The baby’s sitting up!
Now he’s crawling!
He’s feeding himself finger foods!
He’s been potty trained!
Those are all happy steps of progress in our children’s lives. We look for those initiatives and celebrate their arrival, don’t we? We have to keep in mind as our children grow older that taking ownership of more and more responsibilities is crucial, both for their good and our own!
As our children mature, we must continue to hand over the things we did when they were infants, so that we eventlually “work our way out of a job!” Moms always want to be moms, but trust me, even though you’re not running their bath water and folding their laundry, your role in your children’s lives will still be necessary, but just not for the day to day responsiblities.
So how are you doing, Mom? Are your children learning to take responsibility for their personal needs little by little? If you’re not sure, let me ask you a few questions so you can evaluate your offspring’s level of responsibility and where improvement might be needed.
- Do you find yourself having to repeat commands like, “Brush your teeth,” or “Do your homework?”
- Do you take care of most of the daily needs of your child that is more than 5 years-old?
- Does your child have a list of responsiblities – household chores they are to care for daily?
- If your child is more than ten years-old, can they take care of themselves if you are gone for a day and night? (I don’t mean they’re left alone!)
- Can your eight-year old (or older) take care of preparing a simple breakfast or lunch (no cooking on the stove) for themselves? Will they make wise choices?
- Can your school-aged child that is reading have a time of devotions on their own?
- Can they also get showered, dressed and ready for the day on their own before school or church?
Every child is different, of course, but you as the parent know what your child is capeable of, and the truth is, they might even be able to do more than you know! Here are some suggestions of responsiblities and ages in which you could expect them to take over:
- Pre-school – 3 – 4 years old –
- Put toys into a toy bin or box
- Help set the table
- Fold wash cloths
- Pull sheets up over bed
- Take trash to central household trash can
- Dress themselves with clothes laid out for them
- Put dirty clothes into clothes basket
- Feed themselves
- School-age – 5 – 7
- Keep room cleaned by putting toys, books away
- Take dirty dishes from table to counter
- Set the table
- Make bed completely
- Brush teeth
- Wash themselves in tub (with supervision)
- Hang up, put away clothes in closet or dresser
- Read short Bible passage and pray
- Separate white laundry from colored
- Fold towels and washcloths
- Sweep floor
- Begin to pick out appropriate cothes
- Help unload groceries from car and put some things away
- 8 – 10 years-old
- Keep room clean
- Clothes hung and put away
- Strip sheets and put clean ones back on bed
- Load and empty dishwasher
- Shower and dress independently
- Fold laundry and put away
- Clean bathroom sinks and toilets
- Choose clothes and dress independently
- Be responsible for gathering school items – backpack, homework, lunch
- Have a time of Bible reading, simple sentence journal and prayer
- Order their own food at a restaurant
- 10 – 12 years-old
- Load washer, do laundry
- Be completely responsible for books, homework, and belongings
- Have devotions with Bible reading, prayer and journal
- Boys – help with outdoor chores in yard
- Be completely responsible with showering, dressing, and picking clothes out, getting them clean and putting them away
- Able to prepare simple meals, graduating to cooking
- Pack suitcase for vacation
- Take responsibility for a job like babysitting or cutting grass
Again, these are only a few suggestions, and they’re all probably able to be done sooner than suggested for most children. A wise parent will allow their children to share the load and will supervise and inspect what is expected.
Why would you want to enable your child to learn these things? To help them be responsible, independent adults who know how to manage in the world and be able to serve the Lord because of their skills.
How do you get there? Little by little. Add more and more responsibility and expect the child to follow through. I found that rewards are excellent teaching tools. A chart with stickers for a small child works well. There are lots of ideas on Pinterest you could try, but the point is, do it! Don’t allow your children to be “drinking from a sippy cup” all the time they’re at home. They’ll be grateful – if not now, when they’re older, and you’ll have more time to focus on the other facets of mothering as each one of these responsibilities is released into their hands.
What makes it difficult for you to release responsibilities to your children?