Along the lines of looking at things from another perspective, turning the negative to positive: Last night I was putting away clothes to get beds ready to be slept in. I was grouchy and tired and feeling put upon. It was only a burden, only a chore. But this morning when Linnaea got dressed she was wearing a shirt that I'd folded last night and put away. She wouldn't have known that she could wear that shirt if I hadn't taken the time to put it were it was easy to find. And so it changed from being burden and chore to being a gift that I gave her, which washed away all the resentment I felt last night.
From a long letter about from a mom, after she read The Big Book of Unschooling:
Your section on chores and serving others reminded me of something that happened recently. My boys spend a good portion of each day in our basement, where they have the majority of toys with lots of pieces. Legos, train tracks, puzzles, etc. Frequently, their play involves combining all of these things into one enormous pile, or just spreading them all over. Sometimes we clean up all together and sometimes I do it at the end of the day alone. One day I cleaned up in the middle of the day while they were upstairs, because I think most of the fun comes in the making of the mess. In my mind, I was giving them a gift, although I didn't know to what extent. A little while after I was done, they came downstairs and both let out a little gasp, and Josh (my 3 YO) said in a hushed voice, "It's like magic." I did that! I gave them magic! It was so wonderful for all of us that now I try to do things like that as much as I can.
In response to someone having written "We are adhering to a culture of self sufficiency," Colleen Prieto wrote:
All three of us (my husband, me, and my son) do things for each other throughout the day, asked and unasked, that we're all certainly capable of doing for ourselves.
The big change in our home wasn't whether or not to do chores. It was how I understood serving my family. Sandra and a few others like Tia and Ren shared about serving their families through housework, laundry and meal making. If their dishes were dirty after lunch and no one thought to clear the table, they didn't yell or demand or clear them in huff. They cleared them gladly and with love.
THIS was the turning point for me. I realized I had fallen into the trap of feeling I was owed service and clean up by my kids and therefore grew resentful if they didn't keep their end of the bargain I had coerced into existence.
For the first two months, I kept my mouth shut about chores, messes, undone laundry etc. If there was a mess, I picked it up if it bugged me. And I said yes to every request I possibly could: driving, playing games, arranging friends to play at our house, watching movies together. I spent a huge amount of my energy at sports events (games), driving my teens to their social lives, purchasing art supplies and so on. I wanted my kids to know that they mattered more to me than any other consideration in my life.
Over time (multiple months), I got into a habit of service and not resenting. (During this time, the kids still did help with housework once a week—we held that over as we adjusted to unschooling). But it was during this time that I discovered that we could even re-think that weekly Saturday morning cleaning.
By mid summer, life was just much more relaxed. There are days when I have PMS and I get edgy about messes. But on the whole, the spirit of the home has changed. And the spirit now prevalent is consideration.
And the heavy investment of my life into theirs (making their dreams come true) has hit. They KNOW I'm for them first. And suddenly they are pouring out the love, support, help and service I used to think needed coercion. It's wild!
Schuyler Waynforth wrote:
David and I were talking about gifts tonight as we were making dinner together. He said that he doesn't work at our marriage, none of the things he does for me are work, because those things are gifts. And if he can see them as gifts then toil is no longer a part of it. He's right. When I fold the laundry with the image of Linnaea dancing in her dress of choice it isn't labor at all. Or when I wash the dishes thinking about how much easier and more pleasant fixing the next meal will be, it is less about the toil in that moment and more about the joy in the next. But if I think about how many times I've done the dishes recently and how I don't want to do them tonight and I'm tired and why can't someone else do this and I always do them... it is all about labor.