Putting my children to work

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I wrote last week about Vitabase moving out of our warehouse and our decision to move out too. A big problem related to that is that we have been sharing employees with Vitabase for some time, and with them moving, we can’t do that anymore.

Over the past six months, as I anticipated this coming, I have been focused on revamping this business (and a small health business)  toward a position where almost everything can be run by virtual employees that work from wherever they live. Yes, we still ship products so we need some space to store and ship from but most of the music and instructional products that we sell are by download now. Obviously, phones and email can be handled from anywhere and even the mundane things such as accounting and paying bills can easily done from anywhere.

So my plan was to hire a virtual assistant or two to handle all customer service and other issues and hire someone else part time to pack orders.

And then I started thinking some more and an idea occurred to me. Why not just turn everything over to my children? My oldest is 15 and I have a 12-year-old going on 25. With a few exceptions, they are certainly capable of running the day-to-day aspects of the business on their own. Honestly, I think they can do it a lot better than a lot of the adults I have had work for me in the past.

So this weekend, we moved out of the warehouse and built a little warehouse (500 square feet) in our basement. My children had to move about 8,000 CDs by hand down a hill behind the house, build shelves, organize inventory, and a million other things. They were troopers.

Many of you might be wondering if I should be turned in for violating child labor laws but really it is not that bad. It will take them a few hours a day at the most if they work together. Our system automatically processes credit cards and sets up the shipments before they hit the warehouse. In regards to orders, all the kids have to do is pack them and that goes quite fast.

They are going to have to learn a lot about customer service though and I am going to enjoy teaching them how to communicate professionally, how to organize, and how to take ownership of things.

The truth though is that Marla and I giving them that responsibility means we are making a decision about how we want them spending their time. Some people won’t be comfortable with that because it is not what most people do. Honestly though, it is not that different from what people in the not-too-distant past would have done. Kids came home from school and did chores. Many of them worked hard on the family farm from the minute they got home until dark. I am not old but that is what I did too. I grew up on a farm working almost every night after I got home from school.

Somewhere along the line, families moved from farms and the need for children to do chores lessened greatly. As a result, children suddenly had a lot of time in the afternoon with nothing to do and our society gradually began to fill that time with organized sports and other activities.

I am not against organized sports and the other stuff. I think you can learn good things in organized sports like discipline and responsibility. But organized sports does not teach life skills as well as hard work does, especially when that work requires children to think critically and take responsibility for what they do. In my opinion, sports is a pretty poor trade for work and I don’t think it is coincidence that numerous factors lead today’s society experts to bemoan the fact that today’s children are refusing to grow up.

On top of that, a flattening earth is creating an economy that is very difficult for today’s young people. They need all the help they can get to survive and flourish in the future. They need to be pushed a bit and maybe more than a little bit. In my opinion, when viewing what is happening around the world, parents need to feel a bit of urgency about making sure their children will be able to stand on their own (as they should) when they become adults.

So that is what led me to take this step. I will try to keep you up to date with how it is going. If you order from us, nothing will change unless it is for the better. I firmly expect that overall, this is going to improve what we do and the service we provide and I hope it improves my children too.