Here on the blog I am sharing a few things we have done in our household with our kids to help guide them up into their teen years. You can read the intro and something I've called the Bear Grylls River Talk here on the blog.
Today I want share something I scribbled down for our kids about a month ago which has become a bit of an eye-rolling joke and a guiding framework for our family. I've called it CHIP in. For years I have been telling my kids that "boredom is the sign of a lack of creativity and thought and the result of an inactive mind." When kids are bored I tell them to use their creativity, imagination, prayer and thinking to find something helpful and productive to occupy their lives. My kids have seldom been bored.
As our kids have grown up they have the freedom to direct more of their free time and choices themselves. We also encourage one another to use our lives in the service of God and others and not simply be self-absorbed, entertainment driven people. As school ended for our family last month, I scribbled down some thoughts for my kids in the summer months where we have a bit more time margin. It rolled out this way:
When you have time open, CHIP in. With CHIP standing for Chores, Homework, Investment, Pleasure.
I picked the word CHORES as it typically refers to assigned household tasks given to kids. We actually do not have chores for our kids and have never really done things that way. Now our children do household tasks and work. These just don't exist on individualized lists for each child. They have not been related to an allowance. These things are good practices, but we have chosen not to do things in that way.
What we try to instill in our kids is this: do what we ask of you, and do things without being asked that need to be done. So for us, CHORES means to look at the house and get things done that you see needs to be done.
- If there is laundry that needs to be fold it, fold it. Grab a sibling to help
- If there are dishes that need to be put away, do it
- If there are dirty dishes, wash them
- If a common space in our house is cluttered, pick it up
- Your room, your domain - keep it cleaned up
So chipping in means proactively doing these things when asked and doing them on your own before you plop down to watch Netflix.
Let me say straight away that homework is not a bad or distasteful word in our home. Our kids like doing homework. They like school. This was caught in the culture of our household at a young age. We love to learn as a family. So even in the summer months, we encourage one another to do homework. In other words, love learning and when you have free time, endeavor to learn something.
- Pick up a book and read
- Learn something about God and his world
- Listen to an audiobook
- Do some math exercises on Khan Academy
So chipping in means proactively doing these things to grow intellectually as people before you plop down to watch Netflix.
God has placed us in this world as beings in relationship. We have relationships with God and other people. We are a family. You have a brother and a sister. Or in my son's case, two sisters. Take some time to invest in these relationships.
- Read Scripture and spiritual books to invest in your relationship with God
- Spend some time praying
- Spend time with one of your siblings, do something together. Chores, homework, fun things. Don't do these alone, do them together
- Call a grand parent
- Do something with a friend
So chipping in means seeking out things that invest in your relationships before you plop down to watch Netflix.
Finally, we are not anti-media, anti-fun or anti-pleasure as a family. We just don't want to default to entertainment and goofing off as the only thing to do with our free time. So yes, you can watch Anne with an E on Netflix. Yes, we can watch soccer together. Just don't slug out and watch 4 hours of TV in a row today. Chipping in means there are many others things to do with our lives.
And if you do want to plop down and watch Netflix, do so with with a friend, sibling or even dear old Dad. That new Anne with an E out of Canada was pretty good.
CHIP in is a bit goofy, my girls do roll their eyes at it in love. I even had this exchange with my middle one, "Dad, don't you just want us to do these things on our own, instead of you chirping 'CHIP in' to us every day?" Yes, sweetie Ky, yes I do. You got it and I'm proud of you. Dad gives dap to daughter and thanks God.
"CHIP in" can be used with kids of all ages young or old. Try it or make up your own deals to help your kids focus on the good, the right and true things of life.
Unless the LORD builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.