Use Summer As A Training Time For Those Kids

I read a blog post last week from a mom who was complaining about her kids during the summer. They never put anything away. They dropped their clothes everywhere. The mom had to drive them to their various activities. I kept waiting for the blogger to say how much she loves having her children around, but she never got to that. I don’t think she is ungrateful but rather she is overwhelmed and exhausted. I know many parents like that. But what if we took this time to work on the skills that we want our kids to have in life instead of enabling their behavior and blogging about it?


When I see an overwhelmed parent I notice one thing, they give in way too easy because of their exhaustion. I had three boys in five and a half years and I know one thing I learned very quickly was to have them learn how to help. Often it was much easier to tie their shoes for them so we could get out the door. But what happened was they were delayed in trying their shoes. I take the blame for this, because I was in a hurry and never took the time to teach them how to tie those laces.


This summer my middle son came back after his freshman year at college. I was thrilled to get him home. Yes, his room is messy as he moved all of his stuff from his dorm back in. I close the door so I don’t have to look at it. Yes, his dishes aren’t rinsed and loaded into the dishwasher right away. But he is home. Home where I have some more chances to influence him.


Here are some areas that we will be working on:


Grocery shopping: I sent my boys to the store for Father’s Day to find things to make their dad for his special day. I got numerous texts and phone calls asking questions. Finally my husband got on the phone and told them what to buy to make him. They returned over an hour later with the ingredients along with a big frosted sugar cookie and a Happy Birthday balloon.


I love grocery shopping so I never sent them to the store. Now is the summer where I am going to train them how to grocery shop.


My middle son had to buy ingredients for a work retreat last week. He had his list and he returned triumphant. He said he watched what other people were doing. People were weighing their produce, he weighed his produce. He saw someone put bananas in a plastic bag, he put his bananas in a plastic bag. He needed a zucchini, he bought a cucumber….oops!


Preparing a meal: Yes take out and frozen meals are convenient but what are we teaching our kids? I want my kids to learn how to make 5 meals that are made with real and fresh ingredients. No Hamburger Helper here. I really believe that if they can learn to make 5 things they will have the skills to make everything else. I know one child loves chicken parmesan. He will learn how to flatten a chicken breast so that he can use that skill when making other chicken dishes.


When I was first learning how to cook I hated the act of cutting chicken up. I still don’t enjoy it and I have luckily found a man who will do it for me. But learning how to cut a chicken is a good skill to have, if you are not a vegetarian. Also learning how to brown hamburger is important. My husband thinks it is done by turning the burner up to high. I shake my head. But if you think about it, when you read a recipe it never lists the steps on how to brown hamburger. I understand now why they don’t know.


Washing and cleaning a car: We have neighbors that wash and clean their cars every Sunday. It is like they are running a car detailing business in their driveway, but with their own cars. I personally don’t like a dirty car. My friends tease me that my car is always clean. It is. When I drive my husband’s car and it is dirty I will run it through the car wash before I return it. Meanwhile the car my boys share is full of treasures on the inside. The outside is full of dents and scratches due to parking in a high school parking lot. It is time to learn that when you walk into the house everything in your care comes in with you. The garbage goes in the garbage. The recycling goes in the bin conveniently located in the garage. Take some pride in what you drive. Know that when you give someone a ride that you don’t need to move the garbage aside. Instead have a spot in the car for your garbage and your paperwork.


So this summer instead of being frustrated with your children, hug them a little tighter and love them a little more. Decide that you are blessed that you are their teacher in how to do many things in life. Meanwhile if you see my kids out grocery shopping with a blank look, stand back and let them figure out how to ask an employee where the panko bread crumbs are kept.


To Joyful, Simplified Organizing,


MS. Simplicity


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