PARENTING: Work hard before we play hard – Sarasota Herald-Tribune


Child should stay on the job at least a year

A small handful of kids come pre-wired with the clean gene but, for the rest of them, the inner sense of responsibility to keep the space around them clean and organized is not a natural instinct. It has to be groomed.

If your kids are anything like ours, they wish life was a big walking party. They are all about the fun!

But that doesn’t mean that we can’t groom our kids to also be responsible. Responsibility and fun are not mutually exclusive. In fact, that inner drive to make life enjoyable can be a big motivator toward responsibility.

For example, at night, after a long hard day, most of us just want to be able to totally relax and enjoy ourselves. We might get cozy on the couch and watch a movie or maybe find a comfortable spot in the house and curl up with a cup of tea and a good book.

But, as responsible adults, we know that we can’t be entirely free to enjoy our night when there is stuff all over the floor or a sink full of dishes or when we’re not ready for the next day, lunches are not made and bags are not packed. So, in order to fully maximize our relaxation and fun for the night, we know that we have to take care of all those things. Then (and only then) can we truly relax and fully enjoy the night.

One of our primary goals as parents is to instill in our kids a deep sense of responsibility to fulfill their own to do list so that, eventually, they will make the choice to clean their room, finish homework, organize their schoolwork and pack their lunch and school bag before watching TV or playing video games or whatever they do for fun.

The question is: how do we do that?

We can start when they’re very young. Two-year-olds can fold washcloths. We can stand next to a three-year-old and hand him a stack of shirts, point to his shirt drawer and say, “Put your shirts in your shirt drawer.” When we start young, our kids grow up understanding that they belong to a community (the family), and they are responsible for the care and maintenance of that community.

We also need a system for cleaning. In last week’s column, we offered some practical tips for teaching kids how to clean. We are not big fans of chore charts that have kids rotate cleaning jobs from week to week or even month to month. We think that kids should keep one job for at least a year (and often much longer) so they can become an expert at that particular job.

Then, as kids grow and the needs of the family change, one child can train his or her replacement (usually a younger sibling).

As we train our kids to take responsibility for the household, we will help raise responsible adults who learn to work hard before they play hard.

Jenni Stahlmann and Jody Hagaman are the pioneers of the homeschooling method “Cradle to Calling Education.” They travel the U.S. and Canada speaking to parents and homeschoolers. For more information, go to fromcradletocalling.com, visit the Cradle2Calling Facebook page or follow them on Instagram @cradle_2_calling.

 



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