“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” – Colossians 3:23

I’ll admit, I’m the first one to say “Just let me do it” when it comes to training/teaching my kids how to help around the house.  It is just easier, faster and less of a headache if I just take care of the messes and “everyday life” that happens.  However I realize this does nothing in shaping the character Jason and I want to instill in our kids.  That of being men and women of integrity and to become hard workers… even when no one is looking.  At some point the rubber meets the road and I have to pick what I really want.  Do I want to shape their hearts and character even when it is going to take me  longer to “teach” them how to wash their dish after their meal or do I want to have that extra 2-5 min to move onto my next item on my to do list.   Thankfully, I have been choosing recently to take the time to train them in new ways.  And while they do not have a long list of chores to do each day (they do make their beds and get dressed and ready for the day each morning) I have been trying to look for at least 1 job/chore each day that I can have them help me with.  Aside from just picking up the toys or running something to a different room in the house.

My other motivator in choosing now to start making these small changes is the fact that Rocky will be arriving in a few short months.  And all of our family lives quite far away.  It got me thinking, how nice would it be if Belle could just vacuum for me?  Wow, that would be nice.  Sure it probably won’t be how I would vacuum, but we can start some place.  And so we did.  About two weeks before we moved I got out the vacuum one day and told Belle I was going to teach her how to vacuum the living room rug.  (12′ x 8′).  I must say, our vacuum is large and heavy and I knew it was going to be hard for her to do, but I also knew that it is ok for her to work hard, to push through the discomfort and get the job done.  (And I was standing there with her the entire time helping if needed).  She seemed open to the idea, until she started it up.  Then the tears followed.  “It was hard and heavy and noisy….”  “Yes, yes it is.  But you can do it, I’m right here to help.”  It took us thirty min of tears and conversations to get that rug vacuumed that day.  But we got it done.  Whew.  Dare I try again?  Yes I di.  Two days later when I got out the vacuum again for her to practice again- there were only tears at the beginning and then she was off.  She didn’t need help this time (yes, it was still heavy) and she had the rug vacuumed in about 8 min!  Awesome job Belle!

Fast forward to our current house about 4 weeks after that first week of vacuuming.  We had been moving and unpacking and I had not asked her to vacuum anymore.  Add to the fact that the carpet here is so much shaggier (?) than our last rug so I just knew the vacuum was going to be so much harder for her to push.  So I had not asked her to do it.  I just figured I would find a new job for her to do.  The first time I got out the vacuum at the new place (yes, it took me two weeks to vacuum 🙂 ) Belle looked at me and said “Mom, I will vacuum the living room because that is my job, you can do the bedrooms”.  I just looked at her and smiled and handed over the vacuum.  And that girl once again got the job done!  She pushed and heaved and shoved and did a pretty good job especially being that it wasn’t an exact square area like our rug that needed cleaned at the old house.

Anyhow, that is just vacuuming.  And the vacuum started smoking that day so we will see how long it takes me to get it vacuumed again. 🙂  I was just amazed at how I thought the task was going to be too hard for her. And how after that first day of training her character and getting past the tears and the arguing — she took ownership in the task and wanted to get it done.  Man, kids are smart!  And Johnny is right up there as well.  Sometimes I look at him as the baby and ask Belle to do the things I know that I can teach him.  Like washing his dish after each meal.  We don’t have a dishwasher in this new house and since we have moved in, I was determined to train the kids to pull up a chair, rinse and wash their dishes.  The first few weeks Johnny had no idea what he was doing.  He just enjoyed being like Belle and getting to play in the water.  One time I walked over to the dish rack to find his plate still covered in food and laying right side up in the rack with all the water piled up in the middle of it.  I had to smile. 🙂  But by golly after about a month of washing his dish three times  a day, that kid is getting it.  He now knows to “push” the bachelor buddy down on the plate a few times to get the bubbles out and look for the food to scrub.  And he turns it over and washes the back and then rinses it.  I think he would stay up there all day and keep washing dishes if I let him, he loves to play in the water.   And while I still supervise and double check for food on his items, it blows my mind at how taking just a few min after each meal to teach him how to do something and my 2 year old can now almost wash his dish.  Awesome!

And while we are in no way perfect and meltdowns by both children are still a daily battle at our house, I am amazed to see with some effort and consistency how much they really can grasp and how their character is being shaped.  Here are a few pics of the kids from the last few weeks “helping mom” and learning new things.

Johnny washing his spoon.

Way to flip it over and remember to wash the back of it little man!

And here is my newest favorite thing!  Giving Belle the load of their laundry during her rest/quiet time in the afternoon.  She does not have any distractions calling her name during that time and Johnny will not mess up her piles this way.  The last three Monday or Tuesday afternoons she has folded all the kids laundry during her rest times and after we put it away together!  Love it!