I started Week 1 of my 30-Day Mom Freeze by explaining to my children
that I would not be doing anything for them for the next month. I would not
remind them to do things they should do or ask them to stop doing the things
they shouldn’t. I would not pick up after them or get them things they were
capable of getting for themselves.
My daughter said, “What kind of resolution is that?”
My son said, “That’s not a resolution, that’s a Halloween nightmare!”
My husband said, “---.” Nothing. He’s keeping quiet.
I must say it’s been great not being the harpy in our house,
shouting out reminders about things like brushing teeth, going to bed and
walking the dogs. On the contrary, I am not only not saying these things, I’m
not even saying complete sentences anymore. Why? Because I stop myself
mid-sentence every time I begin to say something instructive and mommish, which I’ve discovered
is most of the time.
My “conversations” with my kids this week have gone like this:
I SAID OUT LOUDWHAT
THE REST OF MY SENTENCE WOULD BE
IF I’D FINISHED IT
“Why are you…”…shining
a flashlight into my room at 6:00 a.m.
on a Sunday?
“Are you really…”…going
to leave that wrapper on the floor?
any cake. You didn’t eat dinner.
starving. Please give them food and water!
picking your nose.
“If you don’t…”…clean
that scab you’re going to get gangrene.”
Each day I’m getting better at keeping my mouth shut, and also at not
picking up things I did not take out. I have several times picked up the three remote
controls forever on the den floor, only to drop them back on the floor a moment later. I have closed wide-open closet doors only to reopen them and walk away, leaving them ajar. Old habits die hard.
It has been excruciatingly difficult for me to ignore the random crap left around the house like
this nail polish remover. IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FLOOR.
How does it even land there, and how could someone just
walk away from it? I am baffled. I instructed my husband not to pick it up
either. I will be fascinated to see how long it lies there before one of the children
picks it up or the dogs eat it.
I'm excited to report that since I’m refusing to do anything for my kids that they can do
for themselves, they’ve learned some valuable life skills this week like:
1.YOU CAN USE THE MICROWAVE! My 7-year-old daughter asked me to make her oatmeal on Day 2. I
declined, but talked her through the steps of doing it herself. This morning
(Day 6) she woke up and said, “Mommy, I’m sooooooo hungry." I said, "Mmm hmm," and went back to Pinterest. Then the light bulb went off and she said, "Wait! I know, I can make some
2.DO YOUR OWN DAMN LAUNDRY. She also wanted to wear a particular pair of jeans before the weekend
when I usually do laundry. While reading my Entertainment Weekly from the couch, I told her how to bring in all the laundry baskets
then sort and load the laundry, which she did.
Here she is on a stool taking her prized
jeans out of the dryer.
3.CLEAN YOUR OWN FLESH WOUNDS. My 10-year-old son got some pretty bad road rash last week while
skateboarding, and the scab had gotten progressively filthier as
the week went on without me requiring him to shower regularly or apply a bandage. While I couldn’t
say, “You should…” I was able to tell
him the (true!) story of my Aunt Jeanne who has diabetes and lost her foot (and
later her entire leg) when she stepped on a nail and never had the wound
properly cared for. She’s now in a wheelchair. After I told him the story I went into my
room to read a book. Not 15 seconds later he was in my room with a bottle of
hydrogen peroxide asking me, “Is this the stuff I’m supposed to put on it? Then
what do I put? Neosporin?” Yep. My boy cleaned up his own wounds right quick. No nagging necessary.
Lastly, the biggest thing I did this past week that was non-mommish was to say YES to a last-minute invitation to go take an out-of-town weekend trip. Here's what happened: My dad and stepmother were visiting us for the holidays. My stepmother and stepbrother have three tickets to the inauguration in Washington D.C. over MLK weekend, and my dad did not want to go. My stepmother said, "The hotel is already booked. I will buy you the plane ticket for your birthday. C'mon, it will be so fun for us to spend time together! The hotel is where all the movers and shakers stay--and they have a vodka bar!" Normally, I would feel guilty about leaving my husband with the kids last minute, but this month I'm not being responsible. I'm putting me first. I hesitated only a second. "Vodka bar? I'm in." I leave in two weeks to joyously watch this guy enter his second term:
I can report that this project has been a success insofar as I do feel more relaxed
not carrying the weight of requiring constant perfection in my home or from my children. But I’m not declaring victory yet. We still have three
weeks to go. And my stress levels are low now because I have been off from work for two weeks. I’m an administrator at my kids’ school, so when the
school is closed, I’m off too (except summers). Turns out I am incredibly
fun and happy when I do not have to work!
But it's back to reality this week as the kids
and I both head back to school tomorrow. Will I be able to refrain from reminding them
to hurry up and get ready in the mornings... to pack their lunches so they don’t
go hungry at school... to wear a Brownie uniform on the right day... to study for
tests? I'll keep ya in the loop.
What chores do you hate doing around your home that your children (or husband) are perfectly capable of doing for themselves? What would it take for you to stop doing them and/or ask your family to help out?