Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Monkey on my Back

I haven't got enough time. I know it is an excuse, but it feels real. It feels like life moves at the speed of light and the only chance I have of keeping up is by operating on a dead-run, doing everything myself. Asking someone else to help out or do something themselves, regardless of whether that is the kids or hubby, slows down my progress.

This is a problem, though, because I can see that it is unsustainable. Not only is my burnout entirely predictable, but it isn't in anyone's best interest. My kids will not learn to be self-suficient, capeable people by me doing everything for them. They will not learn to use their brains to solve their own issues, they will not learn time management, they will not learn how the world really works. My hubby will not feel like a respected co-parent if I display to him through my actions that I can do everything better and faster than him.

For example, I help Sweetness (my 7 year old) pick out her clothes every morning, monitor her progress as she gets ready for school, and get her lunch and her backpack packed and ready for school. If I try to have her get dressed entirely on her own, without my assistance, she'll come down in something entirely inappropriate for the day (like a dress on gym day) or she'll be up in her room for 20 minutes trying to figure out what to wear and will eventually come down to me saying "I can't find my...". At that point, we're running late and I have to rush through whatever task I'm working on and go up and pick out an outfit anyway (or continue to let her do it herself, but resign myself to driving her to school because she missed the bus). I usually decide that it is just easier to pick out the outfit and have it lying on her bed when she goes up to get dressed. But the result is that I have a 2nd grader who doesn't really know how to quickly get dressed. I'm serious. It took her several MINUTES to inside out a pair of jeans. It was pure torture watching her. And that was just one step of the getting ready process...she still had to find a shirt, socks, etc.

Example #2: Spunky Girl (age 5) wanted breakfast when I was trying to get Sweetness to dress independently, so I asked her to get her own cereal. She was able to get the box down from the pantry, but managed to spill it all over the floor trying to pour the cereal into the bowl. It cost me more time to help her get that fixed than it would have to just pour her cereal myself. But I still have to let her do things herself because otherwise she'll never get any better at it.

Example #3: It is time to potty train the Big Guy...but the thought of adding potty training accidents and battle-of-wills contests into my already stressful days makes me want to crawl into a corner and cry. The thought of no more diaper changes should make that worth it, but to me the thought of adding more work into my exhausting days is worse than the thought of continuing diaper changes. But it is in his best interest to start potty training so I gotta find the personal strength to get started.

So I'm starting to work on this a little bit now with the thought of really ramping it up during the summer. Right now we are starting the conversation about personal responsibilities and I'm mentally preparing myself for things taking longer and requiring more work from me...for a bit. This summer the girls are going to get a crash course in self-sufficiency. They'll be figuring out what responsibilities they need to complete (like getting dressed, personal hygeine, chores) before they can enjoy fun summer time activities. And the Big Guy? Well... one thing at a time.

***I borrowed the non-Lisa photos from fotosearch...all royalty free of course!


  1. For your older two, would it work to have them pick clothes the night before (you know, if you can remember!) and have them laid out. Then they can get themselves dressed first thing and everything they need is there?

    And PTing, yeah, we're doing a crash course in that this summer as well. Ugh! I refuse to give up my preschool deposit, so he will be trained by September!

  2. Hey thats the monkey I gave Cade!!!! and also--Youre super mom-- I'll help all I can this summer-- You can do it :)


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