Today’s lesson: If you keep doing things for your kids, they’ll never be able to do those things on their own.
So last year, when Aiden was still new to our household, he’d take forever to do anything. In an attempt to a) make him get ready for school faster and b) make sure he didn’t look like to total miss matched slob, I picked out his clothing for him every morning while he was eating breakfast. This went on for almost the entire school year (at least I can’t recall doing it in May and June, though I might have) before I finally let him dress himself over the summer. Or perhaps that’s not dress himself as he seemed to think that it was acceptable to stay in his pajamas all day (that’s a story for another time…maybe).
I spent the summer reminding him to put on clean underwear every day on top of trying to get him to stick to his morning routine so that getting ready for school on Sept. 1 wouldn’t be so hard for him. The problem there, is that his grandmother visited for a few weeks and she often would tell him – in her own way – that it’s okay to not follow the house rules. The result is that he stopped making his bed when he got up, he stayed in his pajamas (including old underwear), he went back to complaining about meals and trying to not eat. All in all, he became more difficult to deal with again, and that stayed with him into the new school year.
Because I was having a problem adjusting to getting up early again, and Callan frequently wanted to eat while Aiden was getting ready for school, I let him pick out his own clothes…until I did the laundry one day and found only one pair of underwear for a whole week of dirty laundry. I know for a fact that the kid doesn’t go commando, so he was wearing the same underwear for a week (EW!) and had finally gotten caught. The next morning, I went back to picking out his clothes for him.
For the most part, things have gone rather smoothly since then unless you take personal hygiene into consideration (apparently he has an aversion to soap and toothpaste…but that’s another story for another time). This morning, though, I decided to take advantage of the time I had with both little boys asleep and started making banana bread while Aiden was eating breakfast. I’ll be truthful, I forgot all about picking out his clothes for him because I was intent on getting the bread done before Callan woke up (total fail…but it’s done now). He went to his room after he finished eating and then came right back up to tell me that, “I don’t know what to wear.”
There it is. Apparently, in a month, he’d managed to go from making poor decisions about what to wear to being completely unable to pick out his own clothes and all because I was doing it for him. So, with the banana bread abandoned on the counter, I went downstairs and, first thing, opened his sock and underwear drawer to pick out a pair of each. Then I had him pick out a shirt that he wanted…oddly, he had no problems with finding a shirt that he liked. Finally, I grabbed a pair of pants. All this took no more than a minute even with his minimal deliberation over a shirt included yet he had made a big deal out of not having his clothes picked out for him.
Am I going to stop picking out his clothes yet? No way! If I think back to when I was nine, I’m quite sure that I remember my mother picking out my outfits still. Or at least she had a great deal of say in what I wore. I don’t really recall choosing my own clothes until I was eleven though I probably had done it before that, too. I’m not going to push him to pick his own clothes until he’s ready but on the other hand, it’s time I get him to help me pick out his clothes before he goes to bed so he can get used to it since he is a couple months away from hitting double digits.
Really though, how do you know when to hand the reins over to your kids and let them do things for themselves?