Fostering Indepedence Makes Dreams Come True
When you have a newborn, and you're awake for feedings, diapers, soothing, and whatever else at 2am & 4am & 6am, you wonder if you'll ever get to sleep through the night again. When you have an older baby you usually still have to get up at least once for those same things. When you have a toddler and switch over to the toddler bed you might have a kid that just won't stay in bed... so you're still up overnight, or you're up at the crack of dawn with a little chubby face an inch from your nose saying "It's morning mama" in the loudest whisper ever. When you have a preschooler there's potty training and possible late night bed-sheet changes... and continued early morning wake-up calls. And... when you have a school-aged child, you have hope of a full night sleep (barring nightmares) but you still might get those early mornings (especially on weekends! why won't they sleep in on weekends!). If you're lucky your child likes to let you sleep a little while they play alone, watch TV or play a computer game (because you've wisely taught that kid to turn on the TV or computer... and they know the channel they like and have their own bookmarks list in the computer browser... although maybe that's just me). You get a tiny bit of sleep in the morning, but only until they decide they HAVE to have breakfast because they're STARVING by 7am.
Then maybe you have a second child in there somewhere... so you do it all again. BUT there are added benefits and disadvantages. Maybe they wake each other up? Maybe not. Maybe they like to go in the playroom together and read books or play Littlest Pets or pretend the cats are babies and play family. It could happen. And then maybe before 7am they've already had enough of each other and you wake up to screams of "I HATE YOU! I WISH YOU WERE NEVER BORN! STOP LOOKING AT ME! SHUT UP! GO AWAY! LEAVE ME ALONE! I'M TELLING MOOOOOOMMMMM!!!!!!!! MOM MOM MOM MOM MOM!!!!!" And you know what? That is such an awesome way to wake up on a Saturday morning.
But... you still have dreams. You have dreams of the day you might get to sleep in just a little. You remember those pre-kid weekends where you would stay in bed until noon... and you're just hoping for 8am. You know you'll be kicking yourself in 7 years... but you actually long for the days when you'll have to fight your teenager out of bed by noon, because you know it'll mean that you are sitting at the table reading a book and drinking a cup of coffee in silence OR YOU ARE ALSO IN BED UNTIL NOON!
Dreams. I have dreams. And today? Today I woke up in a dream.
This morning I got out of bed just before 9:00. I got up because I was just done sleeping... at 9! The house was quiet. No one was screaming. No one was crying. No one was yelling "MOM MOM MOM MOM!" I came downstairs to find both girls giggling at moshimonsters.com and Zoe announcing "I made myself breakfast!" and Ana yelling "Me too!!! Zoe made me breakfast too!!!!" (Zoe used the step stool to reach the freezer, the plates in the cabinet, and the microwave. They both had chocolate chip muffin tops... microwaved for 20 seconds each. Zoe poured milk for herself and juice for Ana. Other than a tiny milk spill and a step stool by the microwave you wouldn't have known.)
And Zoe was so proud. And Ana was so excited. And I was in bed on a Sunday until 9am!
So... dreams can come true.
If you have fantasies like mine, my suggestion to you? Independence. It's not really as hard as you might think. My main tip? Start early. Start simple.
When Ana was born Zoe was 3. I would fill sippy cups with milk and put them in the fridge. Keep serving size snacks of things like goldfish (those little bags you stick in lunch boxes) available. When I was breastfeeding (and stuck on the couch) Zoe could get her own drinks and snacks. Once she was good with juice boxes I kept us stocked in Juicy Juice too.
Now that she's older she just asked to start pushing the microwave buttons (just like last month. I don't suggest little kids using microwaves... but at 7 1/2 Zoe can do it). She can make microwave popcorn (just hit the popcorn button!") chicken nuggets (30 seconds, flip, 30 seconds) and muffin tops (20 seconds).
Teach them to push the ON button on the TV remote. When I went to bed I would always leave the TV set to PBS or DisneyJR or NickJR... but I also taught Zoe to aim and press the numbers for one station (it was Noggin at the time for us) so if I forgot she wasn't yelling for me.
Teach them to use the bookmarks on the computer. I set up a whole list of "Zoe" links. PBS, NickJR, Disney, ABCYa, etc to start. We've since added Webkins, Moshi Monster, Barbie, Shawn the Sheep, etc. She can click to open the browser and then finds hers bookmarks. She's been doing it for years now.
Those few tips? That's what let me stay in bed until 9am today.
You may or may not like my tips... they worked for me. We don't mind raising "techie" kids in our house. It's what works for us.
Now... if I could just figure out the answer to sibling rivalry (and fighting and screaming and yelling) I would be in heaven.
Are you raising independent kids? What are your tips? What works for you?