As a parent we all have dual personalities when it comes to raising our children. We all want our kids to be able to accomplish mundane everyday tasks and at the sometime we want them to stay the cute cuddly little babies they used to be. That is just how our brains are wired and arranged. Me, especially. I am beyond excited when they do something for themselves that I previously had to do but I also get a tinge of sadness when I realize that, that is just one more thing they do NOT need me for. Even though I get sad, I continue to teach and encourage the boys to learn and expand their knowledge because I’m a mom and maybe a masochist. (Someone who likes pain) That sounds crazy but I believe our job as parents is to prepare children to be healthy, active and responsible adults later in life. That is a learned ability not innate. They are not born knowing what to do, how to live or how to survive. They don’t know how to use the toilet, wipe their butt, or how to get dressed. We as parents have to teach them that. As well as how to keep promises, put toys away and when they go to school it’s not play time but a time to learn and listen. Kids don’t understand those concepts though, not until much later when they are teenagers or even young adults. Everyone has a parenting style that fits them and their life, the following is how we are encouraging and teaching independence in our boys.
First we have given each boy chores that we believe they can accomplish with minimal issues or help on our part. Below is their chores by age.
4-5 year old
- Set the table for dinner (silverware and napkins)
- Put toys, shoe and clothes away after laundry (Mommy folds them)
- Help mommy put dishes way after dish washing.
- Help carry groceries out of car (Always something light and little)
- Make bed
- Brush teeth
- Get dressed
- put shoes on
3 year old
- Wipe table down after meals with a wipe or rag.
- Put underwear and socks away after mommy folds it.
- wipe kitchen and bathroom counters down
- pick out clothes for the day
- brush teeth
- make bed
- help mommy out dishes away
- help carry groceries from car.
Now these are just their main little chores that they do daily and weekly. Not too strenuous or complicated, just enough to give them some responsibility. We like to see how they complete the task and how long it takes. Honestly most days go well, some days the smallest things can’t be completed without a tantrum or freak out. Independence is not about doing things all on your own. It’s about being able to, when the time comes. Little chores like the above give me as a parent an idea of what needs to be worked on and what can be increased.
I love my boys, and just want to play and cuddle. Now that the oldest has started school, his responsibilities have increased because no longer does he have his home chores but he has school chores too. Backpack has to be hung up, folder in his cubby and hands washed all before he can start his school day. (He has been throwing tantrums at school, we were informed, so I now have to talk to his teacher after school to make sure he is straightening up.) It’s only been a week so he will be fine, though it embarrassed his daddy and I. The youngest is doing “mommy school” which consists of a workbook. He gets to complete several pages a day and then we go for a walk and if there is time we take a short nap. As much as this makes me happy and proud of my boys ability to adapt, it makes me sad. They are not little babies anymore. They are big boys who go to school and learn things I can not teach. They don’t want to hug and cuddle like before and pretty soon they will only want to hug me at home, not in front of friends or teachers. Sometimes I think where has my baby boys gone? I mean they don’t even get sad and reach for me when they go somewhere I’m not. Before I get depressed I have to remind myself that, we must be doing our jobs if they feel confident and comfortable to be without us for a few hours. As time speeds up and years pass by, I am sure that tears will be shed (on my part) but also the pride I feel for them will also grow abundantly.
Till then, I am going to steal kisses, sneak hugs and make time for cuddles.