Monday, April 4, 2011

Teaching Children the Value of Work

One of our Relief Society lessons last month was about work and teaching children the value of work. Our instructor did a great job leading the discussion.

One sister suggested using GAMES to make work more fun. That is a great idea and one that definitely worked for our family! My kids remember "fishing" for jobs with a homemade pole concocted of a wooden dowel, string, and magnet. The little paper fish were brightly colored and each had a job paper clipped to it.
The kids would run to do their job and hurry back to fish again. Other simple games included "beat the clock". I would set the timer and see if they could finish a particular job to my satisfaction before the bell went off. Then there were always the fun ways to pick up, "Let's race! You pick up all the red ones and I'll get all the yellow ones" We also used the gunny bag song shared by Richard and Linda Eyre. These were all fun ways to make work more enjoyable.
During our lesson, another sister mentioned how important our ATTITUDES are as mothers. Do we grumble about the work we have to do, or do we enjoy it? Our attitude and example is so important! There is a great feeling of satisfaction that comes from a job well done. This is something we need to let our children experience at a young age. Work is truly a blessing in our lives and we should see it as such.
There were lots of other great comments as the lesson progressed. Finally, I broke into song sharing how MUSIC helped me teach my children to work when they were little. Following are some of the songs that helped make work fun in our home.

Bedrime Routine (to the tune of "Row, Row, Row your Boat"):
Brush, brush, brush your teeth,
Take your flouride pill.
Go potty, get your books,
See, it's no big deal.
When my kids were little, we lived in an area that didn't have enough flouride in the city water. We had to supplement with flouride pills which they took every night. They also got to choose five books each night to take to bed with them. I would come around to each child's bed and read to them; then, they could lay in bed and look at the books until they were tired enough to fall asleep. If they snuck out of bed, the first thing to go was their books, the second was the night light and the third was the open door. They quickly learned to stay in bed and keep their privileges. I didn't want all the yelling and spanking at bedtime that I've witnessed in some homes. Bedtime can be so hard, especially if kids are unhappy. This song helped keep all of us in a better mood.

After School Routine (to the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" or "ABC Song"):
When I come home after school,
I'll be sure to keep the rules.
Place my shoes upon the shelf,
Hang my coat up by myself,
Put my pack and lunch away,
After snack and homework, play!
With four kids coming in the door at once each afternoon, I didn't want utter chaos with shoes, coats, and books all over the floor. So, I started training the first one when he was just in preschool...and we grew from there. This song helped them to remember their responsibilities: to put away their shoes, coat, backpack, and lunchbox. (They also had an "inbox" where they placed any papers for mom to look at, sign, etc.) Once they put all their things where they belonged, they could have an after school snack (no snacks allowed after 4:00 pm.). Following snack, they did their homework, and then they could go play.

Morning Routine (to the tune of "One Little, Two Little, Three Little Indians"
Bed, books, bottle, blanket, beauty breakfast,
Bed, books, bottle, blanket, beauty, breakfast,
Bed, books, bottle, blanket, beauty, breakfast,
These are our morning B-jobs.

The kids' morning routine basically consisted of making their bed, cleaning up their room, and getting themselves ready for the day before they could come down for breakfast. When they went to bed, their rooms were already clean. In the morning they had to make their bed, put away their five books from the night before, put away their water bottle (I started having them keep a water bottle on their nightstand so they didn't yell "I'm thirsty" ten minutes after they brushed their teeth. They never drank much of it, but it kept them in bed. They didn't have the excuse of getting up because they needed a drink.) They also remembered to put away their special blanket that nana made them when they were born. They slept with those until they became rags! "Beauty" meant get dressed and comb your hair. Basically both you and your room should look beautiful. Breakfast was the reward!
Once the kids were all school age, I instituted "family service" something that they were to do each morning that benefitted the family as a whole. Making their bed and getting themselves ready was great, but it was all about THEM. Mom is always doing for everyone else, why shouldn't they? These were the four "morning service" opportunities that they rotated while mom made a healthy breakfast (NO TV in the a.m.!!!):

1. Set the breakfast table.
2. Make the juice for breakfast (from concentrate)
3. Pack the school lunches....including making the sandwiches
4. Organize the shoe shelf.

Kids are often much more capable than we think. Give them a big responsibility and they will rise to the occasion. Spreading is a great thing to teach pre-schoolers. It helps them develop fine motor skills. Let them spread peanut butter on their own cracker! By time they are school age, there is no reason they can't make a sandwich. And if they are making one, why not make four? I think it was really good for my kids to serve each other in these capacities each morning.

Finally, here's the song we sang while doing dishes. I didn't make this one up. I stole it from someone else:

Kitchen Duty (to the tune of "I Love the Mountains")
I love the dishes,
I love the pots and pans,
I love the silverware,
I love the dishpan hands,
I love to do it all,
after every meal.
Kitchen duty, kitchen duty, kitchen duty, kitchen duty

Sometimes, I'll still sing this while loading the dishwasher. It makes me smile and I start dancing around the kitchen. For me and my family, music makes work more fun. I hope this is helpful to someone else out there. :)

Check back later to learn about a reward program/chart that really worked!


  1. Great ideas! How in the world did you come up with all of that? I'm impressed, even if you borrowed an idea or two.

  2. I'm bookmarking this post. It's exactly what I need at exactly the right time! Thanks Colleen!

  3. @Jessica, I'm old! I've been collecting parenting ideas for 48 years now...and I like to sing...and rhyme. :)

    @Katherine, I'm so happy that you found it helpful. :)

  4. I remember giving your kids their purple floundie pills before bedtime! :)

  5. @Kara, you were our favorite baby sitter...and they WERE purple! Grape flavored. :)