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Cleaning at Your Children's Own Pace

Photo by LaterJay Photography on Pixabay

Last weekend, the weather was about as good as you're going to get out of late fall in Missouri, so Christina and I thought it would be great to take the kids to the Missouri Botanical Garden. If you haven't been there, you're missing out. It's just a treasure. And the best part is that it's free for St. Louis residents every Wednesday and Saturday before noon.

The condition for going to the Garden was that the children needed to have their chores done. There's nothing quite as unnerving for both parent and child as dragging your kid through the drudgery of household chores. And no solution, no app, no threat of monsters is going to make the process enjoyable. But it has to be done.

All that being said, I did have an insight in the process of cleaning the playroom that was eye-opening. I kept on thinking about effective management and how good managers don't just tell their subordinates what to do; they work alongside them. Nobody likes being dictated to from on high. Rather, we prefer leadership from those who make sacrifices with us and understand the challenges we face in the workplace.

As cliche as this understanding may be in business, I'm not sure how often we apply it as parents. Is it even a good idea? If we work alongside our children, will they appreciate our presence? And what if they're being slothful? Won't they just slowpoke through each task until their sucker parents finish the job?

These were the questions I was considering while trying to encourage our children to clean quickly so we wouldn't get to the Garden too late for that free entry. Then I had this idea: What if I told my kids that I would actually work together with them but that I would only work as fast as they did?

Once the kids understood that they could get dad to work fast by working fast themselves, they launched into action. When they slowed down, I slowed down and drew attention to the fact that I wasn't able to work quite as quickly as before. They had confidence that I would do my part as we worked collectively towards a goal that we all valued.

I'm not going to say that this idea is going to work every time, but it sure worked this last Saturday.

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