My seven-year-old son was sulking after a day of summer camp and here was his complaint: “I didn’t have goggles when we went into the pool today.”
Looking back at this conversation, I am embarrassed at how I responded: “Honey, I am so sorry. I packed them. They were in the front zipper and I thought I told you that.”
Sure enough, there they were. In his backpack. Exactly where I had told him they would be the night before. But my son said he didn’t know they were there and had to go without them.
I had a moment – ok, several minutes – of shaming myself for making my son go without goggles that day. Perhaps I should have taped them to his neck the night before or left work mid-day to unzip his backpack for him.
Confession: This is not an isolated incident. My kids are not babies or toddlers anymore. Yet I find myself overdoing it a lot of times when it comes to ensuring they have everything they need.
I kid you not, I spoon fed my five-year-old daughter her peas and carrots last night. She told me it was the only way she would eat them. My husband rolled his eyes. But not me. No, I fell into her trap.
Mom, I know you can relate.
I drive myself crazy sometimes in the evening preparing for the following day. Packing lunches, cleaning out backpacks, ensuring homework gets into the correct folder. The list goes on.
Sure, my kids have chores. I am not some complete pushover. They make their beds, clean their rooms. They even dust buster the floors after dinner and wipe down the table.
But when it comes to certain things, like making sure their water bottles are filled up for school or remembering to wear a class color on spirit day, or locating goggles in a backpack, I may be setting the bar a little too low.
I think I have allowed them to be overly dependent on me.
It might be that they are at an “in-between” stage where they are too old to be, ahem, spoon fed, but too young to be held responsible for making their lunches.
But soon enough they won’t be at that “in-between” stage and I worry they will still be overly dependent on me.
At what point do we really start focusing on raising them to be independent people? People who can not only pack their own goggles but also know to maybe look in more than one pocket of their backpack to locate them?
I think the answer is now, but that answer is hard.
Hard for us moms. Just yesterday our kids were babies. But in a blink, they will be grown. I know I will not flip a switch overnight and suddenly have kids who are making their own meals. I probably will continue packing backpacks each night for the following day.
But maybe, just maybe, I will start to equip my kids with skills that make them a little less dependent on mom. I’ll start easy. Like a 101 session on how to locate something in your backpack.
Do you struggle with providing your kids with tools to make them dependent? Any tips? We’d love to hear!