My Blog = My Life + running

All play and no work?

I've recently heard someone say that it's not fair to a child to make them work. You know, that a kid needs to be a kid; that they need to have fun first; that their lives will eventually be weighed down with enough responsibilities; that it's a mother's duty to do the chores around the home. If you've been a long-time reader of this blog, you'll remember comments (made anonymously, of course) along the same line popping up every now and then.

Is it true? Is all play and no work the answer for curing Jack's dullness? I'm not an experienced mother by any stretch. I've only been one for a short sixteen months. Yet, I believe that it's not only necessary for children to participate in family chores, but that they can even find great enjoyment in doing so!

Children don't instantly become helpful once they reach a certain age-just like a girl doesn't automatically become a good help-meet the day she gets married. The responsibility of running a home, I believe, is a duty required of mothers to teach their children. I had just 18 short, sweet years at home before I flew the nest to take care of my own. While I didn't always appreciate participating in housework, meal preparation, grocery shopping, gardening, and folding the laundry back then, it's something for which I am inexplicably grateful for now. So grateful for, in fact, that I'm trying to instill in our one-year-old the same homemaking skills my mother taught me!

Obviously, I can't expect a sixteen-month old to stay on task long or be held responsible for regular chores. Charity is in the "preparatory stage." The great thing about teaching her now, is that she loves it! She wants to help. She loves to accomplish things and loves to be praised. It brings great joy to my heart when I witness for the first time, a daughter who sees her work and takes action to do something about it.

Yesterday, Charity sneezed just as she was eating her last bite of breakfast. I'll spare you the details, but the kitchen floor was covered in regurgitated cheerios. Looking at her mess, she wrinkled up her nose and said (very dramatically, as usual) "EWWWWWWWWWWW!" I took her out of her booster seat, and before I had even grabbed the washcloth from the sink, she had pulled the tea towel from off the stove and was wiping up beneath her chair.

I could've done the easy thing: take the tea towel away from her and think, "She's doing it all wrong. The towel's not even wet! She's just spreading the dirt farther across the floor!" The fact is, she wasn't doing a very good job. She wasn't being efficient and you could hardly call it "cleaning."

I praised her anyway. She had the right idea, and what's more, she had the right attitude. She wanted to help me clean up and she did everything she knew how to be helpful. She was pleased as punch when I gave her a hug and said, "Big Girl, Charity! Thank you for helping Mommy clean up! Mommy likes it when you're eager to help!"

I doubt she'll ever remember our little clean up session yesterday, but I do hope that involving her daily with household tasks and praising her for obedience, cheerfulness, and a job well done will eventually result in the mastering of helpful work habits she'll take with her wherever she goes.

It blows my mind at how much a one-year-old is capable of. I still think of her as my "baby." But my "baby" can already help empty the dishwasher, switch laundry loads, put her toys in the toy box, dust the furniture, clean the floors, and bring Mommy and Daddy things when they ask for them. To Charity, it's just play. She's doesn't realize that she's learning life skills.

Mothers, we are not passing the time babysitting; we are mothering. We're not here to simply entertain them, but to teach them to be godly offspring who will one day, Lord bless, be able to maintain their own home in good order.

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