parent opinion

"It's time to get your kids involved." A message to mums crumbling under the emotional load.

If I told you there was a way you could reduce your workload at home and the emotional labour for your family, and it was FREE, would you do it?

Speaking to many of my mum friends, it sounds good in theory, but no, they wouldn’t. Because it’s a mum’s job to be everything to everyone and if you’re not doing it all, are you even a proper mother?

Well, my friends, I’m here to liberate you from that thinking. While you’re crumbling under the impossible emotional and physical load that is parenting in 2020, the answer is right in front of you.

CHILD. LABOUR.

Just joking, it’s not remotely child labour. At all. But it does involve your children; you know, the little people for whom you’re doing everything.

Watch: What’s the sexiest thing in the world? Sharing the mental load, of course. Post continues below.

Video by Mamamia

But what if I told you that by stopping doing every little thing for them AND in letting your kids learn about how to look after themselves, you are in fact doing your job as a mother?

Mind. Blown.

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And if those little beings are learning how to butter their own toast, put washing away in their drawers, and pick up their own toys, that it’s a win-win for everyone?

No, you may think. They’ll do a shit job of it and it will just create work for me. Or, they will resist and complain and after hours of that, I’ll end up doing it myself and wanting to die.

Maybe, initially, there’ll be bitching and moaning. I mean, that’s understandable – it’s not like you enjoy doing all those things, either. But after a while the kids will learn what you’ve learned; that in life, shit has just gotta get done. You are being a brilliant mum if you teach them that brutal reality early.

So don’t feel guilty about getting your kids involved in their own lives. Because that’s what’s at the core of this: horrible, fugly mother guilt.

I witnessed an example of this the other day. A great friend of mine, who works and has two kids, was juggling making dinner and repeatedly cleaning up her new puppy’s toilet training accidents.

Her kids are 11 and 8; and not only would she not let me help her in any way, she also didn’t let the kids. So, they just ran around squealing with delight whenever the pup relieved itself near the new rug.

Now, I know I’m going to sound interfering but this was a close friend, so finally I said to her 11-year-old, “What if we clean up this wee together and let mum cook?”

So, we found a solution to sharing the mental load… Post continues below. 

My friend was horrified, and stopped me in my tracks. “No, no, I can do it!” she sang, not because she wanted to, or was worried we’d do an (ahem) piss-weak job, but because she thought she had to. It was her domain, her role, her duty.

That’s how she approaches her entire emotional and physical load; I’m the mum, this is my job, and I’m meant to do it all. I want my kids to feel they’re taken care of.

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Which is all well and good, her choice, but she’s so stressed out all the time – and it’s also a disservice to her children who really do want to help her.

From my experience in raising a neurotypical kid: A two-year-old can help set a table. A four-year-old can help sort washing into piles.

A six-year-old can wipe down the dinner table. An eight-year-old can use a vacuum. A 10-year-old can help prep meals. A 12-year-old can iron a school shirt.

The one caveat being: IF YOU LET THEM.

From writing down groceries that need to be re-stocked, to cleaning out rubbish from the car, kids are perfectly capable of doing a lot more than we realise.

So, I say, let them learn. Let them do a shit job. Let them get better at it. Teach them this is what needs to be done; these are life skills that aren’t optional – and they aren’t, for example, unloading the dishwasher for you, but for the household.

Now that is brilliant parenting.

Feature Image: Instagram/@namawinston

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