Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Teaching our children to work

These pictures are some that I took last week of the kids helping me to can beans. We had such a wonderful time working together and it made me start thinking a lot about working and training our kids to enjoy work. Work is one of those unavoidable parts of our lives and though I have seen many people that seem to totally dislike work, it really can be extremely fun! Work provides us with a purpose in life. If life was all fun and games I think we would feel extremely unfulfilled.
We don't have things figured out perfectly at our house yet, (My kids don't always jump up and down with excitement when I tell them there is a job to do) but overall we do have kids that are good workers and enjoy working a lot of the time. Here are some of my ideas that I think have led to that.
  • Working together. This is something I definitely learned from my growing up years. We loved to work together. You can get things done so much faster and you can have fun singing or visiting while you work. When we were canning beans last week, we spent some of the time saying our memory verses, we did some singing and we also had some competition. All of that makes for a fun time.
  • Set an example of being a cheerful worker. If you love to work then it is far more likely that your children will too. I am very thankful to have a husband who is a hard worker who does not complain about his job. My boys are looking forward to the time that they will go to work like daddy. As far as I am concerned I do enjoy working and I try to pass that attitude on to my kids by singing while I work, explaining why something needs to be done and the reward that will come from it and things like that. One of my fond memories of when Mara was little (she was around 4) was a day that I had gotten a truck load of manure from my dad's animals to put on my garden. I was out shoveling it out and she decided to come out and help. While we were shoveling it started to lightly rain but it needed to get done so we kept at it. Meanwhile, Mara (who has always loved to talk) was keeping up a steady stream of chatter about how this manure was going to help our garden grow and even though the manure stunk it was something that we needed to help our garden. I loved her attitude which I don't think she would have probably had if I would have been out there complaining about the yucky work.
  • Make work a game. This is something that I have enjoyed doing for a long while. When I would fold clothes as a child I would race whoever I was folding clothes with to see who could empty their basket first or fold the most pieces. (often I wouldn't tell them I was racing as then I would have the advantage!) I have now taught Mara and Jonathan how to do that and they enjoy it too. With clothes folding we also play sometimes that each person's pile is the clothes they are packing to go on a trip and we will laugh because someone might have no shirts or way to many socks.
  • Let them work. If you have kids you probably have noticed that the age when they really love to work is when they are a big bother to have working with you. Megan (who is 17 months) loves to be around helping all of the time, but she really isn't helpful. However I do try to let her help as much as possible because that will help to mold her opinion of work in the long run. She has learned how to help put things away and she is starting to set the table, so progress is being made. Aaron (my 3 year old) loves to help do dishes and so even though it makes a big mess (as he really is just wanting to play in the water) I do let him help. I do however draw the line on somethings. The other day I made the mistake of cleaning the toilet in front of Megan so guess what? Later in the day there was Megan busily scrubbing the toilet. I had to tell her "No" and stop that activity as I don't think that is to terribly sanitary. I was surprised to find that a 17 month old can actually do a fairly good job of snapping beans though. (As long as you don't mind a few tails. )

Here is a verse that is a good one to remember when we consider working:

"For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order; if anyone is not willing to work, than he is not to eat, either. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread. But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good." 2 Thessalonians 3:10-13

I am still looking for ways to make work fun for my kids and would welcome your comments and ideas!


Lynnae @ Being Frugal said...

You have such a great attitude toward work! In an age where not much seems to be required of children, your viewpoint is refreshing!

Your kids are going to appreciate what you've taught them when they're grown!

Abbi said...

Thanks so much!

Anonymous said...

hi! I forgot about the pretending to pack when folding clothes. It will be fun to do that with Molly. The place that the kids work with me the most is in cooking. everyone loves to stir or be the one to empty the measured ingrediant into the bowl.
Megan has grown up so much! in these pictures she looks so muture, not a baby anymore! Lars is the same way though. Love you all! MJ

Abbi said...

Ah yes, cooking! My kids love to help me there too. After all you might be able to get a beater to lick! I don't let them crack the eggs usually though, although they would love to.
Our babies are really growing up!At Jackpine Beniah was reminding me of Lars.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin