As I type, this is what I can hear from the bedroom (To the tune of My Fair Lady):
"Grab the covers and pull them up,
pull them up,
pull them up!
Grab the covers and pull them up,
My kids giggling and singing and pretending to argue while they make the beds. They are absolutely collapsing in the giggles while they do their chores.
I know. It isn't normal. But I've never been a big fan of normal. And singing/giggling/play fighting while doing chores? I'm game. Because life after all is supposed to be fun.
Oh, yes. It's been a transformational few days.
Last week I shared with you my desire to raise my children in a way that did not result in entitlement. I want them to participate in the day-to-day running of our home rather that waiting to be served. However (and here is the kicker) I want to do this using only peaceful parenting strategies. My exact words were:
"We are going to create a home where everyone pulls their weight, but does so out of their desire to cooperate and participate. We will do it with peaceful parenting strategies – not power-over strategies, punishments, or rewards."
And so we got started.
Before I share with you the path we're on now (I'll save that for a later post since this will get long if I add it now) here are some highlights from the last few days (aside from all the singing).
* We did a deep cleaning of our entire house – together – and I don't remember hearing a single complaint.
* Sage learned how to mow the lawn properly and worked for hours by Pete's side and alone to complete the job. Every time I caught his eye he absolutely beamed.
* The kids and I canned a huge batch of applesauce. Enjoying some later in the day Sage reported that it was satisfying to watch the jars stack up and that the sauce tasted better for having done the work.
Yes. My kids have been participating. Joyfully or at the very least cooperatively. For hours on end.
And no one is forcing them or bribing them or guilt-tripping them. They just get it. They want to help out.
While it hasn't been seamless, the struggles that we've faced have been some of the best lessons out there.
The first lesson came up after we determined our shared goal. It was when I started using the word "chores". Sage groaned. "Chores are boring. I hate chores!"
But we were going to make applesauce.
"That's not a chore. That's fun."
Right? Why can't chores be fun, I wondered?
So I looked up the definition.
plural of chore (Noun)
1. A routine task, esp. a household one.
2. An unpleasant but necessary task.
And Sage and I realized that I was using definition 1. and he was hearing definition 2.
So now we don't call them chores lest he gets jammed up at the idea of them being unpleasant.
Sometimes all it takes is a little listening. Sometimes it's the little things.
We hit a bump on day one that turned out to be just what we needed to start us in the right direction. Sage was feeling the shift away from endless free time and into more participation.
He (very politely) complained about it. "Mama, I don't really feel like I have any free time anymore."
So he and I came up with a plan. We each made a chart. We divided our activities into three categories: chores, free-time, and work/homeschooling. Then we kept track of how we spent our time throughout the day.
At lunch time we totaled up each column and compared our charts. Sage was both amazed by how his own days balanced out and also by how little free time I took that day.
I didn't say a word. He looked it over, noted the surprises, and tossed the charts. He hasn't brought it up since. Because he saw how much free time he still has. He understood that he is both helping out and chilling out. It's all in balance.
Yes. The experiment is off to a beautiful start!
I'll share a step-by-step in a few days of how we're implementing the plan. And I'm wondering about you.
What is happening in your home? Are your kids jumping in?