I am the mother of six children, seven step-children and grandmother of twelve. When I was raising my children, I knew that I wanted some things to be different for my children than what I experienced when I was growing up. One of those things was a clean, orderly home. Another was for my children to have a childhood.
Often, especially in large families, those two goals seem to be at odds with each other. Older children often become second parents with heavy responsibilities in the babysitting, housekeeping and cooking departments. Younger children are often spoiled, undisciplined and out of control. So, how does one raise responsible children in an orderly home environment where kids can still be kids? Well, there isn ?t one pat answer, life just isn ?t that simple. But that is what my posts will be about ?my reflections on parenting.
My journey as a parent started when God said, I need a volunteer! ? I answered the call six times. As a parent I copied God ?s model and said, I need a volunteer! ? on a daily basis.
I am the second oldest of ten children and it seemed that my chores never ceased. Laundry day meant a trip to the local Laundromat with enough dirty clothes to fill 20 washers (that ?s all they had). Then we took the wet clothes home and hung them out to dry. After they were dry, we sprinkled water on them to dampen them then ironed everything including the sheets. We sewed our own clothes using the cloth from the skirts of hand-me-downs. We gardened, made bread, canned fruit and veggies; I was the family cook. And, then there were the housekeeping chores, the diapers, the babysitting ?well you get the picture.
With modern conveniences, the way we do the work has changed, but I ?ve noticed that in many families, the kids still do a lion ?s share of the work. There ?s no time to study, no time to play and no time to be a child. In other families, children are over scheduled and indulged growing up self-centered without a sense of responsibility to family. As a parent, I found balance in the simple phrase, I need a volunteer. ?
I started training my children using check point charts (I ?ll do a post on that later). Check points charts develop habits. After habits had been developed, our home was orderly most of the time. When work needed to be done, I called, I need a volunteer. ?
When I called out, all my kids came running, screaming, Choose me! I was first! It ?s my turn! ? They knew that I would have a task for each child. They also knew that the first task would be the easiest and the tasks would be progressively more time consuming and unpleasant for the other volunteers.
Each child knew that their allowance would be determined on the quantity and quality of the work they did. This added an interesting twist because I graded the quality of the work at the end of the day. If another child started to mess up a job, the child responsible for the job would police them. Don ?t make a mess! ? Or, Clean up your mess now. I just vacuumed in here! ?
It was understood that the task must be completed right away or the offending child would loose their task and be put at the end of the line, a fate to be dreaded. They also knew that when their task was done, they were done. They owned their time until the next time I called out, I need a volunteer! ?
It was part of a system that worked for me and it ?s well worth giving it a try. Volunteer anyone?