One of my parenting goals is to not have children living in my basement when they are adults..
This goal likely will work out because we currently have no basement at casa de phillips and currently reside in a part of the country where soil conditions make basements practically obsolete.
In all seriousness, we have started early in attempting to teach our children life skills so that when they are 21 they will know how to carry out adult responsibilities. As I have blogged before, I tend to be a helicopter parent. I come from a long line of helicopter parenting, of moms and grandmothers intent on making sure I am happy and fed and feel loved. There are some really great aspects of helicopter parenting. One never questions the faithfulness of a helicopter mom. They do not have the chance to because mom is always right there. However, I did grow up knowing how to do certain tasks and was able to easily transition from adolescence to independent living quite smoothly.
We hope the same for our children.
Slowly, we are adding to their responsibilities around the house. Two phrases I often say to them in regards to housecleaning are:
“Oh, the maid did not show up today. You better go clean up your ____________ (dishes, room, toothbrush, Hot Wheels track that spans across most of the upstairs).”
“Am I going to have to drive to your house when you are 30 and do this for you? Mommy will be very old and tired then.” (This is usually in regards to little ones resisting learning how to perform a new chore or task. This little phrase…said in a funny way…was how I got both kids to dress themselves independently when they were younger.)
Currently I am reading Cleaning House, which is really an easy read that will convict parents about avoiding the entitlement trap with kids and ensuring that they are teaching (and following through!) with life skills training. Most likely, I will write a review of it when I finish it this weekend.
I would like to say that our children complete the chores at hand with a happy attitude every day, whistling while they work. I would like to say that because they know they are responsible for cleaning up their messes, when an epic yogurt spill happens it is quickly and efficently cleaned up (And not slightly sopped up with a kitchen towel…which is then haphazardly hung back onto the oven door….leaving a trail of sticky yogurt globs in its wake). I would like to say that there are never mornings when unloading the dishwasher sounds like a foreign and strange notion that I have passed down, despite the fact that these two unload it every day after breakfast. I would also like to say that I do not get the occassional blank stare when I ask someone to strip their beds and take the bedding down to the laundry room as if they did not know such a place existed in our home (we are working on the chore of laundry right now). And of course I would like to say that I never get frustrated or tired with the less-than-stellar cleanining efforts of small hands and simply do the task myself to save time and my sanity.
It’s a process…that raising of children.
Sometimes I make work fun. Sometimes it is mandatory. Sometimes it is rewarded. Othertimes a simple “thanks” is all that is doled out.
Occasionally, I get creative.
Yesterday the afternoon heat was getting to us. We had spent the morning at the local mall doing a bit of birthday shopping. Lunch and a semi-quiet time led us into a long afternoon. There were chores to be done and everyone seemed more intent on fussing and complaining rather than working.
I gave them their instructions (clean up your rooms unless you want Littlest Pet Shop and Ninjago pieces to be sucked up in the vaccum) and then dust all the baseboards upstairs.
While they were working, I set up a special afternoon snack. The price of admission to said snack time was one dusty rag showing me that the baseboards had indeed been wiped down well.
Everyone paid their admisson price and was welcomed into our “Ice Cream Sundae” bar.
Despite the fact that I simply threw this little snack together with leftovers from our 4th of July celebration, the children thought it was great. They felt proud to show their admission ticket and loved having ice cream as a snack.
How do you make chores fun somedays?
A little tip from me: Dusting is a great chore to start little ones out doing. My kids have had their very own Swiffer dusters for years. Sure, they might not get all the dust bunnies but they will get some dusting done and build a bit of self-worth in the process.