DD1 turned 8 last week and despite what the title might suggest, I am not going to talk about her path to 8 and how I can’t believe she is here already. Instead I am going to talk about how this growing up thing happens so fast, it is easy for time to get away with you and vital things might get missed. The last 8 years have been a mad rush of 2 children, 2 house moves, some sad family things, schools, new schools and more new schools, new businesses, training, new jobs, a bit more training, and then 8 happened.
I have had a bit of time to reflect recently, as I took a break from trying to find who I should be in this mad world; I took a look at where me and the girls are now. A realisation is dawning that I might have forgotten, sub consciously possibly, to develop their independence. Maybe I was too busy, maybe I was too hooked up on being indispensable. Whatever the reason, here we are with 2 very reliant young people. I now need to retrain old habits and get them ready for the world ahead of them. I was brought up to be independent and capable, so why am I smothering my 2 with mother love? I realise they don’t have to need me, it would just be good if they wanted me. So here is my Top 10 list of things I should have done sooner:
- Get them to make their beds – I don’t mean putting on the sheets, duvet cover etc. I just mean get up and sort out the duvet and toys. Simple stuff, but neither of mine do it.
- Tidy up plates and dishes – I find plates and left-over food wrappers pretty much everywhere. I am not as strict as I could be about eating at the table, so bowls are all over the place. We have a new agreement that they bring them into the kitchen, so far, this happens maybe 1 out of 10 times, with a little nagging.
- This brings me onto dishwashers and washing up. I still think myself lucky to have a dishwasher, I spent many a year with hands in a washing up bowl. I believe they need to learn both, but lets start with opening the dishwasher and plopping a plate or two inside… baby steps.
- Brushing teeth – now I am happy to say that due to a terrible fear of making them gag, I have pushed them into brushing their own teeth quite early. So now we have a good mix of them and us teeth cleaning, but they would much rather sit back and let Dad do the work. Apparently, they need to be able to do joined up writing to be good at teeth brushing. No harm doing a few practice runs before then though.
- Picking up clothes, not just discarding where they fall – currently there is a trail of clothing at bath time and in the mornings. The onesie frequently ends up strewn across the hall, whilst the littlest’s pyjamas are often found in our bed. She loves the big bed for her dressing area. They have finally learned to put pants in the wash basket and the occasional sock, but that’s as far as it goes. Everything else is collected and sorted by parents. So, its time to stand back and direct them on where to put things, then let them learn.
- Clothes hanging and putting away. How hard is it to put clothes on hangers? They can now both reach their hanging rails, so why am I constantly doing the hanging up? Time to learn girls.
- Socks are always a problem when you have two girls, only 18 months apart; they all look the same. So, I have introduced the sock ID game; they love this and can then sort and put away their own socks. I don’t always have the time so do this when they are up and about, so I need to remember to leave it until they can do it. I aim to get to the point where they can help sort all the washing, not just their socks, and put their own things away; it’s slow process and they could be 18 by the time it happens!
- Getting their own drinks and snacks – we are currently struggling with diet and healthy food. I need to get them both to a stage where they can come in from school and grab a healthy snack independently, so that they can recognise what is good to eat and what should be more of an occasional option. They are both very slim builds and don’t need to worry about weight, but I recognise that they both over consume sugar; I did this to them though, so I have to resolve it. My husband talks about the full sweet bowl at home when he was a kid, and how he learned to just take from it occasionally, he never felt the need gorge on the readily available sweets and chocolate. I decided to give this a go and found it works. The sweets are always there, but they never help themselves and totally understand there is a limit to what they should eat, so if I say they can have something from the bowl, they always ask how much. Yay …. One success. Now let’s get DD1 to eat a grape!
- Tidying up – this is a totally personal thing. Everyone has a different level of tidiness and my 2 are a perfect example of this; not unlike their parents. I am happy with organised chaos and will not give up too much time for the cleaning, whereas my husband is a lover of order, tidiness and neatness. I should add that he is not overly keen on achieving these goals himself, unless it’s in the cars. DD1 loves mess, has no desire to tidy and freely admits that she likes her messy bedroom, whereas DD2 likes things in their place, neatness and order. However, here is an example of this morning’s game, long since abandoned:
What you don’t see is the board flung over to the other side of the room, most of the floor space is covered by this one game. Normally, the Sylvanians are brought into the mix, but today we have been crafting, so the kitchen is a bomb site.
- Getting involved in the cooking – I enjoy cooking, but rarely find the time to cook from scratch, so it is hard to get them to join in, but even things like putting on their own pizza toppings is better than nothing. We made a lasagne once, but that took hours, so I might think of something less time-consuming next time. They are ridiculously picky eaters, so I am hoping more involvement might broaden their tastes. We made pizza today, well they put toppings on ready-made bases, but we had been a bit busy making icing unicorns, (I didn’t let them eat TOO much icing) so we didn’t have a lot of time for cooking after that. I did make the pizza sauce, but got my timings wrong and didn’t have enough time to finish it so opened a jar instead!
To get mine to where they should be, I now need to nag and really resist the temptation to just do it myself. I realise that this is only my opinion, but if I don’t teach them this stuff, then who will? I always struggled with delegation in my jobs and that has carried over to parenting. Sometimes I was in rush, sometimes too frustrated to wait, and other times I wanted them to stay little and just be their Mum. But they are growing up and need to learn the basics before I send them off on their way; not too soon though.