This week I want to introduce you to my friend Tracy, who along with her husband John, are teaching their children to have a good attitude about their daily work. When talking with Tracy this weekend she and I talked about the struggle that I think all of us have had at one point or another, and that is letting the child do the task to the best of their ability and us not coming behind them to do it “perfectly”. It is so important to let a child get satisfaction from *their* labor, rather than feel like it is never done well enough.
Tracy and John have some great ideas- enjoy their insights:
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work…” (Exodus 20:8-9)
In our home, one of the ways that we have taught our children to enjoy the keeping of this commandment is for them to understand what their everyday “work” is. From the youngest age, I have asked them “Do you have to leave the house to work like Daddy does?” They would shake their little heads no. “No, your work is here at home – for now.” And I would explain (and am still explaining) how God requires us to work hard six days and then we can rest on the Sabbath.
One of those areas that fall into our children’s “work” categories is chores. Although we don’t have an extensive list of daily chores for them, we do teach them to complete any work 1) right away (being good stewards of time) 2) all the way (having a spirit of excellence even in the mundane things) and 3) joyfully every day (knowing that ALL things are for the glory of God and are to be done with a cheerful heart).
The majority of our chores take place right away in the morning. While breakfast is being made, they all unload the dishwasher. I love listening to their conversations during this time – sometimes silly, sometimes serious, other times they sing. And then after we eat, they all head upstairs to get ready for the day: make beds, get dressed, brush their teeth, and put away any clothes. [I do have to note that it is SO nice that the oldest four can do all of these things by themselves now!!! I remember how just getting ready for the day seemed to take up the whole morning!]
Sometimes, I set the timer to challenge them to get those morning chores done in less time – just for fun. The boys LOVE racing the clock and I’ve been amazed at how well they can make their bed – even in a hurry!!! When their morning chores are finished, we all gather in the living room for our family meeting which begins our school day. By this point, all of the required daily chores are finished (and as the children grow so will their chore list, I’m sure). However, we do have a system in place that adds more chores to an individual child on a given day without the need of a chore chart – and they have fun and even look forward to it!
A few years ago, we adopted the practice of Daddy Night. Each child was assigned a night of the week where they would be allowed to stay up for 30 minutes after everyone else was in bed to hang out with Daddy – just the two of them (not even Mommy). Well, this has gradually evolved into each child having their own day of the week to do specific chores or activities around the house. It has, in fact, become their day.
• Help with preparation of meals for the day (for the older ones, I sometimes let them do the meal planning for their day and pick recipes from their cookbooks to try)
• Set the tables and serve for meals and snacks
• Say the blessing for breakfast and lunch
• Retrieve newspapers and mail
• Feed and give water to the pets
• Other special helper tasks (Mommy’s go-to person for the day)
• When their schoolwork is completed they get to use the laptop for 20 – 30 minutes for a game
• And they get to end the day doing their most favorite thing: hanging out with Daddy!
As for other chores, I do have an uncharted (in my head) cleaning routine that helps with managing other general tasks around the house. And I’m gradually training the children to help out with things like stripping their beds and remaking them with fresh linens, cleaning the bathrooms, mopping (I love my steam mop!), dusting, sweeping, etc.
It’s not always easy training them to do these chores. I have often been tempted to do certain things myself just to save time. But, what a rewarding opportunity chores are when we are diligent (and patient) in instruction!!! We CAN train our children to work hard; and to do that work completely and cheerfully. And along with that, we teach our children the joy that comes with keeping His fourth commandment. How sweet the Sabbath is after a week of work!
What I really LOVE about Tracy’s way of doing chores is that the child that has extra chores (responsibilities) for the day also receives the extra benefits (rewards, blessings, call it what you want), most notably the extra time alone in the evening with dad. What a GREAT idea!!! The also reflects real life. Those who take on more responsibility in life will reap the rewards.
I know Tracy personally, and her children are very polite and obedient, but what is most noticeable about them is that they are HAPPY children. A big part of their happiness is that their parents have a great sense of humor. Combine humor with training in obedience and you are on your way to raising some outstanding adults!
A parent’s attitude towards work (or anything else in life) most often will reflect in the children’s attitude.
Thank you Tracy for sharing a bit of your daily life with us!