October 4, 2008

It's ok to let them roam around a little

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 :)


Rachel said...

Specific times for children to be involved in projects around the house is fine.. but having them stuck to me like glue?? FOrget it! Kids need to be KIDS. They need to play, explore, delve into their imagination. They have plenty of time to do dishes, laundry, etc. Granted, mine usually played near me... and when they got too fussy that's when I would ask for their help. They had willingness to help and then after the "chores" were done they were ready to go back to playing.

I thought tomatoe staking meant keeping a close eye on the children - not letting them be far away but letting them play. So you can always be within ear shot and oversee things before they get out of control. I didn't think it meant keep them teethered to you at all times, because eventually they do grow up and they want their space. I cannot imagine telling my 13 yr old she must be with me in the living room folding laundry when she'd rather be in her room reading, listening to music, writing, etc. They do grow up - and FAST!

*MichiganMomma* said...

I agree ~ both of my parents said during the summer, they were outside playing ALL DAY LONG! They ate breakfast, then their mom shoved them out the door, only to call them at dusk for dinner.

Now, it's a different world and all - I can't imagine letting my kids roam the neighborhood for ANY length of time - BUT they don't have to be with me doing my chores all day long either.

And once we move out of the city, I hope I will feel more comfortable sending them out to play for longer periods of time. We don't even have a fenced in yard here, so I am wreck whenever they go out without me (and obviously, the baby doesn't get as much outside time).

I also agree that since I've been blogging, I've had to fight the guilt/comparison thing too! It's so easy to find those PERFECT blogs, with PERFECT mothers/homes/marriages/children/etc. I can sometimes be inspired to do better, try harder, give my best - but I'd rather talk with other moms who are REAL and are dealing with REAL issues!

*nodding right along with ya*

Tereza said...

interesting.....and I agree on all points. Only...my boys fight if they are bored!!! So I try to keep them busy but not right beside me and with things they enjoy once their chores are done! Sometimes that involves them going to the playground without me (9 and almost 11 year olds) to skateboard or ride bikes etc. My 11 year old does a paper route twice a week etc. My younger ones play and colour and chase eachother and build forts.

AnneMarie said...

This post is so appreciated. My husband and I were married for over 6 years before our son came along, and I've only just recently discovered the joys of truly being my husband's helpmeet. But that has also brought me to a lot of these blogs that make me feel as though I have to work up a sweat with cleaning frenzies and yet somehow keep my toddler with me all the time...it really makes you feel there is a "good enough" that's unreachable. Thanks for being so REAL! I love your blog! :)

Anonymous said...

In today's world, I would never let my children out of my sight. Raise them up for God... not society, is what I say. And if people do not understand that... too bad. You get ONE chance with them, and this is it! Ask yourself... What would Jesus tell you to do? They will do pleanty of living later.

Shannon said...

My kids love to do small jobs. I also send them outside to play. Not all day of course! When my 4 year old is bad I make him come and sit in the kitchen, usually that's where I'm at, and sit for a while. Usually 15 minutes does the job. :D


liz said...

kids should be just that.. kids. i am by no means perfect,but i can tell you that if you include your kids in every chore, discussion, opinion and activity that you do, they get to feeling like they are equal, or in some cases above you in their little minds. it's a fine line...your kids are small, and can be good little helpers for you, but i would suggest to do what you can and give them attention elsewhere, like the park, which i try to get to every day to let them run off their energy(like dogs, lol!)and snuggle time, we cuddle up and watch tv, our favorite shows.dont worry, your doing fine!!

Suzanne said...

This made me chuckle, my Mom used to shuffle us out the door after breakfast then we came back for lunch, back out then back in for dinner:-) Don't beat yourself up by reading other blogs and comparing yourself. One woman's lifestyle and God's plan for her life is simply not the same for each of us. If Jesus can tell Martha that Mary was taking in the good thing while HE even knew much preparation was indeed needed then we need to listen to HIM. Sometimes we need more of the Lord's leadings for our lives interspersed throughout the day instead of keeping each room spic and span. Take heart and seek the Scriptures not the blogs of women who seem to have all the answers. Find a lovely older woman to mentor you perhaps:-)