Changing Chores


(Based on an experience from the author’s family)
Honour thy father and thy mother (Ex. 20:12).

“I’m tired of doing all the work around here,” Jason complained when Mom asked him to pick up his toys. “I wish I could do what you do.”

Mom raised her eyebrows. “You really think you do all the work?”

Jason nodded. It seemed to him that he had more chores than any of his friends.

“All right, Jason,” Mom said. “Tomorrow we’ll change jobs. I’ll do your chores, and you can do mine. I will make a list for you so you won’t forget anything.”

Jason let out a whoop and quickly sat down to make a list of chores for his mom. He made it as long as possible, leaving a couple of extra spaces in case he thought of some more things later.

  1. 1.

    Pick up all the toys.

  2. 2.

    Make my bed.

  3. 3.

    Take out the garbage.

  4. 4.

    Hang up clean clothes.

  5. 5.

    Put dirty clothes in the clothes hamper.

  6. 6.

    Keep drawers neat.

  7. 7.

    Feed the dog.

  8. 8.

    Clean the cat’s litter box.

  9. 9.

  10. 10.

“I’ll have time to play my new video game and go skateboarding,” he thought.

At bedtime, Dad came in to say good-night. “Mom tells me you two have a deal. Are you sure you want to do her chores?”

Jason grinned as he gave Dad a hug. “Oh, I’m sure.”

The next morning Dad gently shook Jason awake. “I’m ready for breakfast, and I need you to fix my lunch.”

Jason opened one eye. It didn’t feel like it was time to get up.

“Remember, you and Mom are changing chores today,” Dad said. “Mom always fixes my breakfast and a lunch before I go to work.”

Reluctantly Jason arose and went to the kitchen. He was cleaning up an egg that hadn’t quite made it to the dish when Dad came in, shaved and ready for work. “Is my food ready? I have to leave.”

Jason shook his head.

“I guess I’ll pick up something to eat for breakfast and lunch today instead. Do you think it would be fair to take the cost out of your allowance?”

Jason opened his mouth to protest, but Dad gave him a quick kiss and said, “We’ll talk about it when I get home.”

By now baby Jill and four-year-old Matt were awake, but Mom had turned on the television instead of getting them dressed. Soon Jill began to cry.

“Jason, Jill’s hungry,” Mom called. “Why don’t you feed her a banana and some cereal? I’m hungry, too. Toast sounds good.”

Jason couldn’t believe this was happening! It didn’t seem fair.

“Maybe Matt will set the table,” Mom added. “I’ll help him get dressed, if that’s OK.”

Jason remembered all the times he hadn’t helped unless asked. “Thanks, Mom. Uh, could you maybe watch the toast, too?”

“Sure, Jason, but in a minute. I want to see how this program ends. It’s an art show I recorded last week, and I haven’t had time to watch it.”

Jason frowned. He was about to complain until he remembered how often he insisted on finishing a program before doing what he was asked to do. He burned two more pieces of toast.

“Oh, never mind, Jason,” Mom said cheerfully when she came into the kitchen. “Matt and I will have cereal instead. I’ll fix his and mine. You feed Jill.”

Somehow Jason got Jill fed and dressed. He was about to remind Mom to take out the garbage when he noticed it was already done, and the dog also fed.

When he ran to get his skateboard, Jason was pleased to see how tidy his room was. “Thanks, Mom, for cleaning my room,” he called as he opened the door to go out to play.

Mom gently reminded him that he needed to put in a load of laundry. Sure enough, it was on the list. So was vacuuming. He felt tears welling up as he saw his friends Timmy and Peter speed by outside on their bikes. Did Mom really do this much stuff every day?

When the first load of laundry was in the dryer and a second load in the washer, Mom asked Jason to change Jill’s diaper. Then Matt and his friends came running in just long enough to get crackers and drinks of water. They left a mess. It wasn’t fair that he had to clean up after someone else! Mom smiled and said, “I’d help, but I just painted my fingernails.”

After lunch, Jason put Jill down for a nap, but Matt insisted that he didn’t need one. “Why don’t you read him a story for quiet time instead?” Mom suggested. That made Jason angry. Would he have no free time all day? He jerked a book off the shelf and began reading grouchily, which made Matt cry.

“Be quiet, Matt, or you’ll wake Jill,” Jason hissed. Matt cried louder.

Jason sighed. “I’m sorry, Matt. Do you want to play with my new toy truck?” He got out his favorite toys, and the two boys played for the next hour. Jason was surprised at how much fun they had.

Soon Mom asked, “Have you thought of something for supper? Dad will be home soon.” Jason was about to suggest going out for hamburgers until he remembered that Dad had eaten out for both breakfast and lunch.

“How about macaroni and cheese?” It was one of the few things he knew how to make.

“Would you mind if I made a salad to go with it?” Mom offered.

“That would be great.” Jason was relieved that Mom wasn’t going to make him cook all alone. “I didn’t know you did so much, Mom,” he said as he stirred the macaroni. “Thanks for helping me.”

“Well, Jason, how did your day go?” Dad asked when he walked in the door. “Did you enjoy doing Mom’s chores?”

“It was OK,” Jason said carefully, “but I didn’t know Mom worked so hard. I found out that she does lots of things when I’m not here.” Jason bit his lip in thought. “I just want to do my own chores and be a kid for now, but maybe I’ll be a better kid than I was.”

Jason was true to his word. When he felt like complaining, he remembered the day he did Mom’s jobs and instead pitched in to lend a hand. The funny thing was, he soon found it was fun to help.

[Avoid Judging]

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin

“Those who complain make their own and others’ lives miserable. … [We should not] judge others until we walk in their shoes for a while.” Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “‘Live in Thanksgiving Daily,’” Ensign, Sept. 2001, 8.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Brad Teare

Elinor G. Hyde is a member of the Mount Olympus Fifth Ward, Salt Lake Mount Olympus North Stake.