I want to raise boys that will grow up to be men that are serious about taking care of their responsibilities - their family being the first and foremost on that list. So we talk a lot about taking care of our responsibilities before we enjoy our privileges.
My big boys have long outgrown naps so after lunch in our house we set to our afternoon responsibilities (in the summer, when school is out, there will be morning ones as well). Every day we pick up all the toys that have collected, we put out that days' recycling, we feed the cat, we practice the verse we are working on for the week, and we sit down and read the Bible together. I also come up with one "extra chore" that each big boy does. (for example, wiping down the glass coffee table, wiping the sliding glass door, dragging the laundry basket to the utility room (or many other laundry tasks), wiping toothpaste from the sink, sweeping our wood-floor stairs, cleaning garbage and junk out of the car, and on and on...) The whole process takes about 30 minutes. My six year old is completely independant in his tasks now, and my three-year-old is becoming more independant each week.
It does take some thinking, but it is paying off, as my boys are actually becoming helpful. It has been an incredible opportunity for training, as the boys learn how to do many useful things around the house. It is also a built-in accountability for me because I see it as a time to take care of my household responsibilities too (like I can take care of them all in 30 minutes! Ha!).
Another concept that the kids are seeing is that I, too, am adhering to this principle. I have answered many of their requests to play with me with a "let me just finish this responsibility, and then I can." There is great freedom in this, because the kids get it (most of the time) that I need to take care of things. And on the other side of it, I am being purposeful to end my task in a timely manner and enjoy the privilege of reading to, or playing a bit of basketball with them.
The establishment of all this has prompted me to process the notion of privilege. Afternoon privileges in our home right now are usually 30 minutes of TV, sometimes 20 minutes on the computer. Prior to establishing this household priciple, I was THE GATEKEEPER of the TV and computer. I have great distain for this role, as it is a referee's close cousin. Now, the kids hold the keys to the gate. They know that responsibilities come before those beloved privileges, and instead of asking if they can watch TV, they are asking if they can take care of their responsibilities.
Usually the last thing we do on our "R" list is sit down and read a couple pages from our Bible. Today I rounded the corner, prepared to sit and read with them. I was blessed when I entered the family room to find my big boys sitting on the couch together with the Bible opened to the picture of one of Jesus' parables. Davis was telling (quite adeptly) what happened to each of the seeds that fell on the rocks, path, thorns, and good soil. Jackson was listening with great interest, interrupting with his questions. I sat next to Jackson and we listened and I smiled.