Here’s a little parenting tip. Something I’ve always known, but maybe sometimes forget. Kids don’t want to remember more than about three things at a time. Two is even better.
We’ve been using this job chart website, which at first was fun and new and my kids were excited about the possible awards they could earn, but after a few weeks, I realized that my eight-year-old was coming home every day from school and feeling so overwhelmed by his task list, that he couldn’t even muster the enthusiasm to get started. Mind you, he had participated in making the task list. He understood the importance of each task, and had bought into the idea of his accomplishing them each day. Also, most of the tasks were simple and quick. But looking at the whole thing at once was just too much.
When my boys were little and I wanted them to take responsibility for getting themselves ready for the day, I’d remind them, “hair, face, and teeth.” Some kids (anyone else have a slow-poke?) need you to keep repeating this again and again like a little get-ready mantra. Then when we started school, there was a second one, “shoes, coat, and backpack.” I know that sounds stupid, but I have taken a kid to school sans backpack more than once, and it’s never good. Jon needed an after-school mantra that was this simple, so now it’s just “homework and piano.” Everything else we moved to bedtime or Saturday, and we are much happier.
Our crazy house is like a little child-development microcosm — right now we have a toddler, a preschooler, two “tweens” and a middle-schooler, and it’s pretty fun to see their varying ability levels. (Of course, there are differences in personality and temperament, not just in age.) At 13, Sam can manage a fairly complex schedule independently, most of the time. Ben, 11, is close. But for kids under 10, two or three things at a time. File that away in your brain in case you need it some time.