For all you moms who wish your kiddos would never grow up—don’t. See that mountain of diapers and sippy cups you’ve been climbing since your first precious babe was born? Good news! A reward awaits you on the other side. It’s called leisure time.
What?! I know, I know. I’d almost forgotten what those words meant, too. But ladies, I’ve seen it. I’ve touched it. I’ve TASTED it—and it’s gooooood. Here’s how to get it:
Work yourself out of a job.
Picture this, for example. Last week I trudged my girls outside so I could shovel the driveway. I expected them to flop in the yard and make snow angels, but instead they each grabbed a shovel. So I humored them and rattled off some instructions on how to push snow around, then threw my own weight into the chore. After a few minutes I turned around and discovered my six-year-old had cleared half the driveway. Even her three-year-old sister helped toss a few yards of snow off the porch. Glory be, those kids cut my shoveling time in two. I adore them.
And—get this—a couple weekends ago I rearranged the cupboards so that our cereal boxes and Goldfish bags sit on the lowest shelf, within reach of short arms. Now my first-grader pours her own breakfast before school and I get an extra five minutes to fix my hair. Duh, right? Simple yet quite ridiculously brilliant. Why didn’t I think of this a year ago?
When my kids ask to help, I don’t just say ok sure fine—I actually train them to take over the task. My three-year-old folds towels. My six-year-old mixes pancake batter. Both girls insist they can sweep the floor better than I can, and do you think I’m going to argue? Heck no. Because while my munchkins are juggling the broom and dustpan, I’m supervising from a seat at the kitchen table with a tea mug in one hand and a book in the other.
Is that lazy?
Not at all.
It’s the greater purpose of parenting.
“When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick,” (Luke 9:1–2).
Consider this. Jesus’ ministry expanded when he trained up his disciples to share in the work God sent him to do. I find it interesting that he chose flawed and ordinary people to perform miracles and preach the good news. I mean, Jesus was God. He was perfectly capable of doing it all himself—and doing it better.
Yet Jesus was not a micromanager. He empowered the people beneath him to be like him, for the benefit of generations to come.
Do you see the parallel? In my children’s eyes, Mom is all-powerful, too. I’m the lady who knows how to cook and clean and spell and drive. They admire me. They want to be like me.
So I attempt to do what Jesus did. I teach them. I show them how to carry out the work God designed for our family. Then my children are enriched, our legacy grows, and—bonus—we accomplish more in less time.
Which means we gain a little extra space for the fun stuff.
Oh, I understand the temptation to wish those little people would stay small forever. I’ve felt the heart pangs of watching a baby face transform into a toothless school girl. We moms fear we’ll blink and that school girl will be packing her bags for college.
But on the other hand, once our kids are old enough to dry dishes and butter toast and mow the lawn, they’re also old enough to play Monopoly, watch Disney flicks, or swing golf clubs with Mom and Dad. Family time becomes leisure time. That’s well worth sacrificing the smell of baby lotion and Gerber puffs, don’t you agree?
Now if I could just train my girls to shovel the entire driveway, I’d have it made. Ah, all in good time. Until then, I’m determined to enjoy each stage as it comes—not pining for what lies behind, not wishing ahead. Just doing the job God gave me, day by day, task by task, and loving my kids more with each loose tooth and new vocabulary word.
Will you join me?
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If this post encouraged you, please share it. You might also like Moms Grow Up, Too, Wishing My Life Away, When You Wish They’d Stay Little Forever, and Sometimes the Laundry Just Needs to Get Done.
Linking up with: Playdates With God, Titus 2sdays, Wedded Wednesday, Grace at Home, Thriving Thursdays, and Things I Can’t Say.
As someone who’s reached the other side, I totally agree! Make the most of each moment….there’s something to look forward to at every age.
I’m enjoying my empty nest (leisure time) and enjoy watching my 19 yr old make his own way in the world. We taught him the best we could and continue to be amazed at the young man that he has become. I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity to be his mama…then and now 🙂
This is so encouraging to me, thank you!
Thanks, Becky. I a, encouraged. After study this morning, I was so blessed by my 3yo loading her dishes in the dishwasher. All in due time!
It’s lovely when they start taking those little steps, isn’t it, Anna? First they’re your “helpers” and eventually they want to take over the task. It’s bittersweet but definitely beneficial for all.
alina y says
Love your post:) new to your blog but I will be returning. Great advise, I have a 4 yr and 1 yr old, so i will be training my little munchkins too:)
Welcome, Alina! I’m so glad you’ve joined me here for some mom to mom encouragement. Blessings to you and your munchkins. Seems mine were 4 and 1 not too long ago… like last week… how it flies.
I completely agree with you Becky, I am right about where you are with boys at 11, 10 and 8. They do dishes now, wash their uniforms, and even fry some plantain and eggs.
I am all for training them, not just helping them do “it”. Other wise they would find it difficult on their own and I wouldn’t have done a good job.
Thanks for sharing this perspective on parenting, do have a super blessed day!
Hi, Ugochi! I look forward to the day when my girls can (safely) fry some eggs. And throw one in the pan for their momma. 🙂 It’s always delightful to hear from you here. Seems like we have a like-minded perspective. Blessings!
These moments are always so bittersweet for me. I get this incredibly proud feeling when I see them do things themselves but at the same time I realize it’s just another little step int hem growing up.
Agreed, Barbara. Bittersweet for sure.
I love this post. Sometimes I fight the urge to think it would be easier to just do things myself. I remind myself often that it’s not my responsibility to care for them forever, but it is my responsibility to teach them to be functioning human beings. This is a great reminder.
Functioning human beings, yes, MJ! I know what you’re saying, often it seems easier in the short run just to do the task ourselves. But we’re not just parenting for the short term, are we. Good thoughts.
Genius! That is what you are! I also try to encourage independence as much as possible. It makes the whole house run smoother. I refer to our family as a team and remind my girls often that we all have jobs. Everyone needs to help. Even my 19 month old has jobs. I’ve found that the kids like having responsibility and take pride in their work. And yes the extra minutes to grab a few sips of hot coffee in peace is wonderful too 🙂
A team – amen, Nicolette! I tell my kids that same thing. Which puts us in the role of coach, doesn’t it? How would we look at our parenting differently if we defined ourselves as the coach rather than the star player? Thanks for reading!
Mary Geisen says
Definitely enjoy each moment! I have reached the other side having two grown sons. Your time changes dramatically but I loved every minute of time spent with my sons as they were spreading their wings. Be blessed, love well and delight in every moment. Mary
Thanks for your perspective from the other side, Mary! I value it so much!
I just love your heart, Becky. You are such a smart mom–smarter than I ever was at your young age. I still struggle with this one and love so much of what you say here like, “Jesus was God. He was perfectly capable of doing it all himself—and doing it better.” That’s so true and yet God is not a “micro-manager,” is He? Yup! You turned the light on for me in some needed ways, my friend!
You bless me, Beth. I mess up daily but I just keep seeking God’s wisdom for this wild ride called parenting. Hugs to you, my friend!
It occurred to me a few months ago that I was doing things for my kids that they were perfectly capable of doing for themselves. I was doing it out of habit, from the days when they needed me to do everything. It’s much easier to have them do what they can!
Habit, yes! I do that, too. And the girls are in the habit of assuming I’ll do it for them. Just today my six-year-old asked for some more water. I told her she knows where the water is, and she is more than welcome to go get some. 🙂
Love this! We’ve been in the middle of a deep freeze for a couple weeks and I’ve been taking time during our snow days to really train my girls in helping with household tasks. It is fun to see them enjoy something that I might normally dislike. Thanks for sharing.
Now that’s a productive way to pass a snow day, Megan. We usually spend ours making a bigger mess. Thanks for your thoughts here!
This is something that’s been on my heart lately. I do everything for everyone. My youngest acts like he can’t walk on his own to get and get something for himself. We’re working on it. I like the idea of moving the pantry around a little to create more independence there. I cleaned up his closet and drawers and that helped him get dressed without a lot of the usual headache. Who knew? A little organization goes a long way!
I know, so simple yet it really makes a difference, doesn’t it, Adrienne? When my younger daughter was potty trained, I moved her undies to the bottom drawer and now she likes to pick them out herself. It builds independence and makes some tasks easier for Mom. A win-win for sure.
I don’t have children myself, but I remember those days when I was a child and my mom was training her four girls up to do things that bless our respective households today. However, I know some moms who can relate, so I’ll definitely be passing this post along. 🙂
I love your perspective from the child’s side, Monica, especially now as an adult. It helps to know you see value in how your mom raised you. If my girls can see that in me someday, then I am blessed. Thanks for reading as always, my friend!