Teaching Our Children the Basics
We are one of those families where our son has chores he is responsible to do. Each day there are a few things for him to do that contribute to keeping our home running smoothly. None of these things are hard or time consuming, well other than the one chore of cleaning his room, but for the most part he could do all of them within 15 – 30 minutes each day. It isn’t so much that we wanted him to have a lot of chores but that we wanted him to know families have to work together to care for each other and where they live. To us, it was the basics of being a family and teaching him how to take care of himself.
The first chore our son ever had was to feed the dog every evening. Since he was only 2 we would fill up the cup and he would toddle over to her bowl to pour it in. He’d tell her free which was her release word and she would run over to her bowl to start eating. He thought that was super cool and would giggle and pet her. We did it to help him bond with our dog and appreciate what it was like to care for a pet. That’s the same concept we applied to all his chores, the sense of caring and doing something that helps out of love.
It isn’t so much that I want our son to see chores as well chores but rather I want him to know basic life skills. I feel proud our son knows how to run a load of clothing, fold his clothes, clean a bathroom and do basic cooking. At some point in his life I’d like to think he’ll need to know how to do some of these things. I see having the basic knowledge of how to do something around the house being similar to learning to read or do math. In this case though it’s mom and dad teaching him to vacuum and fix a squeaky door.
When I think about the basic things in life I also think about his health needs. Knowing when to see a doctor or how to take medicine properly are also important life skills he will need in his life. Here too, I seem to have taken an unconventional but practical approach to teaching him how this is done. In our home, when we are not feeling our best we reach for natural options to support those needs. If those don’t work then we go to a doctor and the combination of natural and western medicine helps us get better. We also do things to prevent becoming sick and protect our health every day. Again, I see this is a basic as learning to brush his teeth, take vitamins and eat well with nature present in all those areas.
I have come to believe by teaching our son early in his life how to use nature to feel his best, support his needs and life he is learning to truly survive in the world economically, mentally and physically. He is learning what to do in a variety of situations that are common things we all face every day. I like to think we’re giving him the tools to be an independent, self-reliant individual who can survive the harshness of the world. I’m sure I will still worry about him but at least I know I’ve given him the best I know to do and in practical ways to use that knowledge to help him when I can’t be there.
What is ironic in all of this is how much it has actually expanded my own quest to live more naturally. It has encouraged me to relearn basics of doing things and what I use in those situations. As a result I am more aware of what I use and what is in it to help support the health of my family. It’s funny how once I didn’t give much thought to why I did the things I did or what I used but now I’m a label reader as if it is the next best selling novel. Through this process I have actually challenged many of my own actions and decisions and looked into why I believed or did some of those things. When it really comes down to it, teaching my son has also re-taught me a few things.
The journey of teaching my son basic chores in life has also allowed me to see them differently. Yes, they are still sometimes not as much fun as doing something else but watching my son confidently do them gives me a smile. Doing laundry together is also a pleasure that again while not as memorable as a family vacation is an opportunity for us to bond and strengthen our relationships. Maybe one day when he is matching his socks he will remember all the times we sat doing it together. He’ll reach for that bottle of vinegar and box of baking soda and remember mom showing him how to clean a toilet. It is after all just a chore we will be thousands of times but when it is done as part of love and caring for one another it becomes so much more.