Sunday afternoon, after I let my son play video games all morning to get out his fun, I decided to ask him to help me with chores. He started whining and complaining while he slouched himself on the sofa with his pouty face. This was completely my fault, instead of being adamant about him helping me with things, I avoided the arguments by just doing it myself. I especially never pushed the issue during the week, because I don’t get much time with him anyways. However, now I was over it and I needed help.
So instead of yelling and fighting with him, I came up with a new tactic. I asked my son to come into the kitchen. I softly placed my hands on his shoulders and I spoke as softly as possible, “Can I show you something?”, as I guided him to the sink.
Me: “Do you see these dishes?”
Me: “Who eats off of them?”
Ty: “Both of us”
Me: “What happens if they don’t get cleaned?”
Ty: “We have nothing to eat on”
Me: “Yes, and if it’s not done correctly, we can get sick right?”
Me: “Who washes them”?
Me: “Okay”, then I guided him to the 3 baskets of laundry, “Do you see these clothes?”
Me: “Who wears them?”
Ty: “Both of us”
Me: “Who has to wash them?”
Me: “Okay”, then I guided him to the trash can, “Whose trash is that?”
Ty: “Both of ours”
Me: “Who has to take that out?”
Me: “You have food in your belly, right?”
Me: “Who has to cook it?”
Me: “Okay, who has to pick up the food from the grocery store?”
Me: “And I have to remember what you do and don’t like, right?”
Then I pointed to the floor
Me: “Do you see the mess on the floor and table? Whose is that?”
Me: “Okay, and see our cat and fish? Who has to feed them?”
Ty: “You…okay okay, I see what you’re saying”
Me: “Yes, I know, but wait. You see all that I do right?”
Me: “What do you do while I take care of all of this? Do you get to do what you want?”
Ty: “Yeah, play video games”
Me: “Okay, do I get to do what I want?”
Ty: ” No”
Me: “What do you think I would like to do?”
Ty: “I don’t know”
Me: “Play with you”
He gave me a surprised glance and at that moment, I knew that I got him to understand. He then paused his video game from the other room and returned looking for work. So, I asked him to help me with drying the dishes. This was so foreign for him, but he actually ended up liking it.
We turned on the music and started a little dance as I washed the dishes and he dried them. He learned where everything went after drying. We laughed and worked as a team. One thing that I definitely learned that I wish I realized sooner is that he doesn’t like doing chores alone. If I’m washing dishes and he’s picking up toys, he just has a hard time with it. However, if we’re both working on the same chore, then he feels more accomplished. He likes to work as a team…or against me. At one point, we began to start a race! Who was going to get finished first the washer or dryer?! In which, he ended up winning, which was okay with me – whatever makes him happy.
Then, we moved onto sorting out the laundry. I thought it would be easier and fun to sort them out by colors. We had to throw each clothing in its own color pile. He had fun throwing them behind his back and making a game out of them. We ended up with about 9 different color piles, then I combined them as needed. It’s a lot easier if I can find ways to make chores fun and worth his while. Plus, we worked so well together, I was able to make time to play some Minecraft with him. Later on that day, I asked him what the highlight of his day was. I was expecting him to tell me playing Minecraft with him, but he said, “the dishes and clothes!”. Which made me feel good, knowing I did something right. Now, we do major chores on Sundays without any complaints or whines. Win!