Leadership For Help in Chores

When you are a parent out-numbered by your kids, it is necessary to enlist help from the troops, especially where chores are involved.  Here are a couple more parenting twists on Earnest Shackleton’s leadership lessons.

“Your No. 2 is your most important hire. Pick one who complements your management style, shows loyalty without being a yes-man, and has a talent for working with others.”

What I take from this quote is that you need someone to have your back when you aren’t around. The older kids in my brood are left in charge of the younger kids regularly (whether I am out of the house or simply upstairs). We try to impress on the younger kids that the eldest is “in charge”, while reminding the eldest that he/she is not The Most Magnificent and Divine Ruler of the Universe and Destructor of it’s Lowly Peasants.  I’m not being dramatic; we have come home to the complaint that Number 1 made them sword fight for remote control rights or had them massage his feet.

In order to have peace of mind when we are out of the picture, we must train the older kids in our own management style. Since they can’t use the chancla to enforce desired behavior, they must find a “carrot”- a more creative way to manage their siblings.  The success rate of the older kids keeping the younger ones on track is still hit & miss.  Sometimes bribery with Pokémon cards works wonders… Sometimes the younger ones Jedi-Mind-Trick the older ones into watching TV or raiding the pantry.  Traitors.  We’re still working on this concept.

Your kids might surprise you (as ours have) with the ingenious ways they get their siblings to accomplish a task.

“Spell out clearly to new employees the exact duties and requirements of their jobs, and how they will be compensated.  Many failed work relationships start with a lack of communication.”

I’ve gotten to the middle of a tirade before realizing my kid’s defensive complaint, “But you never told me that!” was actually a valid statement.  I discovered that I took the time to explain certain things to the older kids (a very long time ago), and then I assumed the other kids would just pick it up by osmosis.  Since I already taught the lesson, my mind considered that task done.  I never repeated the lesson to subsequent children.  Now I either take the time to explain new duties, or I ask the person that had the duty before to “train” their sibling.

Delegating chores to the kids and then supervising their progress can feel like more work at first.  Gradually, as the kids get more skilled and aware of what is expected of them, they will need less leadership… at least until they “Level Up” in the chore rankings and receive a more complex chore!

Putting Utensils Away

Reference:  Shackleton’s Way, Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer.  (page 75).  By Margot Morrell and Stephanie Capparell, 2001.


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