We moms think we know how to do everything, right? There is an old expression that says, “mothers are the very heart of our homes,” so it must be true. We know how laundry should be done, how to cook a great meal and then clean up after. There is another saying that goes, “When Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!”
Most mothers are still doing the majority of work at home, whether they work outside the home or not. The cooking, cleaning, shopping, homework help and chauffeuring are still predominantly planned and executed by mothers. What is the reason this continues?
See if any of these sound familiar:
Reason #1: Mom does most everything because she knows how.
Reason #2: Mom does it because she wants it done right.
Reason #3: Mom can finish the job quicker.
Reason #4: Mom doesn’t like the way others do it.
Reason #5: Mom is tired of explaining everything over and over.
Reason #6: Mom is a control freak.
Reason #7: Mom is obsessive compulsive about cleaning.
Reason #8: Mom will never accept how anyone does it.
Reason #9: Mom doesn’t mind doing the work.
Reason #10: Mom is out of her mind.
If any of these reasons sound familiar, you may very well be— a mom!
Being a mom is a huge power trip and we like being put on the pedestal like so many other martyrs. We are worshipped and respected, not because of who we are but for how we fold our towels so perfectly and straight. We are envied for our sparkling silverware, spotless plates and crystal clear glassware. We are held up as an example for others to admire and look up to. People are thrilled to be invited to relax in our spotless, uncluttered home. We get a whole day every year in our honor. What could be better than that?
Yes, mothers do manage most of the activities at home: chores, meals, shopping, entertaining. A good manager doesn’t do all the work themselves; they enlist everyone’s help by assigning work that can be done by those that are capable. What exactly would the benefits be when mom doles out chores?
Benefit #1: You will get more help.
Benefit #2: You will be less tired.
Benefit #3: You will not feel used.
Benefit #4: You will not feel taken for granted.
Benefit #5: You will have less work.
Benefit #6: You will be appreciated when they realize how much you do.
Benefit #7: You will be able to relax at the same time as your family.
Benefit #8: You will have more time for other fun things.
Benefit #9: You will get to be a person, not just a mom, maid, driver, etc.
Benefit #10: You will be able to let others learn, do and feel accomplished.
My daughters went to school with girls who were not allowed to do housework. I can’t imagine the experience those girls might have had in college so unprepared. My own daughters both knew how to do their laundry and cook meals right along with the academics. They saw no shame in preparing their meals and then cleaning up after.
As members of a household, parents truly want every member to feel appreciated and valued. One of the best ways to achieve that is through accomplishment. I once heard that doing things for a child that they can do for themselves actually robs them of the opportunity to learn and grow. Children who feel capable of doing things on their own have higher self-esteem. Teenagers who helped out at home are more confident as they go off to college.
What about fathers? One of the main reasons dads do not contribute as much effort to the home upkeep is that mom can be very critical. As an example: Dad takes a particular chore, like cleaning the kitchen, and does what he considers a good job. Then mom waltzes into the kitchen and zeroes in on crumbs on the stovetop and water spots on the counter and launches into a diatribe on the importance of cleanliness and how we’ll all be dead in a month if he were to do it again. Has mom forgotten that dad owns half the kitchen?
Listen up moms, it is never too late to climb off that pedestal and get children to take part in the daily workings of your household. Everyone can contribute in age-appropriate ways: cleaning their room, doing yard work, household duties or helping prepare meals.
Tips to get everyone involved in your household’s work:
• Teach everyone how to do the job appropriately.
• Give the person doing the job ‘ownership’ of the quality of work.
• Use ‘Grandma’s Rule.’ For example, when the job is finished, then we can do something fun.
• Do not criticize quality of the work.
• Do not redo the chore to meet your standards of quality; as they practice their work will improve.
• Offer instructions or help when needed and be available for questions.
• Do not give money or pay for the work. Chores are done by everyone as part of a household.
• Give genuine praise, noting particular reasons the work is exceptional.
• Tell children and dad they should be proud of their work, as opposed to “I am proud of your work.”
• Let dad and kids hear you speak positively about your whole household’s efforts.
If you cannot think of any chores or duties your children can do, you can get a few ideas here at Jackie’s Long List of Chores:
Nothing says satisfaction quite as well as a job well done.
Talk with a Volunteer or Find a Group in New Jersey:
1-800-843-5437 or 1-800-THE-KIDS
Parents Anonymous® of New Jersey, Inc.
Phone: (609) 585-7666
Fax: (609) 585-7686