If you happen to be a mom of littles, this is post is not for you yet. Serving your family is enough and probably already takes more of you than you can handle at times. Simply file this one away for another snowy day in the future. 🙂 )
When I was growing up, anytime the snow accumulation was more than an inch or two, my Dad would crank up his old Ford tractor and plow out all of the nearby acreages. While I think occasionally he would get gift cards for his efforts, that was not his motivation. He simply wanted to be a good neighbor. Now that he is in his 60’s, he wisely invested in a plow for his pickup truck, so he at least pushes snow with heat, rather than bitter wind, blasting. Even yesterday, on his day out-of-the-office, he was out there faithfully clearing out driveways. His neighbors have come to depend on him and greatly appreciate his service.
I think that kids are not counted on much today. For one thing, there just does not seem to be very many opportunities to teach work ethic. By the time they are old enough to get a job, most teenagers do not seem to even know how to work. I really want that to be different for our kids. And I have found that one of the best ways for them to learn involves a snow shovel.
Since service definitely starts at home, the shoveling does too. Our place has happens to have A LOT of sidewalk, along with a circle drive and full driveway. Shoveling us out takes a few hours. Occasionally, like with yesterday’s several inches of wet, heavy snow, my husband does break out his snow-blower. But especially if there is an inch or two, I much prefer that we shovel out by hand. That gives all of us needed exercise in the winter fresh air.
Even yesterday, all of the kids had to help shovel for awhile. Depending on their age (and level of ambition), their actual amount of shoveling varied. Frequently I heard “my arms are tired.” Or often I hear, “I’m cold. When can I be done?” Determined to also teach perseverance, I remind them that they can keep going. (Notice – I am out there shoveling with them or this little project would be even more quickly abandoned. 🙂 ) As it was, they shoveled for awhile, then built a snowman. I am good with that too – after all, they are only young once.
Not only do we have lots of shoveling, we also live in an established neighborhood. Many of our neighbors are elderly. Especially when we only get an inch or two of snow, we try to shovel out their driveways too. Sometimes, they offer to pay the kids. Occasionally we accept, but mostly I want the kids to serve just because, not with the motivation of money. Maybe none of your neighbors are older (for instance we let the video playing 20-somethings fend for themselves), but maybe you have a single mom nearby who would love the help.
Recently our neighbor across the street had heart surgery. Our young teenager accepted the responsibility of shoveling for them during the rest of winter. While they might pay him a bit eventually, so far his time has been basically volunteer. I think that it has been good for him to see that even if he does not feel like shoveling, they are counting on him, so he has to go out there. I am proud of his efforts.
How about you? How do you teach your kids to work hard and serve others?