Dear Peter Pan (the pen name of another farm wife):
I read your request in the December issue for a schedule which would enable you to spend more time with your children and their father. Perhaps I can help you.
If you will pardon me, I think your attitude is wrong. A well-known child specialist says, “Leaving the dishes in the sink, to gather the children to one’s knee, does not fill me with enthusiasm. The habit of orderliness is not taught by this method.”
Friends who live in cities often comment on the fact that a farmer and his family have a great blessing in being so much together. We have a boy and a girl. We are interested in the same things. My children and I have seen many wonders of the setting sun, coming in from the field on the tail end of a truck-load of potatoes. My husband and I had a lot of chummy afternoons this fall, traveling over the farm, to pick up piles of stone with which we made a foundation for our new garage.
Of course, we have happy times when we play together, but my point is obvious. We farmers and our children, working side by side, need not seek opportunities to be together.
I think our greatest family joy is our garden. The children get as much out of it as but we do, possibly more, because a child’s capacity for enjoyment is so limitless. Children who help make rows of carrots and spinach, don’t have to be bribed to eat them.
There are trees and shrubs about our home which we four have planted. The children have watched them grow husky with as much interest as I have. Every year our perennial flower border has a few additions. The children help decide what these shall be.
In the winter, when our hired help is gone, we all do chores. Coming in from the barn these winter evenings, we always stop to look at the sky full of glory. I could fill several pages full of things we do together, things that don’t take a lot of time and don’t call for a schedule. This spontaneous way has a distinct advantage. In fact, I think if one were consciously to sit down for an appointed hour with the children, there might be something forced about it. You know we take medicine at appointed hours.
I’m not “crazy clean,” but I like orderliness. The children help me in this, too, by keeping their toys picked up when they aren’t using them, and by hanging up their clothes.
When we review all the good times we’ve had since we had a family, it’s not the long trips we’ve taken over the state, which stand out in memory, any more than some afternoons we’ve spent husking corn, and rainy days when we’ve varnished floors.