Let Them Struggle a Bit | Organizing Made Fun: Let Them Struggle a Bit

Friday, May 27, 2016

Let Them Struggle a Bit

Yesterday was SIX years since I first started this blog. On May 26, 2010, I decided to give it a try. I'm somewhat amazed at what it's turned into! 

Today we're going to chat a little bit about parenting and organizing. Why? I have just noticed something going on whenever I read online - what is it? Parents who are afraid to let their kids struggle, to feel pain, to have disappointing days, to get out and experience things. Now, this is mostly my observations and opinions so you may completely disagree with me here, but I grew up experiencing disappointment, having to struggle, earn my way, and feeling pain. Some children, sadly, experience far more than others and I'm not talking about those. I'm dealing with organizing - yep, organizing, of course!

How to Get Kids to Do Hard Work :: OrganizingMadeFun.com

You see, as mom or dad, we want things done our way or it's not right. We want it to look perfect or be done perfect. Some of you joke that you are OCD and can't stand to look at things slightly imperfect. Well, this sends a message to our children, and not a good one. Mom says "forget it, I'll do it" since it doesn't turn out just like hers. She decides it's not worth the battle or can't stand it looking at it not done perfectly and must fix it.

I get emails and comments telling me about your struggle with getting your kids to pick up and clean up after themselves. Listen, I have that kid, too! You can't understand why your family is a mess and won't do anything. And my answer is usually "Why are you picking up their mess?" because from the moment your children can pick up something, they can be taught to put things away by themselves.

My kids have been doing their own laundry since they were ten. Now, I've heard a host of excuses that their child is too busy to do laundry, they don't fold their clothes well, they aren't big enough, etc. But, you see, those are excuses. My kids are busy too. How are my kids going to learn that life doesn't slow down just because you have to do laundry? In fact, I teach them HOW to do laundry when you're busy. How to work it around your schedule. How to fit it in - because that's life. 

What have been the benefits? Well, my daughter, especially, is much more careful with her clothes and has learned to manage getting stains out, avoid stains as much as possible, and organize her own way in her drawers. Yep, I stay out of it as much as possible for both kids. Honestly, I can't look at how they put their clothes away because I'm afraid I might be too tempted to re-do it, but I know they are at least putting some effort into it. My son, well, he's a boy and throws everything in one load - so, I look at it like he's learning to maximize his time by doing it all at once! But, he's extremely good about "his day" of the week to do laundry and does it religiously. He may not be great at folding or hanging up properly, but he does it. 

The same goes for any job. I have one kid that is GREAT at cleaning up after themselves, and I have another kid that my husband and I nickname "pig pen" {only to each other, not to anyone else} because everywhere this kid goes, there is a pile of their stuff left behind - everywhere, everyday. Am I tired of it? Yes, but I keep after this kid. This one can't do ANY thing until that stuff all over the house is picked up. They just have a different personality and aren't as concerned. My concern is that they learn that we ALL live here and must pick up after ourselves. 

I never clean up after my kids. Even when they were really little, I would make THEM clean up all their messes - yes, I would help them, but they learned how to clean it up on their own. Occasionally I have mercy and help them out if they're having a rough day, but it's not the norm. 

My point here is let your kids struggle a bit. Let them fold their clothes their own way, with some guidance. Don't redo the dishes in the dishwasher just because they aren't like you do it - teach them how to make room for everything. Make them pay for their own stuff. Make them find a way to make money. Give them consequences when their work isn't done - be creative. 

Maybe it's because our son has autism that we have pushed extra hard for him to be so independent - and it's working. He's driving, he's finding work, and he's doing his own laundry diligently. Maybe it matters that much more to us that he's independent, but our daughter is a typical tween and we push her, as well. 

I encourage you to really allow your kids to struggle a bit and to teach them to figure things out - problem solve. Don't solve all their problems. Sometimes Mom's way isn't always the best way - or the best way for them. What is your favorite way to encourage your kids? What are some of the ways they've had to struggle and you let them solve their own problem?

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  1. You're absolutely right! It takes extra time to teach your kids to help themselves sometimes, but in the end, it is worth it. They'll thank you for it. They might even laugh about it later. My kids are grown now, and love to tell stories about growing up. I'm proud of them. By the way, they're still learning some tough life lessons. Thank you. I loved this post.

  2. Rachel ChristianMay 30, 2016 at 8:02 PM

    Amen! My 2 year old helps with the laundry (pushes the baskets through the house, helps me pick up clothes to put in, hands me the clothes to put in the washer and helps to load the dryer... we aren't quite ready to sort and fold yet)... he also helps with tidying up the house, dusting, and when he spills something he usually cleans it up and puts the paper towel in the trash himself. If you catch them early enough, kids want to learn. They won't do it perfectly, but if you let them struggle a bit and figure it out, it will build their confidence and their engagement with the task at hand. My mom didn't do this with me and honestly it's taken me over 30 years to feel like I finally have a grasp on some of the basic homemaking skills! Not my kid...

  3. I love this post! I, too, have my kids clean up after themselves. My daughter has been doing her laundry since she was in 3rd grade. Granted, it was baby steps at first but by 6th grade she was doing the entire laundry cycle by herself (sorting, starting washer, move to dryer, take out, fold/hand/put away). It's not how I'd do it, but that's part of giving her responsibility and letting her grow. I was at a meeting last summer with a mother who was laughing about her soon-to-be senior in high school was away at an internship and called her about laundry. This mother had never taught her daughter how to do laundry! She was away for a few weeks in the summer! She was about to be a senior in high school! She was going to be going off to college in one year! I was shocked and didn't see anything funny about it. The mother said her daughter (and other children) are too busy for laundry and stuff like that. I think she's doing them a disservice but kept my mouth quiet since I had just met her.


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