As a parent, it’s easy to be in a hurry all the time. Between work, cooking, cleaning, engaging your kids, and trying to find an second to shower, it’s all about efficiency. But, what we forget sometimes, (I realized I do this myself this past weekend) is that we need to slow down. In the midst of my busy schedule, I start doing things for my kids instead of letting them do those activities by themselves. It’s not that I don’t take the time to teach them things, because I do. It’s that I forget to give them the time they need to complete the tasks.
I’m pretty sure we all do this. Help our child when they can probably do it themselves? It speeds up the process and in the end, you’re helping them. Right?
Unfortunately, we aren’t actually helping our children by doing things for them. I know this. I’m sure you know this too. The thing about helping your kids by doing things for them, is that they come to expect you to do it. It seems like the easiest thing at the time, but then it becomes habit and then you have to break the habit. I’m not saying don’t help your kids. Help them if they need it, or guide them. But don’t do things for them if you know they can do it.
My prime example is dressing my son in the mornings and at night. When kids are younger, you help them put on their clothes and get dressed. But there reaches a certain point when you get them to start doing it by themselves. He knows how to take off his pants and pull them up. He knows how to pull off his shirt and put it on. The problem is that keeping him focused on doing these tasks takes a big chunk of time. Its 100 times easier just to do it for him. So what do I do? I do it for him. Realistically, if I can invest the time to get him to do it himself, I will actually save time. But, if we are being honest here, it’s hard to think of the long term when you have other children getting into everything.
This concept of investing time into your children can be applied to many other aspects of parenting. One instance could be discipline. You see your child doing something, but are busy and let it slide. Then they think it’s ok and continue the bad habit. Instead of stopping this action immediately, it becomes a habit and becomes harder to break.
Another example could be potty training or bedtime training. It’s so easy to do things like throw a diaper back on your child once you leave the house after you have potty trained them or in my case, let your child climb into bed with you in the middle of the night. Consistency is key, and it is so hard to apply that to your children. We as parents are secretly selfish. We give and give to our children, and so with things like sleep, it’s really easy to ignore innocent actions like a child climbing into your bed until it’s’ too late. Now I’m squished between my husband who is oblivious to the world when he sleeps and my son who has an ability to push a grown woman as far over as humanly possible.
When I ignored the action of Jack climbing into bed, I did it so I could get more sleep. Fast forward a few months. I now have a toddler climbing into my bed once or twice a night and I have lost WAY more sleep than I would have if I had taught him to stay in bed in the first place. Isn’t that the beauty of hindsight?
Now, in saying this, I’m not saying never let your child get away with actions that may turn into bad habits. If your kid is sick, it’s ok to let them hop into your bed. Use your judgement.
So. What am I trying to say in all this?
Despite our oh so busy lifestyles, it’s important to invest the time in our children. Take the time to help them learn. Take the time to teach them them good habits. It isn’t easy to do, and we all have our days or months when we just let things slide. Even years. Remember, if you teach them right away then you don’t have to go back and reteach them once the actions develop into habits. Ultimately, you are saving time. It’s hard to remember, but you can do it! Now to teach my son to stay in his bed and put on his own clothes…