I remember when I used to think that I had to do everything myself to prove that I was worthy. I never asked anybody for help. I was insulted if somebody offered to help, because I thought they were insinuating that I wasn’t doing a good enough job. I had a lot on my plate, but I felt like I needed to do it all. I had a hard time saying no when somebody asked me to do something. I tutored, I homeschooled other people’s kids, I babysat, I did homeschool assessments, I homeschooled my own children, and I volunteered for lots of things at church. And I had 6 children 10 and under.
Then one day, a lovely homeschool friend of mine opened my eyes to a brand new truth. My kids could do chores and help me with the housework! I couldn’t believe she was suggesting such a thing. I thought it would be cruel to ask something like that of my children. I didn’t even know where to start. What were they really able to do at such young ages? I didn’t know if they could do dishes, vacuuming, sweeping, cooking, laundry, or what. I started pondering this new, enticing idea. Maybe my oldest could unload the dishwasher. He could reach most of the cabinets. Maybe my daughter could help me with folding clothes. After a while, I made a list of things that I thought the older children could do, and I started teaching them how to do these chores.
We slowly started integrating them into the daily household chores. I had a hard time staying on them to make sure they did them because I was almost always busy with tutoring or talking on the phone or nursing a baby or just doing the housework myself. When Gary lost his job, he was home every day and saw what was happening. He started cracking the whip. He made sure they stayed on task and finished the chores they were supposed to do. He helped me figure out what each one was capable of. His help and presence made such a difference. He really helped me get a handle on making the children help with the chores, which in turn gave each of them a sense of purpose and made them feel that they had an important role to fulfill in the family.
As our oldest got older he took on the role of supervisor making sure the younger ones did their chores, which he still does today. I’m still busy with babies, so it’s such a relief to have someone to make sure that the chores are getting done and the house is getting cleaned while I do my fair share instead of wearing myself out trying to do everything. It has made such a difference in my life. I’m a much happier mama now. My house looks a lot better, too – far from perfect, but better than it used to be.
My kids are learning what it takes to run a household, and they’re learning basic life skills. And they are learning to do their work without complaining. We pay them for their work sometimes, but we can go long periods of time without allowance because I have a hard time getting to the bank. They don’t complain. They’re grateful when they do get some money. They save up their money and buy the things they really want. I’m thankful that God sent Sheila to share this tip with me those many years ago. It has saved my sanity! And it has produced good character in my children. If you haven’t already started, you really ought to try it, too. You will be surprised at the fruit it produces in the lives of your children and the peace it produces in your home.
Wonderful post Penney. I started Little Critter on chores when he was 2….he had to put all his ‘critters’ back on the bed while I made it up each morning. As he’s grown up, he now has to make his own bed! Even down to changing the sheets and putting clean ones one it. (But he’s also 10 now.) Since we always had foster kids on our home until about 4 years ago, I needed the help also. I was raised that way, so it only seemed natural to teach the kids to do what they could to help out. It’s wonderful! Now Little Critter vacuums the rugs once a week, cleans the 2 bathrooms, sorts his laundry and puts the clean clothes away (he helps me with the wash but doesn’t understand the settings on the washer yet….grin)and he feeds the dog and cats, plus keeps his room straightened. (At least sort of….he is a boy after all. Grin) I can attest to his pride when he does a job well and gets praised for his hard/complete work. He just glows! Hope you have a great week, dear friend. Shalom