Thursday, March 3, 2011

Doing Things Together

I have this theory that everything is more fun, or at the very least more tolerable, when you do it together.
Anamaria and I doing dishes
I think back to my childhood, I was going into 1st or 2nd grade.  We lived in rural Minnesota.  Nice little neighborhood surrounded by farm fields.  A short, frayed string of cul-de-sacs and dead-ends.  Very few folks around there had paved driveways.  It really didn't matter though, because back then, back there, we all just played in the road.  Our driveway was wood chipped, and it was my big summer project chore to pull the weeds from it.  Most of the driveway wasn't too bad because it was driven over.  But the section back by the garage was a jungle.  I remember being overwhelmed.  There were Just So Many.  And how picky was I expected to be?  I mean, there were tiny little bean-sprout looking things almost like carpet.  Not to mention the gigantaur weeds that I had to get my big brother's help to pull.  And bugs.  And heat.  And knowing you don't get to do anything fun until you are done.  Which took forever.  By the time I had one section done, I'd turn around and new little sprouts were popping up.  REALLY!?!?!  It didn't help that my dad could be a super-stickler, depending on his mood.  Easy to do when you aren't the one pulling weeds, alternating between a tweezer and a jackhammer.

The Project
So, I am making it a goal of mine to do household tasks along with my daughter.  Not Always Easy.  In fact, generally it takes more time and makes a bigger mess.  Oh, and add to that my toddler has the attention span of a fruit fly.  She's done + but I'm not + she needs me to be + but I'm up to my elbows in whatever it is = great moments gone frustratingly sour.   Still, I am determined that this is something that is important.  I don't know.  I haven't read any books about that specifically.  I just remember the Wood Chip Driveway.

Carefully pouring in the tomatoes and chilis
My logic is that when you are little, you are learning a work ethic.  Chad has a great work ethic.  Me, not so much.  But I'm learning in order to teach my daughter because life is so much more attainable if you have a good work ethic.  Also, when you are little, you are learning to take pride in what you do.  Little ones are so proud of themselves, from repeating syllables, to putting her own dirty diapers where they go (that is a very important responsibility to her that she takes very seriously).  So, I figure, now is the time.  Also, when you are little, everything else is so big.  Maybe today, if I went back to that driveway, I could have it done by lunch.  Chad helps me with this all the time.  I still get so overwhelmed when dishes or laundry get out of hand.  He just starts at one end and keeps going until it's done, like it's not even a big deal.  So, often I'm channeling my "Inner Chad" as I pick up the destroyed living room at the end of the day.  But to me, an often unacknowledged aspect is the prioritizing of things.  How is a kid supposed to know how picky to be?  Not picky enough and you get scolded and have to do it over again.  Too picky and you waste your life on unimportant details.  And last, there are those moments where grownups can forget what it's like to be doing whatever that chore is.  There is honor and respect in sharing the burden.  That is good leadership, plain and simple.

Shaking out every last one!
Oh, and as an obvious bonus, the time spent working together is often grounds for some of the most profound conversations a parent will ever have with their child.

Mixing/eating the tomatoes and chilis (she loved it!)
This is why on Facebook you'll see pictures of Anamaria with us out at the shop.  Or rearranging Daddy's tools on the workbench, or even hauling a rake around the yard last fall.  Participating in things together is a big part of our family.

Delicious success!!!


  1. Jen I love this. It makes me look so forward to sharing things with Jack, hopefully will help me remember to include him even if it is harder. And to look for the balance between expecting too much from him and teaching him that work ethic.

  2. Looks like lots of fun and learning going on! Make sure you post pics of the finished entertainment center along with any new "creations". With parents like you two - AnaMaria is sure to be loaded with her "own" talent!

  3. Wonderful memories of a little one sitting in half the sink! You should advertise this blog- you'd get followers for sure.