Expectations for All
I just sat down this morning to help my kiddos organize their day for today. Just like my schedule for the day, my kids also have times and boxes to check things off. As I was helping them organize, I realized that I am helping them become responsible adults and that my friends, is a very good thing.
One of my biggest struggles in my previous relationship was expectations and responsibilities for our kids. I remember a conversation where I wanted to have a schedule on who unloaded the dishwasher and was told "whoever finds the dishwasher full should just unload it." This may work for adults, but I'm pretty sure a 4 year old isn't going to spontaneously unload the dishwasher.
I desperately wanted my kids to help and it wasn't happening, so I ended up doing everything for them and for our household because I wanted it to be clean, tidy, and a place I could relax in without "stuff" - clutter drives me crazy and Clarissa knows all too well that her "piles" will affect my mood after a day or two so she puts them away.
When I left that relationship, I was going to the house daily to help with everything from laundry to cleaning to cooking to grocery shopping, so not much shifted for me in terms of kids helping. Plus throw in the HUGE amount of guilt for betrayal and ending a relationship that I wanted for life - I wasn't about to ask much of my kids that's for sure.
Transitioning to a new house and new rules and new expectations wasn't an easy road. I knew I couldn't do everything for them because ultimately, I would be raising entitled assholes. Yet at the same time, I had this tremendous guilt on my shoulders for literally up-ending their worlds. So we started slow.
At first it was the simple expectations of emptying the dishwasher, loading the dishwasher, doing their own laundry and making their own lunches. We navigated this for quite some time and it has literally become routine in their lives. Now, as the kids have gotten older and they see how much their help around the house means to our family, we have added on to our list of responsibilities.
During quarantine life, we have cleaned blinds, windows, baseboards, window sills, kept the house clean weekly, organized bedrooms, garage as a gym and more. William is in charge of making his "Protein Balls", they take turns making the bread, and everyone helps out with dinner prep and cleanup.
There is less time for bickering, there is more time for togetherness, there is more peace in our house and I am so thankful that Clarissa's Montessori ways have helped my kids grow in to responsible young adults. Now on their daily list there is usually 2-3 chores for the day and I never get a "I don't want to ....". I think I may have uttered the words "ya, well I don't want to go grocery shopping either but pretty sure we wouldn't survive without food" quite a few times over the past few years.
It takes time, consistency and patience to create these routines - but it is SO worth it. I know that my son's partner will appreciate that he can do laundry and clean a toilet. And I know that my girls' partners will appreciate that they know how to help with organizing a garage and cleaning windows.
Over the years I have learned that my kids didn't need me to do everything for them - they needed me to teach them how to do the things and then expect them to show up!