Does anybody else out there get bogged down by the everyday tasks of raising a family? Educating our kids and ourselves is important, noble even. But the day-to-day tasks of running a family are a grind that can wear us down.
Honestly, it’s easy to feel resentful about handling the never-ending jobs that keep our home humming along.
In an effort to figure out a solution to this problem for my family, I stumbled upon the idea of intentionally creating a family culture of collaboration and teamwork. What started as a serendipitous thought has become a defining element of our family’s life.
Shared ownership of home tasks has the power to improve every part of your family’s life. I’d like to explain why.
4 REASONS WE NEED OUR FAMILY TO BE A TEAM
1. Family collaboration lightens your load
You’ve got your hands full, Mama! You’re responsible for your children’s education, physical health and emotional development. The mountain of work needed to cook, clean and do laundry can distract us from the more important job of raising our kids.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve fantasized about having a staff to lighten your load.
Family collaboration does one better – it gives you a team. When our entire family begins to take shared ownership of all aspects of life – home care, learning, work and relationships – an amazing thing happens.
The rough edges of life get smoothed down.
Kids complain less.
They don’t have to be told – they just do the work.
Positive attitudes grow.
We’ll always have tough days and the inevitable squabbles, but teamwork can become the norm in our homes. Instead of feeling like you carry the weight of the home on your shoulders, you’ll feel supported.
That feeling will enable you keep going in this most important work – and feel happy about it!
2. Working together strengthens family ties
Do you ever feel like your family is being pulled in different directions? Work, school, technology, hobbies – there are a million things that can draw us apart. Some families become just a collection of individuals who live under the same roof. By choosing to homeschool, we’ve made it clear that we want better for our families. It makes sense to take this thought beyond education and apply it to our family’s life as a whole.
Collaborating in all areas of life means getting to spend more time together. But it’s more than that: when we work together to care for our home, we strengthen the relationships between our family members.
Successful collaboration requires respecting each others’ preferences, shoring up weaknesses, and appreciating each others’ strengths. I’ve found that my family is more appreciative for things like clean laundry since we started working together.
We strengthen our family with each and every cooperative effort. The tasks we do may be mundane, but the results for our families will be extraordinary! Creating a family culture of collaboration is a powerful force for good. It draws each family member closer together – physically and emotionally.
3. Habits are easiest learned young
Kids’ brains are just begging for information and instruction. The ease with which children learn anything from song lyrics to dinosaur facts is astonishing. The same holds true for habits.
At no other time in their lives will learning and habit-forming come so easily. Let’s use that to our advantage!
Instilling the habit of cooperation in our children while they’re young makes good sense. Think about it – our kids need to know how to care for themselves and a home anyway. Working home care and habit training into their days will actually make our jobs easier in the long run. I showed my five-year-old how to sweep the floors a couple of months ago. Now she’s in the habit of noticing when the floors are dirty (always!) and grabbing the broom to tidy up.
Kids are watching and learning all day every day. It’s up to us to surround them in an atmosphere of cooperation, set a good example, and show appreciation for their best efforts.
Each time we work alongside our children we help them create the mental pathways that lead to the habit of collaboration. They’ll become accustomed to shared ownership of tasks. By the time they leave home to start their own lives, working cooperatively will come as naturally as breathing. And this habit will create positive effects for their entire life.
4. It sets our kids up for success
Our children’s ability to collaborate will affect every aspect of their adult life – their work, personal relationships and overall happiness.
Whatever profession our kiddos pursue, the ability to work well with others is crucial. The most valuable employees and successful entrepreneurs have the desire and ability to understand their coworkers and work alongside them.
Satisfying personal relationships hinge on being able to work and live together harmoniously. If we create a family culture of shared ownership, our children will grow up with an innate understanding of what healthy relationships look like. They’ll enter adulthood able – and wanting – to create their own versions of this culture of collaboration.
If we want our children to be happy and successful as adults (and who doesn’t?!), they need this skill. It’s vital. We’ve got to keep our eye on this goal even when we’re in the thick of parenting.
We’ll most definitely reach a point where it’s easier to do a task ourselves than it is to involve our kiddos. At those times we need to remember that our kids are worth it!
Creating a family culture of collaboration weaves this skill into the very fabric of our children’s lives.
HOW TO CREATE A CULTURE OF FAMILY COLLABORATION
But how do we actually accomplish this? We can’t just announce at the dinner table, “Listen up everyone! We are now a collaborative family. Proceed accordingly.”
I mean we could, but I don’t think we’d get a very positive reaction.
We definitely need to put some thought into this. We need a plan. With a plan and solid effort, we can totally succeed!
I would like to share what has been working in my family lately. Hopefully, it will help you get started in creating your own family culture of collaboration. Here are four steps I took to get us started with shared ownership:
- First, identify your pain points. Ask yourself: “What’s causing me the most frustration right now? Chores? School work? Lack of quiet time? Over-scheduling?” Identifying your biggest pain point is your starting point for creating change.
- Next, set a clear goal. You can’t change everything overnight. If you try, you – and they – will burn out. Choose a single pain point to work on. For me, it was laundry. I took stock of how I felt about that task at the moment, and then envisioned what I wanted to feel instead. That feeling was the goal I’d be working towards as we started to collaborate as a family.
- Moving forward: recognize personalities. Collaboration has to start with your own understanding of your family. Think about aversions, preferences, strengths and weaknesses for each family member. I tried to keep my focus on these as I determined each person’s responsibilities.
- The last step is to make this a family affair. Communication makes for successful collaboration. Involve the whole family in planning. Listen to their input and plan for frequent reviews of this project, or it will never stick! Seeing as I want this to be an upbuilding experience for everyone, I have to remind myself to speak up with praise and appreciation. A smile, a pat on the back, a hug and a “Thank you!” all go a long way to making this feel positive for everyone.
Creating this culture takes time. And it’ll definitely take effort on your part. But I can speak from experience when I say it is totally worth it! My kids have a more positive attitude about caring for the home. My husband and I have worked out a system that respects each of our preferences. Best of all, our family is reaping the rewards of a collaborative family culture – we’re drawing closer together, the kids are learning important habits young, and my workload feels much lighter.
Remember, the goal of homeschooling is to set the entire family up for success. Every minute spent planning now will pay dividends on a daily basis. Creating a collaborative culture in our families will not only give our children an advantage as adults, it’ll make our lives easier now.
What will be your first family collaboration project?
I wish you peace and happiness in your family!
About the Author
Leah Massey is a homeschooling mum of three (aged 21, 10 and 5) living and learning in Michigan, U.S.A. along with her husband/best bud/partner in crime of 22 years, Tim. She loves birdwatching, cooking and doodling, but hates laundry! Leah shares her passion for helping families craft confident, joyful families of lifelong learners at Our Habitat Home and can be found on Instagram and Facebook.
We aim for this and have raised our boys to be helpers and doers. It also helps to have good gear for the ‘helping’ – eg. a ride on mower and stick vacuum have made the boys WANT to help 🙂
For sure! Having a Gorilla cart means Rex volunteers to clear the paddocks and fetch and carry things – any excuse to get it out!