I truly hate to be posting this, because what sane person would try something for ONE day, and then deem it a success? I feel like I'm setting myself up for failure, because as soon as I state, "hey! This is working!" we will crash and burn to the ground.
And yet, here I am posting about our one-day success.
Like most moms, I can tell you about the horrible mess that my children leave behind as they go about their day. Papers, toys, clothes, etc etc etc, along with the normal day-to-day cleaning that has to be done. It's enough to make me want to hide in the bathroom and cry (and believe me, I have chosen that option on many an occasion!)
So what's my breakthrough?
Well, it came about yesterday during homeschooling, as we were talking about Lent. We were discussing Lenten sacrifices, and little mortifications that we can do during the day to take our eyes off of ourselves and turn them to the Lord. In particular I was thinking about St. Faustina, who desperately wanted to see who she had drawn for her patron saint of the year. As a small offering to the Lord, she waited 5 minutes before she looked at the card to see which one she had drawn.
That 5 minutes of waiting stuck with me... just 5 minutes before you go and do what you REALLY want to do... as an offering to the Lord. That thought came right along with Sean's question: "Mom, what does Jesus want us to be doing right now while we're still kids?" We talked about the importance of getting to know Him better, being obedient to parents, doing well in their education, and learning how to live together in a family.
Five minutes of waiting... learning how to live together in a family...
And then the idea popped out: Before ANY of us do whatever it is that we REALLY want to do, whether blogging or reading (for me) or playing a game or going outside, we are going to donate 5 minutes of time to the family. That means that we will pick up an area, or grab a dust mop, or wipe down the bathroom, whatever. We will do this not because it's "our job" or "our mess," but as an offering to God and to the family. After the time is up, they are free to go and do whatever they were wanting to do. If they switch tasks and want to do something else, again they make an offering of 5 minutes.
In practice -- so far -- it's worked great. The older kids are amazed at how much stuff is getting done without having to put in hours of "hard labor" to get everything clean. Last night's normal clean-up-the-toys time was a breeze, AND I had two bathrooms cleaned, the hall swept, the living room swept and mopped, the office swept, the little girls' room totally picked up, and ironing done. ALL without this huge "here are your tasks! Get the jobs done!" with accompanying groaning.
Will it last beyond Lent? I don't know... but I do know that so far I'm liking what I'm seeing in all of them in terms of attitude. It's an offering, pure and simple, instead of a "but I didn't make that mess!" argument.
So, silly as this post may be, I am putting it out there in case it might work for some other family.