Family Teamwork: Accomplishing More Working Together

Family Teamwork - working together - sisters baking

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Does your family work together as a team? We raised five kids and found that family teamwork helped us accomplish things faster. It also helped build our kids’ work-ethic and confidence.

Teaching kids the value of Family Teamwork has far-reaching effects. It translates into club activities, sports, jobs, church and eventually into their own families. 

In this article, we’ll share some tools and strategies that we used for more than 25 years as we raised and released our kids.

By the way, we didn’t do it perfectly. We had some stumbles, we had some failures, but overall, our kids learned that when we work together we can have fun, reach goals and revel in the joy of a job well done.

Great Examples of Teamwork

The pyramids at Giza, the Cathedral at Notre Dame, the Sears Tower and your home or apartment all have something in common.

You’re kidding, right?

Nope, they are all the result of the coordinated labor of dozens, perhaps even thousands of people working together. They are, in the final analysis, the result of teamwork.

No, this isn’t going to be a locker-room, fist-pumping, adrenalin charging, go out there and get ‘em article.

It is going to be a reminder of the power of teamwork in the home — something many of us may have forgotten as we’ve thrown our hands up in despair over the never-ending list of things to do.

What Does T.E.A.M.  Mean?

Steve’s collegiate gymnastics coach, Don Robinson, was an awesome coach and a great motivator.

In a sport of individual accomplishments like gymnastics, it’s possible to forget the value of teamwork. But no gymnastics team ever won a competition based on the score of just one person – it took an entire team. Coach Robinson often shared his interpretation of the acronym T.E.A.M. as:

Team= Together Everyone Accomplishes More

Can this same ideal be applied in our homes? The answer is a resounding YES!

We’ve seen too many homes where one person (usually the mom) is “bustin’ her chops” to keep the place functioning. This is done while all the other family members are off doing their own thing – having a good time.

It just shouldn’t be that way.

Horsepower and Teamwork

The teamwork of horsepower. Two white horses pulling a sled in the snow.

Author Jim Stovall wrote a short essay on the power of draft horses when they are harnessed in teams. Would they be able to pull twice as much? Keep reading.

“Recently, I was reading about draft horses. These are very large, muscular animals. Throughout history, they have been used for pulling great loads and moving very heavy objects. A single draft horse can pull a load up to 8,000 pounds. 

The strength involved in this is hard to imagine.  So then we can speculate what would happen if we hooked up two draft horses to a load. 

If you instantly thought two draft horses could pull 16,000 pounds, since one draft horse can pull 8,000 pounds, you would be wrong.  Two draft horses pulling together cannot pull twice as much as one.  They can actually pull three times as much. 

The two draft horses that can each pull 8,000 pounds alone can pull 24,000 pounds working together.”

from TimMaurer.com – blog on Horse Sense.

Why Teamwork is Needed At Home

Consider a haggard mom with three kids under the age of 7. This mom really needs a team.

If she’s married or has a partner, she needs her soulmate to pitch in and help.

Together, Mom & Dad also need to train their kids to do age-appropriate chores. Kids can do things like helping to put clean dishes away, picking up toys, helping to sort laundry and even doing a little dusting.

In the beginning, it may take longer to teach, correct and follow-up on the work their little hands do. But in time — and it won’t take long — they’ll become competent at these small tasks and be able to move on to bigger things.

Starting their training young will make the team super strong when they are older.

What about a family with a house full of busy teens. Even in this case, it’s not too late to enfold and teach them.

Teens really need to be part of a team. With a seasoned coach calling the shots, a strong vision for what is possible and a solid plan to accomplish their goals, these teens can help keep that household humming and be better prepared than their peers to launch out on their own.

Teamwork on small things  

A baseball team putting hands together in a circle before the game.

The idea for this article came one morning a few weeks ago as we were making our bed together.

It took only a few seconds and there was no time spent walking from one side to the other (or jumping onto and over the bed) to make the covers even.

It got us to thinking about all the things we do together as a couple and with the kids. Like those tasks that are finished so much faster and are physically and mentally easier, because we do them as a team.

* * * * * * * *
None of us is as smart as all of us together!
Ken Blanchard

* * * * * * * *

Check out these examples where Teamwork helps to make the load lighter:

Teamwork with Pots and Pans  

A pile of dirty dishes can look pretty intimidating if you have to conquer it alone.

Steve washed pots and pans one summer in exchange for free tuition at a high priced gymnastics camp.

There was no one to help him wash the pots and pans and it took about one hour after each meal to clean them. The hardest meal was breakfast, trying to clean out a huge pot with burned oatmeal on the bottom.

When Steve was younger his parents instituted “Kitchen Duty.” Basically one of the four boys was assigned to clean up the entire kitchen alone for one week per month. It was a dreaded and overwhelming task. We determined that we wouldn’t do that to our kids.

How We Made it Easier

When we wash dishes as a family; one person washes, one person rinses and everyone else helps with drying and putting things away. This is especially effective on our once-a-month cooking day. A mountainous pile of more than 15 or 20 pots, pans, baking dishes, and utensils evaporates in about half an hour. Everything is washed, dried and put away, it is an awesome thing to behold.

Teamwork with the Dishwasher

Unloading the dishwasher can also be a team activity.

We divide the dishwasher into three zones for three different people to tackle:

  1. Top rack
  2. Bottom rack
  3. Silverware

We rotate the responsibilities weekly. This is done because the top rack is the hardest job with lots of smaller items to dry and put away. We don’t want anyone getting stuck doing the toughest job continually.

We did allow the youngest child to put silverware away. They would stand on a chair and learned to put each piece in it’s assigned place.

Teamwork In the Yard   

Who wants to spend all day pulling weeds or raking leaves?

None of us want to be the lone person doing a huge job.

But if a team attacks a project like that it will be done in no time.

We don’t usually have a lot of time in the evenings for yard work, but once each week we carve out 30 minutes to an hour and hit the orchard or garden together.

We can accomplish so much in that short amount of time because we’re together — talking, laughing, arguing and complaining (are we done yet?). Sometimes we even have some music or an audiobook playing as we work.

But the result is a great looking yard and a sense of accomplishment for all involved.

Teamwork In the Dining Room  

Setting and clearing the dinner table is another place where we utilize teamwork to accomplish more.

We divide table setting into three jobs:

  1. Water Cups
  2. Dinner Plates
  3. Cloth Napkins and Silverware.

Each job takes less than a minute for the person doing it. Everyone participates and then we all sit down to enjoy the meal.

After the meal, the table is cleared and we work together to wash dishes, as we described earlier.

Teamwork on Big Things

Our teamwork benefits not only our family but lots of other people.

Moving  

A moving box with rolls of packing tape and markers on it.
When our family shows up to help someone move, the job is always done much faster.

A few years back some friends of ours were moving and as a family, we volunteered to help.

We weren’t the first to arrive.

We showed up around 10 AM after the first shift of helpers had left and the moving family was just starting to feel worn down.

The effect of a family of seven people showing up energized the place.

It was like ants attacking a checkered picnic blanket full of food.

The guys were loading heavy items and the gals were packing boxes and vacuuming. We were done in record time and the smiles on the weary movers were incomparable.

TIMBER: Chopping Down a Tree

Tree trimming using a chain saw, hand saws and rakes.
Tree trimming day after a storm broke a large branch off of our Eucalyptus tree. Steve worked with Joe and Abbey for a couple of hours cutting the wood for our fireplace and hauling the left-over branches to our large trash pile for pickup by the city.

We have many trees on our property. Over the years we have selectively removed a few.

Cutting down a tree alone is a daunting task. Steve has made it a fun task for the kids to help with.

They calculate where the tree will fall, guiding it with long chains or ropes.

As he’s cutting with the chainsaw, the kids take turns pushing against the trunk to see if the tree is ready to fall.

They work slowly and carefully while making it fun. When the first cracking sounds are heard the kids get really excited — everyone yells ‘TIMBER!’

Once the tree is down, the branches are lopped off, by either the chainsaw or one of the older kids using loppers or a smaller hand saw.

Younger kids carry twigs and other scraps to the trash pile. Larger logs and smaller branches are stacked on the woodpile to season for winter. A day-long task for a single woodsman is done in a couple of hours by this awesome family team.

Teamwork for Parties  

A large cargo parachute hung over a banquet hall.
This was the setup for Abbey and Collin’s wedding reception. We prepared and served a lasagna dinner for 275 people. We used a cargo parachute suspended from the ceiling to create a fun atmosphere.

We’ve hosted some huge parties for graduations, Eagle Scout ceremonies, Congressional award receptions and weddings for our kids.

Preparing and serving all of the food ourselves is definitely a team sport. We make lists and initially allow the kids to choose tasks that they would like to do. As “crunch” time nears, tasks are assigned.

With larger events we always expand our team, asking dear friends and extended family to help — we return the favor for their events.

Clean up is quick as we always involve the guests who hang around the longest to pitch in. We couldn’t possibly accomplish these events without a strong team of helpers.

What Kids Learn from Teamwork

Because we stress the power of teamwork in our house, our kids have become very aware of the benefits.

Each of our sons has reached the rank of Eagle Scout. One of their final tasks is to complete an Eagle Scout service project.

Because Boy Scouts is an organization where leadership is taught, the Eagle Scout is less responsible for performing the work than he is coordinating and leading the entire project.

They write up a description of the project, gather donations of materials and rally volunteer labor.

A team of kids moving a second storage container.
Joe’s Eagle Project benefited Pap’s Dungeon – an outdoor gym where we workout. One of the team tasks was moving a 40-foot long storage container.

Joe (age 16) completed his project in October 2007. He coordinated the efforts of more than 75 people and accumulated over 400 man-hours of volunteer labor.

It was awesome to watch. The most difficult task was moving a 40-foot long steel storage container, without a truck. A group of 10 people and a Bobcat lifted, rolled, pushed and eventually moved the container about 60 feet to its final resting place.

Joe has definitely learned that Together Everyone Accomplishes More.

A team of kids moving a storage container.
Sliding metal tubes under the shipping container to help it roll into position.

Teamwork and Our Grown Kids

As of this article updating, all of our kids are grown and started life on their own. The cool thing for us to see is how they still utilize many of the team-building skills they learned as kids.

Our eldest son, John, works for a large AV company and is responsible for coordinating a crew of people to run sound and lighting for enormous conventions for GoDaddy, NASAR, VidCon, Google and others. Teamwork is definitely a necessity in his position.

Our youngest child, Abbey, is responsible for managing a warehouse that supplies the Grand Canyon University Team Shops (Lope Shops). She is responsible for coordinating the efforts of as many as 12 student workers. Her team fulfills all online orders and supplies all of the physical stores with their merchandise.

We are really proud of our kids and what they’ve accomplished.

Teamwork for Singles

What about singles – are you simply out of luck when it comes to teamwork?

No way!

If you’re facing a huge task, assemble a team of friends, family, and co-workers.

We can’t count the number of times we’ve been called upon to help a single person move.

Consider creating a co-op of several friends where you rotate from house to house on a monthly basis working together to do large tasks.

We did a similar thing in our young married’s group at church many years ago. It was a great way to spend time together and conquer significant projects.

* * * * * * * *
People who work together will win,
whether it be against complex football defenses,
or the problems of modern society.

Vince Lombardi

* * * * * * * *

Teamwork and Our Nation   

Washington crossing the Deleware

We’ve grown into a nation of individuals. Individuals who are often focused on their needs and goals.

We’ve seen many times, usually in crises, this changes for the better. Hurricanes, terrorist attacks and most recently a global pandemic.

When facing adversity we’ve seen the generous spirit of communities pull together.

Our country was built by men and women who considered the greater good more important than their individual good.

They worked, not for personal gain, but for the good of their community.

Giving, helping, working together meant that, acre by acre, the land was cleared and planted and year by year a great nation was built.

We’re facing some pretty difficult times now and the only way we’ll make it is if we work together.

We’ve got to, as Benjamin Franklin said, “all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

Family Teamwork - working together - 3 sisters baking

Family Teamwork Wrap-Up

There are so many more ways that you can build your family into a powerful team. Building things, volunteering, picking up trash, collecting recyclables, starting a business. The opportunities for working together are endless.

If we as a family can harness our efforts and all pull the same direction we’ll be able to accomplish three or four times as much as we can alone.

Isn’t this what teamwork is all about?

So start small and build your team. Over time you’ll accomplish larger and greater tasks and your team will soon discover that nothing, absolutely nothing, is impossible if you work together.

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