Independent Helpful Children
December 7, 2021
Training our children to be independent and capable can start from a very young age. It is crucial in their ability to take care of themselves and be a team member in their own home now and in the future.
Independent Helpful Children
The Mom Training Podcast with Diana Ballard
Diana: Hey, ladies. Welcome to the Mom Training Podcast. We’re going to talk about something super important today, that is absolutely crucial for us to practice in our homes for us to remain sane, happy and loving moms. [chuckle]
This is something that when I studied those hundreds and hundreds of moms, before I got married, and put a system together… If you’ve heard about how I came to be with the podcast and the Mom Training, that’s pretty much what I came down to. I started interviewing people to figure out how the heck to have a life of whatever I wanted… To be able to create possibilities, be able to handle motherhood, enjoy it, and be successful at it.
One of the things that I learned was what we’re going to talk about today. And that is being able to teach your children how to be independent and to be able to help out around the house.
Now, the more that I’ve added to my plate, the more I’ve realized how much I need this; how much I need to teach my children how to do things for themselves, or to help with simple things like dishes, or cleaning or laundry… Or taking care of their siblings, or just being helpful in whatever way possible.
So, I’m going to share a couple of things that I have applied, from my own life, and some of the things that I’ve practiced, that I have learned from these moms that I interviewed that had very successful homes, in my opinion.
I think it’s very important for us to get our children involved, as early as possible. And honestly, the smaller you start them, the easier it is to start implementing new changes, which you can do once they get older, that’s totally fine. But if they’re used to it early, then you’re going to have less resistance in the future.
Now, is there going to be resistance when you ask a kid to clean a room? Yeah… You ask me to clean a room, there’s going to be resistance, right? [chuckle] But it’s going to flow a lot easier, and you’re going to have less fight, and less push back against you, if you start implementing this and practicing it now.
So, wherever you are in your motherhood journey, this is a great time to start implementing more of these things in your home on a daily basis. So, I’m just going to talk about what I'm doing right now. Honestly, I do not remember what I did from the very beginning, so we’re just going to talk about what I’m doing right now.
The more I’ve added to my plate, the more that I’ve realized, “Holy crap, I literally cannot do all the things in the house.” I literally, a couple of days ago, just sat down and roughly made a little chart of, “Okay, there is this many people in the home. If each person makes two little messes and one big mess a day, then this is how many messes there are to clean up on a daily basis.”
And either I’d have to do that all myself or their little booties, or my husband’s and my own, are going to be cleaning up. If they smear toothpaste all over the wall, I’m not cleaning that up. Like the four-year-old’s going to clean that up, which that just recently happened.
He’d somehow got toothpaste in his hand and his first idea was to smear it all over the wall. So, he cleaned that up, not me. That’s a little mess.
A big mess is, the two-year-old going in and pulling out all of the towels and the sheets out of the closets. That’s one I had to clean up. Because getting him to do that is just not going to happen.
So, there’s certain things we can delegate to our children, that either messes they’ve made or just general messes like clearing the table or putting the silverware away, or wiping off the table or the counter, or sweeping the floor, which you might have to go back and sweep again after but hey, you’re still teaching them and having them learn what it’s like to help out.
A lot of time we can feel overwhelmed, with how many things we have to do on a daily basis. And what if you could get your children to help out more or to be able to take care of some of their own needs.
Can they fill up their own water bottle? Can they get themselves a snack? Can they get a little bowl? Can they get the thing of “fishies” from in the pantry and can they pour some in their bowl? Is there going to be a chance that they’re going to pour too much? Possibly. But you talk to them again, “You need to pour slower.” So, the next time, they get better and better.
So, the main thing is we need to give them opportunities to try it, to make mistakes, and get better. Because if we freak out, that they poured milk all over the counter, when they’re trying to pour themselves some cereal, or all over the table, or they’re getting a cup of water and they fill it up too far and it goes all over the floor…
These are all thing that we had to learn ourselves. We had to learn, “Oh, we have to look at the cup when we’re filling it up, to know how much is there.” We don’t just push the button until it completely overflows and then, “Oh, there’s enough water in the cup, I should probably stop now.” These are things that we all have to learn.
And honestly, in the moment, us as adults are like, “What the heck are you doing?” Like, “You saw your bowl is getting full with milk, why did you keep pouring?” These are things that may seem so normal to us, but it’s actually just them learning.
So, being able to give them opportunities to try, make mistakes and get better, is how they are going to get better and be able to do things for themselves. So, even just today, my two-year-old is getting way more independent, and I’m so happy about that.
Now, I want them to need me, they do need me; I help them with certain things. But if it’s something that I’m like, “Dude, you could do that… You can fill up your own water bottle… You can get yourself a fork. I know that you’re sitting down, but you can still get yourself a fork.” …
Like I’m not going to be sitting for the next 15 minutes because I’m getting everybody waters, and I’m going to have to breast feed the baby, and my plate isn’t made yet. They can get their own fork. They can fill up their own cup.
And so, my two-year-old today when he woke up in the morning, he came out and I said, “Let’s have some oatmeal.” I had made some overnight oatmeal that was in the fridge, this is day two. We have enough for one more day of overnight oatmeal. Luckily, they love it. It has kefir. It has hemp seeds in it, blueberries… Just, it’s delicious.
But without even asking him, he went over to the dishwasher, which the majority of the time in the morning, the dishwasher is clean. I usually run it every night. So, they wake up in the morning and he went over, and he opened it up. He got himself a bowl. He got himself a spoon…
I’m like, “Dang… Okay.” I’m not going to stop him but I’m going to encourage him… I’m like, “Wow, that’s so great that you got your own bowl. You got your own spoon. You’re getting so big. Good job, bud. Do you want to crawl in your chair?” So, instead of me lifting him in his chair, he can crawl up in his chair.
These are all things of training each child, one at a time, to do the little things that literally could have you running around your house doing, the entire day… But honestly, they can start doing things super early and super young.
My six-year-old, right now, is very independent, able to get snacks for the kids, “Hey, can you do this? … Hey, would you want to get the mail?... Do you want…” Just different things that are just very helpful… “Can you run out to the car; this person left his water bottle?... Hey, can you go do this?” There’s lots of things… “Can you take the wet clothes out of the washer and start the dryer?”
I mean, these are things that I’ve been working on for a while especially before I had my fourth child. Because I was like, “I know for a fact that I’m going to need more help around the house”, and with the kids. And instead of, “Yes, I have a nanny… Yes, I have a very supportive husband…” Yes, I work my butt off every single day between my business, my family and taking care of myself. But I’m going to need to get everybody on board in my house to be helpful and know how to do things.
So, that’s one thing I trained out my six-year-old for, is how to go and start the dryer. How to take the wet clothes out, and put them in the dryer, and turn the little knob to where it needs to be. Clean out the lint thing and push the button.
That’s something I feel comfortable with, that she can do, that I can say, “Hey, can you run down in the basement and put the clothes in the dryer, and start it.” Have there been times where she has forgotten to push the button? … [chuckle] Yes. Have we had wet clothes sit in there for quite a while, because of that? Yes.
But because she’s given an opportunity to try something and to become better at something… I mean, that’s how we all are. If you think about it, anything we ever become good at, we just had to just practice over and over again. And our children can do a lot more than we think they can.
Another thing right now, that I have been training up my six-year-old for, is being able to put her two-year-old brother to bed. And again, we started this before baby number four was born, and it started just one piece at a time.
“Hey, Olivia, could you go and read Rowan a couple of books for bedtime?” Now, Rowan had to get used to that, and Olivia had to get used to that. So, she would go in an read a couple of books then she’d come out and I’d snuggle him, put him in bed. Turn on the sound machine and turn off the light and go out.
Then piece by piece, we started having Olivia do more. First, it was reading books, and then she would put a chair up to his crib and he would crawl in the crib. Now, she tucks him in…
So, now, our baby is about four and a half months now. My six-year-old can put my two-year-old to bed, completely, from head to toe. My two-year-old doesn’t have a problem with it. My six-year-old is like, “I got this, mom. Don’t worry about it.”
And she does it maybe one to two times a week, depending on how busy things are, if I just need a break. Like if I’m meal prepping, right in the middle of something, I’m breast feeding the baby and I’m like, “Man, this two-year-old needs to go to sleep, Olivia, can you start getting him ready.”
I still change the diaper. I still get him in his pajamas to take his nap. So, she’s not doing that but she… I will change his diaper and off the two of them run, happily hand in hand in to the room. She gets him completely ready and comes out, sometimes 15 minutes later, sometimes half an hour later, depending on how many books she wants to read him.
And dude, that is so helpful. I mean, talk about a breath of fresh air. And they both absolutely love it… Then a couple of days ago, I was really feeling overwhelmed with my house because my husband had been out of town, and I was alone with the kids. Plus, I had tons of work things that I had to finish, and everything else that comes with just a normal week, all by myself and my house was just a mess.
And so, I employed the children, with bribery [chuckle]. “Hey, you have these rooms to clean up and then you guys can have a treat, or you can watch PAW Patrol”, which is a major bribery thing for them… Which I’m totally into bribery right now. I mean, that crap works. I don’t got time for… Like, “You want something? Shoot. You do this, you can have this.” It works wonders.
They don’t get bribed and they don’t get given something every time they do something. But if it’s something I’m like, “I need this stuff done right now, and I need it done fast. If you guys can do that, then you can have something… Like, here’s candy from your Halloween candy or you can watch your favorite show… Whatever it is, I’m willing to bargain with you.”
But my six-year-old and my four-year-old cleaned the living room. They swept the floor even, which was amazing. They cleaned the kitchen floor and the table, which was all their stuff anyway. They cleaned the hallway, and they cleaned up all the stuff on the bathroom floor.
Man, that is pretty much a huge portion of our house, and I worked on the kitchen. And we got done with cleaning those areas in like an hour and a half, two hours. We just, all of us, worked together really fast… It probably wasn’t that long; maybe just an hour. But we worked together really fast and got it done. And man, that took off a lot off my shoulders and I was not stressed and frustrated the rest of the day.
Amazing... Again, blown… Again, the capabilities of my children, at this age, when I expect something greater than them, of what I thought they could do.
So, what are you expecting of your child? What are you teaching them to do? What opportunities are you giving them to get better at doing things that help you?
I mean, all of these things, learning how to take care of a household, learning how to clean it up after themselves, how to even cook, get their own food… What is healthy food? These are all things that are going to make them a better human, and a better adult, in years to come, as well as help you out around the house.
So, what opportunities can you give your children for them to become independent and help you out more and be a team in your house? It’s piece by piece, what they can handle. And then adding one thing at a time, they will get better and better and be amazing at what they do.
Let’s give our children more responsibilities and give them a change to learn and get better at it. And we’ll see you next Tuesday on The Mom Training Podcast.