So here it is ............... after yet another school morning of nagging at the kids to get ready and out the door for the bus on time, Mike & I were chatting about how much we are so sick & tired of hearing our own voices lately - Is this just the way its going to always be? Surely there has to be a better way!
The morning was topped off by the fact that Saxon (my oldest) had misplaced his Football boots - new football boots mind you, and the season has only just started! While fuming. we took him to Football practise that afternoon, wearing his sneakers, while we desperately tried to come up with some sort of solution to teach the kids about taking responsibility. Its amazing the ideas that come to mind when you are fuming at the lack of care your kids can show for all their, and your, belongings. (I should mention that the boots were just the cherry on top - there have been a few items lost lately along with the general winging and "I'm so hard done by" attitude that kids always go through), and we had had enough.
So, we put our foot down that afternoon in our fed up states. Because they don't take care of the things we get for them or do for them. or help out without winging at us about every single little thing every single time, we decided that we weren't going to do ANYTHING for them that night when we got home! We weren't going to argue with them about what they needed to do before bed, we weren't going to argue with them about shower time, we weren't going to argue with them about PJ time, we weren't going to argue with them about setting the table OR clearing the table - and we weren't even going to cook them their dinner!! We told them that they had to take care of everything themselves and they had to be in bed by 7:30pm!
This may sound harsh, and heck, when we got home I started doubting it myself. At the end of the day we weren't fully deserting them as parents though, we were still there in the house with them and keeping an eye on them - but we thought it would be interesting to see what would take place with the challenge that was set. And thats exactly what they did - they saw it as a challenge!
We couldn't believe it - they actually went straight to the bedroom and had a 'meeting' about how they were going to 'run' the evening. Then Saxon came out and asked to use the i-pad to google 'How to make scrambled eggs'! I was stunned. He made the scrambled eggs while Casey made the toast. They then dished it up, along with a side of grapes, sat at the dining room table next to each other and had dinner WITHOUT ARGUING once! They then cleared their dishes and unloaded the clean dishwasher. Saxon then had his shower while Casey sat down, grabbed some paper and started drawing out a house design, then Saxon went to bed to read while Casey had his shower, and they were both in bed by about 7:20pm! EARLY, and WITHOUT arguing! I was absolutely gobsmacked! Well, that had gone down better than I had expected. We said our goodnights and praised them for the great work they had done while dishing out our kisses and hugs and sat down baffled at what had just gone down.
We hadn't quite finished yet though........
When the morning came we got the kids out of bed, got them together and told them that they were on their own again that morning. We weren't going to do the usual nagging at them to get ready. They had to get their own breakfast (which credit to them, they do do everyday anyway), they had to make their own lunch, clean their teeth, do their hair, pack their bag and get themselves dressed all on their own accord, without us nagging them to do it. Whatever condition they were in when it was time to leave was how they were catching the bus, whether they were dressed or not or whether they had their lunch or not. Well blow me down they were ready with 5-10 minutes to spare, and Casey was so happy with himself that he even asked if he could do it again tomorrow!!!!!! Who were these children??
That was my moment when I didn't know whether I was proud at how capable our boys were when they needed to be, or selfishly angry that they didn't fall to a screaming heap realising how much they needed us for day to day activities! In the end I did of course choose proud as it really showed my how mature the kids were and opened my eyes to how much information they really do absorb on a daily basis even when they show no sign of even being on your planet!
I think we spend so much time & effort trying to make life so easy for our children that more often than not we actually make life harder for ourselves! Kids are alot smarter and capable than what we give them credit for. If we don't allow them to think for themselves, and we stop them from taking responsibility, we are actually inhibiting their growth.
Kids these days have so much more than they ever used to have, which is definitely a blessing, but by having an unlimited amount of things on hand all the time is this creating a lack of true appreciation and responsibility for taking care of the things they do have? We as parents need to step back and give our children more responsibility, not only to make life a little easier for ourselves, but to also teach our kids to start thinking for themselves.
Try it, you may be surprised.