Can I get some help around here?!

Housework is never-ending. It is ongoing, perpetual, relentless…

While cleaning the kitchen recently after a long and tiring weekend, Hubby remarked that it would be nice if one could get ahead with the housework in order to be able to sit back and relax for a couple of days. But sadly, housework is like sleep in that it cannot be banked.

Knowing this, I have long been looking forward to the day when our children can contribute to general household maintenance. Our two little ones desperately want to help. Our one year old son would give his right arm to be allowed to empty the dishwasher. And our 2 year old daughter would dearly love to chop the vegetables at dinnertime. But alas, their functional skills do not match their level of motivation.

On the other hand, when I asked our perfectly capable 6 year old daughter to help me stack the dishwasher last night, the eye-rolling and evasive action was a sight to behold.

As I continued to do the dishes (alone), I realised I was experiencing one of the cruel injustices of parenting in the 21st century developed world…

Below is a basic graphical representation of the relationship between skills and motivation as it pertains to children helping around the house:

As you can see, skill level eventually intersects with motivation and for just a very brief period actual help can be extracted from one’s offspring.

Our two littlies are currently in Phase A. They cannot help us.

Our eldest daughter has transitioned to Phase B. She will not help us…

Unfortunately with our eldest daughter we have missed the period of equilibrium. The window opened and closed without us even noticing. Her skills had improved rapidly, but her motivation was simultaneously decreasing at an alarming rate. We missed the signs, and now it is too late.

I plan to diligently track the progress of our two younger children to ensure we identify and capitalise on their equilibrium period in real time. By my reckoning, if we remain vigilant, we can look forward to two or three weeks of help around the house sometime during late 2017.

Our only other option is to achieve an outwards shift in the motivation curve. This will not be easy. Thank goodness we control the supply of ice cream…

Cover image courtesy of Stuart Miles/


11 thoughts on “Can I get some help around here?!

  1. Great post! Enjoyed reading your tabulation of help around the house. Gosh, 2017 is a long time to wait for relief. But like you said, you “control the supply of ice cream,” so you may still have some leverage!

    • Thank you! I know – seems like a pretty small reward to look forward to, doesn’t it. On the other hand, I bought some chocolate chip ice cream yesterday so maybe things will start looking up…

  2. Dear Charlotte, I’m afraid I am unable to give you an answer to your problem. I was never able to solve it myself but wish you luck in doing so. Don’t be too upset though as one day they will be having the same dilemma and you can just chuckle.

  3. Your graphical representation of where motivation intersects with skill is just fabulous. (no evidence of a management consultant screaming to get out of the kitchen at ALL!) Alas, after some internal analysis, I fear we may already have missed The Intersection with Max, (There is an occasional ‘Of course I can!’ when I ask him to do something to help – so delightful, and so willing to please. But it’s becoming less frequent and replaced more and more often with a ‘Nahhhh. It’s too hard for me/I’m a bit tired/No thanks Mummy – you can do it/NO!’ ) and I’m concerned I’ll be reinforcing gender stereotypes with Chloe simply because she may be the only child where I’m alert to The Intersection. Would it be wrong to get her to help do stuff – if she’s the only one, simply because I’ve finally learnt how to recognise The Intersection?

    • Oh my goodness. I can’t believe Max has already moved to the right of The Intersection!? Isn’t he only 3? Perhaps the motivation curve is steeper than I thought! Bugger!
      You do find yourself in a tough spot. Even though Chloe’s gender is completely unrelated to this issue, it just wouldn’t seem right if she was only one helping, would it? I believe you have missed the boat entirely, sister. Your ice cream monopoly may well be all you have left…

  4. Oh, this is my favourite post yet Charlotte. Your kids are a bit young yet, but my parents (when i was about 8) introduced the concept of a “pocket money book” – linked to chores…and you didn’t actually receive cash in hand. Spends (on lollies etc) were simply logged and you had a running balance. I found a loophole pretty early on and found i could go into a negative balance, interest free with no contract to repay. This infuriated my 3 siblings and set me up for bad credit card habits to this day. Sorry, not that helpful i know. Just loved the graph. xx

    • I don’t understand – surely your siblings should have learned from your ‘work smarter, not harder’ approach (as I have!), rather than resent you?! 🙂
      So pleased you like my graph… xx

  5. I love it when bloggers use graphs to demonstrate a domestic point. Double thumbs up from Mumabulous! My 5 year old (P1) is currently experiencing a rush of motivation to help with household chores – she thinks she is winning brownie points with Santa! You’ve got to love incentivization Santa style.

    • Thanks for the double thumbs up Mumabulous!
      Of course – Santa! Why have I not been using him to his full advantage? Too busy worrying about the swing set we have bought and have no idea how to assemble, perhaps. Thank you for the tip. Operation Santa starts today…

  6. Where was this chart/analysis when my kids were at the equilibrium point. My wife probably wishes there was a husband chart too. My motivation comes from not stepping on legos in the morning when it is dark…

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