Working Together

The sweeping duties in our house are split, with each son being responsible for half of the house. To keep things fair, each week they switch halves. The idea behind this setup was to give them ownership of their responsibilities. Once they know what needs to be done, the theory goes, they’ll take pride in accomplishing it, and we won’t have to keep reminding them.

It hasn’t worked so well.

Yesterday afternoon, as I was cleaning the kitchen, I had them attend to their sweeping. They could only find one broom (which is a whole other story), so they had to take turns.

My oldest went first, sweeping the living and dining rooms. He worked on other chores while his little brother swept the kitchen, then swooped back in.

“Don’t forget over here,” he said. “It’s really bad.”

“What?” his little brother shouted. “You can’t do that!”

“Yes, he can.” I interrupted. “That’s great. You’re both on the same team. He’s just helping you do your job.”


“And,” I continued. “After you’re done, you can help him do his.”

“Oh yeah!”

Laughing evilly, he finished as quickly as he could, and then ran into the living room. “You missed a spot!”

His older brother groaned and picked up the broom.

“And don’t forget over here,” the little guy continued, pushing the couch sideways and pointing to where it had been.

“Stop!” his older brother shouted. “I only told you one place. You can’t – ”

“Yes, he can,” I interrupted. “We’re all a team. The goal is to get the house clean. If you miss something, he’s helping you out by letting you know.”


“Hey, if you don’t leave anything for him to find, you won’t have to worry about it.”

The two boys huddled for some intense whispering.

“It looks good,” my youngest son said loudly.

“Yeah,” his brother said, just as loudly. “I think you got it all.”

Now that’s working together.

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