Children, Family

Teach them young

laundryThere’s always a tendency to do for our kids just because it’s easier or quicker. Shoot, even my slight OCD can hinder my ability to let my kids do something. They won’t line it up right or fill the cup enough or point the spray in the right direction…something. But I know this isn’t good for my kids’ learning of basic life skills. My impatience, lack of time or irritability with things being done “just so” can’t get in the way of my responsibility to teach my kids these skills they will need in life.

THEY WILL NEED THESE SKILLS. 

This isn’t some trendy activity that can win me parenting awards because I was enlightened enough to teach my kids how to clean countertops or fold clothes. This is stuff they need to know how to do when they live on their own or find themselves at any point in their lives in a position where they may need to know how to function as an independent being.

You know, like camp. Or college. Or a week with Grandma.

I remember talking with a friend about her child’s sporting event and how she always had to make sure her child’s uniform was clean because her daughter wasn’t going to do it herself. This child was 13 years old!

All I could think was, “Why can’t your daughter make sure her own uniform is clean for game day?!” And that was my question to my friend. The response? “Oh, well, she would never remember.”

Ha! You what’ll make her remember to manage her own responsibilities? Telling her that it’s her responsibility and then letting it be her responsibility. Let’s break down how this should go using my friend’s daughter’s scenario (and this applies to all basic life skills learning opportunities):

  • You tell her that making sure her uniform is clean by game day is her responsibility.
  • Show her how to use the washing machine and the dryer- the detergent, measuring, what knobs to push, settings…the whole bit.
  • Then you tell her the following (or something similar):

“Henceforth, uniform cleansing is now your responsibility…with all the honors, rights and privileges appertaining thereto.” 

Now comes the important part, mom. Actually let it be her responsibility. And you know what’s going to happen, right? She’s gonna fail. And that’s ok. 

Got it? That is actually ok. It’s beautiful, really. Because that’s the lesson-learning time. The consequence, if you will. She will show her stinky tail up to the game with a dirty, wrinkly uniform. And it will be a lesson she will not soon forgot. Mark my words, it will take one time to learn this lesson. Going forward, uniform preparation will become a priority for her. 

If she asks you if she can throw her uniform in with a load you are doing, then absolutely the answer is yes (unless her uniform is completely nasty and needs a separate wash). She is preparing and she’s using her resources. Success!

If Friday night comes and you know that uniform is on the floor in her sports bag and you know that Saturday morning she needs the uniform, let it go. Sounds mean, I know, but seriously it’s fine. There are worse things than having a dirty uniform. If she’s about to get hit by a car, please tell her. But if she just didn’t do her laundry, let her go through that failure. It’s so important for her to understand how to place value on things and how to prepare accordingly. You reminding her or doing it for her will not help her long-term.

Wouldn’t you rather her have a dirty uniform at her game than her have dirty clothes for her grown-up job interview? If you bail her out of every single thing that happens to her every single time, she will learn nothing and she will be unprepared for a world that doesn’t give a fat pig’s tail that she is unprepared. 

Sounds tough, but it’s not. It’s kind of like the story of the butterfly hatching from its cocoon. A little boy saw the butterfly struggling and seeing how exhausted the butterfly was, the little boy pulled the butterfly from its little cocoon. After the butterfly was rested and his wings were dry, the little boy noticed that the wings were misshapen and scrawny. He asked his grandfather why the butterfly looked that way.

The grandfather told him that since the butterfly didn’t have to work to free himself from the cocoon, it also didn’t have a chance to strengthen itself. So what should’ve been strong wings were instead weak and useless. The struggle and pain is there for a reason. It builds strength needed for future use. The same goes for children. Giving them everything, solving all their problems, doing everything for them does them no good. 

Teach your kids, but allow them to fail. Let your kids be disappointed. Allow your kids experience not winning. Encourage your kids to take ownership of their responsibilities and, if necessary, let your kids go to their game with a dirty uniform. 

They may smell…they may be uncomfortable, but they will learn. And they’ll be better for it.

 

 

Children, Family

Ugh, what’s that smell?!

dsc_0399So…we’ve had an interesting conversation this weekend.

Something has happened enough times that we need to talk about it before it becomes a widespread problem. This is not something to take lightly, either.

And I feel like I’m doing the world a favor by nipping this in the bud now. So…you’re welcome, world.

A child, who shall remain nameless, stinkered in the car. Stinkers are flatulence…passing gas…floating an air biscuit…a fart. That’s right, one of our dear ones farted in the car. In the winter. When we had the heater on.

And it was a silent one.

Can I tell you how much I did not enjoy the invisible slap in the face? It just quietly wafted into the front seat. Where I was strapped into my seat and unable to move.

So…the discussion:

“Dearest children,

If you need to stinker, please say excuse me when you do it so we can roll a window down before the stinker permeates into the fabric of our clothes and the upholstery of the car. I know sometimes you “just have to” and that’s ok. But please don’t forget there are other people in the car who do not want to smell your stinker, let alone have it sneak up on them.”

Their response?

Giggling.

 

Children, Family, Issues!

Snuggle up, please!

img_2393-jpgSometimes my kids get on my last nerve. And I hate that because of how much time I actually don’t spend with them. Like really with them.

Sure, we spend time together while I bark out orders:

“Get in the car…we are so LATE!!”
“Who made this mess? Girl child, I swear if I see this stuff on the floor one more time, I’m throwing it in the trash can!” (relax, it never goes in the trash can)
“Boy child, why is your X-wing fighter tied to the hallway light??”
“Baby girl, where are your shoes??”
“Sit down…do you have ants in your pants?!”
“Eat it!!”

You get the idea here. This is not spending time together. This is managing livestock basically. And I mean livestock in the best way possible. My little lambs.

Now for the excuse-making section of the post:

I am so busy. I have a ton of crap to do and I have a ton of things expected of me. I’m tired. I’m stressed out. I have everyone pecking at me like buzzards do with a not-quite-dead unfortunate squirrel in the road. I feel like I look like that squirrel sometimes.

*sigh*

In ten years, none of those excuses matters. And what sucks about that is the fact that despite knowing that none of it matters, all of that crap gets in line ahead of the only things that should really matter. The only things that should be at the front of my “now serving” line. My family.

So, the day I for some reason had an afternoon to nap (no idea how that happened)…it took about five minutes before two of my little ones realized where I was (in my bed), to climb in as delicately as elephants, rearrange the blankets, push and pull on pillows, fix their stuffed animals and want to snuggle with Momma while she napped.

I almost got angry. Almost. And then, I was happy. Because there’s only a little more time where they’ll want to do this on their own. Where they’ll want to be in my company.

I’m glad they climbed in.

How do you keep your priorities in check? Let me know in the comments!