Sunday, October 18, 2009

Hard Work

Check out the quote on your right hand side. We believe it--that hard work with a purpose is worthwhile, and ultimately enjoyable. It's why we do what we do, despite the hardships our chosen path brings, despite the uncertainty and pain we might feel.

Being a hard worker means having strong character. It means understanding you are not entitled to anything in life, but seeing each opportuinity to work as a gift. Being a hard worker means saying no to laziness, which is self-gratification; and it means taking to heart that
"one who does not work should not eat."

We strive to instill a strong work ethic in our chilren. Of course, that is sometimes met with opposition. But with each protest or whine, we are able to remind them the gift that it is to have 2 hands, 2 strong legs, a house in which to labor, and parents who love them and provide for them. We have seen firsthand what kind of adults kids who believe they are entitled to the world grow up to be. We do not want our kids to become lazy, selfish adults. So, we put them to work.

Honestly, most people think we are a little nuts and tell their kids to be thankful we are not their parents. :o)

Here they are pulling out the kitchen floor. Gabe and Mckenna pulled out this wood floor, and also lugged carpet and carpet pad to the side yard (after I cut it and pulled it out), used proper tools to pull out tack strips and nails, scraped glue off the cement floor, and then swept and vacuumed. They literally saved Dan from half a day's work by prepping an entire large room for tile.

Side note: I did make them put on shoes and they wore proper eye protection when pulling out tack strips.

Other chores they do more regularly include...

Cleaning their bathroom until it shines.

Wiping down the dining table until there is nothing gooey on it.

Making their beds (yes, they did this alone, even little Jules!)

Cleaning the mirrors--one of Kenna's favorites.

Organizing cupboards and drawers--perfection is not the goal, but they do darn well.

In 8 years of parenting, and nearly 10 years of working with students, I have made a few observations about kids and chores:

~If you give a child ownership over a task, they take pride in it. So, the front porch is solely Gabriel's responsibility. He notices when it's dirty and sweeps it on his own. He is happy when it's clean, and quick to fix it when it's dirty. And, he is thorough because it's "his." He even moves the mat to sweep under it.  Likewise, Evenstar is Mckenna's. Mckenna is solely responsible for feeding, brushing, playing with, and cleaning up after the cat. I do check on it daily since it's a living creature, but I don't do it for her. I simply interupt whatever she is doing to remind her to care for her cat. So far, we have rarely had to remind Mckenna of anything.

~On the other hand, changing up the chores keeps the interest level up. We take turns emptying the dishwasher, wiping the walls (a favorite chore around here), cleaning the coffee table and sorting the laundry (all 3 kids are expert sorters, and also are proficient at making the transfer from washer to dryer and dryer to basket).

~Rewards offer incentive. Cleaning the whole bathroom, including mopping the floor, is a huge task for any child. So, to make it worth the while, we offer a bigger reward than if they Windex a slider. Sometimes it's a dollar, sometimes it's extra tickets for our ticket system. Sometimes it's picking the next dessert or movie.

~On the other hand, we are a family and all must pitch in to make it work. So we empty the dishwasher, we clear and wipe the table, we set the table and we all pick up our own stuff. That's just part of being a family and does not merit a reward.

~Kids will rise to the level of the expectations put upon them. Gabe (5) and Kenna (8) have moved an entire wood pile. Juliana (3) can empty the entire dishwasher. They really did prep the whole dining room for the tile, and they have also cleaned their entire disaster of a room on their own. Sometimes they need direction, like, "Load the trashcan with the wood and then pull the whole load to the new spot," or, "first put away all the books. Now put away all the dress up. Next put all the books neatly on their shelves." But they are much more capable than we often think.

~On the other hand, demanding they perform a task without giving them the proper tools, training, and encouragement frustrates them.

We try to keep in mind, and mostly succeed at it, that the objective is to train them to be hard workers. The objective is not a clean house for when guests arrive (often my own personal motivation, sadly), nor is it that they are perfect at each task right away. We are trying to have them repeat daily chores over and over until they are second nature.

We also make it fun--set a timer and if a room is finished before the timer they get a little treat. Or, put on music and use a song as the timer--then take a break and dance together to the next song. Or, practice memory verses, recite math facts, or review History lessons while doing works!

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