If you asked any parent what they wished they could get their kids to do more, the answer would probably be chores. Parents don’t have it easy these days. They have to work, run kids to sports and activities, and handle all the household responsibilities.
Kids and teens are doing less around the house than ever before.
Most of us are guilty of spoiling our kids and letting them get out of doing chores on a regular basis. We allow them to watch TV and play video games instead of doing dishes and laundry. We really have nobody to blame for their lack of responsibility but ourselves.
It might be time to change that.
Michaeleen Doucleff recently took a trip to the Yucatan, where she noticed that the children and teenagers there are much more likely to not only help when asked but to volunteer to help, as well. She was amazed by what she saw. She explained how she saw a young girl walk over to a sink of dishes and start washing them without even being asked. She said that the girl’s mother told her:
“She is old enough to understand what needs to be done around the house. Sometimes I go away from the house, and when I come back, I find the house cleaned and everything picked up.”
Doucleff learned that they start by allowing children to help at an early age.
This not only helps them develop a routine that included chores but also gives parents a chance to make chores seem fun. It’s called the Maya method. Doucleff couldn’t wait to get home and try it with her own children.
To her surprise, her kids were more than happy to do small things to help out, especially her toddler.
“At first, the Maya method was catastrophic in my hands. Rosy and I broke dishes, flooded the kitchen floor while washing dishes and ruined a load of laundry. She also ended up with a tiny burn on her wrist — about the size of a ladybug — when I let her help me fry meatballs one evening. (There’s a reason why they don’t make hot mitts in toddler sizes — although I am still on the lookout for a pair). But over time, I figured out how to modify the Maya method to work in our tiny San Francisco apartment. And the results have been incredibly gratifying.”
She noticed after a while that her daughter started asking to help with things.
If she saw her mom doing something, she wanted to be a part of it. It looked like the Maya method was working. Doucleff added:
“While I was folding laundry last weekend, she came up and asked, ‘Mom, can I help you?’ (And my heart melted.) She now voluntarily feeds the dog on a regular basis, rinses the dishes for the dishwasher, sweeps the floor with me and holds the door for me when I take the garbage out. She loves to crack eggs for pancakes, start the dishwasher, put the soap in the washing machine and walk the dog with me in the morning. (‘Mom, can I pick up the poop?’ she asked one morning. ‘You just have to wait a few more years for that privilege, honey,’ I told her.)”
Of course, everything the toddler does isn’t helpful, and it’s normal for kids to make mistakes and be messy.
The point is, they are learning new skills and also learning what it means to be responsible for things around the house. They no longer feel like their role is to only play, watch TV, and relax.
They feel needed and helpful, and as they get older, these chores just become part of life. The Maya method might not work for everyone, but Doucleff believes in it now. If you are looking for a way to get your kids to help with chores, give this method a try.
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