Work It, Kid... Work It!
Out of all the jobs that have to be done around the house, which are your favorites?
That's probably not a question you feel as prepared to answer as if you were asked to describe the chores that you're tired of doing. It seems easier to talk about the tasks we feel worn down by than the ones that bring us life.
"I'm pretty sure I have more laundry to fold than there are clothes in the entire world."
"Don't walk into the living room. I just vacuumed and I want the vacuum cleaner lines to last as long as possible... please, even just another hour. Let me live the lie that I'm actually done with that room."
"Okay, who spit on the ceiling?"
All complaining aside, you likely have a few chores that feel satisfying when you get them done. That short list is perhaps only trumped by another one of tasks that light you up with pride and joy when your kids actually do them. Maybe you want them to clean their room, feed the dog, dump the garbage, clear the table and invest into the yard... even though they want to play, read, eat cereal, sleep in and harass their siblings.
Or do they?
Everyone takes care of their household differently. Usually it tracks back to whatever agenda and priorities were created when someone (perhaps you) decided which chores everyone would need to pitch in on. Maybe that's the real disconnect - when one person wants every other person to do something, there isn't as much ownership as when those other individuals get to contribute to the process.
So if you had the chance to add one more task to regularly do together as a family, whether or not everyone enjoyed doing it, what would it be?
And, perhaps as important, if the rest of your family members were to answer that question, what would they say?
Consider Creation itself as a template: God gave Adam and Eve the opportunity to have a job, care for creation, be united to each other in marriage and parent. Each of these things by themselves requires a lot of effort, but all were a gift from God that humanity was given some kind of creative ownership of: Adam named all of the animals, including his wife Eve; it's implied that Eve picked out the names for her sons Cain and Abel.
What are you allowing your kids to have creative ownership of?
Here are some actions steps to inspire kids to help out around the house with some brainstorming activities to invite their input--which is the first step to ownership.
- Brainstorm...a MAIN LIST: Instead of telling kids what to do, involve them in making a general list of all the household chores that need to be done each day. Point out what might pile up into tomorrow if they aren't done today, such as dishes, trash, laundry, picking things up off the floor, cooking, getting the mail and so on.
- Brainstorm a PERSONAL LIST : Help them see the value in personal hygiene tasks like taking a daily shower, brushing teeth, changing clothes, making beds, and so on. This is also where you can note the things that you do because they matter to you, such as turning off lights that are left on, putting food away before it spoils and resupplying the toilet paper if it runs out. Help them see the things they enjoy doing because it matters to them.
- Brainstorm a SPECIAL PROJECTS LIST: Note the things that that need to be done on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly level, including sweeping the garage, dusting, wiping down the windows, vacuuming out the car, decluttering a desk and grocery shopping.
- Brainstorm a LIST FOR YOUR LISTS: Seriously. Look at all of your lists and circle a couple of things on each one that each of you will take ownership of. The end goal isn't to just accomplish the task, but to have fun doing this together and with God. Turn up some music, whistle or catch up on life as you invest into this. See if you can turn this into an act of praise and worship.
Work is work... but it helps to remember that it was around before sin came into the world. Humanity was intended to find a unique fulfillment in chores, and through Christ we can redeem this in how we view it as a family until the Lord’s return.
It involves being thankful that we “get to” do these things instead of complaining that we “have to.” Perhaps we'd see God more clearly if we clearly saw his gifts as blessings and not burdens.
Perhaps our family would, too?
What quick tips do you have on how to make household chores fun?