I’m sitting here at McDonald’s during my daughter’s Youth Group meeting on a Sunday evening. I have one hour to write this post and I’m determined to crank it out. “America’s Funniest Videos” is playing on the large screen TV and there’s an annoying beeping in the background, but I’m going to transform this white page into a helpful story by the end of the hour.
This determination to “hustle” reminds me of the ways I’m currently building a work ethic in my children at home. I’ve discovered that they are more motivated when they
- Have a time limit
- Can see the “before and after” effects of their work
- Connect their work to something that energizes them
Here’s a recent story to show you what I mean. It was that hour of the day when the kids are cranky and starving, my husband is coming home from work, the rice is boiling over, and the phone is ringing off the hook.
I was busy in the kitchen, taming that rice.
The adjoining toy room was a wreck: safari animals lay on their sides amidst the matchbox cars, board books were everywhere-but-in-the-book-basket, and Tess the Doll was clearly in the middle of doctor’s appointment with no “doctor” in sight. Meanwhile, my 11-year-old daughter was strategically balancing her blue digital camera on a nearby table. I could tell she working intently, so I delayed my request that she clean up.
A few minutes later, after I had calmed the rice, I looked up and saw a completely different toy room.
The animals had returned to their animal bin, the cars to the car bin, the book basket looked like a book basket again and Tess was tidied up and snoozing in bed.
It was so beautiful, so miraculous. I blinked because I thought I saw little twinkling lights shining from the clean surfaces.
With a smile on her face, my daughter leaped to my side with her camera in hand saying, “Look what I accomplished in three minutes, Mom!”
“Sweetie, that room looks amazing!! How did you do it so quickly?!” I asked.
She glowed as she turned her camera’s viewfinder towards me and pushed the play button. I watched a 20-second stop-motion video of my girl scurrying about, cleaning that room like a champ. It was so fun! She got such a kick out making the video and accomplishing a necessary task. And I, of course, was deeply appreciative.
Don’t you just love her idea? Not only did she hustle to create a welcoming space, but she threw her heart and soul into it and emerged with, well, art.
When I asked her how she came up with that idea, she said that she was inspired by the 5-minute Cleaning Challenge we did in the toddler’s room earlier that week.
One afternoon, I went to tuck the toddler in for her nap, but I couldn’t walk across the floor because the room was such a disaster. So, I enlisted all of the children to help me clean the room. I said we could only work for 5 minutes and took a “Before” photo with my phone. I lugged in the vacuum, spritzers, and dust cloths, and set the timer on my cell phone. We hustled. Toys in toy bins. Beds tidied. Floor vacuumed. Every piece of furniture dusted. The timer buzzed and we gathered at the doorway to admire our work. I snapped an “After” photo. The kids were amazed our accomplishment and asked me to slide between the “Before” to “After” photos so many times, I had to cut things off. “Okay! Nap time!”
But, the work was accomplished. And we were happy. My 11-year old was totally energized by the “Before” and “After” thrill: she loved to see the impact of her hard work was like a trophy to her.
My time here at McDonald’s is up, but I feel good about having filled this white space with a few practical tips – and a story to boot – to inspire you as you encourage some “hustle” in your kiddos and, hopefully, in your work, too.
a guest post by Laura Booz