Clean house with family

Q:I would like our family to start helping me keep our house neater than it is. In fact it is a terrible mess most of the time.

Coats are seldom hung up by the door, the kitchen counter is always messed whenever someone has a snack, the TV room is cluttered the morning after the night before when everyone was watching movies, and everything is just out of place.

I have read that some moms go on strike to get the help they need. Boy, that sounds tempting. Does it work? What do you think?

A:My experience is that a kitchen strike does not help spur a decrepit family into action.

You might get a short-lived spurt of enthusiasm when the strike begins, but the momentum does not last and chances are that the strike will cause more family dissension than it will harmony and co-operation.

I understand that you are angry and frustrated with your family. It is bad enough that no one helps you, but even worse is that no one knows or appreciates the tremendous effort you are making to just keep your house livable. Wouldn’t it be great if you got even just a little bit of respect?

The problem is that your anger and frustration are not likely of any help. If anything, they scare your family and the chances of getting warm and fuzzy moments disintegrate. Rather than respect , you are more likely to be called a nag and even mocked when you need help the most.

Your chances of getting help around the house greatly improve if you are able to give your plan a positive spin.

Instead of hollering, “you did not hang up your coat,” try saying, “I would really like it if you hung up your jacket by the door.” Don’t say, “this kitchen is a mess.” Instead, try “I wonder what we could do to make the kitchen more neat and tidy.”

And don’t forget to give your family tons of hugs if you get even a bit of an effort from someone trying to help.

It is amazing how many negatives can be turned into positives if we put our creative talents to use.

Your teenager’s room is no longer a pig’s sty, which is what moms and dads have been saying for years. It is a challenge. The TV room is a sanctuary, the bathroom is a paragon of hygiene, and the kitchen is the command centre, the heart of any family.

You won’t get complete results by working on the positives, but you will feel better about yourself.

That is the gem your kids will carry with them when they leave home and discover, when they have families of their own, the wisdom of all you have been trying to do.

Jacklin Andrews is a family counsellor from Saskatchewan. Contact:

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