Shirley, a stay-at-home Missouri mother whose children are now grown, clearly remembers the challenges of teaching kids to help out around the house. "If there was a trash bag sitting in the middle of the hallway, Cheryl would yell, 'Mom, do you want me to pick this up?' Rob would walk around it. Jimmy, the youngest, would kick it down the hall. None of them would do the right thing from the start - simply pick it up and take it to the dumpster."
I can't believe she hasn't gotten over that "trash bag in the hallway" thing yet. Mom, that was 35 years ago!
As your Homebodies hostess and Shirley's reformed daughter, this is the part of the column where I'm supposed to give you some wonderful advice on raising tidy kids. I have to admit, however, that training my own daughters to do their chores has been more than a little challenging.
Neither my kids nor any of my friends' kids were born with a natural inclination to whistle while they work. In fact, I think the trend points the other way. From what I've observed, most children work very hard in avoiding any kind of household labor.
Don't feel alone as you're telling your child to clean up his room - again. Avoid throwing your hands up in despair when faced with a bombed out bathroom. Your sisters have been there, and are fighting the same battles now with their children. Calmness, clarity and consistency seem to help. (Resist screaming, which may get the chore done but demoralizes both screamer and screamee.) Be very specific about what you want done, how and when. Make sure everyone understands the goal, tying penalties and rewards to the outcome.
If they fail to do the job, don't hesitate to impose sanctions!
Tomorrow, do it again: calmness, clarity, consistency. Calmness, clarity, consistency. Wear them down. Repeat after me: You are the parent; you will prevail!
Time for me to take my own advice. I'm downstairs finishing up laundry when the oven timer goes off, announcing the cake is done. I know Karen is doing her homework at the kitchen table, approximately 10 feet from the oven. I keep folding shirts as the buzzer continues to blare. After about three minutes of incessant beeping, Karen crosses to the staircase (which, incidentally, is farther away than the oven) and yells:
"Mom, do you want me to turn this off?"
Must be genetic.
Comments? Write [email protected] or visit her website at www.homebodies.org. Cheryl's books, "So You Want to Be a Stay-at-Home Mom" and "Stay-at-Home Handbook: Advice on Finances, Parenting, Career, Surviving Each Day & More" are available at your favorite bookstore. Or you can order an autographed copy directly from Cheryl by following this link: http://www.gospelcom.net/homebodies/bookstore/orderSAHH.htm