Sunday, May 16, 2010

Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Helpless

For whatever reason, I have found myself accomplishing a lot more in the day than over the winter. I do suspect that I have a touch of seasonal mood swings, but I am happily noticing that my productivity is reaching an all-time high. For the past few weeks, I have started my day around 5:30 with a 45 minute run. Maybe it's that kind of start to my day that provides me with the energy I need to stay focused.

In the past, I have tended to struggle with keeping our house orderly (which therefore spun me into a horrendous mood). The difference? I have expected others to help me. Wrongly, I justified my serving my family with the reasoning that I don't work outside the home. Even though that may be true, I realized that I'm not doing anyone any favors by being a servant. I certainly don't mean that I haven't been serving my family, but I refuse anymore to be a slave, and the only one that works to keep the house running smoothly.

I am beyond thankful to be able to stay home full-time with our children. I am grateful to my husband that he works so hard to support us so comfortably. I love him, but let me tell you, my friends - he is helpless. I hope you don't think I'm being unkind, I'm just being honest. I'd like to think that if he wasn't so overwhelmed with work that I could train him to be helpful around the house. Naturally, though, he does not see what needs to be done, cannot cook anything (!), and has cleaned a bathroom one time in his life. Seriously.

Now, please let me say that I love my mother-in-law. She is honestly one of the most gracious people I know. She did a great job raising four kids (one with severe special needs), but maybe she erred on the side of doing too much. I'm not sure that he was ever expected to help with general household work (mowing the lawn notwithstanding).

Does anyone else struggle to find the balance in serving your family but also expecting them to help? I have found myself starting with some small things, but I'm encouraged. I now expect my kids to clear their own plates and load them in the dishwasher. We've also started tackling the housecleaning on Saturdays. They clean their rooms while I clean the house. I do have to put aside my preferences a little on the room cleaning. They certainly don't do things the way I do, but I have to accept a little more clutter and a little less perfection. Lastly, they have started to put away their own laundry. They each have a laundry basket in their room and when it's filled I wash their clothing and return their folded, clean clothes [which they then put away].

I have discovered that not only are they capable and somewhat willing, but that they seem to take pride in their work. They tend to keep their rooms cleaner for longer. I certainly have more to teach them, but at least we're getting started. I would love to hear your ideas for training your kids to be self-sufficient. Please share! With summer quickly approaching, I'd love to keep making progress.


  1. my fellas sure like to complain that they're the only ones they know that have to do chores but do them they must. Eric is a stickler for children helping out in the house and while it's sometimes easier to do it myself, it is so worth it to have kiddo who do their part and also know how to help out when needed. We haven't quite reached the stage where they do the things we expect without being asked, though, (except for loading their own stuff in the dishwasher). I've heard rumors of moms who have their kiddos do their own laundry...I haven't quite handed that one over yet!

  2. This is also an area that I'm trying to be better at - encouraging my kids to be more self-sufficient with responsibility. I'm still learning. I get so tired during the week, I have no energy left to hear the kids whine when I ask them to clean their rooms, so their rooms get messier and messier until enough's enough and it's time to clean them - but there's no consistant routine with that. They clean their places from the table each time, they clean up their toys from the living room each day, I don't put their cloths away, I stack them in their rooms and they're responsible for putting them away (but they stay stacked for a long time). Noel has helped fold the laundry, but not on a consistant basis. I have a goal that by the time my kids graduate from highschool, they help with the laundry, help make a meal each week, and clean. They need to learn how to take care of themselves. We have rediscovered the chore chart this weekend - something that comes and goes over the course of a year. My kids are supposed to be responsible for cleaning their bathroom, but lately I haven't been good at making sure they do that (at a time I really need them most!)

    You know what? This comment is turning out to be a post because I'm thinking too much while I write - I'm in rambling mode. I have come to realize while writing this that it's time I find some kind of work routine that works for my family. They might whine and complain for a while, but hopefully over time it will become a habit. It's just been hard since I've been working outside the home. Thank you for getting me to think more about this!

  3. Thanks for the suggestions and thoughts, ladies! Sounds like you're both doing a great job teaching responsibility to your kiddos. I know you're both very busy, so I'm so glad your kids are willing to help out!
    Wow, Stacy...that's a pretty serious rumor, making kids do their own laundry...not sure I could go that far! I just caught sight of the kids drawers today...let's just say I can only imagine what their clothes will look like when they put them on! I might have to sneak in this afternoon and re-fold...just so I don't have to iron!!

  4. I just wrote a comment and lost it! Ah!

    I'm working on getting my kids to help out too. Especially since we'll be homeschooling. If they are going to be home more often, they'll be making more messes. And I need them to help clean up after themselves.

    We've been doing Saturday morning chores for a few months. I've learned that supervising and/or checking on the quality of the job is key. It kind of stinks b/c I want to use that time to get my own chores done. After school is over, I'm hoping to add daily chores - a shortened version of Saturday morning chores.

    We also have a laundry system in place. Maybe I'll write a blog post about it. It's not that big of a deal, but it helps the process run smoothly.

  5. Knocker-
    please do post your laundry ideas! I can't tell you how many times I ran down to our laundry room to get you know, I have struggled and struggled with the "putting away" of the laundry!!
    Good job teaching your kids responsibility! I totally should have started younger-
    Did I know you were homeschooling????
    Cleaning up after oneself: totally necessary-
    Rob really needs some lessons...I just cleaned up his coffee cup from the bedroom and his cereal bowl from the dining room - arrrrghhh..

  6. i struggle with implementing chores for my kids when school is in session. during the summer they have daily chores. i usually have them help me design the chore chart so that they don't whine as much.

    i have VERY low standards in regards to things. my kids have put away their own laundry since they've been 3. so you can imagine what their drawers look like. i personally would just rather have the laundry put away then have the drawers beautiful. we have a "system" in place and the kids are motivated by it. perhaps someday i will post on it. someday:)