Lucille over at Who's Going to Tell You posted about wanting a garbage man to keep from having to take out the garbage. Again. Mass quantities of it because her Hubby did the smash-and-stack trash handling technique while she was sick with pneumonia. I TOTALLY agree that he should do a better job of helping out - not only while she's sick, but all the time. However, in my humble opinion, her problem is just a symptom of a larger issue that has bugged me for years: Kids, Chores, and Consequences.
As moms, we all to often do things ourselves because it is, well, just simpler. Less hassle. More efficient. We want things done a certain way, and the kids / hubby / a housekeeper / God Himself just couldn't do it as well as we can. Heaven forbid that someone might think that we are not perfect June Cleavers because the pillows on the couch aren't positioned a just so; there are newspapers on the floor by Hubby's chair; the kids beds aren't made; or the kitchen looks even remotely used.
For those who agonize over every speck of dust that drifts through the air in their spotless, pristine abode, life can become unbearable for everyone in the house. Mom is always on edge because NOBODY CLEANS ANYTHING (the way she thinks they should). The kids are miserable because Mom is always nagging. But then, on the other hand, they often ignore the nagging because they know if they hold out long enough, Mom will get fed up and just do it herself. Yes, there may be some meaningless consequence like losing TV or game privileges for a few days, but hey!, eventually she'll quit nagging and just do it herself in the first place because it's easier for her in the long run!
I have a friend who solved the problem by using a thing called natural consequences. She had 3 kids of an age that should be able to handle their share of household responsibilities, so she made up a duty chart. As often happens, trash duty became a major sticking point. So she got creative and instituted a new rule:
On trash day, if the responsible party hadn't emptied trash cans, then everyone else got to put said trash (in a bag, of course) in the shirker's room where it stayed until the shirker could take it out - whether it took until the next trash day or whenever. Catch: Kids were not allowed to leave their rooms to do anything fun, TV, games, sports, shopping.. NOTHING FUN if their rooms weren't clean. They couldn't just pile it on the curb either, because trash pickup only happened on Wednesdays and Saturdays. And they couldn't put it out on the normal holding area if the next trash day would be a sibling's trash duty day because then that sibling would be doing part of their job. So if the timing was wrong, they were stuck with it in their room for at least 2 days.
One of her sons decided to heck with it because, hey, he didn't have anything fun he wanted to do anytime soon. And he figured he could just sit in his room and read. Mom would eventually give in and give up on that stupid duty chart thing. After about a week it smelled so bad that she was tempted to give in, but instead she just put a fan outside his door FACING IN so that the stink kept being blown back inside! Bonus: The fan also discouraged the FLIES from leaving his room. It became a huge standoff situation.
About 3 weeks later, he finally decided to clear out his room. By then, his clothes and bedding all smelled like rotten trash. The only reason the rest of the house didn't smell was because of the fan plus Mom had spent a fortune on air fresheners and sprays, but she said it was worth it when she watched him finally drag the bags to the curb and then have to wash his stuff himself because she refused to enter his room with it smelling like that.
The other two learned a valuable lesson: Mom's not gonna give in so we might as well just do it! It wasn't always easy, but she'd succeeded in making believers out of them and they balked much less. Her kids are now in their early 30s. The two boys make great husbands because they don't think anything at all about just doing whatever needs to be done. It finally just became a habit.
Too often we let our kids get off easily because we don't want them to feel unloved or overpressured. More often it's because it's just easier to get it done and over with ourselves. But if God loves us enough to impose rules, responsibilities, and consequences shouldn't we love our kids enough to do the same?
Peace, Blessings, and Positive Natural Consequences to all.