Posted by: angiefm | August 5, 2010

Do Hard Things

A freshly bathed and dressed baby, courtesy of his big sister.  Check out the neatly combed hair!

This morning, while I was having a shower, Alethea, without being asked to, brought Daniel into the bathroom to bathe him. Nathalie helped by getting towel and face cloth, and had to clean the floor after Daniel peed on it!

In the meantime, Timothy was getting Daniel’s bag ready for their outing with my parents. He re-filled Daniel’s snack tube with three different types of cereal and biscuits and made sure there were enough disposable diapers and a change of clothes in his bag.

On days like these, I know that going maid-free was the best decision we made in 2010.  😀


For those who have just tuned in to our family’s adventures, we went maid-free 4 and a half months ago after having had a live-in helper for 9 and a half years!

TC and I are so very proud of the way our children are learning “on-the-job” after our family went maid-free.  And we are really proud of ourselves too!  🙂  We are all still a work-in-progress, but you should see us in action in the evenings as we pack, put away, clean, wash!  A force to be reckoned with!  LOL!  🙂  Of course we are helped in a BIG way by our many gadgets – the two iRobots clean our floors, the dishwasher tackles the day’s dishes, etc.  Alethea now makes omelettes for lunch, prepares pasta dinners, and yesterday made cream of broccoli soup from scratch (with no help but lots of supervision!).  I am getting better every day at handling meals (I still figure out meals on the fly and really need to get down to meal-planning), and I have finally gotten a handle on doing all that laundry!  We would not have thought any of this possible six months ago. 

Going maid-free has been what our family likes to call a “no-regret move”.  We highly recommend it.  🙂

[Btw, “maid-free” was a term coined by my cousin Ling in the US.  I think it is a much better term than “maid-less”.]

Do Hard Things

Last month, I was asked to speak at our church’s youth group meeting.  The topic was FAMILY.  Talk about a BROAD topic!  So I used it as a platform for talking about a current favourite topic of mine – adolesence or the teen years and my concerns and thoughts on the matter.

I have been thinking about this on and off for a LONG TIME now.  In a nutshell, the issue is this.  100 years ago, there were no teens.  You were a child, then you grew physically and in maturity and progressively learnt to take care of yourself, contribute to the family, the farm, the business, the trade, the community, etc.  In Jewish society, the Bar/Bat Mitzvah is a coming-of-age ceremony for 12/13 year olds and it is a public statement that the individual is now an adult in the eyes of Jewish law.  Think responsibility.  But in societies like ours, teens enjoy a honeymoon period when nothing much is required of them.  They are still in school, they wear different clothes, have different codes of conduct, they talk funny, they don’t work, they are not required to contribute to the family or to society (studying is apparently more important so they are excused from much else).  So when it comes time for them to take on responsibilities of adulthood, they don’t know how to.  Of course I am simplifying the issue, and there are always exceptions.

In a book by teens and for teens, the Harris twins issue a call to their peers to Do Hard Things.  They call it a REBELUTION – a revolution against low expectations.  In another book I am currently reading, titled Rite of Passage Parenting: Four Essential Experiences to Equip Your Kids for Life, author Walker Moore writes about needing to give our children “significant tasks“.  Think about it this way.  If your child leaves the home for a week, will someone have to pick up the slack around the house?  If there is nothing your child is solely responsible for that contributes to the well-being of the family, then that child doesn’t do significant tasks.

Anyway, back to the talk at the youth group meeting.  I challenged the group to think about what significant task they could perform around the house to be of service to their families.  I asked them if they would step up and do hard things.  And when they were asked to report in after a group discussion, what did more than half of them come up with?  CLEARING THE DISHES AFTER MEALS!  Of course I was encouraging and told them it was a good start, but honestly … I couldn’t believe it!  These were 13 to 19 year olds and they didn’t even help to clear their own dishes after meals?  And the majority of them didn’t have live-in-maids at home.  So their parents were doing this for them?  *faint*

It really made me wonder … What are we as parents doing to raise our children to do hard things?  I would love to hear your views, so please comment!


  1. I’m happy to hear how your family is reaping the rewards of going maid-free. You are on your way to raising your children to be responsible adults.

    Today’s culture is so focused on raising children to be children, and then we wonder why they have so much problems functioning as adults.

    Just a heads-up – you might get frowned upon by well-meaning family & friends who may think you are slave-drivers, getting your “poor children” to do so much around the house. Ask me how I know 😉

    I also get offers from these same people to “relieve me” by taking some of my children out (usually my 2 oldest) so I don’t have so many children underfoot. To which I respond, “Oh no, you’d be taking away my very important helpers. And they come in a package. All or none.” 🙂

    • Thanks for taking the time to comment, MS Mom! 🙂 I’m totally with you on well-meaning people trying to help me by taking away my help! Ha ha ha. When I’m alone with the 14 month old, I can’t do a thing around the house and by the time the older 3 come home, I’m on the brink of a small but significant nervous breakdown!

      Poor children? I had an aunt say to me the other day, “Aiyoh, you and cousin S (also maid-free) both so poor thing. So hard life!” 😀

      Here’s to living lives of significance!

  2. It’s great what you’re doing with your kids but it makes me uncomfortable to hear people tok about raising children as if everything is black and white. You didn’t say yours is THE right way but it’s implied that parents who don’t give their children as much responsibility as you do are lesser parents in some respect. I love your blog so I hope you don’t take this the wrong way but sometimes I get the vibe that you feel parents who homeschool or do things the same way as you are superior in some way. Anyway, God calls us all for different things. Like I said, I am a follower of your blog so I hope you will take this as feedback 🙂 Shalom!

    • Thanks for the comment TTY. You are right. I never do say that ours is the right way. But we are in many senses a minority in this society. Stay-home mom, homeschooler, maid-free. So I tend to wax lyrical about the wonders of this lifestyle to encourage other like-minded families who get trashed so much by mainstream society, by their families and friends. Many who choose this lifestyle choose not to talk about it in public because the reaction is almost always negative. So I hope you and our other readers don’t mind if I give positive strokes to those like ourselves. We all need encouragement to continue on the path that we feel God has choosen for us to walk. As minorities in these choices we have made for our families, we need even more encouragement to continue swimming against the tide. It is in this spirit that I offer these blog posts.

      I think my parents are great! I think that I turned out alright. 🙂 But I would certainly have benefitted if they had given me more responsibilities so that I would not have had to struggle so much in my adult life. We had a life-in maid for 9.5 years. Never in that time did we think we were doing the wrong thing. We sent our oldest to pre-school when she was only 2 years and 3 months old. We didn’t think for a minute it was the wrong thing to do. We still don’t. There are no rights or wrongs, no blacks or whites. It’s like saying one church’s style of worship is superior to another. No such thing.

      At the end of the day, it is whether each of us has a personal belief in Jesus the Saviour that counts for eternity! And in this, we are brothers and sisters and children of the Great High King! So Shalom to you too! 🙂

  3. Hi, Angie!

    I am happy to come across your blog today! I have a 2.5 yr old son and 4 months pregnant. I am also a stay home mum. The lack of finances has forced me to look for altenatives to sending my son to pre-school. And I know God is in control of this. I realized more and more that this is God’s will for me, whethe I have the will and strength to do it, is another matter.

    I am car-free since Dec 2009, maid free from the time I was born. Now at 36, feeling really tired with a curious and active toddler and expecting a baby, I’ve wondered aloud whether I can really cope with 2 at home by myself. Yes, well meaning friends suggest maid or send my son to childcare. I know the latter option will surely break my resolve to homeschool so I am holding it off. Needless to say, homeschooling is a new concept to many and I have received questions/comments even for which by God’s grace, I’ve been able to answer wisely and gracefully.

    Please pray for me that I will be strong, especially with the birth of the new baby. I not not sure how I am going to cope, besides following tried and tested routines with my son, that includes sleep training.

    God bless your stay home ministry, homeschooling and this blog of sharing. May He enlarge your territory for His glory.


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