To Teach Independence Leave Kids Alone

To Teach Kids Independence, Leave Them Alone - The Classical Unschooler

Seems obvious, but it’s harder than it seems.

In my day to day routine with the children, getting them ready for the day, feeding them, educating them, must I save time doing the tasks or do I need to organize the day in such a way that when I lay my head on my pillow at night I feel like I accomplished what I set out to do?

If the latter is my goal, I’m not trying to spend less time doing the things I need to do with them but instead make the time spent doing them more meaningful.There is a difference here, an important one.

Helicopter parenting (or even nit-picky parenting, if you are averse to the term “helicopter” – I know I am) is not only inherently stressful as a parent, it is also an incredible time waster. If I am constantly putting down the task at hand in order to teach the children how to “be nice!” or “don’t talk that way to your brother/sister/friend” or stopping them from climbing a tree because they could fall, the interruptions take away from getting anything completed.

As a result, at the end of the day, I am irritable and feel like I have been cheated out of my day.

Then why do it? Maybe because, at least anecdotally speaking, moms shuttle between wanting a break to do something for ourselves in a day where there are truly no boundaries, schedules, clearly delineated lunch/coffee/cigarette breaks or spaces  AND wanting our children to feel loved, protected, nurtured and educated. The result is a harried, haggard and annoyed mom left with no sense of completion.

I didn’t develop a cleaning fetish until after I had three children. Go figure. I had never been taught to do chores, earn an allowance or anything resembling practical responsible living as a child. And now, I have something akin to a minor panic attack if there are too many toys lying around the living room. I even have a word for it – visual noise. I like my clean floors, empty counter tops. It’s almost like my eyes have somewhere to rest if every inch of space is not covered with what looks like work.

But I am learning not to hold on too closely to a made bed.

Now, hear me out. I’m not saying not to make your bed in the morning; I’m saying it doesn’t have to stay made all day.

This is how I view it: I make the bed in the morning and close the bedroom off. The rest of the day is spent chasing after my three, five and under. We share a thousand square foot house and many a time, I am unable to read, write or get anything done because of the interruptions that are inevitable if we are all in the same space.

By separating myself and heading into the bedroom (and unmaking my perfectly made bed) I carve out a little space – and time! – for work other than focused parenting. Voila! I have just used space to create time. AND I have taught my children a little independence.

The made bed, and the desire to leave it made until night, cuts off my use of a large part of space and therefore time. It leaves me feeling worn and haggard, and as if I have done nothing but direct my children’s actions all day like a puppeteer.

Leaving for a stretch of time when they are occupied teaches them to control their own behavior while giving me some much needed time for focused work.

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Author: Purva Brown

Writer / blogger at - unapologetically blending two seeming opposites.

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