Chores, Songs, and Lessons Learned

This weekend became a hodge-podge of family, friends, and work. Saturday morning we watched our 3rd grader's football team scrimmage the 4th graders (and school them!) for about 3 hours. Thanks to an unseasonably cool and overcast day, the sunburn I received didn't hurt a bit.

We spent the afternoon tootling around McKinney, buying books and exchanging sandals and feasting on Chipotle. We finished the day off at a birthday party for 7yo twin friends. One kid came home with a slightly nauseous tummy and the other three were bouncing off the walls...all signs of a successful sugar overdose.

Sunday after church Daddy decreed as clean up time. Was he ever right. You just know when it's time for a major decluttering/deep cleaning. We split the 3 big kids into separate areas and challenged them to focus so they could spend time playing later before our evening event.

Jack cleaned bathrooms. He's gotten pretty good at it since we instituted that every-other-week chore about a year ago. We left him alone and he finished before everyone else.

We tried to start 6yo Maggie vacuuming, but it's still a little too heavy for her to manage well. Think, lifting up the end every time she reaches out with it--no picking up dirt if the tip isn't on the floor. So, we reorganized our efforts, and she worked on decluttering the family room so Dad could vacuum. Then she was sent downstairs to dust and clean the glass on the coffee table. A much better fit! She finished out by helping big brother Nate steam mop the kitchen floor.


In the meantime, 11yo Nate and Mama tackled the kitchen--he swept and mopped while I handled dishes, counters, sinks, etc. We like to crank up the music when we do these kinds of chores. This time Mercy Me was belting out The Hurt and the Healer album. Eventually, Nate started asking questions (I love these opportunities for us to talk. He asks great questions.) Some of them related to the sermon we'd just heard. Some related to the lyrics in the songs we were hearing.

Yeah, words matter. Parents, listen to your kids' music. Don't be afraid to censor, to deny, to encourage, to direct them to appropriate, God-honoring music. I.e., don't be afraid to be the parent. They may not understand all the lyrics, but they are ingesting them all the same. I'd really rather have my son ask me "Is it true that God forgives every sin?" or "Is it wrong to want something that someone else has?" because a song is addressing such themes than to worry they are hearing trashy, degrading, even violent lyrics and wonder how they are going to act those out.

So we spent an hour and a half companionably working together, talking theology, life, and practical aspects of chores, as well as negotiating with little sister about how much she would help him mop. The house got clean, the kids worked hard, and we had time left over to rest or play before our last engagement of the weekend. I doubt they'd really go for that every weekend, but it was a complete success in my book.

The kids experienced the reality that being part of a family means pitching in to help the whole and not just focusing on self. They learned crucial skills they'll need later in life. They got to see the fruits of their labors immediately. And, though we've been known to reward them financially for extra work at times, no one asked "How much will we get for this?" (That may have been the most shocking non-event of the day!)

Bonus: The toddler slept through the whole thing. :)