Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Confessions of a (Sort of) Slacker Mom

As a mom, I'm not a total slacker. In fact, in some ways, the opposite is true. I parent fairly intensively, giving each of my two daughters as much one-on-one attention as I can. (As I wrote in an earlier post, they are tweens and I still do a fairly extensive bedtime routing with them.) My husband and I each bend over backwards trying to give these two children the best start in life that we can provide. They are the center of our universe and everything in our lives pretty much revolves around them.

But some ways, I have to admit that I am a bit of a slacker. I'm not the kind of mother who believes she has to do everything for her kids, and lately I've become aware of some of the surprising benefits of slackerism. We tend to think of parenting in terms of what we do, but sometimes it's actually more about what we choose not to do. When children are infants, they are completely dependent on us and we do everything for them. But as children get older, effective parenting sometimes means hanging back to give children the chance to rise to the challenge of taking care of themselves. So I stopped packing lunches in the morning. And then I stopped putting my daughters' laundry away (I sort it into baskets and put the baskets in their rooms). And then I stopped cleaning their bedrooms. 

And in every case, these amazing children of mine have risen to the challenge. I mean really! Not immediately, but over time, with a little coaching and guidance, and, most importantly, my determination not to step in and take over, they got there. No, the jobs aren't done perfectly -- effective slacker parenting means letting go of perfectionism. The bedrooms are not quite as I might clean them and the laundry, well, let's just say we have a pretty loose definition of "folded." But for a 10- and 11-year-old, these kids are pretty darn neat. And we manage it without bribes, star charts, or threats of punishment. Not bad for a slacker mom!

15 comments:

  1. You are an awesome mom. I had a mom chastise me because I have my 4 year old put his own clothes away. Is it done perfectly? No, but he does it. And he washes windows...for fun! Clean up time can be fun time too. We blast music and Dan e while we sort. :)

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  2. Thanks Val. You just reminded me of something my oldest daughter would do when she was younger. If there was a spill or something she would disappear for a moment and then return in character as "clean-up girl"! Clean-up girl was awesome! There was also "door-cleaner girl" who was similar to the other girl but only cleaned doors.

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  3. YAY!!! for you and for Val. I'm speaking to moms next week on "Parenting for a Lifetime." One of the things I share is that it starts young: What you want your kids to value as teens (self-sufficiency) you have to begin when they're little. We don't parent for today, we parent for a lifetime.

    YIPPEE!!!
    Love,
    Karen

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  4. Well, I totally agree. My parents never put my washing away for me...it was put on the stairs when it had been washed and dried and it was my responsibility to put it away. I don't think I can ever remember my room needing to be tidied by someone else. I think it says a lot in parenting when you're willing to sit back and let your children try to do it for themselves. I think it helps us when we get to university because I know someone who's never had to do anything for themselves and they've had to learn a lot over the past two-three years, so I say congratulations...you're definitely doing the right thing :)
    Good parenting doesn't need star charts
    Kylie :)

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  5. Great to see some good parenting going on out there in the real word where kids grow up and need skills.

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  6. What a great post!! I love the way you parent, thank you for sharing this!

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  7. Rebecca, I think this is excellent parenting and what I strive to do for my two girls as well. My 3 year old and 1 year old know how to put things away and know their "pleases" and "thank yous" and I'm very proud of it. It will be hard not to have the neatest rooms, but you do have to let them do it. Awesome post!! http://www.homesandbabies.com
    http://notyourordinaryrecipes.blogspot.com
    http://cleangal.blogspot.com

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  8. I am inspired, hopeful, and most of all relieved! See, I am a brand new mom (at 40). I have a toddler and by the time our son is your children's ages I'll be in my 50's. Yikes! Learning that you & your family are where you are without bribes, star charts, or threats of punishment is AWESOME. I'm a "slacker mom" fan!

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  9. Thanks, everyone. Our family, like most, is a work in progress. We don't always get it right, but sometimes we do.

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  10. Rebeca I'm trying out your new comment feature!! Very nice, I have thought of switching but have always chickend out, I will see how it goes with you, maybe I will try!! Lol!!

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  11. Yay! Thanks, Kathy. My very first Disqus comment! I went with Disqus after extensively researching various comment platforms (in other words, my brother told me Disqus was the way to go so I did). I'll let you know how it works out.

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  12. I'm all for slacking as a parent. If they don't get the chance to do things, then they won't learn.
    I'm currently working on teaching my kids to make me a cup of tea. Lots of skills there!
    Seriously though, you're spot on.

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  13. Thanks, Ellen. I may work on that tea thing next!

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  14. It sounds like you are letting your children learn the valuable lessons of do some things for themselves. More like a super mom than a slacker mom :)

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