I want to start off by saying that this idea is not going to be everyone's cup of tea. Some people may wholeheartedly disagree with me, and that's totally fine. This has just been a wonderful blessing to my family, so I wanted to share with all the other tired momma's around here!
Once upon a time, there were three baby birds who, for the most part, enjoyed a pretty pampered little life. They had a Mother Bird and a Daddy Bird who tweeted all around them washing, folding, and hanging up their clothes, made every meal for them, and cleaned up every crumb they dropped.
That Mother Bird was tired. Very Tired. Fall asleep in the bathtub tired.
So tired, in fact, that her extra duties like home educating her little hatch-lings and keeping her sanity about her were starting to falter.
Many nights were spent in tears desperately needing a break, knowing the next day would hold the same messes that never ended.
"Enjoying your kids is so much more important than keeping messes cleaned up!" and "Baby's don't keep!" are lovely little phrases extremely kind-hearted people who weren't currently in that situation would often say. But dinner can't be made when all the dishes are dirty. Clothes can't be worn when everything is in the laundry.
One day, upon opening the dryer door, this Mother Bird discovered yet another load of tiny children-sized clothing. "I can't do this right now," she thought to herself.
So she called the two baby birds with the best fine motor skills into the living room. "It's time we fold these clothes!" she said to them, and much to her surprise, they happily joined. She showed them how to fold shirts and hang dresses and fold pants and pajamas. She showed them how to neatly pile their undergarments and pair their socks. When everything was all completed, she showed the baby birds which piles belonged in which drawer, and she smiled as she watched these growing people march their piles, one by one, back to their rooms to neatly put them away.
It took about the same amount of time as it would have all alone, but this Mother Bird felt refreshed. She felt less overwhelmed. She felt...free.
After I realized that my children could fold and put away their own laundry, I began to really relish in this idea that my home really didn't rest on my shoulders. Even though I am a stay-at-home mom, I stay pretty busy, and up until this point, doing anything outside of basic homemaking projects really was out of the question. But now there was this hope that time would be opening up for me a bit more. I could spend more time on businesses and homeschooling and church and community and...everything.
My husband and I started jokingly referring to our family as Team Lozano.
But the more we said it, the more I saw that a team is exactly what we were.
So I started testing the waters a bit more. What else could my kids do? I asked them to tell me some things they wanted to learn how to do, and I took that list and ran with it.
Isaiah wanted to learn to vacuum. Done.
And make breakfasts. For sure.
And pack lunches. Amazing.
Izzy wanted to learn to cook everything. Absolutely.
And sweep. Please do.
And dust. I love this child.
Sweet Eva really just follows me around doing little odd jobs as I find them right now, but she's quickly growing into a precious little dust buster.
And let me tell you, each task they complete brings a sense of pride that I did not expect. They are learning they can do things on their own, and it has helped them so much as we take on new tasks in school and in life.
Now, I will say we don't have individual set tasks, and even though they know how to do something, it doesn't necessarily mean they will do that task each time it is needed. I still do the bulk of the home-work, but now they ask me if I need help. They see my serving them knowing what goes into that because they've done that job, too.
But even as I type this, I am looking at a perfectly vacuumed floor that I didn't touch and smelling a lovely chicken and noodle dinner that I did not make. (My Izzy is such a good little "cooker girl!") And I am praying, thanking God for such sweet team players because all of that was done while I made business-y type phone calls and washed dishes.
I took the time to teach them these tasks that were on my regular list of chores, and at first, it took them a ton of time. No job was done perfectly on the first few tries, but they got better. It got easier. And I got more and more thankful for busy little hands making my work lighter.
I will often say to them, "This house is our house, so as a team, we will care for it." We are the best team when we all pitch in.
They aren't cleaning for me. They aren't doing me a favor by taking care of our home. They are learning how to work as a team- as a family- and to serve one another.
I pray that these habits of cleanliness and community effort that I'm desperately trying to teach them stay with them as they grow and their hearts stay bent toward serving others.
I still get tired on some days, but now when I am, I don't mind leaving the mess for a bit because I know my team will band together and get all those nasty little chores done when it's truly needed.