by Mary Segers

Stressor #5: Getting Help Around the House

How/Why It Stresses You

Sometimes it takes just as long to teach/remind than it would to just do it ourselves

This stops a lot of people in their tracks. Many people feel . . . and rightly so in the shortterm . . . that it’s easier to do the job themselves than to struggle to get a kid or spouse to do it.

We get tired of tasks not being done right

Same thing here . . . we have to go behind, remind, point out things to be done better, etc.

At times I’ve had to point out the same things over and over and over and over until I was ready to throw up. My younger 2 kids made me feel this way constantly until I got creative.

We get tired of talking to brick walls

Don’t worry . . . you’ve got weapons

Solutions to Getting Help Around the House

Realize that every minute spent in teaching will save you HOURS in the very near future

This includes teaching, checking behind, correcting, and motivating.

Motivating them is the big one. If you get that right you won’t have to worry about the others because they’ll be trying their best . . . and that’s all we want, right?

Strike a delicate balance between expecting their best while laying aside your own perfection

This can be difficult to figure out but here’s an example: Harm has been taught to clean a kitchen correctly. Part of that is that all counters need wiped completely each night. That’s what I consider “done right” because you never know what may have been spilled, or when seasonings splashed (you know how salt goes everywhere).

Well she’d try to get out of it by not doing it and then when I pointed it out accuse me of expecting her to be perfect.

However, wiping down the counters is simply a mechanical thing. You move this, wipe, and replace . . . on to the next thing. It only takes a couple of minutes.

There is no “perfection” needed or expected. Just do what you’re supposed to do. The same thing applies to wiping down a sink. Simply move everything and wipe it down. It’s not hard. And it’s not “perfection” that’s being expected . . . it’s just doing what you’ve been taught to do that’s expected.

Find their REAL motivators

Once you teach a kid . . . and get them to do it right . . . you will have help until they move out.

But now you have to expect them to do their best. Jos would spend more time trying to get OUT of doing his chores than it would have taken to just do the things.

Even the older 2 were not immune to slacking off. I would warn them a couple of times that they didn’t want me to do things halfway. They kept it up. Finally, one night they sat down to dinner halfcooked. Yes sirree. There was a chicken nearly raw, crunchy rice, and barely cooked Brussel sprouts. That took care of that problem for a long while.

Years later I had problems with Harm doing things halfway. Again I gave warning. Finally, I took her halfway to her after school program and didn’t let her walk the rest of the way. So she didn’t get to go play with her friends that day.

That was important to a kid who didn’t attend school.

You may have to help them understand you can do things halfway too.

Speaking of real motivators Harm’s room looked like a tornado hit it, followed by an earthquake, and that it could have benefited from a flood. I took pictures which I hope by the time she’s 30 she won’t mind her “teenage room” being seen.

Getting Help Around the House is Possible
Getting Help Around the House is Possible

Anyway, I took an extreme measure in order to get her to clean it—I took her bedroom door off the hinge. I figured since she liked to sleep with her door shut and dress in her room that those would be real motivators to get it back.

Can you guess what happened?

Betcha can’t because it made no difference. Not a bit. Her room was still the same 3 weeks later. She had done nothing. Then one day I took her phone and told her she’d get it back as soon as her room was cleaned. It was 3 days and into the nights before it was clean but it eventually got that way.

You may wonder why I didn’t use that motivator earlier. I actually knew it worked very well because I’d been using it as the motivator for cleaning the kitchen correctly.

Again, Harm’s been taught how to clean a kitchen right. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll say there are 10 things that need to be cleaned in the kitchen. Well, Monday night she’d do 7 tasks great and totally ignore 3 of them. The next night she may get those 3 but forget 3 she’d done the previous night. So I knew she knew what to doshe just wasn’t doing it. So I was using her phone as the motivator to do all 10 things and I only wanted that motivator attached to one task at a time.

As soon as she was doing the kitchen correctly I switched that motivator to her bedroom with the same results.

So the message is to beware of something you think should work but obviously doesn’t.

Find their real motivators and use them.

Life Application For Getting Help Around the House

Realize that every minute spent in teaching will save you HOURS in the very near future

Make the commitment to spend what time is needed in training, checking, and motivating. It will be well worth the effort in a very short amount of time.

Strike a delicate balance between expecting their best while laying aside your own perfection

You can explain to them about when they fold the towels how to make the folded edges line up but realize that at this age/stage they may just not get it. (I have a 58 yearold friend who still doesn’t get it.) You can always straighten them up later. And they can always learn to do that later. (Although I don’t think the 58 yearold will ever get it.)

When you explain to them the reasons for doing things a certain way then expect them to do it that way. For instance, I’ve explained to Harm until I was blue in the face that she needed to rinse the sink basket that collects all the bits of food so there wouldn’t be a roach buffet open all night. Her thinking was “But we don’t have roaches.” Well, yes, and there’s a reason why we don’t have them . . . because we don’t feed them. But it took me a long time to get her to do that.

That’s not expecting perfection, that’s just expecting her to do what she’s been taught to do. It’s just a physical activity that a monkey could be trained to do.

Find their REAL motivators

I’m sure you already have a good idea what your child’s motivators are. Here’s a big hint—if their behavior doesn’t change it’s not a motivator.

Find something that hurts like not being able to go on a date or not hanging out at the mall with their friends.

Focus on Feeling Blessed Not StressedThis has been an excerpt of my book Focus on Feeling Blessed Not Stressed: A Busy Woman’s Guide to Home Time Management.

If you want more excerpts simply go to the main page titled Focus on Feeling Blessed and on that page you’ll find a list of links to more excerpts as I post them or just go ahead and buy my book on Amazon.

Also know that I’m available to come speak to your church or women’s group. Please check out my Speaker page which will give you all the info you need as well as links to some videos of me speaking.

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