Desiring to be an intentional, invested and involved mom in the lives of my children... I share a glimpse of my triumphs and failures on my quest to capture their hearts ♥♥♥
by Tini Tadeo-Castillo
Last weekend, I started to teach Jam and Leila how to do the laundry. Intentionally and properly. Intentionally because unlike before, I was very specific with the details indicating the number of scoops of detergent with the amount of clothes to be washed, showing which types and colors go together, specifying the length of time the clothes are supposed to wash, spin and dry. First batch, I had to show them how I do it. The next ones, I made them do themselves. Yeah, fine, a little discussion ensued and some bickering happened when it was time to hang them as I apparently had (high) standards. But thank God, all’s well that ends well. Though we were able to finish the laundry, my kids know that the lesson isn’t finished yet. Next week it’s another chore, perhaps folding clothes, ironing or cooking and I’m guessing there’ll be more disputes, yay!
So, why the sudden homemaking lessons on a random weekend morning? Well, after some deep and long contemplation, I came to realize that I had two teens in the house, teens who will soon be adults. While the idea of them leaving sends shiver up my spine and makes me want to weep, I know it is inevitable. Though I can’t bear the thought, I know that I must prepare them for the big world out there. A world where there’ll be no Mom to wake them up, nag them to brush their teeth, cook food, fix the bed, do the laundry and wash the dishes for them. A world where Dad won’t be around to change the flat tire, fix the faucet, change the bulb, clean the A/C, give money for phone load or buy them DQ Milkshake. A world in the distant future where they have to make crucial decisions, face tensions and inevitable conflicts and Mom and Dad won’t be there to comfort them with a kiss or hug and make them feel better. A world where they will interact with co-workers, bosses, landladies, bank officers and yes, even traffic enforcers and Mommy and Daddy won’t be there to speak for them and/or bail them out.
I know that childhood ought to be enjoyed, a time to have endless fun. Indeed, and mine was! And though it was, we were given responsibilities early on. We knew we can’t be mindless of chores even as we had house help. In elementary, we were taught skills like sewing, cooking and planting in public schools. I’m sure many will agree that while we were young, we all thought those were dull and unnecessary. In retrospect, I realized that they were all in fact valuable skills as we had families of our own.
These led me to ask myself some very important questions about my kids. Are my children equipped to handle what the world out there have in store for them? What skills do Jam and Leila bring into a setting where they are adults living on their own? Have we trained them well for the time when we will launch them into the real world which is in fact a just few years from now? Suddenly, there is an urgency in my heart and I felt panic, thinking, “Oh my, are we so far down the road? I should’ve done this chore thing and life skills lesson earlier!”
But I serve a comforting God who impressed upon my heart that I shouldn’t beat myself up, that I ought to begin right away instead of panicking. That Paul and I must now prepare and dedicate the time we have left, not to pave the path for them but to prepare them for THE path. So that afternoon, I asked my husband if we could walk going to the market so I could discuss my thoughts to him. He was gracious and listened to what I had to say. From the looks on his face, I surmised that he felt the same initial horror upon realizing how difficult the world can and will be to children who are clueless to such life skills and lessons. Then I saw the same urgency in him and immediately we devised a plan to set things in motion. We came to an agreement to be intentional and prayed.
That night over dinner, we started discussing these things to Jam and Leila. I don’t know whether they realize the full extent to what they were agreeing upon but they did and we were blessed that God moved in the hearts of our kids to honor our desire for them.
Paul asked me to list down skills we know they need to learn, grouped them as to who will teach them—me or him. I did some research online and read a couple of related articles/ideas and I came up with the following:
Social Skills and Interaction (Dad & Mom) – These are very important skills they must learn as early as possible. Their interaction with each other and our demonstration as parents are training grounds for respect & self-control, humility & forgiveness, grace & love—virtues which are all going to be needed for when they get married, have kids and get jobs. Especially as they only have each other to count on, it is best to teach them how to treat each other as allies and never enemies. It is also a great opportunity to practice selflessness & sacrifice by taking turns in giving & taking, using simple things like who gets the extra piece of chicken during dinner and who does which chores. We also intend to exercise social skills, by encouraging them to be the ones to place orders in fast food or restaurants. We also observe how they interact with people from the music ministry in church where they are serving and will do our best to give advices and wisdom on how to be bolder and more confident as needed.
Time and Money Management (Dad & Mom) – Over the next weeks until school ends for this year, we plan to let them set their own alarm clocks on their phone so they will wake up by themselves. This shifts the responsibility of being “on time” to them from us. Daddy also enforced the “in bed by 930PM on school days, 1030PM on weekends”. We realized that in the past when we allowed them to stay up later than they should, their body clocks get whacked. Logically, they wake up late for school on weekdays and they miss breakfast on weekends. It’s a cycle we intend to break. We also know that we must be better stewards of money and teach them how to save for the “wants” and the “treats”. So the plan we came up with is to have a jar where we all put our extra money for the day throughout two weeks, which we can spend after church for a trip to Urban Bites. If we like a more expensive treat like Zark’s Burger or Big Ds dinner, then that means we ought to save more and wait a bit longer. This way, we are teaching them the principle of saving up and waiting until they can afford something they want instead of buying through credit. Hopefully, this practice will be helpful for them to avoid credit cards and loans in the future. We learned hard lessons on this so we are careful this time to model better stewardship.
Organizing and Decluttering (Dad & Mom) – This summer, we plan to declutter and give away old clothes and shoes, toys and what not. We will also do some rearrangements and unlike before when it’s only me and hubby who do the legwork, this time we will involve both Jam and Leila. We pray that God will also provide extra funds so we can overhaul our room as a family. Activities like repainting of the walls, fixing broken cabinets and buying some stackable plastic boxes where we will store each of our stuff will be a good start to practicing teamwork and organization. I also intend to be more deliberate in demonstrating my organizing skills to my daughter and teach her stuff like journaling and using a planner.
Stay tuned for the next part...