Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Raising Independent Kids

A few years ago my sister gave me this book.


Not to make light of my responsibilities of parenting and training my children, but this book was funny. I just liked her light-hearted look at NOT giving yourself a heart failure trying to get your baby into the best preschool. I liked her idea of letting the kids find their own entertainment instead of buying them all the newest electronic fads.

In some ways, I am a slacker mom.

Don't get me wrong, I take my role very seriously. It's just that I'm too lazy to do everything for my kids. I have no desire.
Oh, I used to. You would laugh if you could go back and see me with newborn Sweetheart. Oh the fussing and carrying on! The washing of toys in the sink every night. The sterilizing of things. The organization of her baby food cabinet. The bathing. The clothes folding. I LOVED being a mommy.

Somewhere along the line, I got over needing to do every single thing for my children. It's like when I was decorating Sweetheart's nursery. We had money back then and we ordered all new furniture for her room. Then my aunt offered an old crib mattress she had used for her grandbabies. My uncle told her, "Brenda won't want that! Don't you know new parents want to buy all new stuff for their baby?" I told her not to worry, I had gotten over THAT about $2,000 ago!
By the way, the girls are still using that furniture and I plan on sending it with them when they move out one day. So, it was a good investment.

But back to my story. Somewhere along the way, I stopped feeling the need to do everything for my kids. They make their own beds. And no, it isn't pretty. They get their own snacks and drinks. If Little Bit can't reach something I tell her, "Better get a stool." I spent 15 good minutes today making a list of things I needed the kids to do, complete with pictures from Google images, so Little Bit could read it. It took time to make that list, yes. But now they can independently do the tasks I need them to do.

I could have done it myself, but then they wouldn't know how.

Let's just say, I refuse to still be washing my children's clothes for them, fixing their plates, cleaning their rooms, and taking care of their every need when they are nearly young adults.

Will I help them? Yes. Will we do laundry together? Yes. Will I cook most of the time? Yes. I will not make them take over all the things I should be doing as a homemaker, but they will learn how. We will take turns. We will work together.

I tell them to think of their bedroom as their little apartment. One day they will have a whole house to take care of....their bedroom is an excellent training ground.

I was always appalled as a first grade teacher when I watched certain parents carry their child's backpack for them, hang it up, tie their shoes, tuck in their shirt, and wipe their nose. The child just stood there like a rag doll letting Mommy do every little thing for them.

And then their parents wondered why they couldn't complete their work in class. Hmm.

I don't know. Everyone has different tolerances. And raising boys is somewhat different. And when your kids are younger....it really is just easier to do it for them. But for me, with two elementary aged kiddos, teaching them to be independent works for me.

And it appeals to my inner slacker.

9 comments:

  1. i love it! and i want to see a picture of the list you made. seriously, i want to!!! pretty please!?!? :)

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  2. Oh, this makes me feel good. I was starting to think my "slacking" wasn't a good thing. :-)

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  3. Teaching independence is a must! And starting early is the only way to get through.

    'Cause you repeat things a LOT before they get it. At least I do with mine. And they will thank you later, and so will future husbands.

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  4. Seriously...you read my mind....a lot! :) I just started doing a 'room inspection' with my oldest (4) daughter. The first time she did it, I went through the room with her, showing her where everything belonged and asking her where she thinks things should be, etc. Now, every Monday and Friday she cleans for inspection! I love it! And I love that she feels like she has accomplished something important. I know she won't always feel like that, and it'll get to be old after awhile...but it will also be routine after awhile. All of that rambling to say...thanks for your post...my thoughts exactly!:)

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  5. You know how I feel about this and all I can say is
    AMEN !!!

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  6. OH MY GOSH, GREAT POST(again)! Ya know what I find intresting is that most older folks(grandparents) applaud the independance of children and the younger parents are appalled by it. Do you find that to be true?
    My girls 12 and 10 could run a house by themselves if need be! They have been doing their own laundry since they were 9, they clean and Fridays they cook dinner! They work hard and its not always perfect but they have life skills some adults don't have! I dont see it as slacking, I see it as a teach able moment!
    Tanna

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  7. Tanna, that's really my goal. By the time my oldest one is 12 I want them to be able to run the house by themselves should I be in bed sick for a few days or have to go out of town, etc. I think most people FAR underestimate what our children can learn to do at what age.

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  8. Ack!!! OK. My daughter used too much laundry soap yesterday while doing laundry and it gummed up the washer and water flooded the laundry room. I ended up using a whole load of freshly washed and folded towels to clean it up. SO......my children's independence cost me more work. In that sense, it's not really slacking b/c it really is a lot of work to teach them to do things for themselves. But it will pay off one day when I get to sit down after supper.

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  9. Looks good; I saw this site with some useful info on Discount Kids Furniture Hope it helps..

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I don't get to talk to a lot of actual grown-ups during the day, so your comments make me really happy! :)