I used to judge parents for this, and then I became a parent.
I used to think that people are so ridiculous for doing everything for their children, and while I’m sure there plenty of people who are crippling their offspring by doing their college homework for them and whatnot, as a parent I now know that we don’t do things for our children to make their lives as easy as possible. It’s to make our lives as parents a little easier.
I do not have the time nor patience to let my toddlers do stuff for themselves. It will take forever and make a mess, and I just can’t deal with any more of that. Examples include, but are not limited to:
1. Getting dressed The other day I put out my three year old’s clothes and told him to get dressed for preschool. (He has done it before so I know he is capable) I repeated those instructions 4,782 times while I was getting the one year old ready, and eventually wrestled him into his clothes myself. Of course when I started dressing him he suddenly decided that he did want to dress himself and was furious with me for doing it.
2. Cooking “I want to help!” is the most common phrase I hear when I’m in the kitchen. I really try to let him help out when I can. He is a pro meatloaf mixer, though the first time he wiped his beef covered hands on his shirt when he finished. I have to be in a serene enough state of mind to accept that the kitchen will be a big mess when he helps, and it will take four times as long to get the cooking done. I feel bad when I have to say no, but sometimes we won’t eat breakfast until mid-afternoon if he helps make the pancakes.
3. Brushing teeth Well at least here’s one that the doctors will say I do have to take over! Even the one year old only wants his teeth brushed if he does it himself. And by brushing his teeth himself, of course I mean chewing on the toothbrush. Sorry boys, that’s a solid ‘no’ on doing it all by yourself. Your teeth will fall out otherwise.
4. Self feeding I think I’m having a harder time with baby number two than I did with number one. He didn’t start using utensils as early, which is obviously my own fault, and now usually won’t eat dinner unless he gets to do it himself. The results are a huge mess of course, and also that he may starve because I’m not really sure how much food makes it into his mouth.
5. Cleaning Clearly I won’t be lucky enough for my children to still want to clean anything when they are old enough to actually be effective at it. Currently as toddlers who want to do everything that Mommy does, the vacuum and wiping the table after we eat, and cleaning the toilet all seem very appealing. The bigger one always insists on having a turn vacuuming when I clean the playroom. Since I actually want the whole floor to get vacuumed, his turn comes after the job is technically done. “Helping” to clean the table after eating just means dumping all of the crumbs onto the floor, and currently he is looking forward to getting bigger so he can clean the toilet. I can’t wait until I hand that delightful chore over to him!
So my children probably aren’t learning valuable skills, for the sake of my convenience. They’ll figure it out eventually. They already make everything harder, it won’t kill anyone for me to make it slightly easier on myself.