Wednesday, February 02, 2005

How do you manage?

By: L.A. Kohl
Jan. 8, 2005
Published in the Wed. edition of the Bullseye, Feb. 2, Vol. 1, No. 15

“How do you do it?” is a comment I frequently hear in regards to having a large family, homeschooling, etc. I’m often unsure of how to respond, except that most of the time I feel like saying, “I don’t know!”

But my mom recently told me about a “Dr. Phil” show she had watched. He had a family on his show that had seven children, and apparently their home life was a shambles. One of Dr. Phil’s solutions to their problem was giving the children “chores”. Apparently the mom was a control-freak, and had been trying to do everything herself. I guess I don’t have a “control-freak” bone in my body, because I’ve never had a problem with delegating chores! So now I know the answer to that “how do you do it?” question. It’s as simple as this – “I don’t!” At least, I don’t do it all.

For instance, come over at mealtime throughout the week, and you’ll find my older four girls rotating the duties of setting the table and after meal clean-up. On any given day you will also find a girl doing her laundry, if it’s her assigned day. Even my ten-year old now does her own laundry, as well as one of her younger sister’s. On various days of the week, you may find a girl vacuuming the living room, sweeping or mopping the kitchen, or cleaning their bathroom – depending on what their assigned chore is for that day.

Don’t get me wrong...I don’t set around watching TV while forcing my kids to do all the work – there is always plenty for me to do. And my house is far from spotless because I’ve got all these little munchkins doing various jobs. Many days they sleep in too long, or we’ve got other things to do, and things go undone. Some days they just conveniently “forget” that they were supposed to do that chore; or they rush through a chore, and so it really only gets about half done. Thus, our home has a very “lived-in” look to it – but hey, with nine people living here, what do you expect?

A family can be a team, with the parents as the coaches/trainers. Your “team” may be large or small, but everyone can still participate. In my husband’s farm family of eight, it meant plowing, feeding cattle, raking hay, etc. There were only four in my family, but my mom had a full-time job on top of her “mom” responsibilities, so for my brother and me it meant doing laundry, helping clean house, and doing dishes. And that did not mean loading them in a dishwasher, like it does for my kids. (Somehow my parents couldn’t justify buying a dishwasher until after my brother and I left home.)

Now that you know my secret, don’t be afraid to give your own child some duties. (All the kids out there are despising me right now.) A little work never hurt anyone, even a child. In fact, I’m convinced that a little work is extremely beneficial for them.

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