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The Essence of Family Organizing

Melinda had to formally resign as "maid of the house" in order for her family to start contributing to their share of housework. She explained to them that now that the children were teenagers, she would no longer be doing their laundry, nor would she do all of the cooking and cleaning up after meals. She acknowledged that she had perpetuated her role as "maid" and that it would take some time to reallocate responsibilities. She had given her husband a "heads up" that this was coming and they held a family meeting to decide together what to do next. They adapted a "win-win" system that she had found in Stephen Covey's book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families in which the children's clothing allowance was dependent on their pitching in with the laundry. When they did their laundry, they got their clothing allowance. No laundry, no new slacks or dresses.

Helping Children Do Their Share of Household Tasks

Keeping the house clean and organized can be a challenge in homes with children, but it is not impossible. If children learn responsibility for helping out around the house, and are taught basic organizing principles from an early age, they can avoid some of the problems we find ourselves experiencing as disorganized adults. Gary, a highly successful lawyer, says that his three boys tended to be disorganized like him. Part of his incentive for becoming more organized was seeing how his children were modeling themselves after him. It was important to him that his kids learn to pitch in, and he realized that they didn't mind doing work around the house as long as the tasks were split equitably. "They don't like it when we ask them to do more than their brothers have to do. Everybody clears and rinses their own dishes and puts them in the dishwasher. Fred takes out the garbage, Harris sets the table, and Donald brings down the laundry. They all make their own beds. If they think it's fair, they have no problem doing it. I try to help them build good habits now and I tell them that my life would have been a lot easier if I had been more organized."

From It's Hard to Make a Difference When You Can't Find Your Keys by Marilyn Paul, Ph.D. Copyright © 2003. Used by arrangement with Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

If you'd like to buy this book, click here or on the book cover. Get a 15% discount with the coupon code FENPARENT.


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