Since designing a chore chart in December and enacting a regular system of chores, (which also includes a new behavior-altering strategy), my house has been clean, my kids have been nicer and better behaved... and I have received a new insight into... my life.
I have learned:
When my kids are working, they are happier.
When my kids are working together, they fight with each other less.
When my kids have finished their chores, they seem satisfied with themselves and are more confident and happy.
When my kids have regular chores, they do not complain when I randomly ask them to help me with something.
When my kids have regular chores, they are too busy to bicker and fight.
When my kids do not have regular chores, they are initially grateful and "happy", but then gradually and inevitably they seem to become completely ungrateful... for everything.
When my kids have not had chores in a while, they begin to bicker and argue more.
When my kids have not had chores in a while, they complain more (about everything, it seems).
When my kids have not had chores in a while, they whine endlessly when asked to help with any random household duty. They are much less likely to serve others.
When my kids do not have regular chores, they are much less happy.
The correlation is simple: are we similar, as children of Heavenly Father, in our reactions to challenges and obstacles, and even the daily humdrum, in our own lives?
Are we happier when faced with challenges that demand our energy, attention, problem-solving skills? Are we happier when we are working hard at something and realizing that we are accomplishing something, succeeding at something difficult? Are we happier after (and because) we have overcome an obstacle or completed a difficult task? More particularly, are we happier when we recognize the blessings we have, the help we receive from the Lord as we overcome challenges, and feel firsthand of His love for us, and as we realize how much he has helped us and that He wants us to be happy?
I have probably heard this correlation thousands of times, but it suddenly felt more real and more important as I thought about my experiences with my own children and my (lovely) chore chart during the past few months. Initially, I enjoyed working alongside my children, observing their growth and seeing the benefits of their busy minds and hands. Plus, their behavior improved significantly when I began to assign additional chores for negative behavior, such as fighting, name-calling, bickering, talking back, laziness, etc. But now, I don't just enjoy all of this, I feel an urgent need to be consistent with the chore system - every single day.
(I love my chore chart... very, very much.)
And now when I face a challenge in my life, I must admit that I think about my kids working, struggling, keeping out of trouble, and learning gratitude, and I smile. Similarly, I think about how pleased Heavenly Father probably is as He watches me face a challenge without whining, refusing to cooperate, but with a willing heart; knowing that I can do my best and He will help me overcome or accomplish something if I fall short and that it will lead to greater happiness, gratitude and love for others. And somehow it makes everything so much easier.