Dear HouseHoncho

Photo by Daehyun

Dear HouseHoncho,

I hope you will consider replying to my e-mail for Wednesday’s “Dear HouseHoncho” feature, because I am one very frustrated homemaker right now. I love my children and my husband very much, but they do very little to nothing to help around the house. Sometimes it feels like I am working all day on cleaning up after them only to have them come home and mess it up again. I’ve tried systems and rewards and conversations (and sometimes yelling, I admit) and nothing seems to work out. I don’t need perfection but help would be great. Please offer your advice. I really enjoy your Honcho Hints.

Stefanie H.

Dear Stefanie H.,

Not knowing much about your family–ages and abilities included–I cannot answer with specific age-appropriate strategies or creative suggestions for “forcing your family to lift a hand.” (Maybe you can solicit some of those in the forum.) Short of carrying around a whip–which I highly recommend you avoid–there is not much you can do to “make your family want to help.” I recommend the time-honored tradition of giving your children a list of responsibilities with a clearly-communicated set of privileges attached.

Straightforward is the system: get your responsibilities done and enjoy the fruit of your labor.

As for your husband–and really your children as well–the best thing you can do is model, by example, the behavior you want them to emulate. A love for caring for others in addition to the joy of service will make a tremendous splash in the family headlines. While there are hundreds of hints for “taming the toys” or “limiting the laundry,” the greatest piece of advice I can offer you is this: love your family, enjoy your home, and appreciate your ability to care for them both. If you learn to love what you are able to do, many of the frustrating details will sink into the background. (Disappear? No. Become less about what you don’t have and more about what you do? Yes.)

The bittersweet reality of Mother’s Day–which is just around the corner–is that many of our friends will celebrate motherhood, but not in any traditional sense. In lieu of candy and cards, they will celebrate their mothers–or perhaps their children–who are not with them this year. This weekend, even with the toys scattered around the living room floor and the toilet seat standing sentinel in the bathroom, consider the reality that you CAN be a wife and mother right now.

A major weakness–for many of us–is that we see most clearly our obstacles without recognizing our blessings.

Thank you, Stefanie H.!
Keep it simple!

(Due to 56 e-mails being sent in for the Dear HouseHoncho column this week, I have chosen to address an extra one. Thank you to everyone sending in questions!)

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