“Can you pass me my towel?”
My son asked me this with a straight face. I looked down at the bathroom floor to where his towel was tossed in a heap at his feet and raised my eyes to meet his.
He smiled at me.
We both stood staring at each other until he realized that he wasn’t going to win this round and he bent down to pick up his towel himself.
I am to blame for this.
Throughout the years I have often found myself rushing my kids through their tasks and eventually taking over because I can do it faster.
Tying their shoes, packing their lunches, picking things up off the floor, I have fallen into the trap of doing things for my kids even when they are capable because it’s easier for me. It really has nothing to do with me wanting to coddle them, but is solely based on my busy life and not wanting to experience the agony of waiting what feels like eons for my child to figure out how to zip up a coat.
The thing is, kids are smart. They catch on quickly and sooner or later they figure out that if they wait long enough, eventually Mom will just do it.
Last summer I ran a little experiment. My kids were each assigned one day a week to make dinner. They decided what we would have and figured out what ingredients they needed to put the meal together. I would take them to the grocery store but they cooked the meal. We had everything from bacon and eggs to quesadillas to spaghetti with meat sauce. I could see the pride in their little faces as they placed their meals on the table for the family to feast on.
My little experiment taught me that my kids are capable of so much more than I was allowing them to do and giving them the freedom to do things for themselves left them with a sense of accomplishment.
This is my problem not theirs.
While I may think my excessive helping is to make life easier, in reality it’s making my life harder. Trying to be the doer of all things is both exhausting and unnecessary.
In reality, my kids are pretty good at doing things around the house. It’s me that needs to take a step back and allow them to do what I know they are fully capable of doing for themselves, even if it means it might take a little bit longer or not be done as perfectly as I would like.
My kids can make their own beds though there may be some lumps in the blankets, they can pour their own cereal and milk but there may be some spills on the counter and they can definitely put their dishes straight into the dishwasher while they are cleaning the table rather than leave them on the counter for me.
My kids are now at an age where the list of what they are capable of doing is longer than the list of what they aren’t capable of doing.
In the beginning this may require a little more effort on my part; pushing them to do things, reminding them of what their chores and responsibilities are. But in the end, once they become accustomed to going through their daily tasks, my to-do list will get shorter.
The final outcome should be more self-confident and motivated kids and a less stressed mama.
Is there a better way to start the New Year?