Monday, December 10, 2007

Do I have to teach them...everyday...?

We're supposed to teach them life skills that will help them for the rest of their...well...(wait for it)...lives. We're supposed to teach them how to manage money, clean the house, do laundry, dishes, windows, weeding, paying tithing, do their homework, write thank you cards, give presents, eat politely, speak politely, etc. and that is just the beginning (or the middle, depending on how old your child is).

We're supposed to do this. So why is it so much easier just to do it for them?

See, today I was done. Finished. Again. (Tends to happen every 3 weeks). Instead of getting them off of the computer to help me clean the house (in a fury of frustration), I sent them outside. I gave them coats and shoes and even provided a snack. Baby was napping; children were playing. I cleaned the house. Not all of it, mind you, but most of it. I got rid of more ants. I took laundry out of the dryer. I did dishes. I vacuumed. I picked up toys, papers, crayons, books, homework, Go-gurt garbage, granola bar wrappers, cheerios stuck to the floor, and cat food. And now the house is nice (okay, the bottom half is nice). I lit a candle. It smells like Christmas.

Now, if I'm supposed to teach my children to clean and work, how did I do that by shooing them outside to play? How do I do that by picking up their junk? Their annoying junk?

Trying to find the compromise between childhood and responsibility is very hard. Some days, I help them clean, we do it together, we are happy. Other days, I'm a raging lunatic, yelling at them to "clean it up or you don't get TV for a week!" And then there are days like today, where I send them away and happily do it myself.

Where do you find the compromise? How do you manage the teaching of life skills?[ Okay, mostly just cleaning skills (street smarts and being polite we'll save for another post).]


Kelly A. said...

This one hits close to home after my weekend. How indeed?

Maybe you have to shoo every other time just to get it done well, then teach on the other times. It's kind of how I operate.

My new thing is even if they don't help I make them watch. Some times I need to get things done quickly but also feel like I need to be teaching. For instance, Sunday morning I was so ticked at my 9 year old for shoving his Sunday clothes in a drawer rather than hanging them last week (after repeated admonishing of course) so they were wrinkled and crummy as we were trying to get ready for church.

I made him stand next to me while I ironed, the biggest bummer of his life is being taken away from his play time. Standing still while I ironed was torture. It worked pretty well. At least it makes me feel better.

Good luck. Hope the place is still clean by bedtime!

Amanda said...

This is something that I really struggle with. I have been wondering how to make this balance. I am trying to do less for my kids, to make them a little more independent. I have given them chores (we started out really slowly), but I think that they are ready for more. I hope you get some good advice, because then I can use it too!

Cristy said...

AH! I feel your pain! I am one of those people who loves to just do it myself, with everything! I'm the worse when it comes to letting my kids cook with me, even when they beg me to do! Even when they beg to help me clean (at 3 it is fun to them) but it just gets so frustrating because I just can't get anything done! So I push them away and try to do it myself. I think the answer is, is to pick your times. Every 3 to 4 weeks, it's ok to just do it yourself (it happens to all of us woman every 3 to 4 weeks!) but sometimes you have to make them help, or let them help.