I Have To Stop Doing Everything So My Teens Will Learn

All of my kids have chores to do around the house in order to earn their cell phones every month. The deal when they got their phones was that instead of getting an allowance, we’d pay for the service through a few chores they’d do daily and if they wanted to earn any extra money, they’d have to do extra chores, or get a job outside of the house when they were of age.

Now there are three of them and they often want extra money to get the latest sneakers, a new hoodie, or the latest gadget that their best friend got and they “must have.”

Here's why teens need to do chores
The way for teens to learn is by doing household chores (Elena Elisseeva/ Shutterstock)

I need to make my teens do more around the house

That means they do quite a few chores. There are even times when they do all the chores to earn enough money for all the things they want and I can take a bit of a vacation from mopping and doing dishes and I like it but it can make me a bit anxious–and I need to get over it.

My kids do it all: folding laundry, mowing the lawn, weeding, putting the dishes away, keeping the floors and bathrooms clean. I could go on, but you get the idea.

I love the extra help and I love the reward and self-confidence it gives them. They love the independence and that feeling they get from working hard and earning their own money, then asking me to drive them to the mall the second they’ve earned enough for the latest treat they want.

But I can’t lie, like all moms, there are times when my toes curl because they just aren’t doing it right. We all know what right means–our teens just aren’t folding jeans the way we would, or trimming the lawn short enough, or putting the mugs in their proper lineup and it’s hard not to open our trap and say something.

There are times I think it would just be easier and faster to do these things myself. There are days when I want to stop what I’m doing to show them how to vacuum under the sofa and kitchen cabinets because that’s where dust bunnies and chip crumbs go to hide and if those don’t get sucked up, what’s the point?

But instead of doing it over, or just doing it myself, I have to remind myself that I need to take the time to teach my kids and then I need to let them do it their way, and back the hell off.

If I’m constantly going around behind them, redoing their work, it’s going to make them feel undermined. I know this because I’ve done it and it led to my daughter asking me why I redid the clothes she’d folded for me, and my son has gotten upset (more than once) because I got the weed-wacker out and went over all his hard work.

As moms, we want things done a certain way, but what that really means is that we want it done our way and that sends a message to our kids that we need them to be just like us and do things exactly as we would do. And that’s not really fair.

I’ve been indulging in immediate satisfaction when it comes to getting things done around the house and while it may save time in the long run to be a martyr and do it all myself then complain that my back is hurting as I lie all dramatic-like on the sofa, it’s better to take the time to teach my kids how to do something and realize it may not be up to my standards but I need to let it go.

Because what’s really important is that we are guiding our kids the best way we know how. Then we need to back off and let them decide who they are going to be friends with, what they are going to choose for their science project, and how they mate the socks.

In the grand scheme of things, the way they wash the car doesn’t matter as much as the fact they are independent, know how to do certain things around the house, and have confidence because their mom wasn’t following them around inspecting every last thing they did.


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About Katie BinghamSmith

Katie Bingham-Smith lives in Maine with her three kids. She is a Staff Writer at Scary Mommy, shoe addict and pays her kids to rub her feet. You can see more of her on Facebook and Instagram .

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