In my very favorite BYU Family Life class we read an article entitled "Family Work" by Kathleen Bahr & Cheri Loveless. It has forever stuck with me. Many times the feeding, cleaning, and nurturing of family work can seem so mundane and ordinary, but here is what they proclaim as the blessings of working together as a family:
CONNECTING: Chores often require little mental concentration leaving our minds free to focus on one another as we work together. I love going to my in-laws and working side by side in the kitchen because we bond together as we talk, laugh, and share.
CONTRIBUTE: Because household work is often menial, even the smallest child can make a meaningful contribution. Give kids OWNERSHIP by showing them you "need" their help and even labeling your child's name on their own scrub brush or broom or gloves. Brayden loves to stand on my bathroom sink and try to "help" wipe it with windex. He could stand at that kitchen sink for hours "helping" me wash the dishes. He's ecstatic about having his very own kitchen drawer full of his own cleaning tools like his toy knife that he gets out to help me scrap junk off the floor. We've got to involve them in tons of cleaning while they still think it is so cool to be just like mom and dad!
DISCUSSING DIFFICULT TOPICS: Working side by side tends to dissolve feelings of hierarchy, making it easier for children to discuss topics of concern with their parents. I know one mom who noticed one of her sons was quiet at the dinner table, so as they were finishing up she asked that he help her with the dishes. He was able to open up about his day as they worked and talked one-on-one. Family work invites intimate conversation between parent and child.
REPETITION BRINGS US TOGETHER: One frustrating quality of family work is that almost as quickly as it is done, it must be redone. Dust gathers, dirt accumulates, beds get messed up, children get hungry and dirty, meals are eaten, clothes become soiled. The work is never done. However, each rendering of a repetitive task is a new invitation for all to enter the family circle and create a sense of belonging and identity. Forging family ties and identity is built moment by moment amidst the talking and teasing, the singing and storytelling, and even the quarreling and anguish that may attend such work sessions.
A CALL TO ENACT LOVE: Family work provides opportunities for us to show our love to our family. My brother-in-law Joe said of his sweet wife, "Every time I bite into one of Kristin's meals, I fall in love with her all over again!" Meeting our family's needs shows them that we love and care for them.
God gave us WORK as A LINK TO ONE ANOTHER, as a LINK TO HIM, as a stepping stone toward salvation. Working together (as a family and with God) has the power to transform our very natures. Christ chose the washing of the feet - a task ordinarily done in His time by the most humble of servants. When Peter objected, Christ made clear the importance of participating and serving: "If I wash thee not, thou has no part with me." Spiritually, we sacrifice our pride and invite God to wash our own souls from sin. So to in our families, we become one as we work together.