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This Saturday, as well as several previous, intermittent days, we have been cutting wood. Our only heat source is wood, so we need to have it taken care of before winter comes, and we have to do it every year. As our boys, my husband, and I were working, I had time to think about the many years we have been collecting wood, and how our children have helped at different ages. When they were little, it was usually carrying the wood from one location to the other, whether from the splitter to the wood stack, or the wood stack to the wheelbarrow to take it in to burn. They were, and still are, required to do what they are capable of doing. But their skill set has increased over the years.

When they were little it was just the hauling. As they grew, they learned how to stack a woodpile so that it didn’t tip on anyone during the winter, how to make it safe. As they continued to grow, they learned how to load the log splitter while I split the wood, and then, they learned to run the splitter. At first with a whole lot of supervision, but now, we trust them more than a lot of adults we know, to be safe, run it properly, and take good care of it. As they have gotten older they have each learned to run the chainsaws (girls and boys), when they felt comfortable, and when we felt like they could do so safely. My husband uses a large chainsaw, but we have 2 small chainsaws that we have taught them how to use properly and how to stay safe while doing so. Usually my husband cuts down the trees, but on the smaller trees he takes time to instruct the kids on how to cut, and how to make the trees fall where they want them to. It is amazing how much their help has sped up the wood cutting and hauling process, and especially amazing at how much more aware they are of what’s going on around them, even when they aren’t the ones cutting.

As I pondered upon the tree cutting, I also started to think about the ways we have taught our kids through the years. From simple chores like picking up toys, to bigger projects, like how to repair damage they have caused to vehicles when they were learning how to drive. It is interesting to me, to note how much more they appreciate the things they have to work on, haul, fix, clean, etc. Sometimes, I have forgotten the things my kids needed to learn though. As my oldest left home, she would ask for help filling out paperwork at the doctor, help with bank statements, help understanding bills, etc. Things that I had just always, automatically done, just because I was always there. One of my sons had to go to the doctor recently to get a Tdap booster shot. The nurse who checked us in gave him the paperwork. He started to hand it to me and I told him to fill it out. I was grateful the nurse handed it to him initially, as a reminder to myself to help him learn.

Over the years I have watched youth and young adults. I have learned that the kids who have been taught at home are more settled and better able to hand life when they get out on their own. When they have learned how to care for themselves, when they have learned how to care for their surroundings, then they can focus on other things in life, like their schooling, their jobs, their families. No parent is perfect, and no parent will think of everything their child should learn ahead of time. But it’s important to involve them in as much of daily life as possible. Teach them to cook, clean, use money wisely, save money, and most especially, just teach them how to work. No matter the person, someone who is a good worker is an asset to any company they work for, regardless of the work being performed. The ability to start, persevere through, and finish a job, is a skill that should be developed from childhood. How you go about doing that will depend on your circumstances. Not everyone hauls wood, works on a farm, or has their own business the kids can help at. But there are things around the home and community that can help kids learn how to work and develop life skills that will benefit them for the rest of their lives. I am grateful for the things my kids have learned, and that they will ask when they don’t know. I am grateful that I can keep helping them, and learning myself. What have you done in your family to develop life skills in your children?

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