I can vividly remember an experience when my son Wesley, who is now almost 6, was 2 years old. My husbands mom, Sherri, lived with us while she was in a transitioning stage in her life. I know, you women out there are probably cringing at the thought of your mother in law living with you. I’d be lying if I didn’t say we had our ups and downs… I mean seriously, it’s hard enough to learn to live and function in peace with your significant other who was raised completely different than you, but then throw their mom in the mix, and it’s a whole new ball game. BUT, despite the challenges (for all of us), I am so thankful for the time we got to spend with her and the lessons I learned from her. I had planned on someday creating a “kids chore chart” and teaching Wesley responsibility …but not at two years old. Sherri has a compulsion for organizing, cleaning, and moving furniture – and doing it often! Our house was absolutely immaculate in the time Sherri was with us. Wes had all the southern, deep fried, crisco filled cooking he could ever want as well.
So, what was the experience? One day, I came home from work and Sheri told Wesley to clean up his toys. In my mind I thought, “He is two years old. He doesn’t even understand what you are asking him to do“. I didn’t say anything, but just rolled my eyes, hoping she understood my “clearly it’s been a long time since you raised a toddler….good try” eye roll. Then, my two year old son did the unthinkable (at least in my mind at the time). He gathered his toys and put them in the toy box. All of them….not a single one left on the ground….without an attitude…
What?!? How could this little two year old, that Wes and I made, possibly be capable of understanding how to clean up his toys? I still envisioned him as the newborn that needed me (us) for everything. If we are labeling that moment, it was called an “ah ha” moment…you know when the little light bulb finally turns on? I realized I was enabling my son to be dependent on us for everything because it made me feel like a better mom. I learned that if I wanted my son to grow into a self sufficient, productive human being, I needed to trust him and slowly teach him age appropriate responsibility. Since that light bulb moment, Wesley has taught me so much more.
I learned that parenting is so much harder than I thought. It’s kind of like how I envisioned marriage would be a fairy tale, but in reality it takes a lot of work to maintain a healthy, happy marriage. While both parenting and marriage require a lot of work, consistency, and personal growth, both are equally rewarding and amazing. Marriage and parenting are a testament to the quote “The greater the challenge, the greater the reward”. I learned that I have a total type A personality and I can’t stand a task to be completed “imperfectly”. Marriage and parenting has revealed changes that I needed to make. It’s also given me the reality check that I better get used to change because it will need to happen for the rest of my life as my kids, husband, and I go through different transitions in life. I’ve also learned the most important lesson… that there is not a cookie cutter way to raise our children and that the no matter how hard you search for the “right” way, you’ll never find concurrence. Parenting doesn’t come with a manual. We have to adapt and adjust how we parent based on the child that we have and the situations in our lives. It absolutely amazes me how children can come from the same parents and be on opposite ends of the spectrum in so many different areas.
Since that moment (thank you Sherri), I have had such a strong motivation to allow my son (and now my daughter) to grow, take on more responsibility, and become self sufficient human beings.
A few months ago, I hesitantly decided to have Wesley start putting away his clothes after I folded them, and at about the same time I started letting him make his own peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Get this… the kid hates the ends of the bread. I walked in the kitchen and saw he used the end of the bread for his sandwich. He also can’t stand if there is jelly anywhere on the crust. Guess what? He had jelly everywhere on his sandwich. He ate every last bit of it and didn’t complain about a thing. Mind blown. Turns out they not only learn how to become self sufficient, they also learn to be less picky and more appreciative when we stop enabling them by doing everything for them.
Motivation via a kids chore chart
A few weeks ago I decided to make Wesley a kids chore chart. It teaches him responsibility and give him the chance to earn money. It gives us the opportunity to teach him so many different valuable life lessons. I was going to be crafty and make a really cute one. I even went on Pinterest and made a kids chore chart board. I had good intentions, but the Excel, spreadsheet lover in me won (remember, I’m type A). So here is Wesley’s very plain kids chore chart!
It was fun to explain to him what this chart is, what his chores are, and how he will earn money. Some chores are daily while others will be weekly or monthly. What I love about implementing a kids chore chart is that it gives Wes and I so many opportunities to discuss so many different topics. We can talk about earning money, saving money, and spending money. We can talk about responsibility. We can talk about being helpful. We can talk about how each of us contribute to our family. We can open his own bank account and teach him how to keep track of how much money he has. We can teach him about donating money to causes he feels are worthy. We can teach him to spend wisely so he doesn’t have to go through the War on Debt we have gone through. Motivation, leadership, life skills, and taking on more responsibility to earn more are all topics that we can cover by implementing this chore chart. Do we have to have a kids chore chart to discuss all these topics? No. While we haven’t been doing this long, it has already been a valuable tool and it has definitely helped us to keep Wesley engaged while discussing some of these topics. It’s also provided a source of motivation for Wesley to do the things he should be doing anyways. Any positive motivation I can provide him is a beautiful thing!
While we are talking about parenting, I found two books I want to read (or listen to). Have any of you read them? What’s your take? They look great!
“While you are doing all you can to show your child love, he may be hearing it as something completely opposite. Discover your child’s primary language and learn what you can do to effectively convey unconditional feelings of respect, affection, and commitment that will resonate in your child’s emotions and behavior.”
“Cope with your child’s negative feelings, such as frustration, anger, and disappointment
Express your strong feelings without being hurtful
Engage your child’s willing cooperation
Set firm limits and maintain goodwill
Use alternatives to punishment that promote self-discipline
Understand the difference between helpful and unhelpful praise
Resolve family conflicts peacefully?”
Cheers to you – Lucky Mom!