Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Pros of Child Slave Labor

One of the purposes of starting this blog (aside from the power of leaving "fun" comments on Annie's) is so I can keep some kind of record regarding the life and dealings of the Baxter household. This being the case, I think I should fill in some details regarding my children.

I have four. Sometimes I look at them and think, "Whoa. No way those little people walking around came from me." It really is amazing. The first three are boys: Liam 9 yrs, Niall 7 yrs, Conan 4yrs. Conan alternates between being "Conan the Barbarian" and "Conan the Destroyer." The fourth child Meara, is a girl, compliments of the amazing power of prayer and Dr. Shettles' book How to Choose the Sex of Your Baby. As noted in my earlier post, she is 2 yrs.

The best thing about my kids right now is that they're finally old enough to contribute, i.e. work, around the house. I know child slave labor was outlawed in 1903 - I used to tell my mother this to no avail - but like mother like daughter, it isn't stopping me. Liam just told someone the other day that all he does this summer is work, work, work. After discussing the chore lists our mother bestowed on us the year we turned 7 and 9, Laura (my older sister) and I decided our kids were definitely ready to take on a little responsibility. Talking about all the stuff we had to do: vacuum, mop, clean bathrooms, get wood, feed cows, etc., was like getting a license to start a daily Team Baxter work party. I think I'm the only one having fun at this party, but it's definitely working for me.

Every day I give the two older boys 2-3 chores each. This pales in comparison to the requirements placed on us, but it's better than nothing. They now unload the dishwasher, straighten and vacuum the living room/front room, clean the toilet, sweep the porch, wash the windows, pick up the yard, make their beds, clean their room, and anything else I can think of that I don't want to do myself. Granted, they're only doing a couple of these things a day each, but the lightening of my load is amazing! Like my mother before me, there is no incentive program, and no punishment - you just don't get lunch till you're done. Anyone familiar with the gastric capacities of my children will have a good idea just how effective this policy is. Niall's usually started before breakfast.

In case anyone is wondering, Conan is not left out of this program. He is the world's greatest 4 yr old bed maker, and he has the running jobs of keeping the pillows on the couch, blankets in their box, and shoes in their cubbies. He is definitely my most enthusiastic slave, and complains if there are no chores for him. I think he may be my favorite child? Well, maybe just between breakfast and lunch. Then the playing field evens out again.

In my spare moments, I like to think of what it will be like five years from now when I have four viable slaves at my beck and call. Think of the things that will get done! And do I feel guilty at these thoughts? Absolutely not. One of the greatest things I gained from my childhood was the sense of responsibility that comes from being a contributing member of a family. I learned early that my life happened after necessary things were taken care of. Yes Mother, I did my best to ignore this aspect of life, but the principle got through despite my best attempts to thwart your plans. I have no doubts that my children will someday reap the benefits of their contributions, and be better people for their hours of unpaid, but very appreciated labor. Thanks boys, you ROCK!!!


Burbs said...

I'm so excited you're blogging!! Now I can keep up with you (somewhat) Even though you're over there and ... well ... I'm over here!

Natalie said...

Yay! A Baxter blog! I love it! I had to laugh that the first thing I read had to do with Liam's "all I do is work, work, work" comment.

Stephanie said...

You are so funny, Jen. I can just picture you and hear you telling me this story, that is what is so great about reading yours and Kelly's blogs! You are a good mom, I can tell by the way you are working your little slaves, er, kids. :) I feel like I nag mine constantly, but then when I don't, they just decide to be helpful. Is it that way for you?

by AnnieValentine said...

"Contributing family member?" You? So so funny!

Laura said...


I wish I could get the joy out of forcing my children to work the way you do. It still tires me out 10x more than them, and I, of course, feel guilty. You want mine for a few weeks? Think of all the work they would do for you!