Ever feel like a Disney character? Sometimes I feel like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Why is it so hard to get 4 children and a spouse to wash up and put dishes in the sink? If you often feel like you are herding a bunch of kittens, welcome to the club.
Disney World is spotless because of organization, everyone knows their tasks, and they are empowered to get it done. How would your home look and feel if that were the case in your home?
There are many ways to get your personal Peter Pan’s to grow up without giving up their child-like wonder. All kids need rules and responsibility to thrive. They do better in school, at home and out in the big wide world when we, as their parents (or cat herder’s) teach them how to be responsible, do chores, and get the work done before they play. They may all not sing, “Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho. It’s off to work we go”, but not all of our days are filled with plucky tunes either.
Now here’s how to make your castle more harmonious and your princesses and princes willing to get the job done with a little help from their Jiminy Cricket conscious siting on their shoulder, when they are playing on their phone instead of doing their homework or chores.
First of all…. sit all of your little Huey, Duey and Luey’s down for a family chat.
Discuss a plan for the chores that need doing and be aware of the responsibilities you are trying to teach your little ones and not so little ones. It is never too late to teach responsibility. If Kim Possible can save the world and still get her homework in on time, then so can your teen.
A huge wipe off board with a monthly calendar and a separate board with chores listed are ideal but even a large piece of paper or poster board can do the trick. It’s important that it be where the family can all access it. Some prefer an online calendar and chore app. My family is visual so we use paper.
Know your Task
Next, create a chart with all of the chores needing to be completed on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Have the children sign up for the ones they prefer to do that month. They can change chores monthly so they don’t get burnt out on the same chores.
Make sure to put the chores you do on the list, children need to know that even the parent has chores. Schedule in time for homework, after school activities and monthly holidays.
Schedule in family and personal time for rest and relaxation.
Calendars are helpful if you are a blended family with schedules for three different homes. Make sure to include this information as well.
Teens and adults may know their work schedules only 2 weeks in advance and may need to update that more regularly.
Planning for Empowerment
In order to help this new process of organization and teaching responsibility to go more smoothly, Dr. Richard Horowitz in his Book Family Centered Parenting states, “The first part of the process is being proactive. Proactive is the buzzword for prevention and basically refers to planning ahead or anticipating situations. The better we are as family members in preparing for what lies ahead the better we are able to avoid conflict and crises.” This means, when you are proactive by creating chore charts and planning ahead, you will be less likely to have conflict.
We want our children and spouses to have a buy in on the plan. This means making sure you stick to the plan and believe in it wholeheartedly. If you are always leaving the plan or are easily distracted from the plan, not much will change.
Then, have a plan for consequences if the chores and homework don’t get completed, so you are not making snap decisions on a punishment that will only confuse and frustrate yourself and your child.
In Family Centered Parenting, Dr. Horowitz discusses the need for buy-in from children and teens in making family rules and consequences for breaking them with the children and then having a contract on what will happen if they don’t follow through.
Instead of removing electronics as a consequence of not completing their chores, have your child do one of your regular chores as well. This teaches that your time is valuable and allows you to get back the time you lost dealing with that child.
Make sure to compliment with honest feedback and thoughtful, clear statements about what you liked about them following through on chores and responsibilities. Children know when you are being insincere. So try to be more specific about the praise you give them. Praise goes so much further than put downs, names calling or negativity.
Finally, support your children’s needs for independence while also making sure the larger family’s needs are met. Explain this to children, that they are important and so are the other members of the family. And that all of the family’s needs and wishes will be taken into consideration when planning the family’s responsibilities, time and preferences.
In Parenting Teens with Love and Logic, Doctor Foster Cline and Jim Fay remind us, ”As parents, most of us have learned by now that we’re not always right. If we have a responsible teenager who is bent out of shape about something we’ve done or said, he or she probably has a legitimate grievance.”
Princess Anna was a responsible and behaved child (for the most part, like most children) but she still got herself into trouble. Remind yourself that your little princesses and princes all have their moments but they ultimately want to please you, be well behaved, and be praised by you.
Hopefully, this helps to keep your family more organized, get responsibilities completed with minimal grumpiness, discipline effectively and empower children to follow family rules for the best interest of everyone.
Good luck out there…and my apologies to Walt.
“If you dream it, you can do it.” Walt Disney