Friday, June 14, 2013

The more we get together, the happier we'll be

Peninsula is a very tiny village in northern Summit County, Ohio. Yet it always seems to offer a wealth of family activities from which to choose. There are some months that Peninsula seems to offer more than the cities of Akron and Canton. How do they manage to do this month after month? It's a cooperative effort.

The business owners and organizations in Peninsula have a very close and cooperative relationship. They plan events together. They solve problems together. They have fun together. They look toward the future together. This cooperative effort makes a world of difference! Success is far easier when there is support and cooperation.

Other towns could learn much from the attitudes and efforts of Peninsula... So could companies, churches, schools and families. Many difficulties could be erased, problems solved, work loads lessened and stresses eliminated, if there was more of a "we" attitude, and less of a "me" attitude.

Years ago, I worked for a large national company. The employee stress levels at this company were extremely high, turnover was astronomical and joy was nonexistent. I remember telling the department manager that the work would be more enjoyable, if I understood how my job "fit into the big picture." Every person at the company had a job to do, but no one seemed to understand how the company operated, or how their individual duties were involved in the success or failure of the company. People were either afraid, or too complacent, to share ideas and suggestions. Everyone worked independently and alone. There was no trust and no cooperation.

Prior to that work experience, I had worked for The College of Wooster. The college operated much like the town of Peninsula. Faculty, staff, laborers and students worked together, played together and learned together. There was a great feeling of family, support, cooperation, and fun. Everyone knew if enrollment was up or down, if donations were plentiful or limited. Success was celebrated and challenges were faced together. I was part of a committee consisting of faculty, students, members of the board of directors, groundskeepers, secretaries and cooks. We met weekly to address issues of concern on campus, and to discuss ideas. No job was seen as more important than another, or too menial. All work was important to the success of the school. I cherish the memories of my years at Wooster.

When I conduct workshops for homeschool families, many attendees tell me how overwhelmed they feel by all the things they need to do: planning, scheduling, driving, teaching, gathering resources, keeping the house clean, cooking meals... For one person to do alone, it is overwhelming. The key to success and lowered stress, is cooperation. Involve your family in accomplishing chores at home. You could turn cooking, cleaning and organizing your home, into a unit study on household management. It would lessen your workload, and you would be teaching your children valuable skills. At a recent party we attended, one person commented about a mom with a large number of children, "How does she do it? I can't handle two children." Her secret to success: cooperation. Older children help with younger children. The work load is shared, and everyone gains from the experience.

Many homeschoolers tell me that their parents, in-laws, grandparents and other relatives and friends are not supportive of their educational choice. One solution is to get them involved. Invite them to teach your children skills (cooking, carpentry, quilting, crossword puzzle solving,) or to share stories from their childhood (history lesson.) Ask them if they would be willing to transport your children to their music lessons or classes. It is possible to "kill two birds with one stone" by doing this. They will gain a better understanding of the opportunities for learning that are available, and your work load and stress will be eased, plus your children will learn more!

I know families who carpool. Other families have formed meal preparation groups, where everyone takes turns cooking an evening meal for the other families in the group. Large quantities are prepared, and delivered just in time for dinner, or for the freezer. One day a week, the family works hard to prepare the large meal, and the rest of the week, they simply wait for another family to bring completely prepared meals to their home.

If you like to cook, but hate to clean, find a friend who likes to clean, but hates to cook. Each of you can do what you enjoy, and avoid what you don't enjoy, while ensuring that you have a clean house and good food on the table. Or, have a cleaning party! It's always more fun to clean someone else's house, and to have good company and extra hands when you're cleaning your own. Put on some fun “cleaning” music, and you'll be amazed how quickly your house can be spic and span. If you would rather cook than clean, have a cooking party. Have it at the home of a friend with a large kitchen, and make huge batches of different types of food to share and take home.

If you hate to plan lessons, or feel that it is something you don't do well, join or form a learning cooperative. Share the task of teaching. Find a group with which you are comfortable, and it will make a world of difference. Parents develop friendships with other parents who understand the challenges they are facing, and can offer support and suggestions. Children gain knowledge, skills, friends and new perspectives. Everyone wins.

So, if you are feeling overwhelmed, take a cue from the village of Peninsula. Build a network of support and cooperation, and everyone will have more fun and less stress.

In the spirit of cooperation,


"None of us is as smart as all of us." ~Ken Blanchard

"No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it." ~H.E. Luccock

"Teamwork divides the task and multiplies the success." ~Author Unknown

"We should not only use the brains we have, but all that we can borrow."
- Woodrow Wilson

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