Moms, do all the future wives and husbands in this country a big favor. You know that voice in your head that should be wearing a maid uniform? FIRE HER!!
The one that compels you to clear the table after the family has eaten. The one that compels you to stand in the kitchen for another hour cleaning everyone’s dishes after you already spent an hour cooking for all of them. Fire Her!
It’s the same voice that tells you it is normal to wash your teenage son or daughter’s laundry and clean his/her room for them, because you are “helping” them, or simply because you think you are supposed to. (For that matter, children as small as 5 can do their laundry with minimal assistance.)
It is the same voice that makes you feel that it is normal to make the menu for the week, make the grocery list, do all the shopping, lug the groceries in, put them all away and then listen to your children (and husband) open the cabinets and complain, “There’s nothing to eat!”
It is the voice that has you tied in knots after you have spent a week cleaning the house – solo- before Thanksgiving with the in-laws.
It is the voice that propels that scream out of your throat when your son hasn’t taken out the trash for the 10th week in a row, as you drag the trash can behind you down the driveway.
It is the voice that doesn’t understand that you should not be the one picking up all of toys in the living room three times a day.
It is the voice you don’t even hear while you are chasing your third grader around the house, trying to ask them if they have their: shoes, jacket, lunch, snacks, permission slips, back pack, school books, homework, etc, etc, etc. (or fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, or eight……)
The list goes on and on and on. Somehow moms (and wives) everywhere have allowed this little voice to plant itself firmly in their minds. Most of us don’t even hear it anymore; it is such a seemingly natural part of who we are. We have bought the lie that mom must do it ALL. While yes, mom is responsible for a lot, she is most definitely responsible for it ALL.
What moms are truly responsible for, is training our children in up in the way that they should go. Do this now as they are a child and they will not depart from it when they walk on their own.
So what does this have to do with your child’s future spouse? A LOT!
Believe it or not, you are training your child that they are not responsible for their own lives. Our children are brought into this world completely dependent on their parents. As they grow, the things they need from their parents changes, and usually changes quickly.
Unfortunately, a lot of moms do not know how to stop doing for their child what they did for their child as an infant and toddler. They just kind of keep doing it, getting more and more frustrated and resentful of their ever-increasing load. As the child grows, their needs change, usually demanding far more of mom’s time and energy if she has not found a way, or even realized a way was needed, to guide the child into self-sufficiency. The way to self-responsibility and awareness of how their actions (or lack of) affects their world and the world of those they interact with.
The law that says, “For every action there is an equal/logical and opposite reaction.”
Examples of this would be:
If you play in the mud (action) your clothes will get dirty (reaction).
If you wash the clothes (action) they will become clean (reaction).
However, in the language of a mom that “does it all” it would look like this:
Child plays in the mud (action) and their clothes get dirty and mom probably gets really mad (reaction).
Child strips after tramping through house and puts clothes on floor in front of washer (action) and mom washes them, folds them and puts them away after mopping/vacuuming the mud off the floor (reaction).
As you can see, the logic of that equation is very off; the reaction no longer has opposite and equal quantities in relation to the action.
Now let’s go back to the mom speak action. The child plays in the mud and mom gets mad. Why did mom get mad? Is it because the mud is bad and will make the child sick and die? No. Does mom get mad because there is anything dangerous or inappropriate about playing in the mud? No. Mom probably got mad because there was a rule about playing in the mud, which is basically that it isn’t allowed.
Now why did mom make that rule? I am not going to go through all of the above questions, because we all already know the answer.
“Because then they come in the house and get mud everywhere: on the floor, on the wall, on the door, etc. And then I have to go and wash them, maybe twice just to get them clean and I already have a million other things to do.”
Sound familiar? You can duplicate this unbalanced equation for nearly everything in your household that you take care of all by yourself that you should not be taking care of all by yourself. You will also find that the reason behind you doing all of these things is not an answer that does your child one lick of good. Your reason benefits him/her none.
In my house, the equation used to look like that. Keep in mind that my son is six and my daughter is four. It now looks like this:
Child plays in the mud (action) and gets so very dirty (reaction).
Child rinses their feet, strips at the back door down to his/her skivvies and gets an old beat up towel to cover up with, and takes a shower. After which the muddy clothes they left on the porch until after their shower, get picked up by the child, put in the washer (with mom turning knob to set wash cycle and child using a soap pump to put in soap), put in the dryer (usually with mom reaching to the bottom of the dryer for the clothes first), folded and put away without assistance. (reaction)
You might be reading that and shrugging your shoulders and saying, “So?” ( Or you may be wondering how in the world I managed to get my children to do their own laundry. Believe me, it wasn’t easy, but you can read about that in Part 2)
The reasoning behind this is to teach my children that THEIR choices cause things to happen in THEIR world with some logical effect on my world, but in equal balance to one another. THEIR choice to play in the mud does not cause a reaction in ONLY Moms world, but in their own.
The same holds true for everything, not just housework and chores. It works with friendships, respect for others space and feelings, treatment of toys/belongings, forgetfulness, etc. If you don’t speak nicely to others, they will not want to be around you. If you do not take care of your belongings they will break or fall apart. If you do not remember to tell mom about an activity, then you don’t go. Etc. It just might take some creativeness and HARD work on your part to start doing it.
It will be hard because your children will not understand at all what is going on, even if they are older. They will also not like the work it creates for them, or the feelings that go with it.
Be patient, explain to them why you are doing this, help them through it, and the feelings that come with it. They will be angry, overwhelmed, frustrated possibly even resentful. All of which are logical emotions to a world that has been flipped upside down. You will be battling what I have coined “entitlement syndrome”.
If you do it a little at a time, are gentle with explaining, and understanding of their emotions, over time, you will see a child you never saw before. Your days will look different, your house will look different, your relationship with your children will look different, and you will feel different. And possibly most importantly their future boss/spouse/coworker/roommate will thank you.