I just had a very interesting conversation with a very good friend of mine. She is a single mother who homeschools her 3 children (the oldest is 15 and already in her first year of college), runs several businesses, and still manages to go on exotic vacations and get the housework done- all on a budget that most of us would consider frugal, to put it mildly.
So I asked her, "How do you do it? How in the world did you manage to juggle all of that work and still get everything done?" Having had a child with a learning disability home for several months, I know I found it difficult to help him with his daily lessons, deal with my private clients, do housework, take care of my other 6 children, and maintain this site.
Our conversation was so interesting that in the near future I plan on interviewing her so you can hear her in person-her advice is practical, to the point, and so true. In the meantime, I"ll share with you a statement that really hit the bulls' eye: " I taught my kids to be independent, because that's my job- everyone's job- as a mother. And besides, why should I be a slave to my kids?"
Her point was that most parents do too much for their children: instead of teaching them how to do it themselves, they take away the chance to teach the child to be independent and responsible (and make it easier on mom) by doing it for them.
Now I don't know about you, but I am definitely guilty as charged! And my kids are pretty independent (or so I thought). The older ones have been doing laundry since they were about 10, they often cook lunch or dinner, shop, pay bills for me, and a lot more.
But still, when it came down to it, if there was a pair of someone's shoes on the floor, and I asked them to pick it up, some of them would answer, "But it's not mine! I didn't put it there!" Of course I gave them the answer that " it doesn't matter who put it there, it just needs to be put away," but I must admit I was bothered by the fact that this was their response.
After we talked about it, I realized that this all started when they were 2, and tried to help me fold the laundry. Sometimes I would let them, and sometimes I would do a slick redirect: "why don't you go play with your blocks honey?"
Dumb and dumber. If you read Maria Montessori, you'll see one of the fundamental principles she explains is that a child's work is to master the world around them. What do children spend their time all day doing? Trying to be like Mommy and Daddy. Anyone who has been around children longer than an hour will tell you that even 12 month will try to put away the groceries -especially if you've got plenty of breakables (LOL).
And an 18 month old will fight you to the death just so they can do it "alone," even if they don't quite possess the skills to get the job done.
So when you complain that your 11 year old won't help around the house-heck, won't even clean up after himself, well you hit the party just a little too late. That is a child who at 18 months should have carried his folded clothing to his drawer and put it away. That's the 3 year old who should have been allowed to make his own sandwich (with a child-friendly knife, of course).
That's the 5 year old who could have helped you make grilled cheese sandwiches-first preparing the sandwiches, and then learning how to tell you when the sandwiches are ready to be turned over.
That's the seven year old who should have washed, folded, and put away his own laundry.
I think you get the point. As my friend put it: every other animal in the world (insects too) has to work to survive. Why should my child be any different?