The Load

A friend asked me about “the load” today, and so I decided to post about it again.

Last year, we started a self-management program for summer called “the load.” It originated from a conference talk given by Elder Bednar, based on the story told in the video above. We have a sign on one of our kitchen white boards with a picture of a 4WD truck, a quote from the talk, and a tagline that says, “Having a daily load will help keep us from spinning our wheels.”

the loadThe load is a set of 10 daily assignments that each child is supposed to complete before going out to play. They can be completed in any order, and sometimes the load gets interrupted by a lesson or appointment or whatever. But we try to come back to the load before doing other recreation.

Here are the 10 assignments:

1. Pray and read your scriptures.

2. Make your bed.

3. Write in your journal.

4. Do math for (x number of) minutes.

5. Work on your Christlike attribute.

6. Do your housecleaning job/laundry/summer nurturing job.

7. Work in the garden.

8. Exercise.

9. Music practicing.

10. Serve someone and give love/gratitude.

The 10 assignments are written on the back of little wooden rounds that we made by cutting up branches from trees we cut down in our yard.

The wooden rounds are stored in a quart jar with their name initial on the front.

Housecleaning job is when they work for 2 hours together in teams to clean the house. They do that one day during M-F. (They do it on Saturdays during the school year.) On the days that they don’t do their housecleaning, they do a daily “5-minute tidy” that their team leader has assigned them. Each child has their own laundry day once a week. I help them when I can.

A summer nurturing job is a special assignment I gave each child for the summer. One older child’s job, for example, is to bake bread each week on one day. Another child’s job is to work on a Faith in God goal. Summer nurturing jobs originated with the idea that there are two things we need to learn how to do before we leave home at age 18: be able to take care of ourselves and be able to take care of others, at least the basics. We need to learn how to nurture ourselves and others. (“Love your neighbor as yourself.“) Summer time is a perfect time to work on some of the skills that we may not have time for during the school year because of homework, sports, etc.

Garden jobs are specific assignments, such as watering the herb pots on the back porch or the vegetable garden.

Music practicing is specific to that child’s teacher’s assigned amount of time, etc.

Reading is not one of the assignments because we read for pleasure a lot in summer. It’s part of our fun! Sometimes, though, I might ask if a child has read before they can watch a show.

When they complete an assignment, they move the appropriate wooden round into a basket. (We are trying to get a wooden truck made instead of the basket–that is Peter’s assignment for this summer.)

The general rule is that they need to be done with their load by lunch time. Some days they get it done much sooner if they are focused and motivated. Some days they take all day to do it. Some days we miss and don’t get it done.

The load is not a perfect solution to helping keep children on track during the summer, but it helps. It doesn’t mean I never have to ask or follow up on a child or call a child back to finish his or her work, but it is something that helps me not be constantly begging or nagging or threatening–at least not as much–for the children to do something productive and helpful. My children are not perfect in doing their work, and I’m far from perfect in training them, supporting them, and following up on them. Overall, it helps and works well in our home. I am proud of our children for doing a good job on their load. I LOVE getting a phone call or text that says, “Mom, can I go play? I finished my load.”

Hope this helps!

(To read more about the load in 2018, go here.)

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