10 Ways to Get Your Children to do Chores…Cady Style
Growing up in a family with ten children required an inordinate amount of creativity on the part of our parents. Especially when it came to doing things usually reviled by children. Chores were usually at the top of this list. However, Dad had a way of either tricking us, or cohercing us into doing the dreaded chores. Here are a few of his best tricks.
|Monte helping Becca mow the lawn|
1. Game Time! Holy smokes. Dad was the master of this, and I often saw this trait passed own through our brother Matt to his own children. If something was to be done, just make it a game or contest. Who can pick up 15 things the fastest? Who can be the first to wash their window? Who makes their bed with the least wrinkles? Awesome! You have bragging rights for the day!
2. Chore charts. Mom was a big fan of chore charts. When in doubt, check the chore chart. And with ten kids, you could be pretty thorough about what needed to be done around the house. For me, the chore I hated most was dishes. Ugh! If you got dishes (usually a three person job: 1 washed, 1 dried, and a third cleared the table and wiped off the counter) it was a 2-hour torture session of work while everyone else watched TV for the night, or rough housed in the living room with Dad.
|Susan, Patty, Becca and Cathy blowing bubbles in the rock garden.|
3. Money for Chores: Mom and Dad were not big on allowances. They worked hard to give us food, warmth, and a home. We were expected to help out with everything else. That’s part of a family. Pitch in and make it work. However, every summer, it would be time to do Spring cleaning. Out would come the toothbrushes, and a piece of paper listing special jobs we could do for a little extra money. It wasn’t much, and by golly we were going to earn every penny, but there was something available for every child and ability level, and even a few time-intensive jobs for someone wanting to earn more than a few buck in anticipation of Christmas.
4. Threats & Yelling: I’d be a blatant liar if I didn’t point out that Dad was an ex-Captain in the Army. He was not above yelling or threats. We were often treated like his own home-grown company of soldiers. Many Saturday mornings he’d wake us to Reveille, give us 20 minutes to get dressed and eat, then meet us in the backyard for hours of weeding, lawn mowing (with a motorless mower, of course), pruning, and/or tree pruning. Our house in Lynnwood was high maintenance, but in spite of ten children running rampant all over the lawn, I remember how beautiful it was with giant Rhododendron bushes, Lilac Trees, Walnut Trees, Ivy crawling up the side of the house, and flowering plants cascading down the rock walls. Yeah, it was totally worth it.
5. Nagging was my least favorite way to get us to do our chores. Mom often sounded like a broken record. “______ did you clean the bathroom?” “_______ do the laundry!” “______ is the laundry done?” Oh, and I can pretty much guarantee you, chores (especially laundry) will be a part of our Define Normal book. Oh the stories we can tell about chores! Ultimately, I think we all got tired of listening to Mom nag. And those who were able to tune her out, would get a smack to the back of the head by those of us who couldn’t. Shut the woman up and do your chores, already!
7. Loss of privileges: Back in the day, TV was a new and exciting prospect. It was black and white. There was no remote control. There were three channels. And ten kids. I can tell you diamonds weren’t as valuable as screen time when we were kids. Each child was given a specific allotment of time. 10-15 minutes – not even a full half hour! If we were smart, we’d combine our time with a sibling and be able to watch an entire show, rather than having someone else step up to the TV just as things were getting good and say, “Well, your 15 minutes are up. It’s my turn.”
|You will work. And you will LIKE it!|
So, to have Mom or Dad threaten to take away screen time–for any reason–should have been grounds for calling Child Protection Services for abuse. But they managed to get away with it for years. And coerce us into doing way too many undesirable chores. Let’s not even start with the nights Dad came downstairs and unplugged the TV for a month or more. That nearly started rioting!
8. Sneak Attack! Quite often, on a Sunday morning, Dad would pull out the griddle and make us all pancakes. But there was a catch to this syrupy deliciousness. One unlucky eater would find a pickle in the middle of their pancake. And if you found the pickle, you had to do the morning dishes!
9. Incentives: It also wasn’t unusual for Mom or Dad to use an incentive. Tell me, who would pass up an opportunity to drive a sibling to soccer practice to get out of doing a chore? I certainly wouldn’t.
10. Calling the Bluff: Another thing Dad was really good at was calling our bluff. We couldn’t just wait it out and hope for bedtime to roll around to get out of chores. Oh, your chores aren’t done? I guess you’ll stay up until they are. What? You managed to get to sleep before we noticed said chores weren’t done? Let’s wake you up extra super duper early so that you will have plenty of time to do them before school. Don’t like it? Too bad. Don’t squelch on your chores.