“Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.” (Proverbs 10:4)
Saturday morning was slowly slipping by as I stood in the kitchen holding the list of chores in my hand.
“Girls, come in here please.” The busyness of the past week had created a snowball list moving the usual jobs of “want to get done” into a “needs to get done” category.
Pen in hand, I passed the list of varying degrees of chore endurance (you know, things like empty the trash, clean the bathroom, vacuum and sweep, and few other necessary jobs to keep a home functioning on a daily basis) off to my daughters and gave a quick direction before heading out of the room.
“Ok. Here is the list. Pick four and put your initials next to the jobs you will be responsible for.” The direction seemed simple enough. Choose four jobs you will take on and put your initials next to the slot. Then, have at it. My hidden expectations were that they would be fair in their choices and select jobs that would showcase their desire to work hard.
Five minutes later after slotting their names in, I took a look at the remaining jobs on the list and instantly became frustrated with my girls. All of the easy, effortless jobs had been taken leaving my five year old and myself to pick up the more challenging and strenuous tasks.
At that moment, my attitude peaked into one of pure disappointment. When exactly did my girls who were so eager and willing to work hard when they were younger turn into slovenly kids who only wanted the easy way out? I mean they have memorized the verse about lazy hands and poverty and diligent ones bringing about wealth since they could first hear me speak.
This is definitely not the kind of kids my husband and I are raising! So, where did we go wrong? Did they pick up bad habits that we didn’t realize we have? Maybe. Did they hear their friends say that they don’t have to do chores at home? That’s another possibility. Or, maybe they just are genetically inclined to be lazy. Nope. I don’t think so.
Laziness: the quality of being unwilling to work or use energy; idleness.
Look at the fifth word in that definition: Unwilling. “Un”- meaning “a lack of”. “Willing”-meaning “ready, eager, or prepared to do something.” So, based upon the definition of laziness, this is not a genetic deformity in my kids. It is simply a choice in their behavior they are making. Phew, my parenting skills are off the hook! They are making their own choice to not take advantage of the opportunities I am giving them to improve their desire to appreciate hard work. Or… maybe I need to take a second look at what I am expecting from my children.
Establishing clear expectations for kids when it comes to routine ways to help around the house is essential, and the younger you establish them the better. When children are little, they love to help out wherever they can because they want to please you. A child finds pure joy in seeing a smile upon your face when they know that they have done well.
There are several simple ways you can have your kiddo(s) help out. For example, he could become the “trash man” and collect everyone’s garbage, and with a little help he can empty them and take it out to the dumpster. Another way is by having her empty just one part of the dishwasher. My 19 month old helps out by putting away just the silverware while his sisters or I empty the rest. Yes, the silverware ends up in one big pile and I’m okay with that because he feels a part of helping us out and he also gets use to contributing to our daily routines.
Children love to help and when the expectations have already been established at an early age, it is easier to enforce since you have created a strong foundation of expectations. This is especially important when transitioning from the “tween stage” into the “teenage years.” where they seem to forget everything they’ve ever been taught which was the case that Saturday morning.
However, I only had to state how “lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring about wealth” stirring up memories from their childhood of what mom and dad expect when they are working on a job no matter how big or small.
I encourage you to establish your own list of age appropriate routine expectations. In doing so, you are instilling the importance of a life-long habit founded on hard work. For a list of suggested daily expectations based on a child’s age Click Here.