Tag Archives: chores

FLASHBACK – Laundry Sucks

The past few weeks, I have written about the idea of excitement and wonder.  This weekend, we faced a mountain of laundry and this post came to mind…

Strolling through the house, I see one black sock, inside out, peeking out from underneath the couch. Its mate rests underneath the TV remote across the room.

Two pair of gym shorts, both clean enough to wear again, sit in a pile on the bathroom floor.

I will not even waste words on what the floor of his closet looks like.

Photo Credit: darksock2004 via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: darksock2004 via Compfight cc

As the dutiful dad, I used to walk through the house, pick up his clothes (he was pretty young), throw them all in the laundry basket, and wash them whether they needed it or not. The path of least resistance.

It did not take long for a primal instinct to rise up from within. I hated doing laundry and I had to change the paradigm. I spent too much of my time finding socks, hanging school uniform shirts, soaking dirty pants, and washing all of them. Not to mention my own clothes.

This single dad took a new approach to laundry.

  • Get rid of the front loader/HE washer. I admit front loader washing machines look cool. They save on water. They use less energy. But, for me, they made doing laundry more frustrating due to the long wash cycles. I have owned both and found the top loader to better fit my needs. You can do more laundry, more quickly with a top loader.
  • Work out your laundry schedule. Depending on how many kids you have, you might face a small mountain of laundry each and every day. Maybe you have school uniforms or work uniforms needing constant laundering. You might enjoy spending your entire Saturday doing laundry and chores around the house. Maybe you just want to do three or four smaller loads on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. Maybe your electric utility plan dictates when you do your laundry. Maybe you go to a laundromat and do your entire week’s worth of laundry in just a few hours. Whatever the case, like your financial budget, figure out your typical needs, establish a schedule, and stick to it as best you can.
  • Teach your kids how to care for clothes. Take the time to teach your kids, from an early age, how to determine when clothes should go into the dirty bin or when they could be worn again. Boys typically resonate with the sniff test, so give it try. Instruct them to turn their clothes…especially socks…right-side-out before putting in the dirty laundry bin. Remind them it takes water and time to do laundry, so they need to be respectful of how many times they change clothes unnecessarily during the day.
  • Have an extra set of sheets/mattress pad. You never know what might happen at night from bed wetting to vomit to Spot jumping on it after running through the mud. In those cases, having an extra set of sheets can save you from an unexpected visit to the laundry room.
  • Wash towels and rugs separately. Once I washed the bathroom rug with some regular clothes. I spent the following spring taking little white balls of cotton off of all the clothes. I think they call them pills, and they are bitter.
  • Bring your kids into the experience. If said with the right tone of voice and right attitude, you can invite your kids to help you do laundry. Maybe it becomes an over-and-above chore in exchange for a few extra minutes of electronics time. They should learn the basics of laundering, folding, hanging, and putting in drawers. Maybe it will encourage them to think and be more responsible with their clothes.

So, am I the only one who hates laundry? Any tips you can share?

My Son Will Not Clean His Room

My son and I have different definitions of a clean room.  Truth be told, my definition and his had much more in common when I was a few decades younger.

Actually, truth be told, I have never been the neatest person around, but try to maintain some semblance of order.  Everything has its place, but not everything ends up there.

Photo Credit: h.anderle via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: h.anderle via Compfight cc

Even after several years of asking him to find a place for his clothes and toys, not everything has its place.  Unless you count the closet floor or the northwest corner of his room as a legitimate “place”.

I have tried bribing, threatening, explaining, and lecturing.  Each is met with the same reply: “I know where everything is.”

Except when he does not know where everything is…which can happen several times each week.

My idea well has just about run dry, and I sense parenting with some balance may pay off.

First, my son must learn to do what I ask when I ask him to do it.  Honestly, he may resist at first if a different activity seems more appealing.  And almost everything except homework and flossing seems more appealing.

Second, he should understand (and by default I must adequately explain) the why.  I suspect he already understand why someone should keep their room straightened up, but I can remind him of times he has not been able to find something.

Photo Credit: heatherbirdtx via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: heatherbirdtx via Compfight cc

Third, I need to help him determine what “clean” means to him and what it means to others.  I had a roommate who had a very different definition of “doing the dishes” than I did…and we had to work it out.  My son will have to work it out as he gets older and lives in different places with different people.

Fourth, I should encourage him to think less of the chore and more about the convenience.  One day he will understand the beauty of knowing the location of clean socks and his rugby jersey, instead of rummaging through piles of clothes he has not put away looking for them at the last minute,

Fifth, I need to make sure I affirm his good decisions and when he does a stellar job at other duties.  He excels at opening doors for ladies and helping with the puppies.  Offering praise for him for a job well done may result in improvements in more challenging areas.

What chore do you constantly nag your kids to do?  What chore did your parents nag you about?



How Sanity Returned To My Mornings (Mostly)

I became a single dad when my son was barely five-years-old.  The list of chores and responsibilities appropriate for a child his age had limits, and I constantly cleaned, cooked, made his school lunch, did laundry, made beds, reminded him to brush his teeth, did more laundry, cooked, and did more laundry.

“Doing the laundry” often included picking up socks and clothes from the bathroom, the living room, the kitchen, the bedroom, the other bathroom, and even my bedroom.  Sure, I would scold him and ask him to do the job, but I felt an enormous amount of guilt about the divorce and his new world, so I erred on the side of doing more than most parents.

Fast forward a few years (including a new marriage and great advice from my wife), and my son has transformed the quality of my mornings dramatically.  He (we) did this by having him make a list of all the tasks he must do in the morning…tasks I no longer do and tasks I no longer have to nag him about doing.

Photo Credit: Courtney Dirks via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Courtney Dirks via Compfight cc

He wrote the list himself as we discussed what he needed to do every morning.  He posted the list on the refrigerator himself.  And now he completes the tasks all by himself – and he does them without complaint.

The list has empowered him and relieved me.

Now it is time for me to create my own list…

What morning rituals do your kids perform?  How can you improve upon your morning routine?

“Ts” Of Single Fatherhood – Train

Growing up, my dad trained Brittany Spaniels.  We used them for hunting quail and he competed with them in AKC field trials.  Over the years, we ended up with several national champions and I have rich memories of spending weeks each summer in the White Mountains of Arizona for the trials and countless quail hunting trips.

Photo Credit: vishnubhagat123 via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: vishnubhagat123 via Compfight cc

Young bird dogs go through a time of “breaking” where they learn to stay still when a bird flushes from a bush.  As you can imagine, when a bird takes flight, the dog would really like to chase it and catch it.  However, the handler wants the dog to stand still so he can safely take aim and shoot the bird…and not the dog.

We used repetition to train the young dogs.  We also used shock collars to break them from chasing the birds.  Don’t worry, this did not harm the dogs or lead to them needing therapy.

Kids present an entirely different paradigm related to training.  We not only want to “break” our kids of bad habits and rude behavior, but we want to train them in a way that brings out the uniqueness of each of them and encourage them to flourish.  How do we do this?

Generally, moms excel in areas dealing with hygiene, manners, gift-wrapping, and empathy.

Dads usually do a great job training in physical activity, lighting fireworks and right-brained stuff.

Our job, as single dads, requires us to cover all the bases.  And we are not allowed to use shock collars when our kid uses bad manners at the dinner table.

So, how can we set ourselves up to train our kids well?

Seek input from moms.  Find a “mom” who has frequent interactions with your kids and ask them to give honest input about what training they need.  Others notice little things, and some big things, we may have no clue about.  Thank them for the input and seek training tips.

Engage kids in everyday tasks and special chores.  Giving our kids responsibility and compensation will help train them.  I appreciate the context Dave Ramsey puts this in – some behaviors are essential to just being part of the family (clearing your plate, picking up clothes, and other age-appropriate tasks), and others deserve compensation (or a “commission”).  This will both feel a part of the family unit and train them to act responsibly whether they get paid or not.

Consider outside training.  Occasionally, my dad would send a dog off with a professional trainer for specialized instruction.  For our kids, we have Junior Achievement, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, team sports (sportsmanship, playing with others), and many others.  Often, what we have told our kids for months will finally sink in when another adult gives the same instruction.  Frustrating, but a reality.  You and I did it, too!

 What has been the hardest thing to train your kid(s) to do?

Learning to sit down

I don’t even remember exactly what I was doing. Probably laundry.  Maybe something more frivolous, like gathering trash from around the house to take to the curb for Tuesday garbage pickup.  Who knows.

What I remember very clearly was my son sitting alone on the couch with his favorite stuffed animal and blanket.  He was winding down.  Homework was done.  Teeth brushed.  He even flossed.  He was occupied and I could get stuff done.

Photo Credit: treefell via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: treefell via Compfight cc

He was watching something – probably Phineas and Ferb (one of my personal favorites), but he wanted company – he wanted dad to sit and pay attention to him.

“DAD!  Please sit with me.”  

He didn’t use many words, but they had an impact.  I immediately thought to myself, “but I have to get all these chores done, when will I do them if not now?”

Fortunately, some additional synapses fired immediately after that thought.  My son just asked me to sit down next to him, to pay attention to him, to put my arm around him and cuddle with him.  He was giving me permission to quit doing chores and sit and watch TV with him…to join him in his world.  I’m glad I did.

Time, touch, and attention.  We both needed it, and a child’s need for those should always trump a chore you can do later.