One of the true keys to good leadership is the ability to delegate. Good leaders are not controlling and self-sufficient, but realize that they cannot do everything on their own. They realize the value of teamwork and look for strengths and skills and potential in those they work with and begin to delegate responsibilities to their team members.
So it is with us as moms with our children. While we can pray for and encourage and request help from our husbands, we can’t really force them to do anything, and nagging will get a woman nowhere. We can, however, train our children to be productive, contributing members of the family (not that our husbands are not….hear what I mean here! 😉 ). This will not be an easy task and one that I am convinced will be on-going, at least to some degree. I have to watch over my younger ones and check on their progress and handiwork regularly. I can give instructions to my oldest and trust them to be carried out, but I am a fool if I do not at least occasionally double-check her work and, depending on her mood, I may have to do some extra motivating. I believe that one of the primary goals of a mother is to train herself out of a job, until the day her last child moves out and hands the job back to her (but surely it will be easier to keep a clean house once they’re all gone, right?!?!?).
So, what should your child be able to do? Below is a small list of age-approximate (in years) skills a child should possess or be able to learn. These have been acquired from a wide variety of resources compiled by my mother-in-law through her many years of delegating tasks to her eleven children. (Yes, you read that correctly. Eleven!) In the interest of time as I am preparing this post, I am not going to list all the resources. If, however, you would like to know some of the resources, message me and I will be happy to pass them along later on. For now, on to some job ideas!
- put pajamas away (2 to 4)
- begin to pick up toys (18 months to 4 years)
- begin to make own bed (2-3)
- leave the bathroom neat after use (6-10)
- empty hamper, put dirty clothes in wash area (3-6)
- put away clean clothes (4-9)
- fold and separate clean laundry (6-10)
- begin to wash own clothes (7-10)
- sort clothes by color, dirt, fabric (8-10)
- I disagree – we have implemented a color coded-laundry system in our house. I have four baskets in our laundry room, each is labeled with colored paper. One is blue, for denim items. One is purple, for dark items. One is pink, for light colored items. One is white, for – you guessed it – whites. Even my four year old can sort her dirty clothes using this system.
- clear own place at table (2-5)
- dust furniture (3-10)
- set the table (3-7)
- clear the table (3-7)
- pick up trash in the yard (4-6)
- shake area rugs (4-6)
- spot clean walls (4-6)
- wipe off door frames (4-6)
- clean windows and mirrors (4-6)
- feed pets (5-8)
- empty wastebaskets (3-6)
- empty the dishwasher (4-6)
- load the dishwasher (6-8)
This is just a small sample of jobs you can begin to teach your young children. Obviously, some of it will depend on your child’s temperament and level of responsibility. But I firmly believe that children will rise to our expectations. If we set our expectations high (not ridiculously so, but enough to challenge them), our children will invariably rise to meet them. The unusually busy schedule that we have been maintaining these past few months has challenged me to find new ways our girls can help around the house and they are being expected to learn many new skills and take on many new challenges. I simply cannot run this house by myself, they have to help. I also believe that, while they may grumble, children want to contribute to the family. I find that, invariably, my children will finish working in the yard for an hour much more satisfied and happy than if they had spent that hour watching television, even though letting them watch television would have definitely been easier on us all.
Another very important way to “delegate” is by asking for prayer. I am blessed to have a husband, parents/parents-in-law, and many friends whom I can ask for prayer from. I have several friends I can text “flare prayer” requests to, and I know that I will be lifted up right then and there. As I said the first week, the only way to live this life well is to live it in the presence of the Most High and prayer is our constant channel of communication with Him. He desires relationship with us, He desires to know us. How blessed and privileged we are! And how little we make use of this great gift of prayer. Instead of making it our last resort, let us learn to make it our first option. Let us pray early and often throughout the day, coming continually before the throne of the Living God with our needs and the needs of those we love. I believe we will be amazed by the power of it all.
What can you delegate this week? Is there something on your growing “to do” list that you can have someone else do, even if you have to pay them? Sometimes our time and stress level is worth the monetary investment of letting someone else do the work for us. What can you train your children to do? Who can you share prayer requests with to bear the burdens of daily life?
I’m praying that God is using these weekly posts to draw you close to Him and to simplify your life, even in small ways. Don’t want to miss a post? Subscribe by clicking the link on the right.
For His Glory ~
Next week – more tips!