Will Work for Food

My friend, Liz, and I were talking about the importance of children having enough “work” to do. When they are left with too much time and not enough guidance, they manage to create their own “work”… which often leads to mischief.

Let me give you an example. Last Thursday Eby took a pair of scissors and cut holes in Ladybug’s fleece blanket. That very same day Little Man carefully peeled up a bit of the bathroom wall paper and then proceeded to tear a section off.

Yes indeed, my boys needed “work”!

The following day, Samuel took a large cart out to the pasture and the boys loaded it full of old firewood. These remnants of a firewood business had been strewn about by the cows and needed to be gathered up; a perfect job for my three and four year old.

In another attempt to create healthy “work” for the boys, I’ve been having them help more with dinner preparation. Peeling potatoes and carrots can keep them busy for quite awhile.

Eby even made “ants on a log” for a special side dish one night.

Another “work” activity that keep my boys busy is “washing dishes” while standing on a stool at the kitchen sink. Since Eby loves water, this occupies him for a long time. Both boys also love cleaning the kitchen with a small bottle of Windex and a cloth.

What kind of “work” keeps your children busy, happy, and out of mischief?

~Lisa

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

11 Comments

  1. Stacy
    January 21, 2010

    I love these ideas!
    I also love your blog.
    We leave for China tomorrow to get our 5 year old sweetie and you have been such a great help with all your wisdom.
    Thank you so much!
    Stacy Richmond

    Reply
  2. Heather
    January 21, 2010

    What a great post! "Doing" dishes also works wonders for my kids,along with vacuuming, dusting, and cleaning windows.

    Reply
  3. Mark and Sarah
    January 21, 2010

    In addition to doing dishes, my boys (ages 2 and 3) love to sweep and take a damp rag and wipe up the floor. I especially have them do these activities when they've made a big mess 🙂 I'm trying to teach them early that they are responsible to clean up after themselves, and pitch into the family's chores too.

    Reply
  4. Marissa
    January 21, 2010

    This reminded me that I need to start giving my boys more work. They love to dust (which is good because I don't dust), but I have the problem of not trusting them with much. This was a great reminder that I need to be a bit more trusting and allow them to have more "responsibilities."

    Reply
  5. Julie
    January 21, 2010

    I love to put my kids to work cleaning the walls. One especially seems to have a habit or running his hands along the walls ALL the time and they get filthy. Arm them with a damp slightly-soapy sponge and they are ready to go.

    Reply
  6. Anonymous
    January 21, 2010

    We also have our little ones peel vegetables and do dishes. We set it up like it was a big privilege to be able to help do certain jobs, so they've begged to be able to help with these jobs. My little ones also get to use a spray bottle of water to clean spots off the kitchen floor. They also like to sort the laundry for me – (but I do a little re-sorting before I wash, without them seeing me of course. 🙂 I recently bought a little light-weight hand vacuum that runs from batteries. It doesn't have a lot of power, but it is a coveted job to get to use that vacuum and clean the edges of the rooms, hall, etc. It doesn't pick up a lot, but they think it does, and it keeps them working and contributing to the family which is a very good thing for everyone. We've recently started something new that is going over very big here. Each time my little ones remember to look at me and answer appropriately when I speak to them, or do extra things to help the family, they put a penny in a little money jar. At the end of a certain period of time, we will empty the money out and divide it into two piles. One pile will be the money they "earned" to donate to Haiti, or other charitable causes as they arise, and the other pile will be to go get ice cream cones or use for something else fun as a family. They are all so excited that they have a way to help other people in a way that involves them earning money and sharing it. Apologies here for this post being so long. Becky

    Reply
  7. thecurryseven
    January 21, 2010

    Oh, I completely agree about boys needing work! We use the ones you mentioned as well. When the weather cooperates I also have mine go out and shovel snow or rake leaves.

    There is also bathtub cleaning…done from inside the tub with a non-toxic cleanser.

    Reply
  8. Sandee
    January 21, 2010

    so with the chore and pitching in work to make the family work..I have been pondering the "allowance" thing. My leaning is no allowance. That they help the family as a member of the family. I already provide their needs, through my work…and special gifts at birthdays, Christmas.

    Would love to know other's thoughts on children's desire to earn money for ???? what, stuff…I guess.

    Since the money truly comes from me, I can't afford to dole more out. Was thinking perhaps of things they might do outside of our family. (make something, sell something, chores for others?) that they could earn money and give some, spend some.

    Just not sure.. Would love to hear what others think.

    Reply
    1. Kelli
      January 25, 2010

      Sandee – I like how my parents did it when I was growing up. There were certain things that fell into the category of must be done without allowance (cleaning our room, changing sheets, weeding, stacking firewood). Then there were other things that had to be done but we received an allowance for doing them. These things included dusting, cleaning our bathroom, vacuuming). The allowance allowed us to buy things that my parents had made clear to us that they would not purchase for us. These items included things like make-up, hairspray, music and spending money for vacations. For me personally, it was a great opportunity to learn how to manage money, appreciate hard work, value what I earn, etc… Allowance was a big impact for me. I can still remember the day my mom took me to the bank to open up a savings account with the money I had earned from my allowance. I can even tell you the color of the carpet and drapes! I hope my two cents helps 🙂

      Reply
  9. Cindy
    January 21, 2010

    Busy Boys- My husband made my son fake dinnosaur money that he calls 'Carnivore Bucks'. There are three with different amounts of time on them: 15min, 20min, 30min. When our little guy wants to do some fun things on the computor he has to work to earn the 'Carnivore Bucks' first. If he wants to play 15min, then it's 15min of a job to be done. So emptying all our little trash cans around the house, sweeping basement steps,emptying the silverware out of the dishwasher, folding towels – and boy, does he love to help cook! He grabs his little apron and is right there, with excitement it's just so cute. The biggest problem is me taking the the time to train him. http://crazylilthingcalledlove13.blogspot.com

    Reply
  10. Are These Kids All Yours?
    January 21, 2010

    Feeding pets, putting laundry away, matching up the endless amount of socks, clearing the table & setting it, picking up toys, gathering trash cans from the different bathrooms etc., making beds, bringing laundry to the laundry room, helping a sibling do a chore, and cleaning the house once a week. Our 7 children are between ages 2 1/2-10, and they each take turns in teams to get it done 🙂 They definitely need work to do 🙂

    Reply

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