With the type of weather we are experiencing this winter in Michigan and all the stuffy noses around us, it was only matter of time for us to succumb to a cold. I would normally shrug it off and continue with life as normal, but at 21 weeks of pregnancy, this cold has taken the best of me. I had been laying down for a good part of the weekend and when I felt a little better on Monday, I foolishly decided to go out at night in sub-zero temperatures. What was I thinking? I’m feeling like a useless couch potato right now. On the bright side, however, my 3 and 2-year-olds have shown me how independent they really can be. This period of “uselessness” has been a great reminder of how I tend to overprotect my cubs when I feel healthy and in control.
The truth is that I have spent most of the first trimester of this pregnancy attempting to nap and laying down feeling royally sick. But while I wasn’t earning points towards being mother of the year, my little girl showed me that she can take charge and be responsible for things appropriate to her age such as opening the fridge and find yogurt and fruits to feed herself and her brother (she was even able to help herself to pre-made meals that I would leave for them in easy-to-open containers!). My son, who is only two, showed me that with the help of a stool and a clean kitchen towel, he could reach up to the fridge, poor himself some water and clean-up after him. Best of all, they felt proud and accomplished by doing so -not abandoned and unloved as motherly guilt made me think.
They also took care of me by letting me have “quiet time” in my room while they played in the room next to mine. They have amazed me of how responsible they can be and how they are able to look after each other at such a young age. To think that the majority of the time I do most of the chores for them makes me feel like a micro-manager when they show me how they know to wash their hands before and after they eat or to attempt to wipe off the messes they make.
I wonder how many other tasks they would be able to master if I allowed them to play as they learn and not care about having a perfectly organized house at all times. After all, children have an innate desire to help and to copy the things adults do. Why not take advantage of this quality and help them develop simple abilities that would grant them a little independence around the house such as letting them get messy and make a peanut butter and honey sandwich all by themselves? I’m sure I would have a lot of cleaning up to do at the beginning, but I wonder if they would be able to master that task at such young age.
I guess I would have to experiment a little, help only when they ask and be ready with my cleaning supplies handy at all times but if this independence will also allow them to feel proud and would encourage them to take responsibility of themselves even at this young age, I think it will be worth it in the long run.
If you let your young children take charge of some chores around the house, please share what your experience has been and what kind of things have they mastered!
Any tips are welcomed