You build routines in order to survive the grind of parenthood.
You’re doing it, but it is exhausting and sometimes it feels like you never stop.
What if you don’t have to do so much?
Perhaps it is time to reevaluate your role and all you are doing for your kiddos.
When you look closely, you may be surprised by what you see. As parents, we are so busy trying to get through life that we often forget that as the days go on, our kids get older and become more capable.
I was floored when I first realized I had been caught in the trap of overdoing for my kids.
Newly married and helping my husband care for our then four-year-old stepson, my parents were visiting one weekend. My mom was going to get my stepson his bedtime snack.
In preparation, she looked at him and said, “Go get your pajamas on and meet me in the kitchen.” Just as she told him, he did. My husband and I looked at each other with our mouths agape.
We didn’t realize he could do that. We had been so used to taking him to his room, getting out his pj’s, and coaching him along as he got changed that it never occurred to us that he could simply take care of this basic task on his own.
It’s a moment I think about time and again; most often when I feel like my plate is too full, and that I am doing too much. As a parent and an educator with 17 years of experience in the classroom, this moment has morphed into one of my most valuable parenting and teaching philosophies – don’t do for them, what they can do for themselves.
Who would have thought you’d get more out of your kids by doing less! You can, and it may just be the best thing that has ever happened to you and your brood.
Going back to school
Back to school is undoubtedly on your radar. What a perfect time to stop and think about what responsibilities you are taking on that you could, and SHOULD, give over to your kids.
This is not a selfish act.
There are, of course, benefits to you, but even more so to your kids.
Giving more for your children to do to care for themselves is telling them “I trust you and you are capable”. By handing tasks over you are giving them control and power in their own lives.
They are learning how to manage their time. They are learning to become independent people. These are invaluable skills.
As you are thinking about this, here are some areas where I relinquish control and have my kids take charge.
My kids always pick out their own outfits the night before school and place them on the floor for morning. I give advisement about weather/school appropriate options, but for the most part they do it on their own (yes, even my five-year-old).
They do not always choose what I would select for them to wear, but I give them most of the say and they love it. They pick the clothes, and I give the final stamp of approval.
Side note, along with picking out their clothes they are also responsible for putting away their own laundry. I still fold the clothes, for now, but the rest is on them.
Their drawers aren’t perfect, but they’re learning.
Lunch and a snack
I buy the snacks and lunch items, they are charged with remembering to pack them. My 8-year-old daughter was not great at this at first.
She would often forget to pack a snack and that was hard. I would feel guilty and worried because I know she feels sick if she’s too hungry. I had to work through that and let her live with the consequences, and guess what, she got better about remembering.
She even decided on her own to always keep an extra granola bar in her backpack in case she forgot to pack a snack one day.
She came up with that!
She’s solving her own problems and learning how to deal with her own strengths and weaknesses as a person. If my kids want lunch from home instead of school lunch, they are also in charge. Like with clothes, they do the work and I give the stamp of approval.
Morning routine to get out the door
We create a list of what needs to be done before school and post it for all to see. We keep it simple:
- Breakfast clean up
- Teeth brushed
This lets the kids check themselves to make sure they are ready to go before they head out to school. My kids are anxious to get out the door in the morning, but they can not even ask if we are ready to go until they have completed our morning list.
School folders and papers
When we get home after school/work, the kids can’t start playing until they have reviewed with me their take-home school folders and planners.
I am responsible for staying up to date on school happenings, and I love that part. What I don’t do is dig through backpacks seeking out information. They have to get it out and walk we through what they have.
I get a sneak peak at their day from their perspective as they sift through papers, and they have the responsibility of giving me school information directly.
This is so much better then the worn out “How was your day” question with a blanket reply of “good.” Instead they tell me about the permission slip for the upcoming field trip, how they started learning cursive, or about a geography test they took.
Seeing their papers jar their memories of the day so we can have meaningful conversations about their school life.
These are just a few ideas to get you started.
As with anything, make it your own. There may be things you still want to hang on to, and that’s OK.
I know my kids could set an alarm and wake themselves up in the morning, but I love doing that myself. Rubbing their backs as they wake for the day are precious moments I choose to keep for now.
As you think about what you will give over to your kids, be sure to hang onto those things that fill you up.