Our kids had their own ideas of how to run a household. The main idea seemed to be that they should have plenty of fun and little work to do. It was always somebody else’s turn to do a job or a chore, and just like their father, some of them would have made some pretty good lawyers (the not-crooked kind, that is.)
That’s when I’d pull out one of my lines, “This is a house, not a hotel!”
Sometimes I’d say, “I’m the mom, not the maid.”
Or, “I’m a mother, not an octopus!”
In hotels, you get room service. You don’t have to change the sheets on your bed or even make it, for that matter. Somehow when you leave your room, it magically gets cleaned up and put back into pristine order. You can order food and have it served to you in your room, vegging on the bed in front of a TV and watching all the latest shows and news. You can go to the restaurant inside the hotel (or any other restaurant, for that matter) and order whatever you want while someone else fixes it, serves it, and cleans up after you.
That’s not how it is in a house or a home. We don’t have maids at our house, and we don’t do room service (unless a kid is sick, of course). Anything that happens is done by our non-paid, child-labor offspring. Food doesn’t just show up on a table at mealtimes without the help of those offspring, and cleanup doesn’t happen unless those-same-offspring pitch in and help.
I confess that too many times, I ended up acting like the maid in a hotel or the waitress in a restaurant, allowing my kids to be waited on instead of helping them learn to serve. When I realized we needed help or this ship was going down, I came up with a lifesaver plan, and you can read about it here.
One of my greatest weaknesses was wanting things to be done now and not being willing to wait until a deliberately-slow-poking-kid completed a task. (Oh, they knew how to work that to their advantage!) I was guilty of just going ahead and doing it so it would be done. I should have come up with deadlines and consequences for missed deadlines. A maid in a motel has to have the room ready for the next guest by a certain time and, if she’s constantly delinquent, she will lose her job, which is a privilege. Kids can learn to make deadlines too, even if it’s something as simple as having a bedroom in order before eating breakfast. Yet, they’re not going to do that without prodding from the adults in their lives.
It’s one thing to serve your family. It’s something else becoming their servant. Make sure you understand – and practice – that difference.
In time, I got better at delegating and following through. In time, my kids learned to know what I meant when I reminded them that I was not their maid or an octopus.
You can, too. Remember that one of your tasks as a parent to help your kids become responsible adults. One of the best ways to do that is to remember that your house is a home – and not a Hotel.
Don’t just be their maid, a chef, or a laundress. You can still serve your family while you help your kids learn to serve others. Don’t try to be all things to your family. Help them learn to be responsible in increments and according to their age and capability.
Don’t enable selfishness and laziness by doing things for your kids that they can do themselves.
While it’s fun to vacation in a hotel, that’s not the real world. While it’s fun to relax and enjoy being lazy, that’s not the real world. The real world is a house filled with people who make a home; the real world helps raise kids into being responsible adults. I can think of no better place to start than in your own home.