Last year, I read a book that really got me thinking about how I’m raising my kids (The Me, Me, Me Epidemic: A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World). I’ve mentioned it before as I think it’s a fabulous resource for anyone who is looking to intentionally raise their children. Will I follow everything in the book? – nope, not even close. However I do think a lot of it is worthwhile and even more important it got me thinking about what I want for MY kids and what I feel is important for them to learn and believe.
There are so many things that I do automatically for my children because it’s easier, quicker or I’ve just always done it. Things that they are absolutely capable of doing for themselves and for the family. But they don’t – either because they know I’ll do it or (and here was the lightbulb moment for me) because they don’t know how. No one (meaning me) ever taught them. After giving it quite a bit of thought, I decided that in 2016 we would embark upon a year of life-skills learning.
What exactly do I mean by that? Basically I want them to learn how to do the things that every capable person needs to know how to do. Things like laundry, cooking, cleaning, managing finances, being a good friend, practicing hospitality, etc. Will they be required to do all of these all the time? No, definitely not. (Well yes to being a good friend!) As the year progresses, we will come up with a list of jobs that they are responsible for – not for an allowance but because they are a part of the family and as a family it benefits us all to contribute to family life.
We’ve been trying this out for a few weeks now and it has been incredibly successful – I’ll share what we’ve done so far, and what has worked and probably do a few more updates throughout the year as I think it could be really helpful to other busy moms!
In January we focused on laundry. Why? No real reason, just a place to start. The first week I showed the kids how to sort laundry by color, operate the washer and dryer and hang clothes to dry. They also helped me put the clean clothes away. The second week I had them each do a few loads and I carefully watched them and answered their questions. The third week I asked each of them to be responsible for 3 loads of laundry start to finish but I still kept an eye on what they were doing. The final week of the month, they each did a few loads without my assistance or supervision.
What was so exciting is that they were happy to help out. They were interested in learning how to do it, and didn’t mind at all – in fact, my son was proud to finish his three loads in week 3 before his sister (we are a little competitive in the Howard household!). I don’t plan on making them responsible for all the laundry anytime soon, BUT if they want a particular outfit clean, now they know how to start and finish a load of laundry that contains that outfit. It’s also been super helpful to me to have helpers when I need them. Perfect example – I was making dinner last week and I heard the dryer buzz. Instead of managing it between dinner prep, I called to the kids and asked them to put away the dry clothes and hang/ dry the stuff in the dryer. That was such a WONDERFUL feeling for me – to not have to do it myself and to know it was being handled!
We are slowly working on cooking this month – with a ski trip planned, it may bleed a bit into March, but since I’m making this up as I go, that’s okay! The skills I want them to learn for this month are meal preparation – what is involved in the preparing, cooking and cleaning of each meal. By the end of this life skill session I’d like for them to each be able to make a few different breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks all by themselves.
So what do you think? Got any ideas of skills I should consider teaching them? We’ve got a whole year ahead of us and I’m very excited about where we are headed!
I know this post seems pretty far from my general topic of healthier and happier living, but I think it’s important to remember that a happier, healthier mom is one who isn’t stressed out and feeling overwhelmed. If you’ve got kids, there is no reason they can’t be a help to your family – and less housework for you means more time to devote to building relationships and creating family memories – which WILL lead you to a healthier and happier life! It’s the whole picture people – not just what you eat and how often you exercise that creates a life you love!
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