22 June 2011

Book Review: Managers of Their Chores

Why is it so difficult for mothers and even more specific, for homeschooling mothers to expect from their children to do chores in the home?  In our home I didn’t expect my children to do chores when there were only two or three of them in the home.  I didn’t know what I could expect of them and to be honest I didn’t have the time or energy to teach them chores. On top of it I believed they are only children once and need this time in their lives to play and have fun.  

But then there were a shift in our family life. We decided to leave our family planning to the Lord and started homeschooling our children. The following 8 years our family doubled from five to ten.    During this time, some of my pregnancies left me ill for weeks, or even months and I just had to involve my children in chores. The older children were forced to take care of simple meals, cleaning the kitchen after making sandwiches, pick up toys/clothes and vacuum before daddy came home at the end of the day. They had to do washing, put washing on the line (as soon as they were tall enough to reach the line), fold and put away underwear and socks. They also had to keep demanding toddlers busy and take care of simple needs of the toddlers.

Today all my children from little Michael 17 months old and Daniel almost 3 years old, up to CJ 16 years old are fully involved in chores in our home. Every one have a set of chores every day of the week, cleaning and laundry, preparing meals, lay the table, undo the table, cleaning the fire place, taking care of little ones and assisting in homeschooling pre school siblings.

But, I do experience reluctance and bad attitudes in performing chores, from some children more than other on a daily basis.  This is very frustrating in my daily walk of life,  it disturbs the peaceful atmosphere in the home which is crucial for a positive learning environment. It fills me with anger and discouragement, robbing my gentle and quiet spirit! It is my hearts desire that my children will do their chores with a cheerful, thankful heart without me having to remind them of every single chore, which has to be done!

Typical me, I wanted to get to the core of the problem.
One of the biggest problems, is me being a first generation homeschooling mother. Being a first generation homeschooling mother, influenced me in a way, leaving me inadequate to administrate chores.  

Let me explain: Like most other first generation homeschooling mothers I grew up in a family were children were sent to school, the mothers were home all day while the children attended school.  Because the children attended school, the mother had at least six or more hours a day to devote to housecleaning, laundry and organizing. Alternatively, the mothers worked and had domestic help in housecleaning and laundry. 

Since we were in school while housecleaning, laundry and organizing took place, we weren’t around while cleaning and organizing took place.  Our mothers didn’t deem it necessary to show us how to clean or organize or didn’t have the time to show us, if they were working. 

As a result First Generation Homeschooling Moms, like me, did not know herself how to clean and organize her home and she’s not au fait with teaching her children chores.  I didn’t have a reference to start with and had no experience in children performing chores in the home.

Therefore I got the book Managers Of Their Chores by Teri Maxwell. Teri Maxwell is the Mother of eight children and has been Homeschooling since 1985. 

Here is an excerpt from Chapter One: 
“Scripture lays a strong foundation directing us toward the importance of work and service.  Proverbs suggests we look at ants and learn from them what it means to be responsible and work. ‘Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.’ Pr. 6:6-8

We see in the New Testament that Jesus call believers to a life of service.  ‘If then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.  Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither is he that is sent greater than he that sent him’ John 13:14-16.

We know from experience that serving involves work.  Scripture doesn’t specifically mention chores, but parents are admonished to bring their children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4).  We believe one facet of this is to raise children who have willing hearts to serve others.  Teaching our children with chores can greatly influence whether they have servants’ hearts and are able to set self aside.

Scripture is clear.  ‘Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap’ (Gal 6:7).

We reap what we sow in virtually every area of life including what we sow into our children’s lives.  Whether or not a child is required to do chores will affect his preparation for home management.  It will also influence his work ethic as an adult.  It moves into the spiritual realm of the reality of a walk with Christ.  Through something as mundane, but profound, as chores, one can learn to discern the promptings of the Spirit and then walk in obedience.”

As I read through the first pages of Managers of their Chores, I recognized words that I long for in my children.  ‘Willing hearts‘ and ‘set self aside‘  I also recognized attitudes due to a lack of these attributes. How often do I see discontented mothers, with complaining attitudes. I do believe the most determining factors of a joyful life in Christ is a willing, thankful, servant heart.  From experience I know the previous generation of mothers and fathers didn’t expect their children to perform chores in the home.  The 1980’s was, especially in South Africa, a very prosperous time.  Is that one of the reasons why we currently reap a generation of bitter, discontented women, around the age of 40?

I came to believe children’s chores are the highest priority in my home; musts, rather than optionals.  Chores surely develop character qualities to be a mature, productive adult:
  1. Establishing good habits;
  2. Developing diligence;
  3. Learning to persevere through something that isn’t easy or isn’t enjoyable;
  4. Becomes thorough in what they do;
  5. Becomes a responsible adult;
  6. Assist children to become adults who are good stewards of their time and what God has entrusted to them.
These are only a few of the character qualities which are developed in children when chores are expected from them on a regular basis. With every single one of these character qualities I could identify. 

Most of you know by now that I’m a very easily distracted person. Habits, being thorough in what I’m doing and being a good steward of my time, wasn’t a well developed character quality when I started my adult life. But, since I’m a keeper of my home and homeschooling mommy, these character qualities definitely developed in my life!  How much further could I have been in maturity, if chores were expected of me, while I was still a child!

In the past I only needed my children to perform tasks in the home, since I alone couldn’t get to everything. Now I’m expecting chores and managing chores, because I want to send well balanced and mature adults into the world whom the Lord can use for His glory.  Time is precious, I don’t want to waste their time.

I want to challenge you to open your mind and heart to a very difficult, highly important aspect of parenting - investing you time in teaching your child chores. 
“If we reap what we sow, what will we sow in our children’s lives?”

With love

1 comment:

Annalize said...

I agree. It also deals with the fact that children should obey their parents (Eph 6:1-9) and the attitude required in that area of their lives! Obeying their parents is practical practice for obeying God in an indirect way. Not to please people but to serve the Lord!

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