936 Pennies: Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting
Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!
When our first son was about a year and a half old, we decided to experiment with the idea of giving him chores.
We delegated to him the task of throwing out his new baby brother’s soiled diapers. All went well and smoothly, until the day I walked into the kitchen to find a used diaper wadded up and sitting inside of our toaster oven—with the toaster turned on.
I promise–I don’t make this stuff up.
Giving young children chores doesn’t always go smoothly, like in the incident of the toasted diaper. However, if our concern was with these tasks being carried out in a timely and efficient matter, we would do them ourselves. Handing these jobs off to young children takes time, instruction, and a boat load of patience!
Don’t worry—the toasted diaper is not the discovery that we were blown away by that I refer to in the title of this post.
Rather, we have been blown away by 3 important insights we have gleaned through giving our children chores at the young age of one.
As soon as our second son could walk, the task of diaper disposal was passed on to him—perhaps because he couldn’t reach the toaster oven quite yet.
We were surprised when he took on this new responsibility with full vigor. Not only did he throw out all of the dirty diapers, but he also scanned the floor for any pieces of trash, and deposited them into the garbage can!
When we decided to give our children a chance to show us their capabilities, we got to watch as they began taking ownership of their responsibilities in the home, and their specific roles.
This is because teaching our children through responsibility helps develop their sense of worth as they realize they are valuable contributors to the home.
As Nancy Sleethe puts it in her book, Almost Amish,
This is not something I expected. I did not anticipate our home to be cleaner by employing extra help to clean it– not when the help was coming from those who are much more interested in naming dust bunnies than eradicating them.
However, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how efficient the boys have been in their new tasks!
Our three-year-old old is responsible for picking up all of his toys in the living room and his bedroom before bedtime. At first, I was very hesitant to give him this responsibility.
Yes—I looked forward to his help in cleaning up the clutter. However, I did not look forward to his bedtime being delayed by the twenty minutes I anticipated it would take him to accomplish the task.
To remedy the situation, I packed away half of the boys’ toys, and threw out any that were broken, unused, or had missing pieces. I figured that if the amount of their toys was overwhelming me, it certainly had to be overwhelming my three-year-old.
They now have one basket of toys in the living room, and one basket of toys in their bedroom. That is it.
And guess what–it worked! Not only is our home staying MUCH cleaner throughout the day, but our three-year-old can now easily manage picking up all of his toys before bedtime.
Crystal Paine says it in her book, Say Goodbye To Survival Mode,
In coaching my children about responsibsility, I begin by working alongside of them; walking them through how to thoroughly carry out a job to completion. As we work together, I sprinkle in conversations about being a hard worker, and how great it is to work as a team.
The other day, as my three-year-old put his puzzle pieces back into their bag, he asked me for help.
As I bent down beside him and began scooping pieces into the bag, he turned to me and said, “We work as a team, Mom!”
That was all the confirmation I needed that this area of child rearing—of training them to respect hard work, be diligent, and work as a team—is well worth the the extra investment of my time and energy.
Please don’t think for a moment that my children are perfectly obedient, that my home is always spotless, or that I am always patient when teaching my children about being responsible—you would be sorely mistaken.
However, day by day—with each morning a new opportunity—we set out to train our children the value of hard work by patiently instructing them and working alongside of them. As we do, we are seeing them develop before our very eyes into the men we pray for them to be– men who work heartily to take care of their families and be faithful to God.
I challenge you to give it a shot. If you have been hesitant to give your young children chores, or simply don’t know where to start, begin by recognizing a few tasks they may be capable of.
Make those tasks more manageable, say by packing away excess toys so that they can keep their own room clean without becoming overwhelmed. After all, a greater gift than luxury is responsibility; it’s a gift that will bless them for a lifetime.
Next, walk your children through those tasks, patiently and gracefully, until they become proficient at them. Finally, hand those tasks off to them. Give them the gift of being a valuable contributor and a team player in your home.
As you guide those little hands and instruct those little hearts, you might just be blown away by what your children show you!
Raising kids stirs something deep in our souls — an innate knowing that our time is finite. Taking my kids outside in creation, I’m discovering how to stretch our time and pack it to the brim with meaning. God’s creativity provides the riches of resources for teaching the next generation who He is and how He loves us. Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!