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Parents’ work schedules leave little time spent with kids


My husband and I have three children, ages 17, 12 and 11. I’ve inherited my father’s business, which is located four hours away from our home. For almost a year now, I have been required to be away from home for several days at a time. My husband also works hard, often six 10-hour days a week.  

Our children do nothing around the house, and as a result, it looks like a pigsty. There are clothes, dirty dishes and garbage, etc., on the floor. The kids admit to being lazy but don’t seem to care. We’ve tried rewards, punishments, yelling, etc., to no avail.  



Your children are certainly of the age when they can help out around the house. And hopefully, your work situation is temporary. If Mom and Dad are never home, then it is difficult to have a happy home. The longer this situation continues, the more disconnected your family will be.  

Serious problem-solving is in order. You need to explore your options:

  1. Move closer to work so you don’t have to be out of town for long periods of time.
  2. Enroll the younger two children in school in the town in which you are working. The three of you will be able to ride together during the mornings and evenings.
  3. The three of you live there during the week and return home on the weekends.
  4. Sell your father’s business and invest in something close to home.

Whatever you do, your family has to​ know that you are working toward a solution. Your problem is more than just that your children are not doing their chores.  Your family is functioning without a mother. The amount of time their father is around is not enough either.  

The 17-year-old may be OK with the current arrangement, but the younger two are not. The behaviors you are seeing now will worsen and possibly lead to undesirable activities and behaviors.

The consequences are not working because the parents are not around to enforce them. The children are not motivated to do their chores because there is no one present to monitor them. 

Many families who own small businesses include all family members on their staff, and the family members earn wages. If this option is explored, a housekeeper could be paid to keep the house in shape.

The bottom line is: Your family needs to come together to discuss a plan for change.