Monday, February 17, 2014

Teach Your Kids to Work

I grew up in a home where laziness was not allowed and hard work was just THE way of life. 
From the time I was 7 years old, I can remember my parents telling me to get my boots on and go outside to help my Dad build a fence, work with the horses, or do yard work. Rain, sunshine, wind, or snow, my brother and I had some pretty hefty responsibilities around our 32-acre horse ranch. It was our job to feed the horses every morning and afternoon, to clean out stalls about one weekend a month, to keep the yards around our house mowed and edged, to work in the garden, to do the dishes every evening after supper, to keep our rooms clean, and to also be willing to learn new tasks.

My brother could weld before he was a teenager. I was creating recipes of my own in the seventh grade. Before I was in junior high, I knew how to deep clean my room, decorate around our home, clean the bathroom unsupervised, and iron clothes for the entire family, in addition to the outdoor chores. We were in 4H and kept pigs and sheep to show. My brother and I were expected to take full responsibility for the care and feeding of our show animals. 

And the consequences for not taking care of those animals were STIFF. In our family, there was never an excuse for laziness. Laying around and playing video games after school was something we only ever heard about--not something we ever experienced. If we played video games or watched movies, it was on a Friday night or an unusual Saturday, perhaps if our Dad was out of town or something. 

I remember my friends at school talking about the latest episodes of Saved By the Bell, Friends, and 90210. I had nothing to contribute to those conversations because I had never seen those shows. Still haven't, with the exception of a few SBTB episodes.

At times, I resented my parents for making me work. 
I thought they were the meanest people in the world! 
Now, I am so thankful for the work ethic they instilled in me. I'm not afraid of hard work! 

Some of my fondest memories from childhood involve my brother and I making up songs or games while we worked together to pass the time more quickly or make a stinky job like shoveling horse poop more fun. 

And after our work was done? We got to hop on the four-wheeler and ride wherever we wanted until dark. And jump on the trampoline, ride our bikes down our long road, ride horses, play with our Legos, or watch Lonesome Dove for the 700th time! 

So when our children were still toddlers, I began teaching them how to be helpful around the house. I wanted them to learn early on that everyone in the family had to contribute in order for it to work, that everyone on the team had a job to do so that the home could run smoothly, and that having things means taking good care of those things.

As I go through the long process of detoxing heavy metals from my body, I am not as able to keep up with my normal homemaking jobs, and I find myself relying on my children more and more. I'm fatigued much of the time, nauseated from all the toxins circulating around my body, and frequently have episodes of brain fog that cause me to forget where I am or use the wrong words in a sentence. It's been very debilitating at times, and very annoying all of the time! 

Still, our family has been able to maintain a pretty normal life because my children are so very helpful and know just what to do! The house isn't going untended or dirty because they know how to help take care of the cleaning and chores. We all have clean clothes to wear because they know how to do laundry. They are capable of making their own breakfast or putting together a snack lunch if I'm unable to do so.

I'm definitely bragging on my peeps here! 
But I also want to encourage you mommas and dads to take the time and energy to train your children to be hard workers in and out of the house! I thought I was preparing my children to be responsible, capable, independent adults by teaching them how to do dishes, fry an egg, and vacuum; and I am. 

What I NEVER imagined was that I would be the one relying on that training! 

Mommas and Dads, start when they're young.
Take the time to teach them to pick up their own toys instead of doing it for them. Teach them to take their plate to the sink after eating. Teach them how to put their dirty clothes in a laundry basket when they get undressed. A 2-year-old can easily do those things! 

And as they get older, add to their responsibilities. Every year I make new chore schedules for my children, and I add to their responsibilities. Each new job requires some instructing time, usually a week or two of consistent practice, but then I turn them loose and expect them to do the job well.

There are hundreds of chore lists by age on Pinterest and all over the Internet, so I'm not going to give you lists of chores here. But I will say that your children are capable of a lot more than you think they are. I never thought my children would be doing all of their own laundry at ages 8 and 9, but they are! And they're doing a great job!

Next time, I'll post exactly what my children are doing at this point, along with their specific chore schedules!


Thomas and Jamie said...

Amen and Amen! We work hard to make sure Malachi knows how to! Love and Miss You!

The Awesome's said...

Yes, yes, yes! Sing it, girlfriend!!
(Okay, well, we aren't girlfriends yet, but we should be!)
I tell my 3 kids that they do not get to live in our house, er camper, for free. Their chores are payment for getting to be one of the Awesomes (family nickname).
I figure if I do it in a 'kidding' way, that will be one less thing that they'll tell their therapist when they're in their mid-life crisis because they had it 'oh so rough' when they were kids.