Even though we are usually tired and have a thousand things to do, we take on extra work when our grandchild could do it himself. They want a snack, a drink or need to change their clothing and we can make that happen in a minute or two. It takes them half an hour and then there is a mess to clean up. So we find ourselves microwaving a can of Chef Boyardee ravioli for an eight year old. We are tying shoes when the seven year old longs to learn and making beds for a child who needs to learn the value of a clean room.
I recently left my nine year old Grand home for the first time. He had been asking me to trust him alone. I do trust him; I just do not trust the other people who might come by while I am gone. But I went over the rules for the hundredth time and went off to the store. He did not need to know three neighbor ladies were hanging out by their huge picture windows with binoculars.That was a long 20 minutes for me and a moment he will remember the rest of his life.
He was a proud boy and told me how “big” he felt. Since then he has been kick-started to accomplish other things by himself. He checks his chore chart, makes his bed, hangs out with the big boys, and just seems more mature in ways I never expected. After all, I have faith that he can do these things and have shown it by allowing him to prove it.
We need to make a conscious effort to allow our kids to learn skills that will benefit them for life. Does it take more time at first? Yes, it does. When they microwave food and it leaves a mess, we must show them where the cleaner and towels are and supervise the cleanup. Then we can remind them that could have been avoided by covering the bowl.
Here are some easy chores that even very young children can accomplish to foster independence and free our time:
- Sweep the floor
- Feed the pets
- Wash dishes (you may need to secretly rewash them at first)
- Place trash in the bin
- Make their bed
- Load the washer (after clothing is separated)
- Make a sandwich
- Clean the toilet
These seemingly small add up to give the kids a sense of accomplishment and responsibility while freeing our time considerably. Try it. Love it. Share it.