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That's It! I'm Making My Kids Do Chores

I am screwed. Seriously.

Maria Montessori has a whole system for implementing chores for the little ones to start at age 2. There is hope for my 16-month-old, but I have utterly failed, and potentially ruined, my 6-year-old.

Forgive me! Chores are hard, yo. They take time and discipline and consistency and perseverance. Teaching chores is even harder. It takes all of the above — multiplied by two.

RELATED: 10 Dads Who Clean (At Least) Their Fair Share

We’ve done a little here and there — he takes his dirty clothing to the laundry hamper and clears his dishes from the table after a meal. But I fear my coddling ways are coming home to roost. I always meant to be the mom that ran a tight ship — the one that raised compassionate, empathic children who also were perfectly mannered and obediently brush their teeth and helped around the home. I was envisioning a family like the Ingalls, but in a more modern and urban setting.

If I'm honest with myself, I think the real reason I haven’t introduced more chores is that I tend to be a bit, um, controlling. I like my beds made a certain way, my Fiestaware unbroken and to only fold the laundry once, not twice. I am the worst.


Ma Ingalls would shake her head at me.

My husband and I realize that we probably caught a ride on the chore train a bit too late, but we’re on it now and hoping to catch up. We’re searching for that happy medium, that oasis in the desert that involves patient parents and cooperative kiddos.

A home is a community where all must pitch in, so chores are important for kids to learn. And being the mother of two, I want them to grow up understanding there is no such thing as “women’s work” and “men’s work." Whether it be a studio apartment or a five-bedroom duplex, all houses require work and participation from all who live in it.

We’ll start slowly...I will need to relinquish some of the control and the boy will need to relinquish some of his pampered ways.

So, you know, chores it is. Sigh.

But that requires a suspension of my controlling tendencies and a heaping dose of time and patience. And here, my friends, is the rub. Kindergarten these days, at least where I live, is a full day. My kiddo leaves the house at 7:30 and doesn’t return until 3:30. On a day with an after-school activity, our return time is 4:30, and there are two of those each week. With an after school-snack and some down time after a long day of school and behaving, we’re looking straight down the barrel of dinner time.

Do not even get me started on the daily homework.

Hence, the chore dilemma. When do other Montessori moms fit in all these chores? Honestly, I have no idea how to fit the damn things in. This is a part of motherhood that I never really considered. Once our kids get old enough to enter the larger world one step at a time, we need to support and accommodate those steps. But doing so requires a finesse and ability to juggle that I clearly haven’t mastered yet.

RELATED: How Many Chores Should My Child Do?

I think the first chore is mine and that involves getting over my bad self and to stop the complaining. So, we’ll start slowly, with an emphasis on moving forward, adding responsibilities one at a time. I will need to relinquish some of the control, and the boy will need to relinquish some of his pampered ways.

And the baby? Well, he is the perfect height to dust those baseboards.

Image via Sheila Quirke

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