Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Getting Kids to Clean Up - This mom doesn't work for you!

My husband grew up in one of those families where their mom literally did everything for them. The kids didn't even take their own plates off the table after dinner. As a result, my husband was nineteen and away from home on his own when he realized that he had absolutely no idea how to do his laundry. AND HE COULDN'T CALL HIS MOM TO ASK HOW TO! Did I just yell? Sorry! I just get really annoyed at the idea that parenting involves doing absolutely everything for your children.

On the other hand, I was raised to take care of myself almost completely. When I was in elementary school and sick - I stayed home by myself. I did my own laundry, had my own checking account at fourteen and was required to cook, clean and help with any household remodeling. While my friends vacationed in Mexico during senior break, I spent the week repainting the dining room because my grandmother poured peanut oil into a wok, turned it on high and then went to check on the laundry. It was a miracle the house didn't burn down! When the roof leaked I got up and helped fix it in the middle of the night. I hauled 50lb bags of cement because my grandfather said I could do anything a grandson could do. There was almost no coddling and I felt like I was taught a life lesson on almost a daily basis. All of which made me a stronger person but the idea of actually having fun was introduced to me at the age of 20 by a college roommate. I thought life was work, work and more work.

There has got to be a happy medium between my husband's childhood and mine. I don't see logically how doing everything for your child is an act of love. (If you can explain this to me then please comment!) I think if I love my child then I should teach them the value of teamwork, caring about others and learning how to take care of themselves, their families and a home. To me - making my children as self sufficient as possible means that they can have better lives and be less selfish people.

Does it wear me out to have to explain ten times in one day that this mommy don't work for you and why? Um, emphatically yes. I keep explaining what it means to work as a team over and over again. It would be so easy to just say "Go back to your computer. I will do it myself." But I refuse to do that because I want to teach my kids how to take care of a home so one day they don't show up on an episode of Hoarders.

With a full time job, a commute and three kids (one of whom is a toddler that never stops moving) - I literally do not have time to do all the laundry, the cleaning, the cooking, grocery shopping plus all of the other time consuming tasks like getting a dryer replaced because ours died. By teaching my kids to help, I'm teaching them that I am a person with feelings and the value of everyone sharing the load.

I also have one slightly selfish reason. I had several extremely selfish roommates in college who had no problem making a huge mess in the kitchen and then just leaving it for others to clean up. Why did adults behave that way? BECAUSE MOMMY DID EVERYTHING FOR THEM! There I go yelling again. It bothered me to no end having to clean up their messes because they actually refused to. Seriously. They flat out wouldn't do it no matter how often you asked nicely.

My grandmother's only visit to see me in college involved coming by on a morning where I had to work or something and hadn't made my bed yet. She said (I kidd you not) "Where did I go wrong in raising you?" Again, there has to be a balance between the extremes.

So, I'm sticking to my guns. This mom doesn't work for her kids and I never plan to. Hopefully, I end up with three kids who can take care of themselves and are not selfish people.

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