I am a huge advocate of letting children do as much as possible for themselves, and by themselves. Sometimes we get so swept away in our busy-ness and hectic schedules, that we just go through the motions on auto-pilot day after day, week after week. Over time, this can be counter-productive for both ourselves and for our children.
Instead of always jumping in to take over & do something for them, we need to try taking a step back & ask ourselves “Is this something that my child can/should do by themselves?”
If it’s a yes, then win win! One less job for you!
Having more than one child often means this happens by default, as parents are busy attending to the smallest & the eldest automatically becomes that bit more independent.
Here are some of the things that I expect my boys to do independently; or at least try! (The youngest doesn’t dress himself yet but the eldest has done since he was 3.)
Pull on shoes
Put bowls etc into sink/dishwasher
Pick up toys
Organise toys into drawers/boxes (with guidance)
Sweep up crumbs with dustpan & brush
Wipe up spills
Hang socks on pegs
Put clothes in/take clothes out of the washing machine/dryer
Put dirty clothes in the washing basket
Choose their own clothes for the day
Put wrappers & rubbish into the bin
Put on wellies
Take off coats (and leave them in the right place)
The odd time the eldest gets in a very helpful mood & likes to “clean the doors”… aka I spray Pledge & he wipes with a cloth!
He also now loves making his own sandwiches… aka tearing slices of bread to bits with a butter knife & shoving ham in between! (His standards for himself are much lower than what he expects of me I might add!)
We have to make a conscious effort to take a minute & let them try these things out, I do not intend to encourage slave labour is anyones house, but it is so beneficial for children to do small tasks and feel that sense of achievement and pride when they succeed at it.
There is a good chance you will have to lower your expectations of their efforts, and if you are a control freak or a clean freak, then bad news, it’s going to push you to the limit, but think of the bigger picture.
Maybe it’s the teacher in me, but so many kids nowadays are borderline helpless when it comes basic life skills and it is a parent’s responsibility to show them from a young age that they CAN do things for themselves.
Young children love nothing more than being gushed at about “How BIG they have gotten”, and we need to back these statements up by helping them grow and develop socially and personally as well as just physically.
It doesn’t happen overnight, and it takes more than one attempt, but we owe it to them to give them the time and space to try, to fail and to learn.
They glow with pride in themselves when they master a new skill, and when they feel “Big” and important.
And like I said already, every little thing they can do for themselves is one less job for you! Always a bonus!