Sunday, June 20, 2010

Family Work

This essay was written by me on a previous blog this spring.

In my pursuit of truth I have really found something beautiful in The Heatgates article. There were many things in this article that have been impactful. I'm grateful for other people who are pursuing truth and are willing to share it.

I haven't been all that good at administering family work in the past. Sure I've had the required "chore charts" that all good mothers must have and they take their turn doing the dishes. Yes, they clean their room, but they really weren't working. After reading the Headgates article I realized that I need to get them to work "their little britches off" to quote Lara Gallagher.

So we made a few changes. It's been over a month now so I feel like I can report on this little exercise. So far the results have changing. That sounds a little extreme but really they have been. Today, for example, I asked my 10 year son, who had already been cleaning for an hour, to go clean all the doors in the house and I showed him how. He said, "Sure mom, no problem." Not only did he clean them, but he really cleaned them and didn't fake his way through. I asked him how he was doing part way through and he said, "Good, but I can't get this part of that door clean. I'm really sorry. What would you like me to do about it?" Then when he was done he came and "returned and reported" that he had completed his assignment and what was his next assignment. That would not have happened two months ago. He would have been rolling on the floor with a fit in a wave of hysteria with the cries of, "How dare I ask him to do that and what was he anyway, my slave?" That sounds kind of sassy though and he's never been sassy, but he would have been desperately in the depths of despair to do any sort of work.

So how did this happen?

First I made my plan. How were we going to clean this house, what work would we do and when? That was what I call the “spiritual creation” step.

Then I sat the kids down and explained the game plan. I told them that we would now be doing two hours of family work every morning together as a family. I explained to them what would be expected of them. That it was work time and not play time. Anyone caught outside fighting with their sticks or inside hiding under the ping pong table reading a book would get 5 minutes per infraction in the corner administered during free time. I also told them what the blessings and benefits would be if they submitted to our work schedule (see below). I call this marvelous principle the “teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves.” I rarely have problems with my kids when I do new things or take away toys. I've always explained why until they understand and then they just accept the new plans.

Then we went to work. Every morning with out fail we have worked for two hours. We've have deep cleaned this house inside and out. They are learning specific jobs and they are getting very good at them. Leader can now successfully be turned loose on cleaning the toilets for example. We've also been doing a lot of food preparation. I've made a lot of bread with them and other provident living food items. They must always report back to me when they are finished with a job. We usually work in the same area so they are close. This phase is of course affectionately called,”working their little britches off. “

I must comment first on the problem we are having. We have run out of things to clean. Sure we can clean the toilets, dust, clean windows, etc but that only lasts so long when there are so many able bodies available reporting for duty. They are also getting quicker with their jobs (not to mention there is less grime they are removing because we are staying up on everything). I don't like doing meaningless things so I'm starting to struggle with what do to fill up the time. We've had a month long wind storm happening so we have only been able to work outside twice. I'm hoping though when it gets nice we will work a lot outside and we have more then enough projects on our newly acquired 80 acres.

One idea that I've come up with is that we will make mass food (casseroles?) and freeze it in small serving sizes and then on other days we will go visit the elderly. I think this will be a great opportunity. They can learn core principles of keeping their baptismal covenants and learning some cooking skills all at the same time. I think we will also do some more home industries as my friend suggested. I want to do meaningful things that are making them into better people.

Now to the best part. Those blessings. First off my kids have learned that they can work hard, have fun and still be happy. I've learned that I can have my kids work hard, have fun and still be happy. I think the latter lesson has been the most valuable.

Perhaps the most amazing thing I've found is that my kids think deeply when they work. They are asking profound questions. They ask me questions about the book we are reading, a question about current events or even a question they had when they were reading their scriptures. These questions have sparked an amazing journey of discovery for them as we discuss things that will build character for their whole lives. I see them thinking. I see them changing. I see them becoming.

As a mother I could ask for nothing more.

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