Guest Guru: Stephanie Vozza – A Chore by Any Other Name Does Smell Sweeter

By Stephanie Vozza, founder of

A Chore by Any Other Name Does Smell Sweeter

If you’ve read my blog before, you know I’m on a mission to create more time for myself by doing less for my boys (the things they can and should be doing themselves.) Well, I discovered a trick that has helped eliminate all of the reminding (aka nagging) I have been doing: I name chores something that sounds sweeter!

I know, I know. This sounds a little ridiculous, but it works. Here’s what happened:

My boys have several chores they do during the week, most of which involve cleaning their rooms. Two chores, however, they seem to forget: bringing in the trash cans on trash day and filling the dogs’ water dishes. I end up reminding them, which causes stress. So one night at dinner I started this conversation:

Me: “So, what did you do today to contribute to the family?”

Boys (in unison): “Huh?”

Me: “How did you contribute to the family today?”

10-year-old: “What does ‘contribute to the family’ mean?”

Me: “Good question. I’ll answer that by telling you what I did today to contribute to the family: I prepared your breakfasts, packed your lunches, brought you to school, went to the grocery store, returned our library books, checked out a movie for family movie night, did a load of laundry, paid the bills, picked you up from school and prepared dinner. All of those things helped the entire family, not just me. What did you do?”

My husband: “I went to work to earn a paycheck to pay the bills, I walked the dogs, I helped mom make dinner and I will be coaching your hockey team tonight.”

Me: “So, boys, what did you do to contribute to the family?”

Boys: shrugged shoulders.

End of conversation.

The next night, I asked the same question. The results were pretty close to being the same but I could tell that they realized that this question was going to be a part of dinner conversation. The third night, both boys sat down at the table with a different attitude. And this time, they got the conversation started.

10-year-old: “So, what did you do to contribute to the family?”

14-year-old: “I gave the dogs water, I turned off the bathroom light that was left on, I brought in the newspaper and I brought the laundry basket to the laundry room.”

10-year-old: “Wow, that’s great. I gave the dogs food, set the dinner table, let the dogs out and helped mom make dinner.”

Since we added this question, I have not had to remind my boys to bring in the trash cans or give the dogs water. And they’re finding ways to be helpful without being told. Calling a chore a contribution has put the task in context for them. How sweet is that!

Here’s my new list:
I wake my kids up for school. They have alarm clocks, but I still wake them up. I make them breakfast. I pack their lunches. I pack their snack. I drive them to school. I make their beds. I clean their bathroom. I do their laundry. I fold their clothes. I put their clothes away. I vacuum their rooms. I remind them to give the dogs water. I give the dogs water when they forget. I remind them to bring in the trash cans. I bring in the trash cans when they forget. I make what could be considered “heavy hors d’oeuvres” for my 10 year old when he comes home from school because most days he doesn’t eat the lunch I packed. I set the dinner table. I make dinner. I do the dishes. I make dessert. I fold the blankets my boys use in the family room. I let the dogs in and out several times each night. I wash hockey equipment. I repack hockey equipment. I drive to drum lessons. I remind him to practice drums. I clear plates and cups from the family room. I clear plates and cups and from their rooms. I refill the toilet paper in their bathroom. I remind them to take showers. I remind them to brush their teeth. I check their homework. I RSVP for birthday parties. I volunteer at their schools. I gather the supplies for their school projects.

For more fun postings from Stephanie, visit her blog on and watch for upcoming guest spots from Stephanie on Buttoned Up!