I've been under a lot of guilt/condemnation, or well maybe not a lot, but for a long time. Like, two or three years now. Since I started connecting with other women and homemakers on the internet via blogs and websites and then reading books, I've been introduced to the idea that your children must be with you at all times. Tomato staking it is called and child training, where you involve them in everything you're doing.
While I think that is very noble, for me it was bondage. There just wasn't a way for me to do that with my three. I have to battle my perfectionist side, and it's getting better, but I just can't deal with being in the kitchen trying to cook and all three of the girls up under me. Even if I put two at the sink and one by me, the two at the sink get out of hand and get water all over and soaking wet and while I'm dealing with them, I worry about the other one messing with my knife or the stove top.
Now, don't get me wrong, they know how to clean up. My middle one knows how to clean bathrooms, dust, wipe things down like mirrors/screens, the older ones can fold some clothes and put them away etc. But they're only 5,4, and 2...
A week or so ago my dad said something very freeing. We were talking about childhood and he got to telling some stories about when he was a kid. He said that at any given point during the day there would be kids at every house at the door crying for mom to let them in the house. Mom had locked them out! LOL. Everyone seems to put that time period (1950s) on a pedestal regarding family values. Which, it is true that most people had good morals then and brought their kids up well. Still, that just cracked me up. Then he said something really profound: "You know I think the main difference between kids today and back then was that when I was a kid, parents didn't care if you were bored." LOLOLOL!! Yeah, we're all worried about our kids getting bored with things...my dad and his sister would ride in the car for 8hrs every month with NOTHING to do- no TV, no music or games, and pretty much nothing to look at because it was through the panhandle of Texas. No fighting was allowed- my grandpa had been a Sergeant in WWII- and he meant business. And then he said there was no way we'd ever complain about being bored, because then mom would put them to work. He said parents weren't too worried about the kids getting hurt either. His dad would make wooden stilts for all the kids in the neighborhood and my dad said there were some fantastic wrecks! They would all have splinters in their hands and stuff but they didn't care :)
It really set me free you know. Children need to be able to explore and discover things on their own; work out differences between siblings on their own, as long as it's not hurtful, although sometimes if they're fighting I just let them settle it. When they ask to be involved, I try to let them, but if it's not a good time I'll try to create a situation where they can help me. Alexa, the 4 year old, loves to be given jobs to do. So I'll say, "Ohh, the plant needs water again Alexa. " She jumps up and runs to get a cup full of water and then asks if there are more plants that are thirsty. Sarah and Leiah both love putting things in the trash or away, or bringing me the phone. So, they can be involved without being plastered to me all the time :)
Sometimes if they are running and being loud and won't quit I make them go outside and stay! Then they don't want to act wild of course.
Anyways, I just thought that was funny, and helpful :)