OK – so a friend of mine said something about counting backwards and I was shocked. So some things that work for me could actually work for you.
One that is working lately is “minutes.” Each kid, according to their years has to power clean for that many minutes. The idea come when I came to the conclusion that the kids need to pitch in more. BUT I am not consistent enough to set regular chores for each of them and then follow up. I know myself well enough that I won’t put that much work into it. I’ll just end up doing the work myself and being resentful that they don’t help.
So one day I said to the oldest, “Just help me for 11 minutes.” I set the timer and kept him crazy busy for 11 minutes. We finished picking up the living room! We moved on to the dining room and the timer dinged. I said to Lucy, “Your turn. Just help for 8 minutes.” Again, amazing success! I was then brave enough to get the little guy to help fold dish towels (something he loves to do and is quite good at) for 4 minutes. Most of the picking up was done! AND, with very little whining! Success!
Since, I have used “minutes” several times a week. Sometimes we have to go through a cycle or two before rooms are clean or clothes are put away, but things get done and we all feel as good as possible about it. I think it helps the kids to know that they don’t have to work long before I move on to torture, enslave, enlist the help of one of their siblings. Now, I won’t say that this is all fun and games. Sometimes the 4 minute stretches are more work for me. I think the short time motivates me more than him. I have to tell myself that I can get through 4 minutes of handing this kid a toy, telling him where it goes, walking him to that place and prompting him to actually put the toy away. By the time he gets to 5 minutes, hopefully I’ll be helping less and he’ll be helping more!
Luckily they haven’t asked me yet to add in 36 minutes to work by myself!