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No, seriously. I am a lazy mom. I am also firm believer in fostering independence in our children. And did I mention that I am also quite lazy? These two things give me the perfect motivation for ensuring my kids learn early that there are things they are expected to do in the course of living in our house.
My kids (aged 3 and 5) have a list of daily responsibilities (an actual list that I wrote out simply because I can barely remember my name most days, let alone what the kids need to do to learn independence.) On this are things like brush your teeth, wash your face, eat your food and put away your dishes, clean up the toys you left all over the house before dinner time, set the table. Simple things that most adults need to do in the course of everyday life that many kids have done for them. I hate doing these things for myself so I teach my kids how to do it for themselves.
Help Them to Help You
As soon as kids can walk they are capable of helping. Usually it is far easier, and more effective, to simply do it yourself, but don’t do it! The work you put in during the early years will pay you back in so many ways when they are older. Imagine a future where kids put their dishes in the dishwasher right after dinner. Or fold their own clothes and put them away. Or get dinner ready one night all on their own. This future is made during those early years when that child asks to help you, as long as you say yes.
And Then We Get Kids Who Know How to Help
My kids are not perfect. I spent a lot of time doing things myself because it was faster, rather than letting the kids help and taking that opportunity to teach them. But even though I waited a little longer I am still having a great deal of success with teaching them general household responsibilities now. Currently I fold their clothes but my 5-year-old puts her own away and my 3-year-old puts his away with minimal help. They both put their own dishes in the dishwasher and clean the table after dinner. And they both know how to put toys away (even though they hate it and scream and cry and get Butmylegsfeelweirditis) every time I ask them to help. So we’re getting there slowly.
What’s Your Real Job Anyway?
What does fostering independence mean when it comes to you and your kids? Start early. Let your kids help you with everything you are doing around the house. So what if it takes an hour when it could take 20 minutes. You are going to get that time back later, when they can do all these tasks unsupervised. As a stay at home parent your job isn’t really cleaning the house, cooking meals, and chauffeuring kids to all their activities (we’ll talk more about this later but seriously, stop with the over scheduling of your kids). Your job is to raise your kids who are responsible and productive members of your family, so that when they are adults they are independent people who can look after themselves. And then you are free to do whatever you like.
Until next time,
Chantal, the Secular Homemaker