For a long time I thought I was the laziest parent ever. This was surprising even to my own mother given that we were raised quite differently.
What do I mean by ‘lazy parent’ exactly? Well, it doesn’t mean leaving my child on the sidewalk begging for food because I couldn’t be bothered feeding her. More like letting her do all the work while I play games on my phone.
After much reading, however, it turns out I’m not alone. And what’s more surprising (to me anyway) is that there are actually benefits to being a lazy parent.
Around the end of my daughter’s second year in primary school (Year One), I started to change things around the house. I gave her more responsibilities and explained to her the consequences of not meeting these responsibilities.
Here are some things I’ve changed in the name of lazy parenting which has helped make my child become more independent – giving me more time to relax.
School mornings are her responsibility
The moment I stopped asking her over and over again to wake up, put on her uniform, eat breakfast, brush her teeth and so on and so forth, things changed. I explained to her that if she wakes up late, I will still take her to school – in her pyjamas. If she doesn’t want to be seen in her pyjamas at school, then she needs to wake up early and put on her uniform before breakfast.
There were mornings when she didn’t wake up early enough and had to rush. I told her that if she was late it was her responsibility to get a slip from the office and explain to the teacher why she was late. She didn’t like the sound of that. Sometimes she ended up eating her toast in the car, or putting on her shoes while I drove. But after getting her an alarm clock (a wise investment), things got better (for everyone).
Before I go to bed, I place a bowl on the dining table (because she can’t reach it) so that when she wakes up in the morning and finish dressing up, she can make her own breakfast. The cereal, spoon and milk are on shelves she can reach. I’ve woken up in the morning many times to find her eating breakfast while reading a book. All I have to do is put together her lunchbox and drive her to school.
Homework is optional
No, it isn’t optional in her school, of course. She gets it every week like every child and she has to hand it over by the end of the week. I used to nag her to do her homework, remind her over and over again until I want to pull the hair off my head.
But one afternoon, during a meet and greet with the teacher, she reminded us parents that the homework isn’t for the parents – they are for the children. They have to be able to explain themselves why they didn’t do their homework or why they didn’t hand it in. Hovering over her to make sure she does it isn’t helping her or me in the long run.
So, one afternoon, when making her do homework was extra difficult, I simply told her that it was her choice. I don’t care anymore if she does it or not but she has to be able to explain to the teacher why she didn’t do it. The result was immediate. Since having that conversation, she now manages her own time after school to make sure she finishes all sections of her homework. I don’t even have to ask her.
Food and drink
Chores are for everyone
We all hate chores. I hate them most of all. But I’ve explained to my daughter a long time ago that they are a necessary evil. The good thing is that if we all help each other out they can be done quickly and won’t intervene with our fun.
There are no sticker charts in the house. I don’t count how many times she helped me because I don’t believe in counting contributions to the household. Before, when she complained about being asked to do chores, I tell her all the things I do for her and what would happen if I stopped. That shut her up quickly.
Every Friday I make sure she does her own laundry. I wash all the other clothes and when she gets back from school, she has to wash her sports uniform. I teach her how to use the washing machine and how to hang clothes on the clothesline. If she forgets, she won’t have sports uniform for sports day.
I also teach her how to use the microwave so that she can make her own porridge or heat up a meat pie if she gets hungry. She knows how to use the toaster if she wants buttered toast and where the ‘emergency’ (long life) milk is if the milk in the fridge runs out.
I know it’s different for each household. But I really believe that if we teach our kids to be self sufficient, it’s better for them in the long run. Stop giving them fish and just teach them how to fish. It will make your children more capable and more confident and better equipped for life.