Monday, June 27, 2011

Mama's Little Helpers

We have always had 'chores' for our children to do and even though we don't live on a farm where you would expect to have chores to do, there are plenty of jobs to do in a regular family household too. When our children turned two their chores began. A two year old can fold facecloths while mama is folding the larger items in the laundry basket. A four or five year old can manage towels and their own clothes. From the time our children were five they could cook an egg in the microwave to make an egg and cheese sandwich and many times that was their favourite breakfast because they could make it themselves. They could load and unload the dishwasher, take the garbage out, sweep the floor and many more chores around the house.

We felt that giving our children the responsibility of doing chores would help prepare them for when they had their own home, but we never thought that teaching would come in so handy as it did. While we were in our first pastorate, my husband was called away for three weeks to the other end of the province (about an 8 hr drive away) to help a church that was going through difficulty. While we missed him being with us, we counted down the days and established a routine to make the days go by faster.

After I had the kids tucked into bed in the evening I would take Dukie, the dog, out for his final walk around the yard and then I would go to bed. On one particular evening as I was taking Dukie out I looked up into the heavens and saw the most beautiful display of stars. The sky was an inky black and the stars were so clear that they shone like diamonds. The air was crisp and I could see my breath. It was a beautiful night. As I was buttoning up my jacket and looking up at the stars, I missed the step on the porch and down I went. I fell down the three steps and landed on the ground. I tried to get up but my ankle wouldn't support me. I screamed in pain and Dukie ran to the house, (he wasn't very brave).

I eventually crawled into the house and called friends of ours to come and help. Within minutes Brian and Lynn Thompson were there helping me into their van to take me to the hospital. Brian stayed with the kids, who slept through the whole thing and Lynn took me to the hospital where I found out I had broken one ankle and tore ligaments and tendons in the other. I was to stay off my feet for at least six weeks! No crutches, no standing on my feet at all, and no husband to help me.

I used a desk chair with wheels to get around the parsonage and it severely limited what I could do. The kids jumped into action. Even though they were only very young, they were able to take their chore training to new heights and they took care of the house and me. One day a board member's wife called to see if I would like her to come over and clean the house for me and I was able to say thank you but it has been done. Benjamin had cleaned the bathrooms and Matthew had swept and vacummed the floors and Alannah had taken care of the dishwasher and folding the laundry. She still wanted to help so I suggested that if she would like to do something we could always use a meal brought in because that would help the kids from having to make main meals, which she did.

I was so proud of our children and so thankful that I had taught them how to do chores. While I had thought I was only preparing them for the future it helped us when we needed it the most. When my husband returned from his trip he told the kids how proud he was that they had taken good care of Mama while he was away and he was amazed at how much they were able to do.

The Bible tells us to 'train up a child in the way he should walk and when he is old he will not depart from it', (Prov.22:6) and while I believe that mainly speaks of spiritual training, I think it also applies to all aspects of teaching our children, including chores. There are many mothers today who fail to teach their children responsibilities around the home for one reason or another. Sometimes it's simply because they can do it themselves faster and better than a child could. And sometimes it's because with school work, sports practice and music lessons they feel that their child has too much on their plate already. But either way I believe these mothers are doing a disservice to their children and they are not preparing them for their future. Our children were so proud of  their accomplishments and the idea that they had taken care of Mama all by themselves. It was an important lesson for me to learn as a mother. It helped me to see how important preparing my children actually was and I am thankful that I did.

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