Many years ago, I wrote a post about how my children were not my slaves. I am acutely aware of how easy it can be for parents to start barking orders at their children, and because of the personal stories of people I know, I have always worked hard to not be “that” parent.
But something I said in the post sparked a lot of questions from readers. Here’s what I said:
“As parents, whenever able, we should be right in there working alongside our children.”
What confused readers were the words, “working alongside.” It invoked images of either a family business or mom working on every single task WITH the children all day long, thus never getting her own work accomplished. I had neither of these in mind when I wrote that, and felt a clarification post might be a good way to help parents understand what it looks like to work alongside your children.
In our house, there are systems. We have Table Chores, Friday cleaning chores, Laundry assignments, and other management systems that keep the house running as smoothly as possible (which can still feel like a big ole roller coaster ride with this many people in one house!). I am the manager of these systems. I am the Chief Operations Officer (COO) to put it in business terms. I coordinate, I oversee, I assist as needed. And, yes, I spend a lot of time REMINDING.
So, when I say “working alongside the children,” I do not mean doing the chores with them. I mean BEING PRESENT during the chores, either working at your own chores or supervising theirs.
As children get older, they notice idleness in others (how many times have you heard them complain about a sibling not pulling their weight?), and they will most certainly notice if YOU are idle while they work. Of course, there are times in a mother’s life when “idleness” is really rest (morning sickness, recovery from an illness or surgery, etc), but even then, I try my very best to be PRESENT, guiding, directing, encouraging, and being mom.
This also means taking my turn in the management systems. For table chores, I’m bussing my own portion of the table, helping others with their chores, and making sure the job is done to completion. With cleaning chores, I am helping to tidy, moving from room to room checking work, and managing little ones. I always take a rotation for laundry as well. You do not necessarily have to do exactly what I do, but do be “busy at home” (Titus 2:5). Your children will learn their work ethic from you.
Also, keep your own grumbling and complaining about household duties in check. It is one thing to lament the massive amount of laundry to be done, and quite another to fuss and fume while you wash, dry and fold. Try to stay light-hearted, and learn to love the work you do.
And never forget the FUN! Your children need fun in their lives. They need their work day to end (and so do you as much as possible). Work in breaks throughout the day. Celebrate, feast, laugh, love! Families work hard AND they play hard. We are our own little community, so we pull our weight, and we reap the harvest!
Looking for an age appropriate chores list for your children? FIND IT HERE!