Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Don't Tell Me You're Bored. I'll Give You Something To Do.

This post originally appeared in June 2008 and in my opinion, is worthy of a repeat. I plan to be using the book mentioned here again as a point of reference this summer.

Have you used that line on your kids before? I know I have. And I'm sure it's been out of frustration. The kids are bored. Nothing to do. Hardly ever the case with moms though, right? "A mother's work is never done." Tell me you're bored and I'll give you a dust rag or a mop.

Several years ago, while visiting the in-laws, I found
this book laying on the dresser in the guest room. Coincidence? Were they trying to tell Lawman and me something? Doesn't matter. It caught my attention. So much so that I asked them if I could take it with me when I left. They obliged. (Although I'm sure what they were thinking was "SCORE!")

Turns out that I've used this book as a point of reference time and time again ever since. And, most often in the summer as it seems that's when it's easier for me to FOCUS on the tasks at hand.

As a freshman in college, I remember a specific encounter with another gal in the laundry room. It was early in the semester, maybe 2 weeks since the start of classes, and many of us had ventured to the laundry room to put in a load or two. This particular gal I am remembering, had apparently never had to do her own laundry. She hadn't the slightest idea where to start. She asked me for help. I'm sure I gave her a wide-eyed look like, "What? You're kidding, right?" Well, being the good samaritan that I am, I showed her how to sort, start the washer, etc. Within 10 minutes she had her undies in the washer and gave a sigh of relief.

Shame on her mama for allowing that to happen! What had she been doing for 18 years with that girl at home? Didn't she ever have chores to do?

Sadly, that's the way of life for many young people all across America and the world today. They are catered to in their own homes and never taught a single life-skill. How in the world can we, as parents, expect our children to be productive citizens of society if they can't even boil water or do a load of laundry?

Are you still with me? Back to the book.

This book is about teaching skills to our children. Yes, skills. Simple skills. It indicates that by the time a child is 11 they should be able to perform many household tasks on their own. Did you catch that? BY AGE 11.

Since finding this book about 6 years ago I've referred to the list of age appropriate skills at least a million times. And I did so again just last week. I even asked our youngest daughter, who will turn 12 in another week, to read what skills she should be able to do. After she read them I asked her if she thought she could successfully complete everything that was listed. She thought there were some things that she probably needed practice on so we made our goals for the summer. Here's what she will be working on.

Cooking from a recipe;

Laundry and;

Sewing on a button.

It's no wonder she needs practice with sewing on a button. She doesn't see her mother do that very often!

Since that episode in the dormitory laundry room years ago, I vowed that I wouldn't allow my children to be in that predicament. The cooking and laundry will be easy skills to work on as those things happen on a daily basis at our house. As for the sewing on of a button....well, we'll see about that.


Michelle @ Give a Girl a Fig said...

Can you say "conviction"? I've been threatening to teach my 13 year old how to do his own laundry...but have yet to do it. Thanks for the reminder that I'm not doing him ANY favors by catering to him. My mom didn't teach me how to do laundry...and I was just like your roommate...and quite frankly, it was embarassing. I know it's not FUN...but that is going on The Bucket List!

Denise said...

Gotta find this book. My daughter is 8 and I was just thinking that she needs to be 'doing a little more' around the house than just watching TV and cleaning her room when I nag her about it. Thanks for the input! My Mom was pretty strict and a military wife, so when I left home, I could cook just about anything. I was suprised how many young wives I met that didn't know how to cook a pot of regular rice or make sweet tea. :) Aren't those essential skills along with laundry and cleaning? I want to have a good time teaching my kids these types of things before they leave home.

Anonymous said...


i was just going through those same thoughts over the weekend. My job is to train my kids to become self sufficient. I do not need to do everything for them! which is easier sometimes. I will look for that book.