Friday, October 26, 2012

Check Your OCD at the Door and Make Your Kid Do Chores

I woke up this morning to the sound of the dishwasher running. That means the kids loaded the dishes after dinner last night and didn't start it... again. Many mornings Hubby is greeted with a full, yet dirty, dishwasher and has to run it before he leaves for work. It has become a huge pet peeve for us both. But it is to be expected when the 10 year old and almost 8 year old are doing the dishes at night, right?

I laid in bed and listened to the loud ass dishwasher (still in the 900 square foot apartment where the kitchen is almost directly across from the bedroom, and our dishwasher is so high grade that mold grows in it after every wash), wondering how my kids weren't woken up by it, and remembered a conversation I had recently had with another mom about chores.

Courtesy of SuSoutter
I volunteered to run one of the learning stations during The Girl's field trip a few weeks ago. The field trip was at an environmental center (45 minutes from my apartment, but we won't go into that right now) and was focused on getting the kids interacting with their desert surroundings and history of the area. At the end of the day, I was in the kitchen at the campsite talking to another mom about how her day went teaching the kids how to make Indian Corn Pudding. She was telling me various stories from her day, and mentioned that at the end of her session with each group of kids she picked a few kids to help her with dishes. Not once, not twice, not even 3 times, but too many times to even count, she'd pick a child who looked at her and said, "

"I don't know how to wash dishes."

Get the f*ck out of town, these kids are 10 and 11 years old. What do you mean they don't know how to wash a dish? I asked her if she thought the kids were just trying to get out of work, and she said no. She made them help with dishes anyway, and they seriously had no idea how to wash or dry a plate.

I stood there for a second, dumbfounded, and then started laughing. The other mom looked at me a little strange, but in my laughter I managed to get out, "Kids nowadays are so spoiled. I can't believe there are parents out there who don't make their kids do chores. My kids would love to have parents like that."

That was my first assumption, yes, that many of today's parents just don't think to teach their kids the basics. With dishwashers, washing machines, microwaves and all of the other high-tech stuff out there, what's the purpose in teaching a kid how to wash a dish, right?

My second thought was that many of today's parents just don't make their kids do a damn thing around the house. A kid is told to do the dishes, they start to throw a temper tantrum, the parents back off because they don't want to upset little Jimmy.

I honestly never even thought about a third possibility, which this mom brought to my attention.

"It may not be that at all. I knew this woman one time who gave her kids chores to do, and when she went behind them to check and see if they were done correctly, her OCD kicked in, and she decided she would just do them herself so they were always done right."

Okay, seriously now... get the f*ck out of town. Good grief, I don't even know where to start with this one...

How about, instead of just doing the chores yourself to make sure they get done right, you teach your kids how to do them right?

How about, check your effing OCD at the door and make your kids work for the things they get?

How about, people like this are creating spoiled kids who think they don't have to work for anything and everything is handed to them, all because they didn't straighten the towels in the bathroom when they were done, so you told them they never had to wipe down the bathroom again?

Do I hate it when Hubby has to start the dishwasher at 5 in the morning because the kids didn't start it the night before? Yep, I sure do. Not only am I disappointed in my kids, I'm pissed that I have to hear a dishwasher when I still technically have an hour worth of sleep to put under my eyelids. Do I hate it when the dishwasher is run and I find one plate sitting on the counter that the kids overlooked, so it didn't make it into the load that day? Yep, it aggravates me. Do I hate it when I open up the dishwasher to find it loaded so haphazardly that the cups all turned over and filled with water? Holy crap, that pisses me off beyond belief.

So, considering I hate all of these things that my kids do when it comes to cleaning the kitchen, do I just throw in the towel and decide to do the kitchen myself so it gets done correctly the first time?

Hell no. Seriously, did y'all think I would?

I point out to my kids as soon as they wake up that they forgot to start the dishwasher. I go and hand them the dish they left out on the counter, and when they look at me like I've finally completely lost it, I say, "Well, you left this out of the dishwasher load, so I assumed you had a personal attachment to it. It's messing up my clean kitchen. Fix that." And I have the kids stop whatever they are doing to come over to the dishwasher and see how gross it is to have cups full of dirty dish water and food particles. Then, as they load the dishwasher that night, I stand over them and guide them to how the dishwasher is correctly loaded, so they know.

Taking 10 minutes to show my kids how to do something right saves me 30 minutes a night, every night, doing it myself.

And even when my kids drop the ball on doing something up to my standards or Hubby's standards, I think, "Well, at least all I'm doing is wiping down the counters instead of unloading and loading the dishwasher and wiping down the counters. I'll get them doing it right soon."

To the parents that don't make their kids do chores because they want to avoid temper tantrums or they don't see the point with all of the technology out there- y'all are stupid. I'm sorry, but you are. I will talk shit about you and continue to talk shit about you because you are creating lazy, self indulgent, spoiled brats who don't think they have to work for anything.

To the parents who have OCD to the extreme that they don't make their kids do chores because it'll cause them to have a near breakdown that it wasn't done correctly- all jokes aside, get that shit checked out. They have meds for it, they have aversion therapy for it, they even have counselors that will come to your home and help you. You are hurting your kids by not making them do a damn thing around the house, and inadvertently teaching them that they will never do anything good enough. If your OCD isn't that bad, then just check it at the door. Show your kids how you want things done. Teach them responsibility.

My kids have chores. They have daily chores and 'when they come up' chores. They get a small allowance every 2 weeks if they have a good track record with their chores. Both of my kids have to unload and load the dishwasher, take out the trash, clean their room and sort and fold their laundry (I actually do the laundry). If any of their toys, clothes, dead body parts, leak out into the living room or bathroom from their bedroom, they have to clean that stuff up. The Girl (being older) also has to help with the litter box and vacuum their bedroom when they are done cleaning it. We're thinking about adding on some more chores because she has talked to us about wanting more money in her allowance. In my home, if you don't work for it, you don't get it.

Do my kids hate doing chores? Of course. Do I have these magical kids that don't complain about it, so that's how I get them to actually do them? Nope, sure don't. My kids are always trying to bargain their way out of chores or try complaining through them in hopes that I'll tell them to just go away. I am made of steel when it comes to my kids trying Jedi Mind Tricks on me- it doesn't work. And if they over-try, they get threatened with no allowance but they still have to do their chores. That shuts them up pretty quickly.

Courtesy of Free Cooking Classes
I'll close out today's post with a story (that inadvertently has a lesson in it). When I was a teenager, my parents wanted me to start cooking dinner once a week. The first time I had to cook dinner I failed miserably. The next week I failed again. By the third week, I came into the kitchen with a smile on my face, ready to cook dinner, and my parents told me to just go back and watch TV, that they had it covered. When I decided at 18 to get married, my mom freaked out trying to teach me how to cook because I was a failure in the kitchen. We decided to cook dinner for soon-to-be-Hubby one night, and halfway through the dinner process, I told her to go sit down, I had it covered. I proceeded to finish cooking a pretty extensive dinner on my own. As she watched me, mesmerized, she suddenly realized what her daughter had done. I knew how to cook- always had. I played dumb when my parents asked me to cook dinner once a week because, well, I didn't feel like cooking dinner. So, I made myself out to be an idiot in the kitchen, and by week 3, I had won the battle. Meanwhile, on days I had out of school and my parents had to work, I was making omelets with diced meat and vegetables in them for breakfast, garlic chicken pasta for lunch- all for myself. They had no clue.

Moral of the story- even if your kids act like they don't have a clue when it comes to chores, chances are they are playing you like a fiddle. Teach them once, teach them twice, teach them 50 times if that's what it takes for them to get it. Either they really had no clue and you are helping them learn, or they will finally give up the battle. Either way, you win.

And unfortunately, my parents told Hubby this story, so I can't play dumb in the kitchen with him. I got out of it during my teenage years, now I'm paying for it in my adult years. Karma's a bitch.

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  1. I feel ya. When my kids act like assholes, I make them clean the baseboards. Haha. And then I have them go over the baseboards with fabric softener sheets, because Pinterest told me to.

    1. Pinterest has not told me to do that. I am dissapointed in Pinterest now... if you have that pinned, let me know. I saw you were a new follower of mine, so now I can stalk your boards, too. ;)

  2. PS I am drooling over that Dyson the little girl is whining over in that picture. I'd be doing a fucking cheer getting to vacuum with that thang!

    1. What is crazy, is that picture looks almost exactly like my kids. The age gap is right, the girl in the picture looks like my daughter and my son is a ginger (cuter than that kid, though). I don't show my kids on my blog, so when I found that picture, I celebrated, lol.

      And yes, amazing vacuum. Mine throws up dust from cat litter when you start it up to the point we have to open windows and doors. I've cleaned the filter, cleaned the hose, and it's bagless, so I've cleaned the container, too, and it still does it.

  3. Kids are for cleaning!!October 26, 2012 at 10:11 AM

    This post made me cry a little bit and I don't like crying on Friday's!!! I could write a short story about this topic but I will try to refrain and keep it a short essay.
    When I was a kid in the 80's, my parents had maids. I was a self indulgent, spoiled brat. Like you, I could cook, and still do, but thats not my point. My neighbor was a normal upper middle class kid who had chores....the horror!! I just knew that her mom was evil and only had kids so she had someone to do all of her housework.
    Fast forward a lot of years.....
    I have three kids of my own. My husband has a normal job. I am a SAHM. We are the middle class neighbors. My kids have chores. They do not get an allowance. They do the dishes every night. They do a crappy job loading the dishwasher. They always forget to run it. They often load dirty dishes into a clean load. They have unloaded dirty dishes and put them away. They always leave out a few things because "it doesn't fit"....forget about washing those things well by hand....
    My kids have to fold and put away their own clothes. They also have to iron the same clothes if I say they can't go out in the wrinkled up mess they just pulled out from under their bed. So if they don't fold, they have to iron.
    My kids are in charge of their own bathroom. I don't use it. I don't make the mess. I will not shower in mold, if they find that acceptable, then they are disgusting and should really get a new mom....I don't let that happen, but I've considered it. Anyway, they have to clean their rooms, their bathroom, do their laundry (I wash and dry it), and they are in charge of dishes and picking up the living room. It may seem like a lot, but its mostly their mess and I don't get paid to be their maid. Yes, I stay home, but I have a 3.5 year old to entertain and meals to cook and sheets to change and errands to run. So, long story long, I am the evil neighbor mom who had kids just to keep my house clean. Funny thing is my house is far from clean but its good enough for us.
    I'm not an Oprah or Martha Stewart fan, but one day MS was on O and they were talking about folding towels. My mom (who had a maid fold her shit) was crazy about folding towels in thirds and then in half and I inherited this insanity. MS and O were demonstrating this exact folding method and then said something about getting the husband to do it and O complained that husbands don't do it right (like she would know). So Martha Stewart in all of her wisdome said that it doesn't matter how the husband does it, as long as its getting done. That was life changing for me. It doesn't matter how the fracking towels are folded as long as I'm not the dumb bitch sitting there folding them all day. It doesn't matter how the dishwasher is loaded as long as I'm not the dumb ass loading and unloading it twice a day. It doesn't matter how shit gets done as long as its done well enought and I don't have to be the one to do it!!!
    My kids will move out and know how to keep their homes relatively clean and neat. They will not be a stranger to the washer and dryer (like my husband was when we got married). For reference, my girls are 14.5 and 10. They are more than old enough to do chores. And, they don't get an allowance. If they need money they ask for it and I usually give it to them.
    You're doing a good job.
    Sorry to be so wordy....

    1. I LOVE your reply. Thanks for sharing it! It makes me glad to know I'm not the only mom like this. Sorry to make you cry on a Friday. Have some coffee or chocolate- it'll make everything better, lol. ;)

    2. kids are for cleaningOctober 26, 2012 at 10:27 AM

      I mean, I wish I had a maid and a nanny, I would be a much better mom if I didnt' have to constantly tell my kids to do stuff, but thats not my lot in life. I would pick my life now over my moms life then, anyday. Money and maids did not make a happy wife or kids. I know for sure that my kiddies are happy.