The Backwoods

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The Brier Patch Chore

Posted · 12 Comments

My kids do chores. Every day, without fail, they clean my entire house. I know, I know…you don’t believe me. I’m just as in shock as the next guy and when I trace my actions to figure out how I accomplished such an impossible task, it still makes no sense. I’ll save that for another day.  It could have something to do with my dictator style of parenting.

A few weeks ago Anthony was in trouble for…oh, who knows what, he’s always in trouble…and his dad told him that dishes were his job for the rest of the week whereas normally they alternate. Somewhere around day three he did a fantastic job.

“Oh wow, the kitchen looks amazing,” I said, big eyed and smiling.  “How did you get that stain off the counter?  Where did that pot of fermented green beans go that has been sitting there for six days?  Oh My Gosh, did you clean out the fridge? HOLY COW! THAT’S AWESOME!”  And then I did a little dance across the floor that you will never want to witness.

When his week was up, one morning while divvying up chores I said to Luke, “No, I want Anthony to do the kitchen…he does a much better job and I really need it done right today.”  This accomplished two tasks. It let Luke know that his mediocre job had been noticed and it let Anthony know that he had ‘won’ in the continual battle to outdo his brother.

Anthony puffed out his chest, stepped up to the plate and did it.

The next day Anthony offered, “Mom, do you want ME to do the dishes today instead of Luke?”

“Yes, please,” I said.  “I really appreciate it…you do such a good job.”

And so it went.  For three weeks now Anthony has been cleaning the kitchen every morning. Why?  Because every single morning without fail, Luke has gone directly into the kitchen upon waking and started rinsing dinner dishes left from the night before.

Anthony, seeing his status as king dishwasher at risk, freaks out.  “DIBS ON DISHES!” he says, running from his bed in a frantic frenzy.

And thus begins a five minute argument over who gets to scrape leftovers, wipe counters, unload and  fill the dishwasher.

And Luke?  He grabs a broom and ‘sweeps’ at Anthony’s feet in pretense of cleaning the floor. It’s a fine balance, raising boys with good work ethic. Or at least with the competitive edge that will help when they go out into the real world. But I think we are on the right track.

12 Responses to "The Brier Patch Chore"
  1. Aurelia says:

    I would love to have this scenario at my house! My boys are ages 3, 5, and 7. Any ideas on what chores are best for young ones? They kind of sort laundry, vacuum, sweep, load dishes… but not very well. I usually have to go back and re-do it all.

  2. Oh even if this only works for a month, it’s glorious!

  3. Shirley Hill says:

    Hmm, ideas are sorting to form…

  4. Kristy K. James says:

    My kids take after their dad in the housecleaning department…so basically it’s my job. I once read one person’s theory that if ‘you’ (in my case…me) kept everything neat and tidy, the family would follow suit. I just laughed. But to borrow a favorite Australian expression…Good on you! I love reading about people who are successful in getting their families to help out around the house. 🙂

  5. Susan says:

    You are awesome. And somehow I picture the little cartoon Brer Rabbit dancing around in your kitchen and smiling slyly.

  6. Amazing! What savvy parenting!! Wish I’d run across this when my kids were still home!!

  7. Gayle says:

    That would never work at my house. Their competitive streak involves who can win at actually doing the least amount. Sad, I know.

  8. Nancy says:

    I love your family…

  9. av8trx says:

    Yeah, but how long are you going to be able to keep the bluff up? LOL? I’m assuming you used the same method on the older kids, did it ever stop working on them? And can you start using the method on teenagers? And more importantly, will you come down and be a dictator at my house?

  10. Lynn Falconer says:

    If only I could do that with my husband and teenager, but no, guess I’ll just have to settle for good enough.

  11. Chrissy R says:

    Well done!

  12. You are brilliant! I’m so doing this with my kids – they are constantly competing and trying to out-do each other.

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