A few months ago, I noticed a teen’s complaint via Twitter that nobody made meals in her house. She had returned from a camp where meals were on schedule, three times a day, and she was annoyed that nobody provided that at home. Her mother and father both worked hard to make a living, and hanging around at home one day, missing meals, she tweeted her dissatisfaction.
Did it ever occur to this young lady that she could have made a difference in the situation? Regular meals are important, as she noted, but where did she ever get the idea that she couldn’t help provide an answer? Much comes down to expectations from the parents. If kids are not expected to learn certain skills, they won’t, but will sit around, waiting to be served.
Emily is at the age where she imitates everything. When she sees me with a basket of clothes or taking clothes from washer to dryer, she wants to help. Impatience sometimes makes us moms want to do things ourselves because we have limited time, and we want things done right. But that’s a mistake. Halting, imperfect efforts of young ones can quickly become real help.
I was very tired recently after a challenging day with many demands. As I came into the house, Mary was putting a nice meal on the table. We all sat down to eat within minutes. She is told frequently what a blessing she is in serving our family this way. The same with Will. He does not enjoy some of the things he has to help with, but he is reminded that he is learning skills for adulthood when he leaves home. There is no reason single guys have to live like pigs, eating out of drive-through windows and tripping over old pizza boxes. If they learn good habits now, not only will they be happier, but they will make great husbands.
The other day there was some grousing about chores, and my response was, “Look, running an orderly home, keeping laundry caught up and meals on the table is a big job. It’s more than I can or will do alone, as we all live here. This is what needs to happen today– let’s work hard, and we’ll be done in an hour.” And we were.
There’s such a thing as being too compulsive about cleaning in a home. You can make an idol out of your standards, just like you can make an idol out of anything. A friend of mine who is older than I am warned me about this. She, like me, likes a clean home. But she said the other day, “These things, when you look back, are not the most important. Your kids need to remember joy in your home. Make sure that comes first.”
She’s absolutely right. So when we have toys strewn around, the kitchen floor needs mopping and laundry baskets await emptying, my response has to be, “Later. It will get done. It always does.” A healthy life is about balance. Order is good, but not at the price of joy in a home. If kids see order and are taught some basic habits of picking up after themselves, making meals, and most importantly, how to lift the load at home, they’ll be in good shape when they have their own homes someday.