Teaching our Children to Work
Last week we had freezing rain and then snow and then rain. The result was a snow-day for the schools, people working from home, and disaster for our skating rink. All winter, I've been working on a skating rink so that we could play hockey and skate and so forth. This freezing snow spelled disaster.
Let me paint a better picture:
There was a layer of snow about 6 inches on the ice. It was wet and sticky. On top of the snow was a hard layer of crusted snow - strong enough to walk on without breaking.
As we still had much of our winter season left, we made the decision to save the rink. The children and I headed out and began to shovel ... then we stopped within a minute completely exhausted. The snow was heavy, sticky and had too much ice on top to use a snowblower. This was going to be a challenge.
We worked for the next two hours non-stop. We were soaked with sweat. Our muscles were aching and our legs were shaking. It was the most intensive shovelling workout I've ever endured. And yet my children worked right along side me the entire time. They complained a bit here and there, but didn't quit. I was duly impressed.
I reflected on this momentous moment. I think, as parents, we arrived at another milestone: Our children are not afraid of hard work.
Obviously it is important for us parents to teach our children how to work hard. They'll never choose to become hard workers on their own. The only way I could get my children to spend two hours with me lifting heavy snow was because they knew my expectations and were used to working.
The question is: how does one get to this place? How does one teach their children how to work hard?
First, the key is not to give into whining. When we give a chore in our home and the response is not a "Yes, Mom," but a whine, then the consequence is immediately more chores.
Secondly, we make work and chores an expectation of family life. Chores are not usurped by sports, social outings, and music practice. All are a part of being in a family. Do the chore now or later - either way it has to be done.
Thirdly, we have them work outside. Physical labour such as gardening, shovelling, raking and so forth provides not just a workout, but a sense of accomplishment and this dwells deep in the young person.
And, when you get there - when you get the place where your children are not afraid to work hard, you'll have moments like I witnessed last week.
My children, I'm proud of you!
Here the kids are sliding down the iced hill!