I once watched a documentary about an Amish family. The father said that they did not use electric tools to build things. He said this was not motivated out of a belief that power tools are of the devil. Rather, power tools disrupt community. He said, "Hand powered tools require the involvement of all of my family members. We want to be together." That is the only thing I remember about the documentary. It had a profound impact on how I view laborious tasks. I had never seen a person choose community health over ease.
Fast forward a bit.
A few months ago I started giving the Q food related tasks while I cooked dinner. For example, I gave him a bowl of dry beans and told him to use a spoon to move the beans into another bowl. We started adding other ingredients and then I thought, "Why not just give him real ingredients and have him help me cook." Cooking with toddlers takes a lot longer and it is much messier. But it is some of the sweetest time I have ever spent as a parent. I've started to do all sorts of my chores with him like mowing and carpentry.
While we purchased the reel mower out of a concern for the environment, it has been a great asset to helping us build community as a family. Speaking of the environment, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a gas powered lawn mower produces as much air pollution as 43 new cars that are driven 12,000 miles. Americans burn 800 million gallons of gas per year by using lawn equipment. It doesn't take much longer to use this little guy and my lawn looks just as good as when I use a gas mower.
Doing carpentry with toddlers takes forever because you can't use power tools. Also, the end product is a bit crooked. However, to me it is even more rewarding than cooking. Me and the Q built a little loft for our new chickens. They no longer fit in it...
I am learning that cheaper, faster, and easier is not necessarily better. In fact, many times it robs life from its fullness (and vegetables from their nutrients).