I sometimes have a problem with thinking things must be big. They must be thought out beforehand, planned, and executed according to the plan. They must be outside the realm of daily life. They must take a good amount of time to accomplish.
The problem with thinking big is that sometimes it paralyzes me. I don't have that much time to put into it, and so I choose not to begin. Instead of getting something small done, I do nothing at all.
I first noticed this when it came to Colin and his cub badges. As we flipped through his book, he would point out things he had done recently and ask if he could check them off. No, I replied. You must choose a badge, read the requirements, plan carefully, and execute them specifically in relation to earning a cub badge. My friend laughed and said I was missing the forest for the trees. The point of the badges is to help the kids be exposed to a wide variety of things. If that happens naturally through other experiences, at home, at school, or with friends, then we can mark it off. I still encourage Colin to make goals and set out to achieve them (also an important skill) but I'm learning to lay off a little.
I also noticed my tendency to put things in boxes this week during a discussion with other moms about chores. I have felt like I have never really succeeded in this area yet. It was reassuring to hear from a mom whose children are all about 5 years ahead of mine that teaching chores must change and evolve constantly. One method never works for long. But then, as I listened to what other moms were having their children do as chores, I realized that my kids were already required to do most of that.
In my mind, chores had to be an assigned task, completed at a specific time, and something that took a good amount of time to complete (about 30 minutes.) Those chores are few and far between here. They are involved, and usually mean I have to get supplies and keep other children out of the way (slippery floors or toilet splashing.) Three children x 30 minutes each is an hour and a half that is really difficult to carve out of our days.
What I heard from my friends, however, is that most of their chores were things like:
- get dressed
- put clothes in hamper
- brush hair and teeth
- pack/unpack school bag
- clear dishes
- tidy room
- tidy toy room
- make bed
This list is already a daily requirement of my boys. I just didn't associate it with a list of chores. So, win for me! It was nice to breathe a sigh of relief and think that it was one thing I didn't have to fret about.
That being said, I read a great portion of a book this week that talked about Saturday chores/family time. In the author's family, the family members worked together to do a clean of the house on Saturday morning. Everyone was assigned a chore and everyone worked together to complete it. Then, after lunch, the family did an activity together (hiking, biking, board games, the park, etc.) While this idea doesn't work well just yet (napping babies in the afternoon and working Dad on many Saturdays), in a few years I see this being a great way to work and play together as a family.