Why It's Just Easier To Do It Myself

My children are starting to get a little older. This fact makes me incredibly sad sometimes, but often I am excited about it too. Them getting older means that they are getting more independent and can do more things for themselves.

It is nice that I don't always have to push a shopping cart or stroller for a quick stop to the store because many times the kiddos can now all walk. Car rides have become easier as at least a couple of the crew can buckle and unbuckle themselves into their boosters. I enjoy that they can use the bathrooms themselves (most of the time), can get little snacks and drinks for themselves occasionally, and I definitely like that they can now entertain themselves for more than one minute when I try to get work done from home.

But, like all good things, independence has a catch. My kids love that I trust them to help me out more, but they sometimes hate when I ask them to do things for themselves.

When it comes to chores, many times my children do ask to help me out. From helping me crack the eggs in the morning (a few shells never hurt anyone, right?) to folding our laundry, since they are getting older and becoming more responsible they seem to want to get more involved in participating in the daily activities of running a household.

(I'm not ignorant. They might just want to one-up each other, earning brownie points from mommy, but I'll play along. I like the idea of them helping me.)

Did you catch how I phrased that?

I like the idea of them helping me. The idea of my three young children helping me out around the house is usually much better than the actual help that they provide. Sometimes I just really want to do it myself. Is that crazy?

For example, I can do the dishes in 5-10 minutes, from the time I start clearing the table until the time I wipe off the last counter top and hit start on the dishwasher. If the kids help, it takes them 5-10 minutes just to decide which one of them will clear the dishes, who will rinse, and who will load the dishwasher. It's a 45 minute ordeal; an ordeal that does teach them skills, but still, an ordeal.

It's not just the dishes. They ask to help sweep the hardwoods (which I have to redo afterward), pick up their rooms (I also have to redo), vacuum the floors (redo), dust (redo), clean bathrooms (redo), pick up the toy room (redo), etc. (redo), etc. (redo)...

Now they are normal kids. Very normal kids. Sometimes when I ask them to help, they do freak out, even when asked to do simple things like to pick up a game when they are done playing with it. In these situations it is like pulling teeth trying to get them to do some chores. I believe that if they do the good deed on their own initiative, they are much more willing; whereas if I ask them to help, their reaction is more unpredictable.

A reward chart, like the one below, really does help (when we remember to use it), as well as prize jars and good ole' bribing.

I do like that they seem want to help out most of the time, but honestly, I don't always have the tolerance for it. My lack of patience has to be kept a secret though, and it takes everything in me sometimes to bite back my annoyance, smile, and instead say, "Sure, honey, you can help," when I know that I've just tacked another 15 minutes onto the task.

This leads to another catch: I can't let them know that I don't want them to help, because I do want them to learn how to help. I want them to feel like I want them to help, to feel that I appreciate their help, and to see how helping me out makes me happy.

But.... aaahhhh.... It. Takes. So much. Patience.

I sound like a crazy person. But if you are a parent, you know. You know what I am talking about. Parents already have so much on their very time-managed-plates that they don't have much wiggle room for letting the kids quadruple the very calculated time frames of their days.

I know it won't always be this way.

Chores will get easier for them. I definitely look forward to that. But then we get to another catch: If the chores are getting easier for my kids, then that means they are getting older. As I have said before, I am not ready for that. 

So I guess I'll just continue to struggle through. Extend my time frames. Work on my tolerance.
Most importantly though, I'll enjoy the memories. My children won't always be this ambitious to help out.

And they definitely won't always be this cute when they are trying to do it.

My angels, helping with dishes.

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