When Zach was little, I was co-leader of our church's MOPS group for two years. There are about 14 women who make up the leadership team, and my role was to encourage and equip the leaders in their role, while also setting the vision for our MOPS group as a whole. Part of "equipping" our leaders was encouraging them to establish teams of volunteer moms to help with their area. Delegation was hard for most of our leaders, particularly because each leader had to take the time to teach someone else how to do whatever needed done. It was just easier to do it themselves, but in the long run....doing the work all alone was taxing and very time consuming. Teams can just make everything easier - but becoming a team is work in and of itself.
I have found - and am being reminded of it all day every day - that this is true with a family. My oldest is approaching his 7th birthday and doesn't have any specific job that is his responsibility. He helps clean up his spaces - so long as I hover over him and tell him specifically what to do. He carries his dishes from the table to the sink - but frequently needs to be reminded to do it. He helps carry out the trash on Wednesday nights, but that is always closely supervised as well.
We have always believed that each family member has a responsibility to help care for the household, but I've been very slow in implementing what I believe to be vitally important. Before I go any further, let me clarify that... It is not vitally important for the sake of my workload lightening! It is vitally important that my children learn how to care for their belongings. That they understand that everything we have has been given to us by God and we need to show Him how much we appreciate his provision by taking care it it. That the kids realize that they are showing their parents respect when they pick up after themselves rather than expecting us to do it. That having a clean home means that our guests will not only be welcome at any moment, but that we care enough about them to make them feel welcome by having clean spaces. That one day, their spouses will adore being "Team Shrader" with their husband, rather than waiting hand and foot on a man who never learned how to clear the dinner table or put away his laundry.
As tasks need to be done, I take a moment and ask myself two questions: Is this mess directly related to one of the children? (Are those Luke's shoes in the middle of the floor?) And, Is this something one of the boys can or should be helping with? If I determine it to be a job that one of the boys can do, I invite them over to help. I will be honest - teaching them is a real test of my patience. (And I have to set aside any desire for perfection!!) Zachary is super intelligent (and almost 7) so I have to keep my emotions in check as I hold his hand through hanging a towel or rinsing a dish. I have to remind myself: "It is not his fault that he doesn't know this. You taught him how to eat, how to read, how to multiply...you have to teach him this too...it is not a do-it-with-one-hand-tied-behind-his-back sort of thing...yet."
The boys have been very cooperative and even eager to learn new tasks around the house. However, they do keep referring to it as "cleaning the house". I correct them. I've adopted a new attitude! Cleaning involves chemicals or dust...the rest is merely picking up after yourself.