I am so behind.
Last week I decided to spend the end of our school vacation in Massachusetts helping my brother and his wife paint rooms in the house they are getting ready to move into. The plan was to stay one night. They currently live in Watertown. ‘Nuff said? (I would rather have been hanging out with them than worrying about them from Maine… but it was an extra long stay) 🙂
So my kids have not yet done their planning/shopping/cooking project. I spent all day yesterday catching up on laundry myself while they caught up on schoolwork. We started back up with our homeschooling/house jobs yesterday, with plenty of moans and groans. Yup. Totally need to be reading this book!
Now for some thoughts on chapters 4-6:
Since I have already admitted to recognizing my need for this book, I will allow myself a little pat on the back, that my kids have never thought that somehow sheets were magically changed, toilets were magically cleaned, and underwear washes itself and appears back in the drawer. My mentality from the time the kids were teeny, was to have them doing life with me. They “helped” me swap laundry from the washer to the dryer as soon as they were able to stand on their own two feet. They “helped” me swish the brush in the toilet, and “make beds.” They always asked to help with whatever I was doing. I am so glad I began their life with that mentality.
However, this did not prevent situations like this…
Me: “Hey- can you grab these toys and put them on the stairs.”
Child: “Those aren’t mine.”
Me: “Ok. If those are the rules you want to live by, I will only wash my own clothes, wash my own plate, and put away my own stuff.”
Child: groans “fiiiine.”
I have to face it. We are dealing with human nature here. I am not going to avoid the groaning and complaining. Not unless I want to be my kids’ maid for the rest of their lives. (Or end up interviewed on some reality show). There is a reason there are so many warnings against laziness and selfishness in the Bible. We need them.
One passage in chapter 5 really struck me for my current season in parenting. Kay was talking about her friend with a child in the college application process. She had said to Kay “we just finished the essays.” That struck fear into the heart of me, because as a homeschool mom, I realize it would be very easy for me to help too much as my son approaches the post high school years. I try to be mindful of requiring real work, real deadlines, and self–drive in order to prepare him to launch into college and adulthood. But it’s something I need to stay mindful of. Before my husband calls and I’m under the table again, enabling.
I also appreciated the reminder to adjust expectations for each age. I think there is a balancing act between accepting imperfectly done jobs, and raising our own kids’ expectations of themselves. I don’t want to send the message “you can’t do this very well” and leave them feeling like they don’t measure up, or that it’s not worth trying to do their best.
When my kids were very small, they were already helping me fold laundry. Toddlers can fold wash cloths, preschoolers can fold towels spread on the floor. I worked very hard to never redo what I had asked them to do. When I felt they were able to do a better job, I would maybe say “hey look! if you do it this way it’s even smoother!” And I would compliment on their efforts to fold better. I am by no means a perfectionist at my own folding, but I could still be prone to correct and redo, just so it was more like what I would do myself. So I am enjoying Kay’s reminders to step back, and just let them find their way.
Lastly, I want to comment on the idea another mom mentioned in the bubble on page 116. When kids feel like what they do is important, it totally changes the attitude they bring to the task. When my then 12 year old son first started mowing the lawn, he hated it. He didn’t have to do it every week, as my husband was still doing it some of the time. (It’s a push mower… no fun driving anything here!) At age 13, we decided it would be our son’s job. My husband was working an hour away at a stressful job, and if it rained on the weekend it was impossible for him to find time to mow. At first, our son was not very thrilled. But I told him that it was really going to take a lot of pressure off of his dad, if he took it on. Low and behold, no one had to even tell him it was time to mow. We’d pull into the driveway, and he’s say “oh man, I’ve got to mow!” And off he’d go. He took great pride in his work. (And we did too!) And in knowing that he was an important part of the family team. There were some patches that occasionally looked like a bad hair cut that year. But we never said a word. That would come eventually. 🙂
It seems so logical. Being needed is so much better than just being told do something “for your own good,” or perhaps because we ourselves don’t feel like doing it?
Oh dear this is getting so long! But I have to add one more thing. 🙂
We had been working recently on everyone getting up in the morning, and just immediately starting their morning routine. (For us, this is making beds, dressed, teeth, breakfast, house job, and then starting school) After 3 days of this, my 11 year old daughter was bopping off to start math without being told. I commented to her, that I was so proud of the way she was handling her responsibilities, and that it made the morning less stressful and easier on me, when I wasn’t having to constantly chase everyone all morning to keep them on task.
Her reply: “I like it better, too. It just… makes things feel happier.”
Somehow, she was totally getting it. How much better to be self-driven, and enjoy the pride of a job well done, than to be chased after, nagged and remonstrated for dragging her butt all morning! It just makes things feel happier! 🙂 I liked the conversation Kay overheard between her kids. One of them couldn’t bring themselves to say “I wish we could go back to the way things were before.”
Have you found other ways to help your kids feel needed on the family team? Have your kids had any glimmer “I actually prefer it this way” kind of feelings?
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