After four straight days of Christmas, I am in major slug-mode…
It’s 8:33 a.m.
The crackling fire log on my flat-screen TV warms me from across the room.
Through the living room window, I have a perfect view of our front-yard evergreen laden with inches of heavy snow. Tiny flakes still fill the air, reflecting the bright morning sun. They shimmer as they slowly settle down onto the white blanket that has formed overnight.
My graying, plush housecoat hugs me close, pressing greedily into my neck.
I sigh, content.
Then, I feel a nudge and the sloth-child within whimpers pathetically,
Please, please don’t make me move from this warm spot on the couch, where I hold a steaming cup of Baileys with coffee – I mean, coffee with Baileys – and my legs are deliciously buried beneath a fuzzy, green blanket and my favorite online bookstore calls seductively to me from my laptop screen.
This is holiday bliss and I don’t want it to end…
But it’s no use. Christmas is over.
And I know that we must return to some version of normalcy. Today. There are things to do – clean the bedrooms, tidy the house, decontaminate the fridge, etc. – and I feel entirely unmotivated.
I find it difficult to pull myself out of the cozy, holiday burrow that I’ve holed myself up in for the last four days:
- we went sledding,
- drank hot chocolate,
- chattered at gatherings,
- hunted for Christmas presents,
- played board games,
- chomped on peanuts and oranges and chocolate – oh, my!
- we binge-watched Hallmark Christmas movies,
- ate waffles with whipped cream,
- screamed on snowmobile rides, and
- sipped wine after the kids were tucked into bed.
These holiday indulgences have been glorious, and I fear all that awaits me now is…
I’m sorry. That’s quite negative, isn’t it?
I suppose an entire life filled only with luxury and pleasure would be devoid of purpose and, therefore, incredibly depressing. I should be thankful for motherly and housewife responsibilities.
I give the kids a 60-minute warning.
“We are ALL going to get off our butts and be productive today. At 9:30 am, screens are off and work is getting done!” I insist.
Three children respond, “Mm-hm,” without looking up from the tablet and phone they are playing games on.
I continue gleefully browsing www.christianbook.com.
At 10:05, I finally peel myself off the couch and lethargically climb up to my bedroom to dress for the day. Pulling on a pair of striped socks, I wonder how I will motivate myself and my apathetic children. I am at a loss. Until…
Do you remember making paper fortune tellers as a child?
(And did you know that’s what they were called? I sure didn’t, or else I would have been obligated by my super-sensitive conscience to “just say no” to this sinful game. Alas, I was blissfully ignorant of its origins and my friends and I made them happily all through elementary.)
Check out my post-holiday cleanup paper fortune teller:
With much enthusiasm, I show the kids my fun AND efficient plan. They receive it with a mixture of emotions – interest, leeriness, excitement, and dread. Intriguing how all these emotions can go hand in hand.
I quickly explain the Post-Holiday Clean-Up Paper Fortune Teller game rules:
- No complaining. (Whining and fits of defiance will be rewarded with additional jobs.)
- Take turns picking the “fortune”.
- We must complete the jobs and activities in the order that they are chosen.
- We do not quit until all eight “fortunes” are completed.
Let the game begin…
Of course, the kids hope to pick 30 minutes of free time right off the hop, but in their misfortune, they receive:
Take a shower or bath.
My daughter is happy. She wants to try out one of her new Christmas bath bombs in the tub.
The boys groan. They hate getting clean. What’s up with that, anyway?
Half an hour later, we start working the fortune teller again. Everyone grimaces as we flip open the second pick and see:
Tidy the house.
“But it’s a disaster!” one child complains.
This is true.
It isn’t pretty, but the four of us pull together and got the job done with surprisingly positive attitudes.
Fast forward to late afternoon, after all eight items have been completed…
We are proud. We feel good. And no wonder.
The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.
— Genesis 2:15 ESV
We were made to work.
My wise father told me many times throughout my childhood, “It doesn’t matter what kind of job you find – whether you’re a doctor or whether you scrub toilets for a living – as long as, whatever you do, you do it well.”
Interestingly, this sounds like something I’ve heard my Heavenly Father say many times:
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men…
— Colossians 3:23 ESV
Slowly, I’m learning to grab hold of that work ethic.
In the meantime, I’m thankful for days like today. They remind me that my life holds purpose, that I do enjoy my work, and that, just as I am pleased with my delightful children who plunged into today’s responsibilities with gusto, my Heavenly Father is pleased with me for obeying the nudge to get off the couch and he rewarded this obedience with joy.
It is evening now.
While the kids get ready for bed, I am thanking God for giving me a creative tool to get my family moving today and for providing me with enough energy to follow through. (Click here for more fun clean up ideas.) He always knows what I need. He cares about the little details of my life.
Even cleaning up after Christmas.
(You can find out how much God cares about the details of YOUR life, too, here.)
How do you motivate your kids at home? Share in the comment section below!
Sara Jane Kehler