I have made an astonishing discovery. I've been coddling my kids. This comes as a great surprise to me, because autonomy and independence from me has always been one of my biggest goals as a parent. I am the queen of "go get it yourself" and "look in the fridge." I am always looking for ways to get both boys to take care of it (whatever it is) themselves. I expect them to get their own snacks. I expect them to pick up their rooms and make their beds. I expect help with the dishes, laundry and garbage. I even tell them it's their responsibility to fix it, not mine, when they're bored.
It seems that I've been backsliding. I think it may have started when I became a full-time homeschooling mother. It seems that I've been cleaning up after them in subtle but myriad ways, like wiping up the peanut butter and putting the bread away after Big makes a sandwich. My rationale has been that it's enough that I'm asking him to make his own sandwich, and that he'll learn in time to clean up the sandwich zone.
This week, I've been working, with my kids running in and out and around the room I'm working in. I have needed to make this work a priority, in order to learn how do it efficiently. I am not yet able to fit it in between everything else. It has suddenly become abundantly clear that I have been spending WAY too much time doing all those little tidying up tasks that are required if one wishes to cohabitate with short people in a space not resembling a pig sty.
Except that I'm learning it's maybe not exactly required. I don't have time now to wipe up the messes and put away the Legos 4,000 times a day. So my priorities have shifted: rather than tolerating these small transient messes and cleaning them up as we go about our day together, I've begun pointing out clean tables, and asking the children to do what they can to keep them clean. I've been asking that Big pay attention to keeping the kitchen neat as he makes his snacks, and getting him to come back and take care of it right away when it isn't.
And while this seems like it might be more work, I'm finding out that it isn't. I guess they were ready to start taking more responsibility. This comes as a huge relief, because it's been hard for me to see how I was going to fit even part-time freelance work into our current structure.
Just have to start changing the current structure into something else.