I was on a panel at a conference a few weeks ago and another panelist was saying how working mothers have it so rough, because we have to take care of everything for the home, like grocery shopping and picking up the kids' clothes, on top of fulfilling our work responsibilities.
My reaction to that was … what? I am pretty sure that stopped decades ago. Or am I the only one who teaches their kids to help out around the house? If you’re looking to take a load off and raise more responsible children at the same time, all you have to do is one simple thing.
No, your family isn’t a budding business, but there is no harm in treating it like one at times. Be a better executive of your family by designating tasks as the responsibilities of those below you. At work you cannot get everything done on your own, and it is OK to admit the same at home.
Alright, so the kids might not be able to do the grocery shopping, but they can certainly put their dirty clothes in the hamper or clean up their toys when they are done playing. Yes, it might be quicker and less confrontational to just do it yourself, but you are actually doing your kid a disservice by not having them pick up their own underwear from the floor — just like you are with your coworkers by not trusting them to take on some of your work.
I know, it sounds easier said than done, but hear me out.
I have four kids, and obviously you can’t ask the youngest ones to do much, but my youngest is 9 and he knows now that he needs to put his dirty clothes in the laundry basket. I give my kids small jobs to boost their confidence, help them learn responsibility, and give myself a little break as well.
If you want to teach them to think for themselves and do things for themselves, figure out which tasks they can accomplish no matter how young they are. Whether it is setting the table, picking out their outfits, or putting on their own socks, assign them these tasks, and no matter how much of a fight they put up, stand your ground. Eventually, you will notice these tasks beginning to get done because in the end, kids like having responsibilities. They are proud of having their jobs and love that they can actually accomplish a task like a grown-up.
What I worry about as a mother and an entrepreneur is this: If we aren’t teaching our kids to pick up their underwear today, what type of executive functioning skills are we teaching them?
Now I know what you’re thinking. “Why do I need to teach my kids these things now? They are just kids!” Yes, they are. But one day they will be adults, and these lessons will stick with them. Trust me. By giving them responsibilities, you are laying the groundwork for them to become self-sufficient human beings. By believing in them, you are giving them the power to believe in themselves. If you do everything for them now, by the time they get to college they will have no idea how to take care of themselves, let alone get and keep a job.
A lot of parents tell me their kids are just too young and simply cannot figure out these tasks, or they just refuse. Don’t underestimate your child; enable your child by giving them the chance to figure it out. You will find that they like figuring it out; it’s like putting a puzzle together.
Giving them responsibilities is like giving them a gift. And you’re giving yourself a gift too because that’s one less task you have to take care of.
Kara Goldin is Founder and CEO of hint water, the fastest growing flavored water brand in the United States. Kara started hint when she couldn't find a healthy water that tasted great without questionable additives like sweeteners. Hint water has 0 calories, 0 grams sugar, and 0 diet sweeteners and can be purchased online at www.drinkhint.com in a variety of flavors, including Blackberry and Watermelon, in both still and sparkling.
Kara Goldin is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.