Friday, March 18, 2011

The Value of Leisure Time

That one little chicken of mine sure has got my brain spinning the last few days.  A quick calculator session (one of my favorite pastimes) showed me that on standard chicken feed, my little chicken will be able to produce eggs at half the cost of my typical supermarket purchase.  Excellent!

Of course, now that we have our own chicken (and more to come soon), I've been thinking about all the possibilities: finding an organic chicken feed, mixing my own organic grains, or even starting some vermiculture for the rich compost and to have some worms to feed to the chickens.

Whew... sounds like a lot of work.  And time.  Since healthy chickens are mostly just a means to healthy children at this point in my life, I will have to figure out what kind of return on investment all that work would yield.  Is it better for the kids to have an extra hour of playground time out in the sunshine or a healthier egg for breakfast?  Or will they have just as much fun helping me measure grain and feed the worms in the sunshine of our own backyard, and simultaneously learning about the hard work that goes into quality food? 

I've been rereading The American Frugal Housewife the last few days, one of the main tenants of which is the folly of idleness.  Many of the author's tips for keeping children productively busy, like knitting their own garters and braiding straw for their own hats, are not exactly applicable today, but the concept is still valid.  We hear so often that for little kids, their play is their work.  I agree, but for little ones, isn't work often play too?  I know my kids would rather help me roll out dough or help daddy build a chicken run than play with toys.  Einstein will gladly abandon his blocks in the living room to come running and ask to help me set the table for dinner.  

Maybe it would be wisest for me to capitalize on the kids' age and their eagerness to "help" with grownup jobs.  If I keep reinforcing the idea that working around the house is what we do to entertain ourselves and have a good time, will the habit stick in the coming years?  I'm not talking about child-sweatshop hours here or anything, but we all want our kids to grow up with a healthy work-ethic, right?  

Since I abandoned the world of the typical productive adult to be a stay-at-home mom, I've realized that I'm not going to have standard "hours off" to do normal leisure activities, so if I'm going to be happy, I'd better just enjoy the work I do.  Instead of counting down the hours until the kids are in bed and I can "do fun grown up stuff by myself," I am much more content if I find joy in each task.  I don't know if it's possible for the kids to gain this attitude by osmosis as they grow up, or if it's just something we all have to learn for ourselves.  But I'd love to do all I can to encourage them to enjoy working as well as playing.

Of course, this long-winded rambling has not solidified in my mind whether I'm going to go all out for super-healthy chickens.  But, hey, the title of the blog is Analytical Mom, with a clear emphasis on unnecessary over-thinking, so you were warned in advance, at least. 

What are some things you have done in your own family to help encourage your children to work hard?  I am really only getting started with the kiddos, and I'd love a little advice and wisdom from anyone willing to give it.

This photo has very little to do with the above post.  It is the dogs
 watching the chicken, eager to chase and  attack.

Posted at Fresh, Clean, and Pure Friday at la bella vita


  1. I bent my no bread rule a bit, (using my germ but no bran flour) I showed my nine year old how to make bread. I let him use the breadmaker to make the dough. He measured everything, started the maker, greased the pans, and baked it. It turned out beautiful and he was so proud of himself. Its his job from now on.
    We have been reading Little House on the Prairie and the Rose Wilder series and the amount of work those children had to do was incredible. In all honestly, I think I have done a bit too much for my kids so we have been working on more practical task that help the entire household. It has built their confidence that they are able to do so many things that they thought they couldn't do!

  2. They WILL learn by osmosis! :) Practice what you teach and they will grow up watching and learning from you :D We always say Learning is Caught not Taught. ;)

    But.. on the other hand.. I have a teenage son and although he used to like help doing Big People chores, I have to do the usual mom naggin' to get him to do his chores these days! lol! But he always does it without complaining and i have to say--I appreciate that A LOT. And that is something he has picked up I think--you just do what needs to be done with a smile on your face! :)

  3. Thank you, ladies, for your advice and encouragement! It is exciting to hear about all the things your older kids can do - makes me excited for the future!

  4. In my experience, children love the time WITH a loving adult, being able to talk and be listened to, and they love knowing they are making a contribution to the welfare of the family and that they are respected and appreciated for it. Most children respond less well to "go do such and such." "Let's do such and such," although not always possible, is a happier choice. I think your thinking (?) is right on. I'll be anxious to read what you decide to do. I hope you have good housing for that drooled over chicken! :)

  5. Very thought-provoking Danielle. These are some thoughts I should be having, I think;) Not about the chicken, of course...

  6. Yolanda, thanks for the's nice to know I'm not too far off base here. The dogs have done their best to penetrate the chicken's defenses, but no luck. :)
    Stacia, thank you for reading my long-winded posts. :)


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