My children hate doing chores. Actually, my children loathe doing chores. Their chores aren’t hard. And they don’t take very long if they actually get to work. But for some completely unfathomable reason, they think their lives should consist of video games and You Tube. Anything outside of that is a battle.
We’ve tried so many different systems I can’t even remember them all. Different types of chores. Different ways to assign chores. Different ways to track chores. Different rewards. Different consequences. Different conversations.
But the battle rages on.
My natural tendency at this point is to throw my hands up in the air and be done with it. But then what? My brain on default only sees three options.
Option 1: Be content with a messy house.
Option 2: Clean up everything myself (and, let’s face it, resent my children in the process).
Option 3: Continue to be frustrated, yell at my kids, not have the family environment and culture I desire
Thinking these are my only options makes me feel completely defeated. I hate all of them. I feel stuck. I am a victim.
In reality, I have TONS of options. Let’s explore a few them.
One of my favorite questions to ask myself is “How is this my fault?” Most of us have lived our entire lives making sure nothing is our fault, always on defense. But if this situation isn’t my fault, then I’m a victim, helpless and powerless to the choices of my children.
If it’s my fault, that’s the best news ever because it means I can fix it. I have all the power back. When I ask myself “How is this my fault?” my brain starts looking for answers. Our brains love to find answers to questions. Ideas start flowing. I’m already coming up with things I can do differently. If I follow this route I don’t have to throw my hands up in the air at all. I just keep trying new things until something finally works. And I can treat it like a science experiment without all the added drama and frustration.
Next, I could question all my thoughts regarding my “messy” house. It’s clear that I believe a messy house is a negative circumstance. But all circumstances are neutral… until we have a thought about them. There are thousands of people, maybe millions of people, who don’t think a “messy” house is a problem. I know it’s my thoughts causing my problems but when I try to have a positive thought about a negative circumstance, it just doesn’t stick. I have to get to a place where I truly understand the state of my house is completely neutral before I can start to change my thoughts about it. I understand this intellectually but it hasn’t actually clicked yet. Once it does, I can start practicing new thoughts that make the state of my house not that big of a deal.
Alternatively, I could decide I don’t HAVE to clean it up myself, I WANT to clean it up myself. I love having a clean house. It makes me feel amazing. And let’s be honest, it looks 1000 times better when I clean it anyway. The rest of my family doesn’t have the same experience. I’m the one who enjoys it. I could decide I WANT to clean it. If I choose this route, I can drop the resentment and the frustration and just love my kids.
Notice in all 3 of these scenarios I take responsibility. There is nothing worse than feeling like a victim. If I lived my life on default this situation would continue to be a problem and I would probably never have the result I want. I would feel justified in my frustration and resentment. But who cares? If I don’t have the result I want, why does it matter if there’s a good reason for it?
I really do get to choose. If a family culture of peace and love is what I want, I can have it. If being a mom who teaches her kids work ethic and responsibility is what want, I can have it (notice I didn’t say they will actually learn it. We can’t control other’s results, only our own).
When I manage my mind, I realize the only problem here is the one I’m creating. That also means I have the power to change it whenever I’m ready. What problems are you creating for yourself? Are you ready to take your power back and get to work?