I am a lazy parent.
There, I said it. It’s out in the open. I’ve confessed.
Now, when I say lazy I don’t mean…
Lazy in teaching my children God’s truth.
Lazy in building my children’s character.
Lazy in spending quality time together.
And definitely not lazy in leading them to the gospel.
Okay, okay, you got me – when I said I was lazy, it was a bit tongue in cheek. So, what do I mean?
I am way too “lazy” to do things for my kids that they are capable of doing for themselves.
I recently read this great article from Kristen of We Are THAT Family titled, “Maybe We Should Stop Coddling Our Kids So Much” and I completely agree. In our house the mantra is, “we are all part of the family, so we all help out.” I’m not going to run around doing every bit of the work when there are more than capable little helpers at my side!
Note: does this mean I never do something nice, like get my son a glass of water, even when he can do it himself? No! Of course not. Part of being a family means doing nice things for each other too!
So, today I want to share with you four things that my four year old regularly takes care of on his own (or with minimal help). Especially recently I have noticed that what used to be the “help” of a toddler has started to transform into genuine help from my little man.
The purpose of this list isn’t to say that your four year old should be doing the exact same things. Instead, it is to encourage you to take stock of your own situation and see where you might need to be a little “lazy.”
Learning to make grilled cheese
#1 Getting ready for day and ready for bed
Every morning, sometimes before he even comes downstairs for breakfast, K takes off his pajamas, puts his pull-up in his trash can, and gets dressed for the day. Sometimes the outfits are a little wonky and he might be wearing two pairs of socks, but it works for me!
Recently, it occurred to me that there was no reason he couldn’t do this same routine in reverse for bed time. Hooray! Half of the dreaded bed time routine outsourced to the one going to bed! So, every night he knows he needs to do three things: go to the bathroom, put on a pull-up, and get his pajamas on. All that leaves for me is to brush teeth and tuck him in bed.
Very excited to vacuum his room
#2 Putting away his laundry
This is a new responsibility that we have been working on and it is going very well!
In K’s closet he has a dresser with four drawers. One for PJ’s, one for shirts, one for shorts, and one for long sleeves, undies, and socks. On top of his dresser is pants and sweatshirts (they might swap out with the shorts drawer if it ever gets cold enough here!). The only things that are folded are what is on top of the dresser. Nice clothes are hanged, the rest (and majority) are just tossed in the drawers.
Keeping a four year old’s clothes folded is not a battle I’m willing to spend time on.
So, lately, when I have a pile of clothes for him, he carries them to his room, sorts them, and puts them away. Amazing. One less part of the laundry pile I have to worry about. Occasionally he needs help with a large basket of clothes, or putting things up high, but overall he is doing great!
Sometimes we are a little too helpful – like the time I came into the room to find him *attempting* to change his wiggly baby brother’s diaper.
#3 Emptying his bathroom trash
Seeing that I don’t spend a lot of time in his bathroom, his small trash can would quickly begin to overflow with his nightly pull-ups and start to get… stinky.
One day, we were working on the character trait of helpful, and he decided to empty his own trash. Brilliant! Why didn’t I think of that sooner? A quick lesson and now he is capable of emptying his own trash can and putting in a new liner.
Helping starts early – baby J loves to “help” with the laundry! 🙂
#4 Picking up his toys
I must admit, this has always been an area of struggle with us. He is so good at dragging his feet when it comes to cleaning up his toys, that eventually I would just step in and finish up for him. However, I am trying to crack down on this a bit!
Just yesterday he showed me that he is very capable of picking up after himself, I just have to be firm about him not getting out of it!
A strategy I have occasionally used is this – I set the timer for one hour. As soon as he is done picking up his toys, he can watch TV until the timer goes off. The first day he got a whopping 8 minutes of TV time (although it only took his about 5 minutes of active work to get everything cleaned up). I am looking forward to seeing some improvement in this area!
What do you think of these four responsibilities? This is not an exhaustive list, there are many other things he can do, but these are the things I wanted to share with you today.