Monday, July 14, 2008

Kids and Chores

One of the questions I get asked frequently when people find out that we are having twins is: "How are the other kids handling it?" The truth is that they are very excited.

Of course it means that they are having to make some changes in their lives. Some are big changes. For example, they are losing their private rooms. They are now going to be moving in together. Not a big deal for them, honestly. Since the summer break started, they have asked to camp out in each others' rooms most nights anyway. I think that level of enthusiasm may diminish once they are forced to really live in the same space, but we will see about that.

Another big change that is happening is with housework. Marcy is finding some tasks already harder to do just because of the fatigue that comes with two alien spore sacks growing in her womb. (It really is a miracle, isn't it?) So, we are doing what loving parents throughout the centuries have done: we are putting the kids to work.

The hardest part about asking for kids as young as David and Beth to do real housework is getting past the idea that housework is supposed to be fun. When you are a kid, anything that the grown-ups do looks like grand fun: driving the car, painting the house, cleaning the kitchen. When you are finally given the opportunity to do the work, you try and imitate what you have seen the grown-ups do. Once the fun of the imitation is over, it is time to throw down the cleaning rag and find something else to play with. It is a sad day in the lives of children when you realize that work is not always fun.

To help with this reality, we have tried to break down their chores into smaller bites. Simply telling an 8 year old to clean her room is not specific enough, we have found. Often the job is left incomplete. Of course, the child is disappointed when you fold your arms, look around the room, frown and say, "This isn't clean!" Because, honestly, in her 8 years of experience, trying really hard to get the room clean should count for something. So, I have spent a good deal of time going over all of the things that they need to do to get a particular room clean. We then wrote these down like a checklist so that they can focus on one thing (like making the bed) before moving on to another task.

I am hoping this will help to teach them not only how to clean up their rooms and really help out around the house but also how to organize large jobs into smaller jobs to make them easier to swallow. Who knows? Right now, house work is still fun and exciting. Man, I wish I could still think of it like that.

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