December 17, 2010

I Love...

...having my children work beside me. And they love to do it.  Visitors to my home often ask how I got so lucky to get kids who are so helpful.  As if it was an accident.
But the fact is, that my children like to work because I never told them it wasn't fun.  I never allowed them to complain about work.  It was never an option to work.  From the time they can sit up, they are by my side doing whatever I am doing.  If I am washing dishes, they are drying.  If I am cooking, they are washing dishes.  If I am folding laundry, they are beside me folding laundry.  While I clean the kitchen they wipe the cabinet fronts with a wet sponge.

The same with Pa.  The boys each have their own tool box which they carry beside Pa to help him with whatever his task he is focused on.  The summer he laid the patio by the pool, our boys spent an entire Saturday hauling paver stones in their little wagon.  At the end of the long hot Saturday, we got to wondering how much each load weighed.  The bathroom scale showed that each load of brick weighed more than half their weight.  And they were delighted to do it.  Because they were helping their Pa do real mans work.

If he is stacking firewood, all the kids are stacking firewood.  If we are working in the garden, everyone can pull weeds, plant, harvest and fertilize.  They think it is an honor and special privilege to work beside Pa and Mama.
Oh, often when they are young, it means the work will take way longer.  The laundry may be rolled into balls instead of being neatly folded.  You will likely have to replace your dishes a lot more frequently.  The kitchen floor may be covered with soap suds.  The little one may even need a change of clothes.  It also means you will usually have more clean up to do after the toddlers and preschoolers go down for their naps.  It may take three weekends to stack the firewood and three years to finish the basement but you will be investing memories and instilling in your children a good attitude and ethic toward work.

Aside from tying heart strings and creating good character in your children there is the wonderful added benefit that they are becoming useful.  By the time my girls were eight they could sew their own clothes.  By nine or ten they were capable of not only planning, preparing, serving and cleaning up for a meal but also canning, bread baking and many other kitchen skills that many adults can't handle.  I can go away for any amount of time and know that when I return, a day, a week or even two weeks later, the house is tidy, clean and organized.  Everyone has been well nourished and tended in my absence.  They are able to do the grocery shopping, balance the check book and handle online shopping tasks for me.  

The girls are able to help me with special projects like repainting the living room and redoing the kitchen cabinets, that would otherwise seem overwhelming.  No, it may not always be perfect or as perfect as I would like it, but who cares?  We are building memories together and having fun doing it.  Besides, my dear friend Anita always told me, "Kathleen, done is better than perfect!"  And without their help things like that would NEVER get done with home schooling 7 children.  

The girls are also able to mud and sand dry wall, lay tile, laminate and wood floor and do a multitude of other jobs many young home owners can not even manage.

The boys at 8, 7 and 5 are able to some small home repairs now because they worked beside their Pa and learned how to use the tools and how to do things.  Not only is this a help to Allen and I, but it makes the boys feel so special to do something to serve their family, especially if it is a job that used to be Pa's. 

Because the children have always worked along side Allen and I in the yard, the children were able to manage the entire square foot garden while I couldn't this summer.  Allen can not remember the last time he had to mow the lawn.  The boys keep the house well stocked with fire wood (our primary heat source, so that's a lot of wood!)  

And what's more.  They LIKE it!  Not because of luck.  But because when they were babies we purposed that we didn't want them to be whiny, lazy or incapable teenagers.

Oh, and just in case you think I am trying to tell you how great we are... not at all!  We had no idea what we were doing.  We just knew what we didn't like in the teenagers we saw around us.  We set out to find examples of teenagers we wanted to live with when our kids were older.  Then we invited their parents to lunch and dinner and asked them for advice.  Sometimes, they gave us specific advice.  Sometimes they invited us to observe.  Sometimes they directed us to training books, tapes or videos that they found helpful.  We just put it all together and started applying it with a LOT of prayer not knowing how it would all work out.

Guess what?  Not that we didn't make mistakes along the way.  Not that we didn't have areas we had to smooth out.  But all in all, God has done a good work and we love having our kids beside us as we carry out the necessary duties of being a family and homeowners.  It may not seem like much, but I believe that working together is truly one of the things that has made our family so close.  And with so many hands, the work is done sooner and there is lots of time for playing together, too.


  1. Kathleen,
    It is so true! My girls know that to get to the fun we all have to work together to get things done first.
    Now I know that I can leave CHarlotte to load the dishwasher, it might not be done my way but it gets done and the dishes are clean.
    I know that I often have to redo some work because they can't quite manage it but they learn and eventually they can manage. From matching odd socks to weeding the garden it's a team sport in our house.

    I'm excited now that the girls are older that we can start on things that require a little more control and dexterity- and seeing what your girls can do gives me somewhere to aim for with mine... sewing is this year's big task (although I am very much still learning myself)along with cooking and baking.

    Wish me luck!

  2. Hi, Kat~

    I loved your post! You and Alan with such precious, loving, obedient children!

    You are BLESSED!

    I hope you are having a wonderful week!


  3. This subject is one of the hardest parts of living with my mom. She doesn't think the children should do "adult" work. ha! I wonder when she thinks they will want to? I was treated the same way when I was growing up - I had absolutely no chores. My job was school. Now I've got figure out along the way what I was not taught to do. In fact, I had to learn to do things on my own and now I have to teach them. Also, we do some things different and we have to learn to work with what she wants. So I've got to play pretend. :) Work the children during the day while she is at work, and let them take a break when she's at home. Weekends are a little harder, but thankfully we can disappear for a few hours on some Saturdays for Lowe's and Home Depot children's crafts and then we are usually gone all day Sunday for church (our church is an hour away and we stay around town all day to attend the evening service).
    It's just a season in life right now though. We'll survive and learn a few things in the process.

  4. I agree. Who says work can't be fun? It is all in the attitude, and for the most part kids want to be right there beside mom and dad...even as they grow older. What a beautiful hard working family you have.