The parents among us are probably aware that summer break is almost over. The last few weeks before the school year starts are a great opportunity to establish new routines to maintain balance in the household before the back-to-school frenzy. Parenting can be a rewarding, fulfilling challenge but can also throw you off balance if you’re not careful. Today, I’m going to explore what you can do to get your kids involved around the house and maybe even leave some more time for you to find your balance and sanity!
Part of creating balance in life is identifying what drains your energy. Getting your kids to participate in house responsibilities requires our attention and energy, and might be draining for many people. We get used to begging, nagging, threatening (and finally giving up). We end up doing too much for our kids because it is easier to do it ourselves than to get them to do it.
My client Suzan has 6 kids. She is focusing on creating balance between all her roles: a business woman, a mother, and a wife.? She is also working on taking care of her own needs and creating space to nurture herself and be centered.? To do this, she needs the help of her family around the house. One of her goals is to grow as a leader in her family, to set boundaries while teaching her kids good habits and allowing them to grow in a healthy environment.
So what can you do?
First, stop begging, nagging, and negotiating. Get clear about the change you would like to make and the new behaviors you expect. Make sure your expectations are reasonable and achievable. Having 20 jobs you want your kids to do wouldn’t work. It is better to have a few and be consistent when you ask them to do them. Get clear with yourself (before you present it to the family) as to how are you going to hold them accountable for doing their job and the consequences for not doing so. For example: if you ask your kids to clean up the kitchen after diner before watching TV or doing anything else, stick to your part of the deal ? don’t give in and let them watch TV anyway!
Susan started her ?New Habits Project? by creating a list of all the jobs she would like them to do at the house. Then I have asked her to sit with her husband and come up with their ?Top 4? list. This is a list of the 4 most important things for their kids to be responsible for around the house. Focusing on 4 makes the goal more realistic and easier to follow up on.
Here is the task list:
- Kids cleaning up after themselves (their rooms & common places)
- Cleaning the kitchen after dinner
- Taking trash out to the street? on pickup days
- Feeding & walking the dog
During our session, I helped Suzan to identify internal blocks that are stopping her from taking the next steps. Some of the blocks she had were anticipating lack of cooperation, fear of confrontation and fear of setting boundaries. Working on releasing those blocks helped Suzan to be ready to take the next step.
When you are ready to present the plan to your kids, gather a family meeting. State your intentions and the plan very clearly. Don’t open it up to a discussion; you are presenting it to them. Let them understand that you expect them to take responsibility. The flexible part which is open for discussion is how to divide responsibilities between them and create a schedule.
Here are a few psychological principles to support you:
- Use rewards and positive feedback to reinforce the good behavior rather than criticism and punishment for bad behavior. Give more attention to the new behavior and less attention to the old one.
- Catch your kids while they are doing the new behavior and compliment them with a smile and a positive word.
- Be consistent but patient. Stick to the rules you’ve set up, but don’t expect them to be perfect immediately. Kids are not perfect (and neither are adults, of course). They will learn from their mistakes as long as you are consistent and let them bear the consequences.
- Stay centered and detached emotionally. Don’t get mad, angry or frustrated. Simply and quietly say: ?You have to miss the basketball game because you did not clean up your room?.
- Be prepared for their negotiation attempts and remind them that it is non-negotiable.
Susan would love to hear more ideas on how to get her kids on board.
Please share your experiences and get Suzan inspired! Thank you in advance!