We’re all in this together, and no one of us is the others’ slave. We will serve ourselves as we serve others and God via caring for our home. Amen!
I used the C.O.D. (Child of the Day) plan as a truth vehicle in raising our kids, and even today, as I am creating yet another variation of it, I marvel at its inherent genius.
Born of necessity when each of the kids chimed in during breakfast prayers, the C.O.D. has become my good buddy through the years. As we (John and I) repeatedly picked up and put our forks back down to the tune of yet another prayer request, I decided we would simply take turns praying.
“Thank you, Father for this beautiful day and for each other and for this delicious food. Please bless it to our bodies and protect us from anything harmful in it. In Jesus Name we pray. Amen.”
That was the beginning. Then came, “And please help me find my hungry lizard,” which sparked another creature-in-distress thought in another little mind. “And pweez help Grandpa’s cow that’s sick.” Now Grandpa thoughts. “And please, Jesus, help Grandpa remember to bring gum next time.” Fork up, fork down.
“And Lord, please . . . .”
“OK, that’s enough. Let’s eat.”
I quickly wrote up a COD list: The Child of the Day gets to ride in the front, stay up 15 minutes late in bed with Mom and Dad, pick the readaloud story at bedtime, and have other privileges as determined by Mom and Dad issue by issue, day by day.
Benjamin would be the C.O.D on Monday, Hannah Tuesday, Rebekah Wednesday, and Seth Thursday. Rarely has an idea garnered such immediate support and enthusiasm. Not only were they all about the day for themselves, but they staunchly supported the rights of their siblings. “It’s your day. You get to choose.”
And what a blessing for me. “Mom, can you sew my doll’s arm back on?” went from being another unneeded interruption, to something I enjoyed doing because I said, “Tomorrow is your day. Bring her to me tomorrow and we’ll have a sewing lesson.” Meanwhile I could round up the sewing box, determine if I had acceptably colored thread, and simply prepare myself to do that thing that wasn’t on my “want-to-do” list.
The C.O.D. concept would have been a success if it had never evolved, and if it had simply solved who was praying at mealtimes. I was thinking recently when we had guests over and got ready to pray, how nice it was to hear the kids ask, “Whose day is it?” The guests were blessed and it blesses me that my kids are absolutely unfazed about leading prayer in front of anyone and everyone.
“Whose day is it?” The C.O.D. program would have been a success simply for the memory of Seth climbing into his high chair with a big grin as he asked, “Whose days is its to pway?”
Seth’s questions lately are about yet another change in the program, which is now less a program of daily privileges and more of a weekly responsibility list. Thursday is still Seth’s day to pray, or to say, “Hey, Mom. There’s one piece of pie left and it’s my day. Can I have it?” That’s an easy “yes”. But other questions of late, such as, “Hey, Mom, I think with Hannah gone and Benjamin working for Dad and Rebekah doing Mary Kay all the time, maybe we could take another look here.”
He didn’t actually say those words, and being Seth, he never actually complained that more and more of the load was coming his way, with little appreciation or remuneration to show for it. (Aside: Beware of piling more on that child who doesn’t complain and who will do a good job, just because that’s the easy road. Not good. Not fair. And the biggest losers are the kids who are being taught irresponsibility and laziness).
Because the Proverbs 31 Woman “watches over the ways of her household” I know changes need to be made. I’ve made a few preliminary steps: asking other kids to do extra, doing extra myself, getting John’s input. But this morning as I was reading Laurie Beth Jones’ Jesus, Enrepreneur , I realized that this is a matter of, for starters, two things: 1) making a list; and 2) stewardship.
Laurie Jones says, regarding a confused young man, “Doesn’t he realize that how we handle small matters will determine how and if we handle great ones?” Stewardship.
I realize as I’m pondering how well things C.O.D. have worked in times past, that it was at least in part because everything was clearly understood, discussed, explained, illustrated, and written out. Time for a new and improved chore list.
Through the years we’ve gone from one day a week on dish duty, to a week on dish duty, to rotating per month, and then back to weekly stints. The division of labor went as follows for several fairly harmonious years: Dishes, Floors, Laundry, Miscellaneous. Four kids, four categories, continually rotating, per a list on the fridge.
John has always been on board, especially if he sees something that will interfere with my peace, i.e. dirty dishes in the sink right before I’m about to start cooking. “Who’s on dishes?” he’ll call on a Monday, when everything switches. If there’s any confusion, we simply look at the list. “Let’s see. Benjamin was on dishes last week, so it’s Hannah.”
But then Benjamin went away to college and we consolidated things. Then Hannah went away to Fort Collins and we came to two categories: 1) /Laundry and Floors; and 2) Dishes and Miscellaneous.
“Dishes” (or Kitchen) has always meant you do the dishes as soon as the meal is over, with each diner bringing their dishes to the sink. Also included is occasional fridge cleaning, and a weekly checklist (which has somehow been misplaced) including clearing and wiping down all counters, the fridge, cabinet doors, baseboards and walls, and putting every single thing in its place, on the last day of the week (to be modified per interfering events).
“Miscellaneous” includes taking out the trash, building fires and bringing in firewood, running errands, dusting, cleaning bathrooms, straightening, and whatever else needs doing.
“Floors” means sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, and once per week cleaning all baseboards.
It’s all pretty straightforward, and except for laundry, everyone seems to clearly understand. Well, there is that one little thing which in the minds of all parties except myself, seems quite difficult. And that one thing is this so very often repeated instruction: Don’t take the trash out before you put a new trash sack in the can. This is particularly important when I am cooking and you’re off to get on your coat and boots and traipse to the dumpster and leave me trashcan-less for a good ten minutes. It’s the little things, it surely is. But I don’t and won’t give up on this one. Don’t leave me trashcan-less!
Back to laundry. It’s my favorite job. I won’t call it a chore because I simply love throwing nasty whites into a lovely machine, filling it with wonder ingredients, pushing buttons, and then walking away while its wonders are performed. Now it’s time to throw bright and lovely-smelling whites into the dryer with a lavender sachet, and again, to walk away!
And then for the putting away. I only do my and John’s laundry, and when I hear the beep I make every effort, especially now that it’s chilly weather, to get in there and snuggle my face into the towels and get them folded and put away while they’re still warm. I would happily do all the laundry, time permitting, but time does not permit, and it’s important that everyone contributes. People need to know they’re needed (those helping) and people need to know they’re appreciated (those being helped).
Kids, such as Seth, who are getting plenty of chances to help, need to know they’re appreciated, both by parents who see and take action, and by siblings who step up to the plate.
This is all truth. If I don’t teach the truth- it’s important to know how to do basic life tasks; it’s important to do your part and then some; it’s important to live in a nice, clean, orderly home – then I’m teaching lies, and I’m leaving them to a life of unpleasant consequences.
I have to get off here and make a new C.O.D. list. Benjamin (Lt. Parker) is here for a very short while, as he changes from the Montana National Guard to the Kansas Guard and then deployment in March. So, for that time, I must make changes.
Maybe I’ll combine Dishes with more cooking (I don’t need any cooking lessons and they do!); put Miscellaneous with Floors, and let Laundry stand alone. We’ll have a family meeting tonight to discuss all these things. I’ll make the most coveted and begged-for of cookies: chocolate peanut butter no-bakes (make with heavy whipping cream and half-n-half and salt as well as vanilla and almond flavorings). I’ll encourage input after I set out some reminder truths: We’re all in this together, and no one of us is the others’ slave. We will serve ourselves as we serve others and God via caring for our home. Amen!