A couple weeks ago, I talked about one of my "ideal mom goals" (which was to try and take Raven outside every single day).
I'm here today to share another one:
My philosophy of letting her do something if she's capable of doing it.
At first, as a brand-new mom, I was obsessed with reading the book What to Expect the First Year. I'd dutifully read almost the entire book of What to Expect While You're Expecting, and I was thrilled when I discovered that the publishers had a similar guide to what to expect for your child's first year of life. Every month, I would eagerly read up on the milestones my child might be experiencing, and I would discover certain things she "should" be doing by a certain age (like clapping or waving) that we hadn't even really tried to teach her yet.
Eventually, though, I got a bit frustrated by the whole thing. I was ecstatic that Raven seemed to be hitting many of the big milestones early (Hooray! She's the smartest kid ever!), but when she wasn't as quick on a few of the milestones, I would be anxious and worried. What were we doing wrong?! HOW COME SHE WASN'T CLAPPING?! (Of course, anyone who's around her now will laugh at that since she basically claps for herself after everything she does and expects you to do the same.)
So around the 10- or 11-month mark, I stopped reading. I stopped checking for milestones.
Instead, I just started getting more curious--
What if I tried to let her [fill in the blank]? What would happen?
I started with small things--teaching her how to bang toys against hard objects like the chair leg to make noise or turning the pages herself when we read books together. Gradually, I started becoming more adept at noticing when she was trying to "copy" something I was doing and take a minute to guide her hands and explain the process. Now, I often will just let her try and do something, even if it seems like it would be way beyond her grasp.
And you know what?
She is constantly surprising me.
And I realized that I didn't really want her to be confined to the limits spelled out in the milestone section of the books, anyway---why not just let her do it, dangit, and see if she could?
I remember reading a blog post a few months ago about a family who believed strongly in the value of hard work, so they gave their children chores starting at the age of three. I remember thinking at the time, "What kind of chores could a 3-year-old even do?"
That was before I started implementing this philosophy of "Let her do it," and now, I can definitely see that a three-year-old would TOTALLY be able to help on a ton of things (with supervision) because my almost-18-month-old "helps" me on just about anything I'll let her do.
Sure, there are few things that she can do absolutely by herself, but she is a quick learner, and "helping Mom" is her absolute favorite thing in the world.
So, for reference, here is a list of things she helps me to do:
- close doors and drawers that are open for even a second (we basically have to run in the house after her, or she'll shut the door on us)
- take the mail out of the mailbox
- "mix" things together, like the muffins we're making in these pictures, or whisking eggs for scrambling (obviously I still need to do some of the mixing to get it to the right consistency, but she's getting the hang of it more and more every day)
- push the buttons on the microwave to heat up her food (I show her where to push)
- peel carrots and other bigger vegetables (I hold the vegetable and lightly put my hand on hers and tell her to "push" forward to peel it)
- turn the water in the sink on and off
- twist the knob on the washer (with guidance) and pull it out to start (ditto for the dryer)
- take out all the silverware from the dishwasher and hand it to me to be put away (I've even finally trained her to give me multiple pieces at once instead of just one at a time)
- hand me the dirty laundry to put in the top of the washer
- take out the clean laundry from the dryer and put it in the laundry basket (she basically does this solo)
- hand me her bowl and spoon and any dropped food on her high chair tray when she is done eating
- wipe off her tray and hands when she's finished eating (I have to definitely go over both of those afterwards, but she's getting better)
- comb her hair (ish)
- pour measured ingredients into a bowl (with guidance)
- put her toys and books back in their bins
- dust things
Like I said before, she is constantly amazing me by what she is capable of doing.
Sure, the tasks take longer when she's helping. But I remind myself that this is what motherhood is really all about---taking the time to teach her those things that she needs to know.
And now I know that it's never too early to start.
(Oh, and a picture of the final product---I know you were just dying to see how they turned out.)