Monday, May 16, 2011

Lessons from the Power Fold

Mondays are “Power Fold Day” at the Jamieson house. It’s a tradition that started several years ago when this mom was both stretched to the limit with stuff to do and also watching two pre-teens sloughing their responsibilities on the family team.

Since our youngest of three daughters, Carly, has severe disabilities, the older two girls have grown up in an environment where there have been others in and out helping to care for their sister. Sometimes, that has included helping with household chores. If Carly is sleeping, a caregiver may empty a dishwasher, fold a few clothes or sweep a floor. For that reason and some others (including mom and dad just plain failing to put their foot down), I began to notice we might inadvertently be raising two girls who largely expected to be served.

And so was birthed The Power Fold experience that changed more than we ever expected it would.

One evening I announced to my family at dinner (husband included) that we were going to spend 20 minutes together folding nine or ten loads of laundry that I had washed and dried during the day. They were collected in baskets in the dining room waiting to be placed in orderly piles. After the meal, the kitchen table was washed and cleared for the big event. No one was to leave the room until the job was done. I promised them it would only take 20 minutes and though I got eye rolls, harrumphs and verbal push-back about urgent homework, I walked over to the oven and set the timer for 20 minutes. I assured them the job was doable in that amount of time if everyone focused and I invited them to leave early if the job was done more quickly than expected. We were finished in 18 minutes.

A few minutes later, Larry and I went for a glorious walk in the neighborhood sunshine and I was working hard to keep my self-satisfaction (okay, call it pride) to myself. Fortunately, before I succumbed to gloating, my husband made a simple statement that made me want to jump into his arms right there in front of passers-by on the busy street. He said, “We’re going to do that again next week. In fact, that’s the way we’re going to do it from now on.”

The quality of the folding, in some cases, was pathetic. With time and a little coaching, this improved. Sometimes it took 27 minutes instead of 20. We eventually started adding an episode of a favorite tv show to the experience which meant it took more time but it kept our teenagers in the same room with us longer too. Bonus.

Here are some of the lessons we’ve learned from The Power Fold:

  • Each of us is an important part of a team with responsibilities and opportunities to bless others on the team.
  • A relatively small investment of time can go a long way. (Twenty minutes from each of them bought mom 2 or more hours of sleep.)
  • A creative, consistent and calmly administered plan prevents a mother from becoming whiny and quarrelsome like a “continuing drip of rain.”
  • Working shoulder-to-shoulder makes for valuable bonding. (When schedules don’t allow us to put in our 20 minutes simultaneously, each of us puts in our 20 minutes independently. The job gets done but we miss out on the blessing of fellowship and collaboration.)
  • Doing some of the family chores together (rather than independently) creates an opportunity for my husband to be our leader and for the two of us to display our unity in front of the children. (I initially proposed the Power Fold without disclosing my secretly prayerful intention that it become a regular event. Fortunately, my husband saw its tremendous value and declared it weekly tradition. He is now frequently known to text the girls a reminder in the afternoon that they’ll need to reserve time that evening for the special event.)

Let us know — what are some ways your family is serving one another and learning lessons with eternal value?

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. ECCLESIASTES 4:9

If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. JOHN 13:14-17

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