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Psychologist’s Hack for Getting Your Kids to Help Around the House

Struggling with a messy house and mental overload? Check out this simple tip for getting your kids to adopt a team-player mentality.
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By Wyndi Kappes, Associate Editor
Published May 1, 2024
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Image: Igisheva Maria | Shutterstock

If you find your mind constantly racing just to keep the ball rolling when it comes to keeping your household and family afloat, you probably understand how hard it is to carry the mental load of being a mom. It’s an exhausting endeavor that doesn’t get much thanks and is apt to lead to burnout if things just keep turning.

But what if there was a better way to spread around the weight of carrying it all? In a now-viral Reel, psychologist and burnout specialist Dr. Morgan Cutlip lays out a tried and true strategy for teaching kids about the mental load you’re carrying and cultivating teammates to help you around the house and beyond.

“This hack will teach them how to observe what’s going on, take initiative on their own and adopt a mentality that these are shared spaces,” Cutlip begins the video. “You give your kid a zone of the house to be in charge of. For example, our daughter is in charge of the living room. It’s her job to regularly check it out, observe what’s out of place, and put it back together. Each of our kids has a shared space that belongs to them, and it’s their zone, and it has helped SO much in their initiative taking and them being a family team player.”

Cutlip admits that this hack didn’t come from her mind but rather out of a conversation with one of her friends who grew up in Denmark where they have “an entirely different culture where the mental load is not a thing like it is here.” One of the reasons for this (among many) Cutlip posits is that kids are given more responsibilities as they grow up so that they learn how to be initiative takers and team players in their family.

Several parents chimed in the comments with their experience and praise for the technique. “Love this. I feel like it’s good general parenting advice and even Montessori-esque. Slow down and observe before jumping in to anything, and we all are responsible for taking care of our work space,” noted one parent. “This has taken many years of practice for me and works for the most part! My kids have become much better at it,” added another parent. “I’ll have kids put our personal items they find in their zone in a basket that gets sorted eventually; most of the time we are responsible for collecting our items from the basket as they sit there for awhile unclaimed!”

Like anything in the parenting world, this hack isn’t foolproof though and works for some better than others. “Hear me out: I have a bunch of kids and I just KNOW they’d just move stuff from their zone to someone else’s instead of actually cleaning it,” joked one mom. “I’ve tried this and had big resistance to the idea that not all areas have equal work,” added another.

While this hack may take some work, it’s a great lesson in personal responsibility and ownership that kids can begin to learn and understand as early as their toddler years. Want to learn more ways to promote your little one’s independence? Check out these seven ways Montessori methods can help.

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