There have been a lot of “chore” fights in our house through the years. I bet I’m not alone. I have two teen boys and I’m a single mom. I just can’t do it all on my own and nor should I. I don’t want to raise boys that can’t do their share. But fighting to get them to help was adding just as much stress. Something had to give.

I am a huge advocate of Ross Greene’s collaborative problem solving model (outlined in his book The Explosive Child) and I decided to use it to stop our ongoing arguments over chores and start finding real solutions. The process starts with putting the kid’s concerns on the table and then putting my concerns on the table before working together to solve the problem. This worked amazingly well for us!

My concerns were obvious: I was frazzled doing it all on my own and I want my kids to know how to do house work.

It turned out my boys’ biggest concern was that they hated the jobs I had assigned them! I thought to myself, “Doesn’t everyone hate all chores?” But once we talked more, I realized that there were definitely some chores that were more tolerable for me as well. I had not thought about this before I stopped to listen to my boys.

So, armed with this information, we came up with the following plan collaboratively:

  1. Every week we have a chore day, usually Saturdays, when we start by, together, writing a list of all the chores that need to be done.
  2. Next, we each choose the jobs we are ok with doing. I give them first choice. Things they can’t do, like buying groceries, fall to me.
  3. Next, we put our initial next to our chosen chores and look to see that it is mostly even. They are equal partners now.
  4. Finally, we decide together when to do the chores. We decide what time we will start and then when one person needs a break, we all take a break together for the same amount of time.

…and before we know it, the chores are all done and we go on to enjoy our weekend! Most importantly, we no longer fight about getting those chores done.


Penny Mayo, a Parent Solutions Consultant, Helps Families Help Themselves! Struggling with finding support for her challenging kids, Penny changed her career from engineering to working with kids with different needs. Through experience, Penny has honed her ability to see the stressors that kids face and to collaboratively solve the problems that stand in the way of a calm home front. Now, Penny teaches other parents how to do this for their own families. She provides consulting and, workshops and is developing on-line resources for parents.


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