Have you ever gone on a mile hike on a new trail? It seems long. You don’t know the way, and not knowing where it will end, it seems to go on and on and on. With each bend, you think you have surely reached the waterfall by now. On the trail back, the hike seems more doable. It always surprises me how fast the trek back goes. Knowing the end is in sight makes the path seem short.
I’ve learned something from my kids lately. Something I think I knew, but forgot. Setting a time limit on any work you are requiring from kids (or husband, for that matter) makes the task much more manageable.
I get up Saturday morning eager to do amazing things with our “working day”. Irrational goals loom, as in: clean the whole house, plant the whole garden, clean out the entire playroom and organize all the toys in bins, cook and freeze a month worth of meals, prune the whole orchard, sort out all our homeschool books, and other unreasonable objectives. I have the zeal for the project, but not everyone in the family shares my enthusiasm, unfortunately. When kids feel like you are going to work, work, work them, with no end in sight, it feels like a life sentence. My kids ask, “How long?”. I want to say, “Til we’re done!”. But when I give them a time limit, it really does feel more manageable to them. And they are happier workers. And I appreciate their effort more.
Sure, I would like them to work all day long on my urgent project, but an hour of energetic effort is far better than nothing. An hour from several kids and a husband can progress the job along amazingly far. And having a time limit makes them more cooperative workers, seeing an end in sight. There’s hope. This is not an eternally unlimited work-a-thon.
Knowing that I won’t work her all day long, even my “I-hate-bugs-worms-and-dirt” daughter will cheerfully plant the lettuce seedlings into the garden (with a few screams here and there).
Set a time limit. It really helps!