Tuesday, May 3, 2011

31 Days Closer to Your Kids: Work Alongside Them

Shelly Final

Good parents make their kids work. It’s as simple as that. When kids don’t work they end up being spoiled brats who aren’t equipped to live in the real world.

(Gee, could I be any more blunt?!)

Every week our kids have jobs: they need to clean their rooms, keep their bathroom picked up, do garbage duty. And then there’s the dreaded “dog poop” job. Before the weekend, one of our kids is assigned the job of picking up the grossness in our back yard. It’s one of the worst jobs we have in our home, but somebody’s got to do it (and it ain’t going to be the parents!).

Our kids are pretty good about working. We’ve given them age-appropriate jobs from the time they were very young, so they know how to work. But every once in a while, I notice that a child needs a little extra encouragement. When her shoulders slump. When she’s had a bad week. When she’s not feeling well.

And that’s when I step in and work alongside my child. (Remember, this doesn’t happen every week. If it did, I’d just be bailing out my kid from doing the work that’s expected of her. This is a special exception that’s reserved for every once in a while.)

Recently we painted Julia’s bedroom and, as you know, a painting project involves lots more than just putting paint on the wall. It involves cleaning out closets and dresser drawers. It means washing curtains and hanging them back up again. In this case, it means an entire room makeover.

Rather than leave the closet cleaning to my daughter (an overwhelming job to be sure!), I will be pitching in this week and working alongside her. Sure, it might be easier to do it myself (or to just have her do it alone), but our working together does a couple of different things.

First, it encourages my child. The job might feel just too big for her, so my helping her shows her that we can tackle it together.

Second, it gives us some time together. Who knows what she might open up about while we’re sorting through old papers and Barbie dolls? It might give me another opportunity to listen.

And finally, working together allows me to show my daughter how to do the job right. If left to do it herself, most things would just get piled up in a corner again rather than sorted and put away properly. I have the chance to model the right way to clean a closet so that, hopefully, next time she’ll have a better idea of what’s expected.

Question: Is there a job you can do with your child this week? How do you encourage your children to work hard?



  1. Ditto...so agree and all of us enjoy someone working with us at times. Through the years sometimes I will go in as a surprise and totally clean their room...usually when they are away at camp. It puts it all back in order and they love that it is all done and it becomes easier to manage.
    Great post...now to help my 15 year old son this week, I think he needs it.

  2. Trying to remember this... I've recently heard more than one of my children say "My mom does all the chores at my house." OH NO!! NO LONGER!!

    When I went in to clean my daughter's drawers yesterday, her hard work cleaning last week consisted of piles of laundry under the bed, under the dresser, in the closet, in the corner. So bad!! They are now in the middle of her floor waiting for her to pay attention to them. Parenting is hard!

  3. My children also have chores. Somtimes I help out of a sense of pity and sometimes I help just to get the job done already.
    Good advice to acually use the job as "talking time." I'll try to keep that in mind.

  4. I have so many funny memories of helping our youngest daughter clean her closet when she was little . . . we still talk about it.

    Have fun with Julia.


  5. My parents instilled a strong work ethic in my brother and I. We always hard chores and they set an example for us by working hard themselves. I have great memories of working with my Dad in his workshop or helping my mom out at craft shows or simply doing stuff around the house. I wouldn't trade those lessons for anything!

  6. Great post!!! Also.... parents who model hard work... is contagious. My three boys are all VERY hard workers in all areas of their lives. I think they have watched both their dad and me and have learned from us that hard work is a great value to have!

    Sweet mama for helping. I like the wording; working alongside.