Teaching responsibility and self-sufficiency is one of the hardest parts of parenting for me. Everything from encouraging my kids to wipe their own bums and tie their own shoes to making their own lunches and scheduling their own appointments is messy, uncomfortable and requires loads of patience.
However, “SETTING OURSELVES + OTHERS UP FOR SUCCESS” is one of the 5 core values of our family and therefore, teaching and giving our kids opportunities to take responsibility for themselves and their lives has to be a priority. So I’ve been working on it and gosh it’s hard. Hard to figure out how to be supportive and present but not coddling and enabling. At least for me.
Recently we made a list of everyday teachable moments we’d like to take advantage of. Some of them are things we already do and others are ones we need to start doing but all of them are things we should be doing more of. Here’s what we came up with!
- Encouraging them to interact with other humans over the phone and in person – when eating out, ordering food (have them be the ones to call Papa Murphy’s!), checking out at a store, communicating with their coaches or making appointment. The more we rely on texting, apps and web sites, the more important I think this one is. It’s an easy one to implement but also an easy one (for me) to forget!
- Teaching them to cook solo, then give them jobs during meal prep like making scrambled eggs for breakfast, throwing together the salad for dinner or following the recipe for brownies and then being the one to serve dessert. Last week Tilly made everyone dinner, start to finish, including setting the table and it was magical! She was so proud and all the kids were excited to eat the pancakes and apple slices she had made. Bonus that it was so sweet to see everyone being supportive and appreciative too!
- Giving them opportunities to make money and save for the things they want. There are always extra projects and chores around the house that we are willing to pay for. Every once in awhile they also have opportunities with the blog (like their gymboree photoshoot) that allow them to make money. Encouraging them to set up lemonade stands, sell cookies, etc is also a fun way to help!
- Instead of solving all their problems, answer their dilemmas and complaints with, “Gosh, that’s a bummer… What do you want to do about it?” or “Let me know how I can help” and other leading questions so they can problem solve but know we’re here if they need us. Also, a phrase we repeat often (that I read on a business website) “everything is figure-out-able” reminds them that they are capable!
- Keeping track of a calendar and advocating for their needs/requests. This one’s more for the older two since their schedules are busy, and they have smartphones and more freedom. The Cozi Family Organizer has been a huge help (thanks to our friends who recommended it!). It syncs with google calendar so the boys can see what we have going on each day, add their personal activities and put items on our shopping and to do list. No more telling me that they need to bring a box of toothpicks to biology next week, at 10pm on a Friday night… add it to the list!
- Time management. This one is so tough since there is so much room for failure, especially for the kids that are less rigid. But I find that avoiding nagging, giving prompts and sparse reminders and allowing natural consequences (bummer but we don’t have time to make a water bottle, etc.) is effective (yet equally painful) at least for the older kids. I would love to try one of these watches for the younger two!
What would you guys add to the list!?
Since eating out often brings teachable moments and opportunities for kids to converse with grownups and learn about finances (+ tipping!), I thought I’d share a few pics pics from our most recent donut outing. Side note: Poppy has most definitely nailed the “emo” kid editorial trend that’s happening right now, lol (see below).
Snapping pictures of all the details because I never want to forget their little lovies, stuffies, and other toys or accessories they bring with us on our adventures! Or their silly smiles.
Johan and I have been meaning to give Oz opportunities to practice paying bills, but aren’t quite sure how to go about it… any ideas, please share!