I’m implementing another change to our family: the introduction of responsibilities. When the girls were in school, I used the time to do all my errands and housework. You don’t need me to list out what those responsibilities are, we all have them, and they are numerous. I don’t have much help with them. Not a complaint, just a fact. With a husband gone 15 hours out of the 24, I can’t expect any help during the week. There are however, two other able bodied persons that reside in this house with me.
Yesterday we had a talk about responsibilities when it comes to cohabitation. Now that both girls are being homeschooled, I can no longer be expected to teach, maintain a clean home, cook healthy meals, run the household, and provide for social enrichment. Something has to give. Enter the responsibility pledge. I pledge to do the above for my children and then in turn pledge to give me as much help as they are capable of.
Our first change is to increase independence. No longer will I do for them what they can do for themselves. Last night my girls cut up their chicken for themselves. I don’t know why I did this for so long. They can get their own breakfast (within reason), snacks and drinks. They can place their utensils in the dishwasher. This is not too much to ask. Most families I am sure, have their children do this already. When they were in school I did not mind doing more for them. I guess it was my way of showing them love and nurturing since they were not with me all day. Now that we are together 24/7 I can nurture them in other ways.
Homeschooling needs to have a component of home “schooling”. My girls need to become independent homemakers. I want them to learn money skills, cooking skills, cleaning skills, organizing skills, many things I did not acquire until I was grown. I need to teach them how to be independent. I have not done this yet and I feel bad about it.
We are going to take baby steps beginning with their morning routine. I put a sticker on the bathroom mirror: Did you make your bed today? (again, this goes for me too!) Next will be, Is your laundry in the basket? My goal is to increase their awareness of what needs to be done and help them get to a place where it is habitual.
To balance off the “chores” feeling that this may create, I am allowing them to experience independence in other ways as well. The girls can now walk, or bike, around the block. Today they mailed a stack of invitations at the corner mailbox. They are able to run back and forth to their friends house without me watching. They help make dinner by cutting up the veggies to make salad and I have taught Grace how to make coffee (yes, I have a hidden agenda.....).
I am beginning to see my family in a new light. This will take time, but we have time. This will take patience and I can run low on that at times but I promise to count to ten and remind them of what needs to be done. This will take perseverance but that I can handle. Like I told Greg, we have changed so many things lately, this is just one more step in the overall re-construction of our family.