Most people talk about all of the wonderful benefits of independence in young children, focusing on their increased self-esteem, fine motor control and sense of responsibility. But there are two sides to this one. The more your kids can do on their own, the better it is for you.
Every mother (and father) has been caught in a situation where two children need her attention at once. And sometimes, one’s screaming for a cup of water while the other one has a more serious emergency, resulting in your hands being wrist-deep in doo-doo. Not very sanitary for getting that cup of water for a while anyway. Unless…your older child can get the water. All by herself.
We ended up with some easy solutions around our house that have saved me from a meltdown more than once. Some of these solutions were intentional, and others have been purely accidental.
Kids can handle some self-serve drinks and snacks. For instance, water. I have a big basket where I put re-usable plastics like little yogurt cups, cream cheese tubs, old water bottles, you know. It just so happens to be sitting right next to our water filter, which is basically a 5 gallon bucket with a plastic spigot. My son, due to the convenience, has really taken to grabbing a yogurt cup and getting water on his own. He used to be too small to reach, but just at the age where he no longer thinks its funny to throw water everywhere – oh who am I kidding, he still enjoys that sometimes – he had become just tall enough to be able to get water on his own. This was also conveniently at about the same time my daughter was born. One less thing for us to do for our son. Score!
Wash on Your Own
Our sink is another example. We use an easy step stool for our son to be able to access the sink and get water to wash up when he needs to. It’s so nice to know that he can take care of all of his bathroom and hand-washing needs on his own without our help.
Arts and Crafts
When little peanut wants to color, cut or draw, he doesn’t need to ask for help. All of his art supplies are at his level, ready to be used. He knows where he can color and how to use the scissors on his own. When he’s finished, well, that brings me to the next point…
I’m a firm believer in kids cleaning up after themselves without making a fuss. Accidents happen. Paints and juice spill, crumbs get dropped on the floor…no biggy. So when little peanut cuts up paper into tiny pieces all over the floor, he knows where to find a small broom and dustpan so that he can sweep up on his own. We keep a few rags and towels hanging on our oven door so that he can grab them to clean up spills. This is independence at its best. He knows how to handle mistakes and be responsible.
So yes, through practicing independence, he’s developing great skills – and setting a stellar example for his little sister, but he’s also helping us out. We’re always there to step in if there’s something he can’t handle, but it sure takes a load off our backs knowing he can handle so many things on his own. This is by no means an exhaustive list – there are many more things that little peanut can do all by himself. And I’m so glad he can, for his sake, and mine!
Why do you appreciate your child’s independence?
***Got a little TOO much independence going on? Learn how to hold your ground as a parent!