Friday, April 27, 2012

Housework & Chores - A Blessing or a Curse? Teaching children to work and be happy!

Recently I had the opportunity to attend an amazing Power of Moms retreat.  The tag line for Power of Moms is "A Gathering Place for Deliberate Moms" and that is the heart of what the retreat was all about. There were about 50 moms with a sum total of over 150 kids in attendance.  I hope to be sharing more lessons learned over the next few weeks and months but today I want to talk about work.

I hate housework. I hate cleaning. My mother is meticulously clean so I learned how to clean at an early age but it's just not something I enjoy.  Couple my dislike of the activity with my ADD and my house is normally far more cluttered and disorganized that I ever want it to be. Recently as my sons have been getting older I have realized this is not a trait I want to pass down to them.  One of the topics of the retreat was on Family System and the lunch discussion was about teaching children to work.

Something that April Perry, one of the founders of Power of Moms, said during the Family Systems training  really hit me. She said something along the lines of do you teach your children that it is a blessing to be able to take care of their home?  That is its not just a responsibility but a blessing to have a home to take care of?

Of course my immediate response was NO because that is not how I view housework AT ALL.  As that thought lingered I realized that maybe that is where my problem lies. I view housework as a curse.  Something to be endured rather than a blessing associated with the larger blessings of having a home and family.  I do feel that my home and my children (who are often the creators of the mess) are a blessing but I never thought of viewing the need to take care of my home and the subsequent mess as a blessing.

With this in mind I decided I need to do some reevaluation of my attitude at home.

I love how when you decide to change your focus opportunities to improve always seem to present themselves.

On Monday as I looked around at the post-weekend chaos at my home I decided to not get discouraged.  I don't remember exactly how or why but my 4 year old asked to help and I said yes. My boys (3 & 4) have to pick up their toys, help with laundry, throw their trash away, clear their dinner plate and other small tasks but I've never had them help with cleaning like sweeping, windows or even the dishes.  Some of that is do to me believing they won't do a good job and it will be a waste of time because I will have to do it again.  Acknowledging and correcting that attitude has been a many year struggle for me but one that I am starting to win.  

So as I said yes to my little Noah and gave him a task almost immediately my 3 year old Sam asked to help too.  Suddenly all three of us were cleaning together and my attitude of cleaning as a curse was slowly mellowing and I was finding a small measure of the joy that can come from working together with your kids.

Sam washing his plate after lunch.  Notice the Superhero outfit?
Ever since wearing a costume to a Superhero birthday party the other day
he thinks he needs to wear a Superhero outfit every day.

Noah ended up cleaning with me for over an hour.  He kept asking for more and more to do.  He did windows, dusting, mirrors and even did dishes for the first time in his life. Sam helped too but he still can't reach and do some of the things as easily as Noah.

Noah cleaning the sliding glass door.
He even asked to stand on a chair so he could get the  "everything". 

Now Noah asks what he can clean when he comes home from school.  Obviously I know this won't last forever but for right now - I'll take it.  And one more lesson I've learned - he actually did a good job! 

Noah was pretty proud of his work.  I'm also grateful that I use homemade natural cleaners so I  was able to  let them clean without being worried it was dangerous. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Lessons learned from my kids: Prayer

I keep thinking of Noah, my 4 year old, prayer at Easter dinner.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for Kat and Sally (our guests), Papa, Big Sissy, Sam, Baby Girl, Mama, me and for my powers and that I'm Electric Company Dinosaur and Jesus loves me.  Amen. 

As you can imagine there were several snickers, especially when he thanked Heavenly Father for his powers...

But in my heart I was happy.  Why?  Because Noah wasn't worrying about what anyone else thought. He was talking to God and thanking him for what was important to Noah.

There is a lesson in that for us all.  Prayer at it's most basic level is a conversation with God.  I want my children to learn reverence and respect. But I never want them to forget that through prayer they can build a personal relationship with their Heavenly Father.  I want them to know that he loves them and will always listen to them even if its about something someone else may consider silly.

It has also made me think about my prayers.  Do I really share what matters to me or do I say what I think I'm supposed to say or do.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

My gratitude for Poopy Diapers

I guess the fact that spell check doesn't recognize "poopy" should convince me not to use it in a title but if you read on you will understand {hopefully}.

The other day was one of those days as a mom where finding the joy in motherhood didn't seem very easy.  In fact it felt more like my children were finding their joy in driving me nuts.

Now I should back up a bit.  I have 3 kids ages 4 and under and then a 17 year old stepdaughter that lives with us full time and all this happened in the last 6 years.  I continued to work full time for the first two years and then part-time as a Non-Profit Manager for several more until I recently chose to be home full time.  I've officially hit the 6 month mark as a work at home mom and most days there is at least one, if not many more, moments I long to go back to my office for even just a few minutes!  A few hours of adult interaction, using my professional skills, heck I'd even do budgets again, just for a moment of not having a small child attached to my hip and another one or two begging for my attention.

So this was where I was at the other day... and where the "poop" enters the story.

My 4 year old who is completely potty trained had an accident for the first time in months!  My 3 year old who is about 90% potty trained had to have used the floor instead of the potty at least twice and my infant daughter needed to be changed at least every 30 minutes {or that is how I felt}.   It was reaching dinner time, I was frazzled, my husband had just gotten home and was headed upstairs with the boys.  I grabbed my daughter to put her in her high chair and discovered she needed to be changed, again!

"You have got to be kidding me!" I cried out {and I'm only partially exaggerating here}...

I walked to the changing table and began the process of changing my daughter and then suddenly it hit me.

In the midst of feeling sorry for myself and annoyed at having to change another poopy diaper I looked down at my little girl's face.  

In that moment I realized I had this all wrongSuddenly I stopped thinking about the diaper and really looked at this little baby.  

I thought for a minute how fast she is growing.  She was just 5 lbs when we she was born, so unexpectedly tiny I had to borrow premie clothing for her and yet almost 11 months later, on this day, she was just a few steps away from walking {she's now a few steps away from running!}.  I thought of my sons who every day amaze me with how big and grown up they are becoming.  I thought of my teenager who is just over a year away from going to college.  In that brief moment it suddenly hit me, that if in fact I got my wish for no more diapers, I would also no longer have a baby girl.  My gorgeous little Lucy Luc would be on to the next stage and my precious time with her as an infant would be gone.  

Maybe this doesn't make sense to anyone else but that realization, on that day, while changing what felt like the one millionth diaper of my life, has made me look at what used to feel like annoying or useless tasks just a little bit differently.  Because although some days it drives me crazy to hear "mommy, mommy, mommy..." all day long, I know there will be a day when they are much older where I will hope that just one time in a day they will need me and call "Mom".  In my six short years as a mom I have become to finally appreciate how fast these early years go and so for today I say... give me one more poopy diaper because that means I still have a sweet faced little baby.  A baby girl that I can snuggle, kiss and love on all I want. A baby with bright eyes and giggles that warm this mom's heart even in the dark hours of the night when I would rather be asleep.

So for today I am trying to remember this... the good always comes with the bad.  I may not like the diapers or the tantrums or the fighting between my little boys but I love the learning, growing, giggling, snuggles and those simple moments when one of them cuddles next to me and says, "Momma, I love you."

So because of the sweetness of those good moments, I'm learning day by day to accept the moments that aren't my favorite and remember that its my choice if I focus on the poopy diaper or instead focus on my daughter's sweet face.  It's my choice to show love even when I am tired because in the end I chose to be a mom and it is the best job in the world.

After all, how could looking at this face not be the better choice? {and yes those kicking feet are exactly what I get each and ever time, I thought I would share an authentic photo}

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