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Teaching responsibility

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Children at very early age need to be taught responsibility.  I am not talking about paying the bills responsibility at age 3.  I am talking about age appropriate responsibility.  Without teaching them this key quality they will grow up to feel entitled, spoiled and not be able to take care of themselves.  Not to say that everyone will be that way, I just know it will be a rough ride for them until they do learn.

This is something that my husband and I talked about how we would raise our children.  We wanted our children to understand that they have responsibility within the family and in life.  We wanted the consequences to mostly be natural consequences, so they can learn to monitor themselves at a very early age. We wanted them to understand that the house doesn’t clean itself and our items don’t pick up by themselves.  That what we have is a lot and to be grateful for what God has given us.

Let’s start with natural consequences.  For us those are the best because it naturally happens as a result of what the child did.  Not something that is enforced by another person.  For example, a child falls down the steps because they have something over their eyes.  I can tell you first hand that they learn not to have something their eyes while walking down the steps.  It helps them understand what they should do and what they shouldn’t do.  Normally it only takes one time to learn.  Now for things like falling off a bike, we try to teach them to get up and try again and not to be scared that practice helps.

We started at a very early age teaching our children responsibility.  It started with helping to pick up toys.  Learning to put their toys away helps them understand that there is a specific place “home” as we call it for each toy.  To make it easier we purchased bins to go into cubicles, so that they can just throw it in there.  We also have an awesome toy box that my grandfather made for me and my siblings when we were young.  It is great to just throw in bigger toys to put them away. (Look soon for a post on great ways to make cleaning up fun)  We then moved to their dish when they are done using it.  They put it in the sink.  I remember when our daughter couldn’t even reach the sink to put it in, even then we still had her take it over there and we would pick her up to put it in the sink.  The next step was to put their dirty clothes in the laundry basket.  Understanding where the dirty clothes helps us out as we are not picking up after them.

Now that my children are a little older, 4 and 3, they have more responsibility.  They are responsible for cleaning up toys, help set the table, help clean off the table, make their bed (to the best of their ability and I do not correct it.), put their dirty clothes in the laundry basket, wiping off the table after meal, help bring in groceries and put them away, taking out the recycling and so much more.  These are small tasks that take a couple of minutes each, but teaches them that they are an active member of this house and will help maintain it.

Things that we are working on is putting dishes away (mostly their dishes on the counter), help with loading the dishes (mostly utensils), feeding the dogs, walking the dogs, help with yard work (mostly picking up sticks), sweeping, putting their shoes and coats away when coming in the house, help put the clothes in the dryer and take clothes out. I do not expect them to be perfect and we try not to correct it after the fact, unless we have to.  By not correct it we let them be proud of what they accomplished and help guide them to do it the way we need it to be. Correcting it can make them feel like what they did is not good enough.  Overtime they will learn to do it the way the household does it.

So what do my children learn during this is that they are responsible for themselves and their stuff.  When they ask why they need to do it, we explain to them that they are apart of the family and they live in this house, so they need to help keep it up.

How do you teach responsibility?  Do you have any tips?

Ashley

Photo credit: theloushe / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

That One Night…..

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I remember the night as if it were yesterday, October 30, 2012.  It was a Friday and it started off like any other day.  I got up, got dressed and went to work.  It wasn’t long before I knew something was off.  I just didn’t feel like I normally did.  At this point I had been diagnosed with PostPartum Depression and had been dealing with it for about 10 months.  I had an almost 2-year-old and a 6 month old.  It had been a rough year.

Something about this day was off.  I felt it brewing inside of me for a couple of days and knew that it probably meant that I needed to switch my medication again.  Something that I had to do about every couple of months because the medication became ineffective.

I knew that the evening and night were going to be tough because my husband had to leave for work within a few minutes of me getting home from work.  It was going to be a long evening and night.  My husband called me around lunch time to vent that the kids were being very demanding and not sleeping.  My son, almost two, was having trouble falling asleep and he had been rocking him to sleep for over 45 minutes (a rarity).  My daughter was also being fussy that day.  A typical call to give an update on the children, since he was home with them.  I got off the phone and really got worried.

For whatever reason I didn’t want to be home alone with my children that night.  Now before I continue, at no point in my PPD did I ever want to harm my children.  I never had the thoughts like that and if I was getting frustrated with the situation, I would remove myself to calm down.  The reason more was that I didn’t trust myself to take care of them in the way they needed to be taken care of.  Things like dinner, bath, bedtime, keeping them busy till bed.

I expressed my concern with my mother, my sister and my husband.  Unfortunately, everyone was occupied for the evening and all reassured me that I can do it, just to keep it simple.  Well the night went without any problems.  I think that the kids some how knew that I needed them to be easy for me.

My son and I had pizza for dinner,while my daughter had her bottled, creating a picnic on our bed.  We watched movies most of the night and bath was a quick one.  Just really cuddling and being with each other.

I can close my eyes and be put right back to that night.  Once both children were in their beds, I sat in the hallway and cried for what felt like hours.  The cry was a release of all the anxiety and all the worry I had for the night.  I was also crying because I did it! I took care of my children. I was able to get them fed, bathed and to bed without anyone’s help.  I was able to not hurt them or myself in the process.  I was able to survive.

Now I know most of you may think that I should be able to do that, I should have no problem doing the very basic.  For me and for a lot of mothers dealing with PPD, the basic was all that I could do.  It was a big deal to complete even the littlest task.  I knew at that point that if I could take care of my children and that they were safe, I would get through the PPD.

Ashley

If you are dealing with Postpartum depression please get help.  You are not alone.

 Photo credit: Ozan Ozan / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND