Recently, my eleven year old daughter divulged her plans to attend college in Switzerland. Initially, the thought of this filled me with pride and excitement for her. Then, the mom in me roared her ugly head, reminding me that while I do a pretty decent job at mothering, I still have quite a way to go.
My best “mom” strength is my follow-through. For example, I once threatened to cancel a day in Disney due to a behavior issue. And guess what? I turned my car around mid-ride, and we sat home instead. Ever since “The Mickey Incident”, I’ve never had to repeat myself. Yeah…so I’m no joke.
BUT…when it comes to educating my daughters about what they will need to be productive members of society, I tend to sabotage my super human follow-through strength, and I get a bit lackadaisical. I think it’s partly because A) the more “grown up” tasks I show my kids, the more it makes me realize that the “I-need-my-mom” time with them is getting shorter, and B) it’s always easier and faster if I just complete these tasks myself.
So this summer, I have decided to bite the bullet and begin teaching them how to do some small daily chores on their own that will hopefully benefit them as adults. It’s time to say hello to autonomy.
I’m starting slowly…with a jar that I’ve labeled the “Things We Will Learn This Summer at Camp Mom”. It’s nothing fancier than a container I found at the dollar store with a “Camp Mom” clip art printout from a Google search taped to it. But inside is where the “fun” begins.
I’ve individually folded up a number of responsibilities that I will be transferring to them this summer, and once per week, they will dig inside the container and choose their mission. There are some jobs that will be more challenging, like balancing a checkbook, or planting and caring for a fruit or vegetable in our yard. But there are others which they have inconsistently done before, like making their own breakfast and picking out their clothes for the day. Going forward, no more help from mom.
For all of you silently muttering that my kids should have been doing this stuff years ago, I know. And for those of you thinking I am a tyrant for expecting too much of my girls over the summer, think about it. Back in the 1800s, six-year-old kids used to hunt for their food, skin it, cook it, make their own butter, and do their own laundry in a wash basin. Okay, maybe I’ve watched too many Little House of the Prairie episodes, but you get my point.
I believe it’s okay to expect more from my kids. Oh…and by the way, we’re going to Ireland on a family vacation this summer, so I’m not oppressing them too much, right?
As they get older, I hope to keep this summer tradition and continue to teach my daughters tasks like how to change a light bulb, hang a picture frame, find a local bus route and take public transportation. I’m hoping I don’t forget anything too vital. But mostly, I hope that my super mom follow-through power will not fail me as I go through the hardest task of all – letting go.