Like most parents, I’ve nearly made myself crazy trying to get my kids to do things on many occasions. Asking them over and over to put away toys, put on their shoes, hang up their coats. The list goes on.
And for the most part, they do it. If I have the patience to wait it out a little, they’ll do the majority of what I ask. And they’ll do it independently.
However, I will also admit that I’m guilty of swooping in and helping them out with various tasks just to save time. When we have to get out the door in the morning—yes, I will pack your school bag for you because I know I can do it 90% more efficiently (and a heck of a lot quicker) than you, an adorable but slow little 5-year old, can.
I’ll do up zippers. I’ll pack lunches. I’ll carry backpacks. I’ll tie shoes. I’ll do it all. That’s what I do. I’m a parent and I’m happy to carry out these duties. I really don’t mind pouring your cereal for you. Or grabbing the milk, because getting a stool to stand on so you can reach the top shelf in the fridge will take much longer than it will for me to reach over and get it myself.
Then, one day, I realized something startling.
I’m still doing up my seven-year old’s seatbelt in the car. I’m still wiping dirt off of faces. I’m still cutting up snacks and delivering them to my children in their seats on the couch while they lounge around watching a movie.
I am a sucker.
One day, when my child yelled at me “MORE BANANA BREAD, PLEASE!!!” (at least they have manners), I realized that I’m doing things for them to make my own life easier because it makes everything move quickly and smoothly. But in the end, it’s actually making life more difficult for me.
Imagine the time I could save if my children did almost everything for themselves?? Imagine the solutions they could come up with and problem-solving skills they could develop.
Mind you, my children are only 2, 5 and 7 years old. It’s not like I’m spit-shining my teen’s face or fetching water and snacks for a 12-year old.
However, I’ve decided to adopt a new method of parenting in this house. It’s called the ‘Let Them Figure it Out On Their Own’ method of parenting. Today, I let my 5-year old pack her own school bag. It’s a cold winter day here, but instead of packing her a spare pair of mitts, I asked her to do it. Did she do it? Maybe not. Will her hands be cold if her first pair gets wet? Very likely. But will she remember those mitts tomorrow? I’m hoping the answer is yes.
I realize this method of parenting is not brand new nor revolutionary. But it’s new to me and our house.
And it’s liberating.
So from now on, my kids are going to figure out things without mom for once. And while they may not like it, I have every confidence they’ll be just fine.