We live in a society that seems to keeps kids separated from the real world and the responsibilities that come therein. We expect that kids will want their toys, their tv, their friends, and their playground much of the time. We also seem to expect that it’s unfair to disengage them from their happy place to ask them to do a job with an adult.
Children should most definitely have a lot of free time to play and explore as they feel led. However, I don’t think that giving them a job is harmful. I would even go so far as to say that we are doing children a disservice when we don’t let them participate in real, meaningful work.
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What kind of work?
The kind of work your child can participate in depends on where you live, what your lifestyle is like, and how old your kids are. We tend to have the kids help with a lot of outdoor jobs- planting seeds, egg collecting, filling animal feeders, raking, and the like. My kids are also becoming excellent sous chefs who enjoy chopping vegetables or stirring a pot for me while I’m cooking. There’s also putting away laundry, sweeping the floor, picking up messes, and housework of all kinds.
Job possibilities for children are really endless. Older children could help to contribute to a family business or parent’s jobs. Let them help file documents for you, proofread a student’s paper, answer phone calls, or help with banking and budgeting. Better yet, encourage them to start an entrepreneurial venture of their own!
If you’re stuck for ideas, ask yourself these questions:
- What could my child do that would be a legitimate help to me?
- How can I involve my children, even in the most mundane of jobs?
- What’s the smallest task my young child could complete to feel as though she’s participating?
- How can I introduce a life skill to my child through working together?
Disclaimer: We totally are NOT perfect in getting our kids to work with us, nor have we achieved just the right balance between work and play. My kids get in the mud, watch their favorite shows on Amazon Prime, cause trouble, whine about boredom, etc., etc., etc. So don’t get the idea that we have perfectly industrious, hard-working helpers all the time!
Instead of being afraid to make our children lift a finger, we can battle entitlement and encourage strong character by including our children in real-life work. Let’s talk about some of the benefits.
Work gives children needed life skills. During my college career of kitchen work, I watched several high schoolers struggle with operating a vacuum cleaner, or stare at a pot of soup with trepidation. It was apparent that these kids had never been taught basic household modes of operation. By taking the time to teach our children how to dust, scramble an egg, hammer a nail, or help make a budget, we are giving them the life skills they need to become independent, responsible adults.
We cultivate desirable character. Motivation, confidence, steadfastness, responsibility, ingenuity, patience… I don’t know about you, but these traits don’t just fall upon me out of the great blue sky. I’m constantly learning, and one of the best God-given tools to get me to get over my selfish whining is doing hard work. It only makes sense that participating in work- with a good attitude- is good for our children as well.
Work gives children purpose and beats boredom. I find that there’s less time for moping, fighting, and complaints of boredom when I have my kids actively participating in the the day’s duties. Watering the animals and the plants in the morning, helping to prepare a lunch picnic mid-day, wiping out the bathroom sink in the afternoon, stirring a pot or putting away dishes in the evening- all of this keeps them busy doing good things. And there’s still plenty of time for them to play in between!
Work can help to loosen the grip of negative peer dependence. I’ve been slowly reading Sally Clarkson’s The Mission of Motherhood. This lovely book (which deserves it’s own review, really) made a valuable and relevant point. When we teach children how to work, they develop maturity and value as responsible members of society. This can help contribute to freeing them from the feeling that they have to remain juvenile alongside their (perhaps) less industrious friends.
Work allows children to give real contributions to the family. There’s nothing quite like seeing my son’s pride and joy when he really helps Dada build something. Or hearing my kids’ delight while they serve dinner at the table, knowing that they helped to cook it for everyone.
Work gives your family quality time together. I get a thrill every time I see my husband and son out planting something, or when I get to cook alongside my 2 year old. It’s so much fun to spend the time together and get to talk and enjoy each other’s company. We make the best memories when we work together!
Do you work with your kiddos? What jobs do you give them? What’s your favorite part about it?
You might also like reading:
- Raising Hard Working and Responsible Kids (The Free Range Life)
- Raising Capable Children (Homestead Honey)
- Mom, Can I Help? 4 Tips for Saying Yes without Stress (Our Life Out Here)
- Chore Ideas for Little People (They’re Not Our Goats)
- Canning with Kids (They’re Not Our Goats)
- Scrapping Metal (Everything Home with Carol)
- How to Balance Livestock Chores with Kids (Farm Fit Living)
- Gardening with Children (Homestead Honey)
- Gardening with Kids (Farming My Backyard)
- Coop Cleaning with Kids (Homestead Lady)