Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Letting Kids Help is Hard (for Me)

Confession: I am terrible at letting my kids help me with most day to day tasks. I mean, absolutely horrible. And so I don't have them help me regularly. I know. I'm awful. This puts me out of the running for Mother of the Year, and I'm going to have to accept that. And I will accept that. Because I would rather just keep doing most necessary household work by myself. (See? Awful.)

It's not that I never allow my children to help with things. As you see above, E is using a very well saturated paint brush to "help" paint our living room. Full disclosure: I only allowed this for about five minutes. But because I rarely have her help with this sort of thing, she was fully satisfied, thinking it was a real treat. In this way, I am clearly winning with my current strategy. But I still sometimes feel like I should allow them to help more.

I'll be honest that I have no idea how to make this happen without a lot of discomfort on my end. Every single personality test I've ever taken indicates that I work best independently. It's not that I can't collaborate; it's just that I do my bit the best on my own. And so it is in my life in general. I work best alone. I don't want my children to help cook every meal or do every home improvement task. I really just can't stand it. This doesn't mean it shouldn't ever happen, but I'm just not going to be the mom that calls her children in to work alongside her each time she enters the kitchen or starts a new project. And I think that's okay, overall. In every family - in every relationship, really - we must sometimes do something because it is fun for the other person. It might feel like nails on a chalkboard, but if we love someone, we put up with doing unpleasant things.

Here's what I have figured out to make it work for me. I need to plan ahead. It needs to happen when I have plenty of patience and we have plenty of time. Z is at the age now where her help is becoming helpful, but E's help just creates more work. I need to be ready to do the extra work and not care much that this work is coming my way. It's best if the house is in somewhat decent order, as I know that after cleaning up the messes that come along with a child helping, I will be a bit more cranky than usual about finding jackets tossed over random surfaces, sweets wrappers on the floor, or a half eaten muffin stowed in E's bed.

Once the conditions are right, I just have to go for it. This is not a bonding activity for me, but my kids feel valued when I do it, so I do. That's the bottom line. I make it happen. It is good, because my kids feel good, and then we are done until the next time someone comes up with a very helpful idea. I hope no one comes up with any helpful ideas anytime soon. We've got Christmas cookie baking and decorating coming up in about a month, and that might take all the rest of the strength I have at my disposal through the end of 2018. Let's hope it will be enough.


  1. Hi Mary - just noticed that you used your daughter's full name, rather than initial which is your normal practice. Just thought I'd alert you to this :) Cheers!


I love comments, except the disrespectful ones and the spammy ones. In order to screen out the bad stuff and keep the good stuff, I approve each comment individually. Please be patient - your comment will appear as soon as I am able to approve it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!