Friday, November 14, 2014

All In A Day's Work

"Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of.... work"
(The Family: A Proclamation to the World, para. 7)
I think one of the most stressful parts of parenting for me is keeping the house clean. Getting my children to participate in this effort without the constant, automatic sigh and shoulders drooping when asking one of them to clean their room, or the bathroom, or mow the lawn. It is a constant battle, some months worse than others. I've had spans of time where I felt like I was knocking it out of the park when there was cooperation.... but then the excitement wore off.
In one of my first posts for this blog, a recent member of the church, newly married, wanted to know how husband and wife divided their responsibilities. I think this next piece of advice is worth noting:

"New husbands learn three things: 1) Your wife may become a mother, but you are not one of her children.... 2) There is no job so hard or disgusting that your wife can do it and you can't...... 3) If you do it now, she won't have to do it later" (Successful Marriages and Families pg. 223).

I had to chuckle after I read that!

I want to take it further this time and talk about how a family, as a whole and working together, are learning divine principles that our Heavenly Father want us to know. Because "work" is part of The Family Proclamation, I know that it is an important piece of how our families are tied together.
Let me start off with a quote from the text, Successful Marriages and Families. "Housework is also a major source of contention between the sexes. One study found that six months into marriage, disagreement over allocation of household chores was the top source of conflict between husband and wife, and it remained so after five years" (Cox, 1996, pg. 213).  I was shocked by this number. Perhaps this is a discussion that should happen before a couple marries so they understand each other's expectation. Further in the book, the authors explain:

"When family members work together in the right spirit, a foundation of caring and commitment grows out of their shared experience. The most ordinary tasks, like fixing meals or doing laundry, hold great potential for connecting us to those we serve and with whom we serve." (pg. 214)
Isn't this the idea that every mother wishes? I know I do. I posed a question on Facebook asking my friends their thoughts on doing chores and how to get their children (or future children) to participate. These are some of the responses:
*  It would help me and allow me to do other important things that would be mutually beneficial. And then when they agree later I'd ask if they had done such and such chore so that we both could move forward to bigger and better things.
* When I was a kid my mom paid per chore, it only worked for me, my brother couldn't care less about the money, but hey I made lots of money! Lol I tell my kids the chores are what they do to earn privileges like TV or games.
* Say what you mean and mean what you say. Explain that everyone in the family has work/chores to do and each has to do his part, or our family doesn't function well. If they want to have a happy mom they need to do their chore so she can have time to do fun things with them. Make sure everyone has chores. My kids started having chores at the age of two, they could empty the dishwasher. Make sure to be finished on a certain day and no other activities happening, and they don't leave the house unless they're done. For our family we call them Friday chores and everybody does their chores on Friday. They need to be done if they want to have fun activities on the weekend. If they grow up with you following through they won't question it.
* I hate the word chore because it sounds like such a chore. I teach my kids life skills that they need to master before they leave home so they can live well without their "mommy".
We all live here so we all have to take part in cleaning. On Saturdays we have a big clean and we always go to lunch afterwards. Get everything done and we get a reward. Other than that I simply ask and my kids do it. Please empty the dishwasher, take out the trash, etc. If you want me to cook dinner and take care of the bigger things you need to help with the smaller ones. Jared is the only one that will suddenly have to go to the bathroom or something to try to avoid chores. When they were younger we had a chore chart. They had to mark it with a sticker when the chore was done. At random I would take the chart down and pay for chores. If they hadn't marked it they didn't get paid - just like at your job - if you don't clock in you don't get paid. I have been very fortunate to not have kids who fight with me. They are simple requests, I ask nicely - they do what is asked.
I had a friend that used to put chores on 3x5 cards when her kids were all dating age. She would put them out on the table at 11:30 on Friday night. Last one home usually got the bathrooms. This helped with curfew and chores. 
I think these are some great ideas. Not all of them may work for you, but what is important is that we find what clicks for our family. There was a time where I had a list on the wall for each child that had on it their individual responsibilities; whether it be their bedroom, a certain part of the house, homework, practicing their instrument, and so forth. They got paid by their age each week. 10% went to tithing, 20% went directly in the bank, the rest was for them to have. Now, before some of you get all upset about kids getting paid for their chores, I had a pretty good reason. (I got this idea from another blog, too). The money they earned was for their own clothing and entertainment. The things that I was paying for, they now had to earn. You see, it wasn't taking any extra money from my budget that I wasn't already using on them to begin with. A few of my children really wanted to buy a certain piece of clothing, or a video game. When they saw the price tag and knew that they were the one's paying for it, they immediately thought of how important it really was to begin with. 99% of the time they would not end up buying what they thought they wanted or needed.
The trend I see from these responses is also that of work ethic. We want our children to grow up and be responsible citizens, to be able to take care of themselves, and do what it takes to achieve that. The best place is in the home. I came across a great segment of video from an interview with Elder Ben E Banks of the church and he and his wife talking about a good work ethic. It's just a few minutes long, so take a look.
You've heard the saying, "When a family prays together, they stay together." I think we can apply the same message to working together in the family. Believe it or not, when families work alongside each other, wonderful, lasting relationships can develop. Take a look at this sweet 1 minute video of a father and son working together.
Great conversations can be had when we spend time with our children. And you never know, they may end up not realizing they're "doing chores" when they're spending valuable time with their family.
I love this passage from the text:
"One young mother recalls pondering during scripture study why family work constantly requires every hour of every day. While reading about the law of Moses, she realized that 'just as the law was designed to remind the people of the Lord, our family work has been designed to point our hearts toward the central reason we are here on earth - to build a family..... If children were never underfoot and only had to be fed once a day, parents would get distracted. But because they are spitting up on us, dumping cereal on our floors, and saying, 'Mommy'?' all day, there's no way we can forget (where) our focus  needs to be" (pg. 221)
Don't you just love that? I know I do. That has really made me want to change my attitude about my own responsibilities around the house, and especially with my children. I know for me, the times when I ask my children in a loving way to help out, they usually respond likewise.
Most importantly, if we can instill in our children a good work ethic that helps them develop closer relationships with each member of the family, then I believe we are helping to fulfill part of The Family Proclamation that says we can be successful as a family.  And at the same time, we are becoming more like our Savior.


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