Check your OCD at the Door and Make Your Kids Do Chores

5 years ago
This article was written by a member of the SheKnows Community. It has not been edited, vetted or reviewed by our editorial staff, and any opinions expressed herein are the writer’s own.

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 dishwasher (We live in a 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.

I volunteered to run one of the learning stations during my daughter's field trip a few weeks ago. The field trip was at an environmental center and was focused on getting the kids interacting with their desert surroundings and the 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 hell 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 hell 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 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's 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.

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- you are stupid. I'm sorry, but you are. I will talk smack about you and continue to talk smack 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 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.

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.


~ Tatted Mom
The Inklings of Life 

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