children, chores and meaningful work.

On the list of reasons to move to the country was to create more meaningful work opportunities for us and the children.

ImageI know, I know. Meaningful work is to be found in the city.

ImageIt really was a top-down feeling. Dave and I craved more meaningful work. Our small garden and summer-time project of putting food aside for the long winter months just weren’t cutting it. And it was showing. It must have been.

ImageWe move, we have babies, we have disruptions that make keeping a rhythm difficult. We keep the basic, eating and sleeping, then add the next layer, resting time, then the next lesson work, then handwork/crafts. Movement, bah, we’ve got that covered! But, chores? I found myself struggling to find the importance in making beds, cleaning windows and bathrooms. I, myself, found no meaning.

I grew up with stories of my great-grandparent’s farm in southern Illinois. Of hunting and trapping, keeping animals and chicken lore. Of my Dedo (grandfather) working in a potato field during the Depression and riding home from a days work with arm and leg cuffs of his clothing bound so he could hold as many potatoes as possible stuffed in his clothing. Those potatoes were his payment and what a bicycle ride that must have been! From my father’s side of the family and from my Dedo I had little exposure aside from these stories and the mythology of hard work that I built up in my head. I romanticized it, no doubt. Dave and I for years talked of moving out, keeping animals, a big garden and sitting outside in dusk watching over the goodness (we were naive about the mosquitos). Just last year we made it happen. I always imagined that my children would spend their youngest years in the country with us venturing back in to the city during the teenage years. To find art, friends and cultural meaning. We seem to have done it backwards, just a little bit.

In the throes of our first summer in the country we are working through what are reasonable chores for children. And which children these reasonable chores match up with. We have one who simply does farm chores for the sheer delight of it. Every time it happens I feel little giddy and relish it. Then another who fights every chore. Every. chore. Sometimes I wonder why I bother. It certainly, most certainly would be easier to do the chore myself, with my arms tied behind my back and blindfolded but……I am waiting for the big payoff. Say in 20 years when they live grown-up lives and have their own rhythm, a rhythm that includes mundane seemingly pointless but necessary chores. Those chores, dishes, bed-making,etc. are one layer of that rhythm. One to help set their clocks rather than to rule them. I do not like being consumed by the mundane and hope to not model that to my children. I want my children to grow up with meaningful work; feeding animals, helping the garden grow, creating, reading, writing, learning for the fun of it. My home is not spotless, far from it and many nights I wander around wishing I had the energy to do a whirling dervish of a clean up. I dream of waking up to a clean, tidy house. Then the sheep spot my outline through the window. They pop up from their cud-chewing position and I sneak back to bed before they start baa-ing.

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4 thoughts on “children, chores and meaningful work.

  1. Hey chore guru! This came perfectly timed! And it seemed to work today with my boys. They did a good amount of chores at chore time which usually translates as crazy time (4 pm). I hope I can keep it up. Oh and a very happy birthday to you!

  2. My husband and I both grew up on ranches and now have a sort-of micro-homestead we are building. Even though I can distinctly remember all the hard work that we put in growing up on the ranch, I still romanticize it which causes me to become rather overwhelmed when the reality of things begin to settle in. I still wouldn’t have it any other way. The country is in my blood and I hope the same for my children!

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