The importance of meaningful work

Published by Lori Pickert on December 16, 2008 at 03:42 PM


What gives work its meaning?

Meaning comes from within. We must give meaning to our own work.

How do we help children do meaningful work, so they can learn to recognize and appreciate it and seek it out on their own?

Rather than challenging children to find purpose in the work we give them, we need to help them do work that is already important and worthwhile to them.

We can require hard work, and we can tell children that it is necessary in life, but how do we communicate the joy that is possible when you work hard on something that really matters? To do that, we must recognize and value what they find meaningful — they define that for themselves.


Comment by Aimee on December 16, 2008 at 07:28 PM

Love photo and such a huge sandbox. Is that at your house? I feel like I am working within myself to be present no matter what I am doing, dishes or playing, instead of trying to hurry through the "work," so I can play. The other day both children (1 and 4) helped me do the dishes. We all had such fun, and though it took longer, it was better than me trying to get the dishes done alone, while they were struggling and needing me.

Comment by Lori Pickert on December 16, 2008 at 09:44 PM

it was our sandbox at school. :^) lots of organized “baking” going on that day!

it’s hard to keep your mind from hopping on to the next thing and the next thing .. i want to stay in the moment, too, but it takes constant work!

so nice that you let them help you -- it’s always so tempting to just hurry and get it done quicker without them. you are a good mom! :^)

Comment by Barbara on December 16, 2008 at 09:54 PM

Oooh, love this photo!
This blog is so indulgent for me because I agree with everything you post. I know in this day and age we are supposed to be diverse and all that, but it is nice to have your thoughts and philosophies shared by other people (especially when they are "alternative" philosophies).

Comment by Lori Pickert on December 16, 2008 at 10:58 PM

barbara, it’s good to find your tribe, right? you need people to collaborate and learn with who are on the same path. we help each other along. :^)

Comment by Amy on December 16, 2008 at 11:00 PM

I relate to this post in thinking about how I present work to Benen - my work - at home and out of the house - my mom always says "I get to go to work" - and I am really seeing how this has helped me see work as a positive in my life. This encourages me to think about how I present life's daily work - dishes, cooking, cleaning, etc - to him in way that will inspire us to be joyful or mindful versus checked out, resenting, un-fun...
provocative. thanks.

Comment by Diane on December 16, 2008 at 11:24 PM

I'm with Barbara. Definitely. So, come on Lori! Come on Barbara! Let's all do the wave again!! We are not alone in our apparently wacky and alternative beliefs and for this I am really, really grateful : )

Comment by Lori Pickert on December 17, 2008 at 12:30 AM

thank you, amy! “i get to go to work” -- i love that. we need to talk, too, about -- if we’re unable to show our joy in our own work, why that is, and what we need to do to change it. we all need to be joyful and mindful -- thank you!

Comment by Lori Pickert on December 17, 2008 at 12:32 AM

diane, you *know* how much i love doing the wave, even when it’s just the two of us. ;^)

and i am incredibly grateful for this community, too! to have like-minded friends and smart, seeking women to talk with and share with -- it’s the best.

Comment by Barbara on December 17, 2008 at 01:17 AM

hey, i'm all for a wave too!! :)

Comment by SJ on December 17, 2008 at 01:46 AM

I wonder too about children who don't see a lot of meaningful work because a) everyone leaves the house to go to 'work' and/or b) when they are home, tend to wait till wee folk are asleep before working on things dear to their hearts. Also, for us urbanites, there are fewer household sustaining activities which are child friendly - I'm thinking particularly of all the gardening and wood gathering and goat milking that my parents did with us around. So children have fewer opportunities to just mooch creatively alongside or 'help' or help and have that lovely feeling of being a small (tho important) part of a larger, working and learning (as opposed to shopping!) whole.

...I think I might make my projects a more visible part of our lives and ahem weed our small vege patch ; )

Comment by Jill on December 17, 2008 at 03:08 AM

I, too, like the "I get to go to work". That is something I'm going to think about this week. What attitude am I presenting to my kids about work?? Thanks for this post, Lori. Maybe there will be more on this subject??? Please! Okay, I get to go fold clothes now :)!!

Comment by Miranda on December 17, 2008 at 03:17 PM

I struggle with this issue a lot -- helping my kids learn that there is satisfaction in meaningful work. Love your articles and photos! Your blog is becoming a regular read.

Comment by Lori Pickert on December 17, 2008 at 04:30 PM

thank you, miranda!

Comment by julia on December 20, 2008 at 10:09 AM

That's a good thought. I will try to keep that in mind. We so often fall into trodden paths with children and just repeat what our parents did with us. When I listen to parents and their kids I hear so many 'no's that don't seem warranted in any way, for example.

Comment by Lori Pickert on December 21, 2008 at 02:20 PM

thank you, SJ and Jill! :^)

SJ, yes, i agree, the outdoor tasks around the country home are more aesthetically pleasing, aren’t they? :^) making your meaningful work more visible to your children -- that is a wonderful goal!

jill, yes, i will probably write more on this! lol re: “i get to go fold laundry now” ;^)

julia, yes, i know what you mean, and i have been guilty of that, too (saying no without thinking). reflecting on why we are acting in a certain way .. it changes our parenting, both how we interpret their behavior and how we then respond.

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