Mornings consist of following the girls around, getting things ready for them, making sure they have everything they need, tidying up the chaos behind them, dealing with untidy bedrooms, abandoned breakfast dishes…all whilst trying to get myself ready for work, fit in my exercise challenge and the day ahead too!! Normal parenting, right?
I have always thought these things were my job as a parent, but lately it has occurred to me to look at it differently…
When should children be doing more for themselves? I assumed that they would reach a certain age and something would automatically happen. They would naturally just begin to do things for themselves, such as making their bed, tidying up and clearing their dishes after tea. They would lead by my example of course and copy what I do!!
But, this doesn’t seem to be happening and they are now at the age of 11 & 9. I seem to follow them around, tidying up behind them or I have to continually ask them to do these things, which can have mixed results!
If I ask them to do something (for example…dry the dishes), if I happen to turn my back for a minute, or leave the room, I can almost guarantee that they will take full advantage by doing half a job, or quickly escape without doing it, leaving me with the dilemma of whether to go to the hassle of calling them back down to debate the merits of them doing the drying up.
Due to this scenario, I can see that I have fallen into the trap of doing everything for them! The realisation has dawned that being responsible for themselves isn’t going to happen naturally and that these are skills they need to learn. Actually, I will change that to say that these are all life skills and it is my job as a parent to teach them.
So, I have turned back to some of my parenting books that have been collecting dust in a dark corner of the wardrobe, the internet and the online course I bought ages ago for some guidance.
There is so much advice on this subject, but the strategy that came up several times was reward charts . I’ll be honest…my first reaction was ‘no way!’, they are too old, I’ve tried them before, they don’t work, the girls will hate them, I don’t have time!’
Reflecting on my immediate reaction I realised that for a change to happen, I am going to have to commit to change otherwise nothing will ever improve – its part of my JUST BEGIN mind set! So I have decided to bring back the reward charts and give it another go…
I will create a chart where everyday is planned out on the reward chart and the girls get an opportunity to earn stars during the day. The stars they can get will be based on daily tasks they need to do (breakfast, tidy bed, tidy room, completing homework, etc). From this, they will be able to use the stars they earn to get rewards (such as having friends to play, sleepovers, choosing family activities etc). For it to work, the girls will have to want to earn the rewards, so I will need to make sure the rewards they get are worth the effort they put in.
So this is the plan of action:
1. Produce a list of things I feel that the girls should be taking responsibility for. Keeping it simple at this stage would probably be best, so it is not overwhelming.
2. Produce a reward chart, detailing when they can earn stars and what for.
3. Explain to the girls about the reward chart…how it will work and benefit them. Also discuss with them their responsibilities.
4. Let the girls write a list of things they enjoy, including what they would like as rewards.
I will make a start with this and feedback on progress. I’m feeling hopeful that this is positive way forward to help encourage the girls to develop responsibility and the life skills that they need, which should create calmer and less frantic mornings and life in general for us all!
I’d love to hear any ideas or suggestions you have about methods that have worked for you. Maybe you have discovered the secret to getting this to work? Please do comment or contact me if you have any advice or feedback.