This whole mothering thing is pretty funny. To be good at it, you have to have things under control yourself. It’s pretty hard to be a model of something you can’t, won’t or don’t do. One thing we have managed to be pretty good at is fostering independence in our kids. Once they are old enough to do something, they are expected to do it for themselves, however imperfectly that may be. While we’ve been preparing for the arrival of baby number 3, we’ve been examining the following areas to see if there have been any areas we’ve been lax on enforcing independence in.
Now if you have children just learning to eat and use utensils, this has no use for you. But our oldest is 2-1/2. Plenty old enough to feed herself, provided we cut things up for her. Are you spending time feeding, coercing or otherwise spending too much time dorking around at mealtimes? Is that something that you would like to continue doing with a newborn or is it not worth the energy at this point?
With our first, we didn’t have to teach her how to dress at all. She knew where her clothes were and we had to get her a new dresser at age two. She would parade around like a runway diva with a new outfit every 30 minutes! My second, we were pretty lazy about making her get dressed. We have been working diligently on teaching her the tricks of getting dressed — where to grab your shirt to put it on, how to put on pants, how to pull OFF pants, where the tags go, etc. Is this something you need to make a point of helping and guiding?
Even my 2-1/2 year old has “chores.” I’m not great at enforcing chores on a regular basis, but the kids have grown used to mom calling in the troops to help pick up the house — we consider it part of being a family. Everyone helps each other, even if YOU didn’t make the mess.
My two year old can help empty the dishwasher & even put silverware away with a stool handy. She can set the table (one plate at a time). And she can help bring books & toys to their proper homes and help put them away (with MUCH guidance).
My 5 year old has “real” chores. It is her job to put her own clothes in her dresser drawer and closet. She also has to sort and pair up EVERYONE’s socks (not just hers). She mops the bathroom floors on bathroom day. Her job is to put the books on the shelf (even though her sister gets them out 80% of the time) and pick up her arts & crafts messes daily before meals. Sometimes, I have her clean the table, too, since she is most likely to complain about a smidge of food droppings at her spot :).
So is there something that your child can do to help out the household, herself or others in it? You can find some awesome chore charts on Pinterest. My favorites suggestion lists, arranged by approximate age is from The Happy Housewife. It lives on my fridge to remind me what they are probably capable of :D.
Next week, I will address the most helpful piece of fostering independence in it’s own post — Eating!
This post is part of the Prepping for Baby Series — check out the full list of posts!