I was raised by an old school black mama. She did not play. Now don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed my upbringing. Mainly because my mother found fun ways to teach me things and made sure she spent quality time with me. However, she made sure I was independent and could function in this world. I remember that my mother wouldn’t allow me to tell her to, “come here.” She used to say, if you want me, you come to me. Initially I didn’t get it. I used to say in my Eddie Murphy voice, “mama mean.” Now that I am an adult, I understand she was teaching not one, but two lessons. One, she wasn’t there to serve me. Two, if I wanted something in life, I had to get up and get it. Nowadays, there’s this blurred line between being a mom and being a maid that us millennium moms struggle with. We tend to overindulge our children and not ask for much in return. Let’s face it, these kids are playing us. To make the lines clearer, we should approach the subject of what kids can do.
Kids can do chores
According to centerforparentingeduction.org, research by Marty Rossman* shows that involving children in household tasks at an early age can have a positive impact later in life. In fact, Rossman says, “the best predictor of young adults’ success in their mid-20’s was that they participated in household tasks when they were three or four.” Basically, holding a child accountable for contributing to household chores will make them a better adult. When setting up your chores plan, consider the child’s age. Focus on Family has an excellent list of age appropriate chores here. What I want to point out is an eight-year-old. It’s true. By the age of 8, a child should be able to wake up with an alarm! If they are getting up in the morning at the sound of an alarm, chances are they are not going to bed early enough. As an educator, I’ve seen numerous sleepy children. Seven thirty is NOT too early for bed.
One of my favorite tricks, when I’m trying hard to be a good mom is to use timers. It helps me to multitask when I set a timer and say, “you have this long to do this.” I can walk away because I make sure the reward for completing the task is something my daughter really wants. I’ll say things like, “two minutes.” It’s so funny because there’s this terrified scream and clothes get pushed under the bed. Closet doors slam shut and I know there’s toys and baby dolls inside.
Then, I have the great fortune of teaching a lesson on doing things right the first time.
Kids can do church
I realize that I’m not writing this for you. You wouldn’t skip church because your child won’t sit still during the sermon. In the past, a long time ago, I heard of a few people who chose not to attend church regularly because their little ones wouldn’t cooperate. Well, if you know someone who is struggling with a busy body in worship service, there are ways to win. First, it’s important that you train your child from an early age that church is not playtime. When I first brought my daughter to church, she looked so happy sleeping in her pumpkin seat. So, I picked her up and began to play with her. My mom said, no ma’am. I was teaching her to play in church. From a toddler on, I packed a busy bag and my child sat through the entire service. There are multiple benefits to a child attending church. Beginning with music appreciation. When the choir sings, encourage your child to get up, clap, and move. This could be their initial introduction to music and movement. Children also learn morals at church. Here is where the concept of choosing right over wrong is formed. There are spiritual lessons that are learned that can be priceless to a child as they grow. As kids, we poked fun at our Pastor for his rote recitations of scripture. However, those jokes helped me to memorize scriptures that still guide me through my daily decision making. Additionally, many children get involved in volunteering at church. Service to others teaches our kids unselfishness, compassion and how to dig in and work. Lastly, through regular church attendance, children get to know God.
Kids can eat real food
Years ago, I existed on three food groups; pizza, hamburgers, and anything made with a potato. I was too picky to eat anything else. My mom would complain and make me sit at the table for hours trying to consume overcooked peas and green beans. Then I went to Girl Scout’s Camp for two weeks. They fed us salad every night. I ate salad every night for two weeks. I looked so good and healthy when I got home. My mom immediately implemented a salad regime for our household. Children will eat what you feed them. Millennial moms (myself included) we have got to stop letting our kids exist on McDonald’s and Taco Bell. Insist that they eat regular meals with vegetables. I know they don’t like it, but they are playing you. The same way my daughter is playing me. She can eat real food as long as I give it to her.
Kids can operate electronics
I’m an Apple. I own the watch, the Apple TV, the desktop Mac, the laptop Mac, the iPad mini, and the iPhone. My kid can do more on these devices than I can. But, she doesn’t. She would rather watch Youtube videos All Day Long! One day, I grew tired of complaining. I went to Today at Apple – Apple and found the list of FREE courses that are offered daily. I signed my daughter up for a coding workshop, a create your own character workshop, and a video making workshop at no cost to me. No worries, if you aren’t an Apple. The Microsoft Store offers similar courses for adults and children. All of them are free.
If you happen to live in an area where there isn’t a store close to you, try Udemy.com or other online education programs. Know that these electronics can be used for good. Let’s find a way to challenge our kiddos.
Kids can participate in family time
I cannot stress the importance of setting regular family routines prior to the teenage years enough. The bottom line is family time brings families together. Children learn how to cooperate, communicate, and bond. A child never really notices adult money problems. They actually don’t care about adult problems. All they really want is quality time with their family. Until, they are teenagers. Then, they will run from you. Having raised four adult children, I know how quickly this time flies. Please find a way in your schedule to enjoy your kids. You can find 150+ bonding activities here.
Oh, one more thing. Bedtime is NOT family bonding time. Make your kids sleep in their own room. Seriously, there are professional therapist that will help if this is a problem for you.