Most of the Mentor Moms have had kids older than mine. But motherhood teaches you quickly to learn from each other, no matter the stage. Today’s post comes from Belinda who first shared her thoughts on media here a few weeks ago. Belinda shares my love for writing and she provides pictures for me (thank you!). But mostly, Belinda is one of those moms who has found contentment in her roll as mom, she works hard at it and has mastered some of its issues (and with 4 kids she gets lots of practice with different personalities). Pull up a chair, soak up some wisdom and leave some comment love to encourage her.
“Why does it have to be Tuesday?” You would be surprised how much my kids dislike Tuesdays. That’s because it’s trash night.
“We should just get rid of the cat.” Does my 5-year-old hate the cat? No, just feeding her.
My personal favorite, “None of my friends have chores.” In my experience, that’s quite possibly true. And I think it’s unfortunate.
Now, I didn’t have children to be little house slaves, although I admit I look forward to when they’re old enough to shovel snow. They have precious little time for playing between school and homework as it is. But I think chores are important for two reasons.
First, we all live together so we all have to help. That is how community works and a family is the training ground for how to behave in a community. “I didn’t make the mess” is a common response when I mention the need to help clean up. My response, “Neither did I.” While it might seem unfair, I am encouraging us to be responsible together for the well-being of our little community.
Second, I want my children to learn how to do things for themselves. When my then 4-year-old asked (for about the millionth time), “Why do we have to do chores?”, I answered, “When you’re grown up and have your own home, you will have to do these things for yourself.” (Her reply, “No, my husband can do them.” HA!) We can hardly expect our children to learn how to do things that adults do if we don’t give them opportunities to try. Learning while blessed with the guidance and support of loving adults is a much easier way to transition to adulthood than the “sink-or-swim” method many people experience when they move out of the house for the first time.
Although I love the opportunity to be home with my kids, I came to realize that by doing everything for them, I wasn’t doing them any favors in the long run. I often wound up feeling exhausted and cranky about having to do everything myself. More importantly, if I always made sure the library book/homework/lunch/gym shoes/snowpants were in the backpack, little Suzy was not going to start making sure those things were taken care of. If I made the bed, put away the laundry, picked up the socks, Johnny wasn’t going to start doing those things. Someone was already making sure that those things were being taken care of…and that someone was me.
Now every year at the end of summer, my husband and I sit down and decide which chores are age appropriate for each child. Then we let them know what the expectations are for the new school year. It involves breaking down the chore into steps and showing them how each step should be done. Teaching responsibility requires letting go a little and allowing my children to try something they might fail at. In the beginning, I have to accept that things might not be done to my standards, but it’s important for them to learn how to do it. This also means I can’t go behind them and do it over if I don’t like how it’s done! Instead, I point out how they could do it better/faster/easier the next time. Most of the time they say thanks and head off to play. At least until the next time Tuesday rolls around.