This morning was rough. Whether a result from our busy weekend of traveling, or just the Monday morning blahs, we needed some attitude adjustments.
After a lunch accented with more whines, I assigned each of the children several jobs, decreed a ban on complaints, turned on some loud march music, and we whirled around setting the house back in order after a busy homeschool morning.
Then we all went outside, and I haven't heard a sign of the grumps since.
I'm always amazed at the benefit of working together with my children.
I shouldn't be surprised. My parents did a great job in training us nine children to work together on the farm. When my mom was overwhelmed with tasks, my dad would often tell her that she was not utilizing her resources. Many times I have heard my mom encourage young mothers to work together with their children and train their children to take responsibility to help around the house.
But training my own children has been a challenge. Dealing with the bad attitudes, sloppy work, and uncoordinated, inexperienced hands was far more frustrating than doing the work myself. So I thought.
I know how much I appreciate my parent's efforts to teach me good work skills, and want to give the same to my children. I want them to know the joy in serving others unselfishly and contributing to the well being of the home.
I've tried several kinds of job charts but never was disciplined to stick with anything for long. What has worked best is attaching specific jobs with meal times, especially lunch. If each child has their job that they do each day, such as vacuuming under the table, or washing dishes, eventually it becomes habit and I nag less.
The last few months we have started what we call "kitchen servants."
When I was a teen, my parents started a "servant of the day." We were never a quiet family and with eleven people jumping up to get whatever they wanted whenever they wanted it, meal times were crazy. Breakfast was especially bad. Every time the toast popped, half a dozen persons would jump for it. Add in someone who wanted honey instead of jelly, another going for milk instead of the juice on the table, and there were too many people colliding in the kitchen.
My parents gave each of the older children a day of the week that was their day to be the "servant." When meal time began, the servant was the only child allowed to get off their seat. If anyone wanted something not on the table, they had to kindly ask the servant to get it for them. It worked beautifully. As we older ones married, one of the younger ones became servant on our day. I believe they still have a servant of the day these many years later.
I decided to adapt the "servant of the day" to meet my needs. I gave my three oldest children each a meal to be the kitchen servant. For their meal, the servant is responsible to help me in any way needed. They may help with meal prep, set the table, or wash dishes.
The children have (mostly) taken on their new role with pride. No longer do I ask someone to set the table only to hear complaints that they always have to set the table. They know that this time it is their turn; a sibling will be asked at the next meal. My just-turned-five-year-old was given breakfast since he is our early bird. Most mornings he is out in the kitchen asking what he can do to help before I call him.
There is many other areas of my household that I need to improve upon, but our kitchen servant has been a blessing to our meal times.
I'd love to hear your ideas on training children to help at home.