by Kyndra Steinmann
Last time I told you how taking a break from school had morphed into taking a break from responsibilities and routines altogether, and how that had given us an unhealthy family atmosphere. We’re on the road to recovery now and I thought I should share with you some of the things we did to change the situation.
1. I realized that most of the fault lay with me. Yes, the children were slacking off and having attitude issues, but that was mostly because I had allowed things to get to that point. I needed to restart my own routines and then bring them back into their routines. For me that meant going back to getting up at 5:30 in the morning! I’m not a morning person and would rather stay up until midnight and sleep until 9 a.m. so getting up when the alarm goes off is HARD and is usually the first thing to go. However, my getting up means that I have a bit more time to wake up before the children need full attention–my husband is a morning person and generally takes the first hour in the morning until he needs to get ready to leave for work–and being more awake means I can plan the particulars of the day and gather my patience before I need it.
2. I restarted the big children on having devotions in the morning (just reading a chapter and prayer) and restarted all three of the big kids on being completely dressed with the bulk of their morning chores done before they sat down to breakfast. That’s how we run things during the school year and during that morning chore time I do not attempt to accomplish anything but chore supervision and inspection.
3. I focused on attitude almost exclusively, figuring that jobs would be well done if the attitudes were right. For some of the children this meant a LOT of doing jobs over until they were done cheerfully. Since I was supervising and not working, this also meant a lot of my time being spent not doing the things on my own list, which did put me a bit behind but which will have good results in the long run, I hope.
The first couple of days were rough. One child spent most of the morning doing a sweeping
job before getting the concept that doing a good job, cheerfully, the first time, meant that the job could be completed in about fifteen minutes! By the end of the week most of the children were back to doing their routine jobs nicely and we were working on coming quickly to do non-routine jobs and cleaning up without dawdling.
I learned that there was a serious problem with children only wanting to do what they perceived as their work. They were perfectly willing to boss someone else’s work, but not willing to clean up a toy that they hadn’t taken out. The perception seems to be that one does one’s own work as quickly as possible in order to say it’s been done. I need to work with them on “serving one another in love” and encourage them to think of their jobs as an expression of love rather than something to be endured.
We’re not where I’d like to be in terms of attitude or quality of work yet. As I write this, I’m
working with a bad attitude over sweeping the floor, but at least the child in question knows what I’m talking about when I say, “This job isn’t done well” and “It’s your attitude that is causing the problem.” We’ll keep working together until the atmosphere of our home reflects His grace.
Kyndra Steinmann blogs at Sticks, Stones and Chicken Bones about living in a houseful of young children, special needs, discipling hearts, and abundant grace! As a homeschool graduate, she has an especial burden to encourage mothers to know and enjoy their children. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.