Hi there–how are you doing? We live in exciting and crazy times, don’t we? Even those of us who already homeschooled prior to COVID-19 surely can feel the effects of social distancing and business closures. I’ve seen so many good things come from this difficult time and many, many hard things as well. I hope you all are able to find joy and purpose over the next few weeks of forced change. If I may, I’d like to suggest you all plan a large family work project to complete during the next few weeks.
Shoot, be ambitious and plan several projects! And execute them!
Working as a family, especially during times of duress, is so powerful. Let me count the ways for you.
1. There is value in doing creative and time-consuming work as a family.
Families of the past spent many hours working together out of necessity. Whether the family farmed together or simply grew a garden for food, families used to rely more on each other for basic daily needs. But even in our modern lifestyle, we too can reap the benefits of working with our family. Cleaning out the garage, deep cleaning the house, or sowing a garden all require creativity, communication, and collaboration. Teach your children to work with others by working alongside them and helping them work alongside siblings. This is an especially good time–since the family is all together and busy–to share family history stories, memories, and silly songs.
2. Working together builds unity.
Work offers a different kind of unity than play does. While it is so important to recreate and relax with our families it is also important to complete projects that are hard work. Work creates a dependence upon each other to get the job done in a satisfactory manner. It gives meaning to the old phrase “many hands make light work” as all family members clean-up the yard in a fraction of the time it would’ve taken mom or dad by themselves. Family work is so rewarding especially when the results are visible. It feels good when we can see the difference our effort makes on our surroundings. It feels good to see the organized house, garage, yard, play room, car whatever! It is good to feel good together with your family.
3. Family work teaches sacrifice.
Sacrifice is a virtue. It’s also not very fun. Work isn’t inherently fun, meaning the purpose of work isn’t to have fun as opposed to the purpose of family vacations or family recreation. That doesn’t mean work can’t be fun, but it does require more effort and creativity. Working as a family builds every members self-control over emotions. We learn to make the best of the situation and find ways to have fun even while doing unpleasant tasks. This develops self-confidence as we learn how capable we are of controlling our emotions and accomplishing hard things.
4. Family work is an opportunity to model Christlike behaviors.
Family work isn’t all sunshine and daisies–it often involves lots of whining, yelling, and coercion. However, we as parents can change that mold. We can model Christlike behavior for our kids. We can show them how to persevere. How to have a good sense of humor and fun in all situations. We can show them dedication, creativity, and diligence in fulfilling our responsibilities. We can show empathy when someone gets a blister or is tired. We model positive communication and collaboration.
5. Family work prepares children for adulthood.
Working with other people is an essential part of adult life, what better way to learn this skill than by working with the wide range of ages included in any family? Work is also the common denominator in any lifelong pursuit, professional, relational, educational, spiritual etc. Our children need to learn how to work and how to work really hard from a very young age in order to be prepared for life as an adult. Life is beautiful and lovely, but it is also hard and we all need a high degree of resilience–built through work–to endure the hard parts.
Family work should be just as much a part of our daily lives as leisure, play, education, and entertainment. Yes, you as the parent may need to fabricate work experiences for your children (very hard for me to imagine since I live on a ranch, with very old houses and an abundance of weeds–but I can imagine your situation).
I highly recommend in-sourcing all cleaning, organizing, and yard work to your own family members. It may not be as well done as a professional service, but it will pay long-lasting dividends in the culture of your family and character of your children.
Stay healthy and sane during this time–enjoy working with your spouse and your children.