“How I finally got my kids to clean up”

One mum reveals how she got her family to help around the house

August 23 2018

It’s a never-ending battle – you clean the house, they mess it up. But one mum has discovered the solution to getting the kids – and husband – on board with tidying up.

“When my kids were younger, I had great intentions when I bought a sturdy Melissa & Doug magnet chart that was supposed to track their chores and responsibilities,” Joanna Mazewski writes on Babble.com

“It was a solid two weeks until I would forget to keep track of their accomplishments and the magnets would start falling off. Then the kids started losing interest, their beds were never made, and they weren’t clearing the table like they were supposed to. We were back at square one.”

No amount of stickers will fix this
Joanna says the reason the charts don’t work is because she just didn’t have the time to keep up with the charts, but she also felt that she was rewarding her family for things they should have been doing anyway!

“Some days, I feel like I’m living with a family of filthy little pigs. I can put a dozen shiny red, blue and yellow stickers on my face and nag to the moon and back, but they still won’t put their dirty laundry in the friggin’ laundry basket,” she writes.

“I know that keeping a house tidy isn’t exactly a do-or-die situation for most; but for me, it is. My mother always told me that you need to keep your house clean just in case an unexpected guest arrives — you know, like the Pope. And I’ll be damned if he comes and trips over a pair of soccer cleats in the hallway.”

Extreme measures
In the end, the only way to get them to tidy was to actually leave the house, and leave them to it. Dramatic, but it worked.

“It wasn’t until I took an unexpected trip overseas for a week that I saw some cold, hard change,” Joanna said.

When she arrived home from the airport she was almost afraid to walk through the door, but was pleasantly surprised.

“I was honestly amazed: My husband and children managed to pick up their crap without me around,” she writes. “It wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t a haphazard danger zone either.

“Reward charts don’t work for us. Nagging doesn’t work. And screaming at the top of my lungs definitely doesn’t work. (It will just get you a nice sore throat.)

“But leaving the house for a week? Bingo.

“In other words, breathe — those chores will get done. They just might get miraculously done when you’re not there,” she added.