Mom Explains Reason She Never Asks Kids To Help With Chores

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A Utah mom made headlines over her unique approach to parenting and household chores. While her system is unconventional, she explained the reason she never asks her kids to help with chores and even introduced other mothers to what she thinks is a more appropriate way to parent.

Sam Kelly
Sam Kelly and her husband Chas (Photo Credit: Instagram)

Sam Kelly is a Utah mom-of-three and former therapist turned “feminist coach for mothers,” according to her Instagram bio. She has a unique approach to parenting that involves “sharing the mental load with the whole fam.” With her unconventional approach, Sam has challenged traditional gender roles. She’s also redefined the way she communicates about household chores, saying she never asks her children to “help.” Instead, she seeks to teach them about “emotional labor.”

While this initially sounds too “woke” for some people’s liking, the 38-year-old mom shared her unique perspective during an interview with Good Morning America, where she explained what she does say to her kids instead, and after hearing her explanation, many understand her reasoning. As a “cycle-breaker,” Sam doesn’t want to perpetuate what she saw as a problem in her marriage onto her three children—Hero, 11, Goldie, 9, and Shepard, 5. So, rather than ask for help with chores, she uses different language to convey her message.

When it came to managing their home, Sam, like many moms, felt the responsibility fell directly on her. Instead of the woman automatically being responsible for the household chores and making lists for the other family members, Sam felt that this “invisible labor” shouldn’t land solely on the mother’s shoulders. Instead, it should be a shared responsibility. So, she worked hard with her husband Chas to rebalance the responsibilities at home, only to later realize she was perpetuating this same issue in how she parented their children.

Sam had her parenting epiphany while she was preparing a chore chart for her kids. She realized that, with the chore chart, she was inadvertently perpetuating the patriarchal expectation that mothers were solely responsible for managing the household. So, instead of asking her children to “help” with housework, Sam decided it was time to stop repeating the same pattern that she had been working so hard to address with her husband. That’s when she changed her approach and developed what she calls “notice and do.”

Instead of the mother being burdened by the invisible labor associated with managing the household, Sam wanted all members of the household to share this responsibility, so she dropped the word “help.” As she explained in a post on Instagram, when moms ask for “help,” it implies that the mother has “ownership over the job of managing the home and everyone else is just ‘helping’ support her in that role.” According to Sam, that’s a problem because “the work of managing a home is 100% a team effort.”

Believing that changing the language around household chores can have a positive impact on children’s perceptions of work and their roles within the family, Sam has since replaced the word “help” with “work,” she explained. For example, she says, “Come work with me” rather than “help me.” Sam feels that this word choice better reflects the effort that goes into managing a home—it isn’t “inherently fun or enjoyable” to moms, it’s “actual work,” she explained.

In addition to changing the language, Sam encourages her family members to be proactive in identifying household tasks in need of completion with her “notice and do” system. “Notice and do,” just as the name implies, encourages other members of the household to look around, notice a need, and address it, rather than waiting for a chore to be assigned. Sam believes this approach teaches her children to take initiative and contribute to the overall well-being of the household.

Sam’s approach received praise but also sparked debate. While some applauded the mom for challenging traditional gender roles and promoting shared responsibility, others argued that parents are responsible for overseeing the home. However, most agree that involving children in household chores can empower them and teach them valuable life skills, but it’s up to the parents to decide what works best for their family dynamics and values.

While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to parenting, Sam Kelly highlighted the importance of open communication and a willingness to adapt and evolve as parents. Although I tend to shy away from “woke” philosophies, I can support this mom’s fresh perspective on household responsibilities because it encourages families to work as a team. Sharing the workload with their loved ones is a value every child should learn, and it underscores the importance of thoughtful and intentional communication.

At the end of the day, Sam wants her children “to grow up to not just know life skills but to also be proactive and anticipate needs ahead of time, especially within a partnership,” according to ABC News. That will not only make them better parents and spouses, but it will also help them in all aspects of life. After all, society could use a lot more people who can notice a problem and work to solve it rather than those who wait for someone else to tell them how to fix it, whether that’s their mom or their unfortunate coworker.