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Household duties: Battle or collaboration?

Teen taking responsibility for doing his laundry.
Teen taking responsibility for doing his laundry.
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Running a household, regardless of the number of individuals inside, requires effort and daily maintenance. Between laundry, dishes, cooking, grocery shopping, taking out the trash, cleaning-amongst lots of others-can comprise a full-time job on its’ own. While few of us have the financial resources to hire outside the home, we must enlist those who reside within, to care for their habitat. But how do we delegate-while minimizing complains each may have about the “stuff” they are asked to do?

There aren’t superheroes

In our society, we are often expected to bite off more than we can chew. Yet doing this is not sustainable. In this day in age, we all carry multiple roles within our play of life- including children. Part of that role is cohabitation with others, which requires maintenance and care to create the very sense of a nurturing foundation from which we all learn best and curiously explore. When a ‘superhero’ (anyone in the home who attempts to do it all themselves) arrives, it paints an inaccurate picture for the collaboration it requires to maintain a living habitat. All contributions may not be equal amongst all members; rather we are working together to create a warm and inviting home.

With age, comes responsibility

Generally the older kids become, the more they are capable of doing. They are developing, not only the mechanics of how to do something, but also expanding their ability to be able to juggle multiple components of an activity, such as safety and time management. When teaching kids about the necessary household duties, keep in mind to transfer ‘how’ you know when a job is complete- that internal sense of being ‘good enough’. This sets the foundation for internalized learning, rather than dependence on your approval before moving on . Also, few of us learn from criticism. In fact, often when criticized, we shut down and settle into a sense of defeat. Rather, be mindful of the task at hand and work through the missing components. This reinforces an internalized sense of success.

Take aways

At times it may seem easier just to ‘do everything’ ourselves. Be mindful that this is not sustainable, nor does it authentically prepare your kids to live independently. Below are some concepts to keep in mind when thinking about household duties and family collaboration.

· Delegate. Be flexible with who does what, which provides practice over various tasks and sidesteps the mundane.

· Let go of perfection. When we delegate, things will be done differently, yet it doesn’t’ mean that its wrong. Set standards yet be flexible with the process.

· Responsibility to the household, don’t take it personally. It can be easy to take the completion of household tasks personally, particularly when they are not given priority. Relax. Natural consequences will arise and use those as teaching moments.

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