Friday, January 8, 2010

ReRun: Are You Doing Too Much?

One rule we have in our family is that I only do the things that only I can do.

In other words, if someone else can do it, I train them to have at it. This frees me up for doing other things. Only I can grow the babies. Only I can plan the garden. Only I can plan and correct schoolwork. Only I can organize the kitchen. Only I can plan out a schedule for our days.

They can help pull weeds. They can clean the toilets and sinks. They can cook many of the meals. They can push laundry through — with oversight, of course.

Mercy Laundry

We all work in the Peterson Household. I know that some of you reading this will just move on at this point. That’s okay. I have heard from people who believe their children should not have to do any work. You are entitled to your opinion. I happen to believe we are put on this earth to work and that everyone has a part to fulfill. Including in our homes.

Besides the usual cleaning up bedrooms and cleaning after themselves, everyone has one job a day which they do first thing in the morning. I have thought about what needs to be done each day to keep the house looking relatively neat. I say relatively, because we are 11 people packed into a 2400 sq. ft. house. It’s never perfect.

Each morning, one person vacuums the living and dining rooms. One person washes the sinks and toilets. One person feeds the animals. One person empties the dishwasher. And one person makes breakfast. That way, if we should have surprise company, the house is pretty neat, and no one worked more than 15 minutes total.

Anna Cooking

We also each have an after-meal chore: clearing the table, washing the table, washing, drying, putting away dishes, etc.

We usually don’t have to deal with attitudes, since this is something we ALL do. It’s just part of Peterson Life. Everyone works before breakfast. Everyone works in the garden. It’s the way things are. They sometimes take a long time to do it, but they never complain about it. We all work; that’s the way it is. Even the littlest ones jump to help their buddies accomplish their work “quicker.”

Many hands make light work, the saying says, and in this case it is true. By all of us pulling together, no one has to do too much work — especially me. For the things only I can do take up many more hours than I have each day.

On the weekend there is a bigger job inside for each person and another one outside. Dusting, cleaning mirrors and windows, cleaning stuff out of the car, and mopping floors are jobs which fall into this category. We each spend an hour or so on Friday afternoons or Saturday mornings doing these. It really doesn’t take that long, but I have some children still learning to do their jobs quickly. Sometimes they like to let it take all day. It must be done before the movie Friday night or lunchtime Saturday morning.

So take a look at your home…what needs to be done? What can be taken over by others (at least with some training)? What can only be done by you? It will look different in each family, but with a little thought I am sure you can find some things to hand to others and make room to fit some of the things which are currently not getting done.

Oh, and it will be a while before they do things as well as you. I have not reached that point yet. My oldest is about to turn 16, so I am guessing I may never reach it. But the way I figure it, toilets cleaned less than perfectly every day are still cleaner than they were when I did them once every week or two.

Keep On Keepin’ on, Mamas.


  1. You're doing some great posts lately! Isn't large family life great? There's always someone working beside you. I have a very similar policy...I think, "Who is the youngest person that can do this?" and I have them do it. That way, not only does it not all fall on me, but it also doesn't all go to the older kids. And just so you know...even my almost 20 year old doesn't do things as well as I do. She's better than when she was 16, but not like Mom. I think it will happen when she gets a home of her own. That's when it happened for me. Lisa~