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Sharing the Load: Insights Gained in the Laundry Room

It was an early June morning and I was folding what felt like the 100th load of laundry since summer vacation had started.  I had been holding on to my anger, frustration, and overwhelm about managing the majority of household tasks for too long.  Maybe the Outdoor Fresh Bounce dryer sheets really had gone to my head but there in the laundry room I had a moment of realization and release.  It was time to start to delegating some tasks and figuring out how to transfer some responsibilities to my children who are more than capable of helping share the load. We have had many discussions this summer about how to work together as a family to get many of the basic household chores done so that we can have time to play, enjoy being together and feel less stressed out!  As we prepare to return to school I am optimistic that we can continue some of these basics that make life as a family easier, give everyone a sense of ownership, and helps develop skills for life long success. Here are a few tips from what we are implementing:
  1.  Identify the common household expectations for everyone.  For example “if you use something, put it back where you found it”, “if someone has something that you would like to use or borrow be sure to ask them first”
  2. Establish daily responsibilities: make your bed, put your clothes in the laundry basket, put your toys away when you are finished with them (or at least at the end of the day before bed), clear your place when you are finished etc.
  3. Identify several age appropriate chores that children can help out with and come up with a schedule for when they will get done.
I wish I could tell you that we woke up one morning and these things were just happening, but that is not how any of this works.  We have spent time talking about expectations, responsibilities, and chores.  We have worked on teaching how to complete responsibilities and chores, reinforcing the change in how we function as a unit, and reminding each other gently when we did not meet each others expectations. I also realize that in today’s fast paced world there are times it is still easier for me to just do something for one of my children.  In those moments I would like to think I am getting better at taking a deep breath, slowing down, and reminding myself that one of my long term goals as a parent is to raise competent, responsible, self-sufficient adults.  If that is my goal I need to let them do it, some times fail, and always remember to support the process not the outcome!