Time for the kids to fend for themselves
My three year old is starting junior kindergarten next week. Yesterday I saw a tip sheet for preparing your kid for kindergarten. The tip that caught my eye was that they should be able to wipe their own bottom before they start school. I knew this of course, but hadn’t really thought about it. So I told her from now on mummy and I wouldn’t be wiping her bottom anymore after she had a poo.
So she sat down on the potty, had a poo and wiped herself with a big grin on her face. Just like that we are free of one of the distasteful parts of parenting! To build on this success I will now tell the kids they need to clean up their own vomit from now on.
I don’t know why we didn’t make this change sooner. She has been perfectly capable of doing it for quite a while. We were just in the habit of doing the wiping for her. So now I am making a list of all the other things I do out of habit that my kids can do for themselves to make my life easier.
Make their own food
This one is a bit of a battle with my nine year old. She can make her own breakfast and lunches, but she expects that we will do it for her. She claims she can’t spread anything on bread without tearing the bread. Of course I have witnessed her bread-spreading prowess so I know she is just expecting me to be her servant.
Our ten year old is happy to make her own food or help make more complicated meals. She is interested and willing to learn.
My three year old actually gets mad when we leave her out of the process of making food for her so there is plenty of opportunity with her.
Time to start involving them more in making meals so that they learn how to do it and I can cut down on the amount of time I spend standing at the counter in the kitchen.
Sew their own clothes
I try to make clothes last as long as I can. I’m no sewing wizard, but I gained enough skill as a Boy Scout that I can sew up rips and patch holes. It isn’t always pretty, but it sure makes my socks last longer.
Our ten year old has her own sewing machine and has been receiving training from my mum. Once she is proficient, she can teach me how to use the machine and she can generally take over the clothing repair business.
Our eight year old has it set as a mission in life to tear holes in the knees of her pants within the first few times that she wears them. The only reason she has pants without holes right now is because 1) she hasn’t been wearing pants most of the summer and 2) she has converted most of her torn pants into cut-off shorts.
The next time I am repairing holes I will show my eight year old how to do it. Then I can either pass on my exceptional tailoring skills or get her sister to show her how to do it right.
*As an interesting side note my great aunt worked as a dressmaker to Queen Elizabeth II when she was princess Elizabeth.
Make their own lunches
Next week we’ll have three kids in school who require lunches and snacks made every day. I often work from home so I only need to make my lunch 2-3 days per week.
Up to this point I have been making all of the lunches in the morning. Last year I started the school year with the girls helping to make their lunches in the evening. While my intent was good I quickly discovered that I don’t have the energy to make lunches after dinner so lunch-making reverted to mornings.
That is not going to fly this year – or at least that is my current thinking. It is time to get them involved in lunch-making so I’ll take another crack at evening prep of at least some components of their lunches.
We had a chat today about school lunches and made a plan that will give them more choice on what they have for lunch each day, get them more involved in making their own lunches and take the load off of me. Hopefully it lasts longer than last year.
Clean up their own crap
Everyday we get them to pick up and clean up and still we are left with mounds of cleaning up to do ourselves. It makes my partner and I tired.
Some days they clean up happily. On occasion they even do it without being told. Most of the time we argue about it.
Anyone got any techniques that work to get kids to pick up after themselves?Challenging the habitual things we do for our kids & teaching them how to do it themselves instead.Click To Tweet
Building skills for life
This summer I have been thinking about the importance of teaching my kids skills that will help them achieve the every day tasks they will face throughout their lives. I want them to be independent and confident in their abilities.
I’m not quite sure what the trigger has been. Perhaps it is my oldest turning next month. When I was 11 I started babysitting my brother and possibly other kids in the neighbourhood. I started a paper route when I was 11 or 12. When I was 13 or 14 my mum told me it was time to learn to do my own laundry. Somewhere in there my mum taught me to cook.
All of these skills and experiences provided by my mum meant that when I travelled after high school and when I started university I was able to function as an independent adult instead of having to learn the basics on my own. I want that for my kids too.
This is the year that we start down the road to independence!