manager.”  I have tried using a chore chart with my son, but he is just 3 and seems to care more about the stickers than the consequences if he DOESN’T get a sticker.  Sigh.

  • It might just be the novelty of it all that’s keeping the girls in line at the moment, but I hope not. It is so nice to be able to walk through the room without stepping on paper, books and toys, for a change.

    They’ve inherited a sloppy gene from their dad, and I’m hoping to break them of it. 😉

  • The stickers ARE very cool, in his defense. 😉

    Seriously, I didn’t have much luck getting the girls to help at 3 either.  Or at 4 or 5 or 7, for that matter, but I think (hope!) we’re finally getting on track now.

    Here’s hoping your son learns to do his chores better than my girls have!

  • Shaylin Surratt

    My sisters always promised to pay me if I did their chores for them. I was never smart enough to ask for the money up front. 🙁

  • I pulled that scam on both of my brothers, and they fell for it frequently. It’s a sibling-eat-sibling world out there. 😛