I am a helicopter mom. I realized that about a year or two ago when I first learned of the term. I hover around my children trying to protect and guide them through all things. I've always been so intent on helping shield them from life. I didn't want them to experience the hurts and losses that comes with life.
I think it may be in part because of the pain and loss that two of my children have already experienced through the loss of their father, my first husband. Life is full of pain. Life sometimes hurts. So as a mom, I wanted to be the buffer between them and anything bad.
This extended to every aspects of their lives however and I didn't even realize that I was failing them in certain ways. When it comes to chores, I've always took the brunt of them since I'm home. I don't necessarily feel that it's the woman's job to do chores, but it is whoever is home. And being a stay at home mom, I'm the one who handles most of them. (If I worked, my husband and kids would share the chores with me.)
They did dishes as soon as they were able and were responsible for their rooms. But beyond that I didn't really have them do much aside from their school work.
One day I read a post that talked about chores you have your kids do and at what age. One chore mentioned was laundry and I stated that I still did everyone's laundry at that point. The three older kids were teenagers. I guess I had always been afraid that they would mess something up and damage all of their clothes. I didn't have a way to buy an entire new wardrobe if everyone turned everything pink. It was just safer to let me do it.
I realized, though, while reading that it was time for them to learn. They were getting closer to going out on their own and I was doing them no favors by not teaching them to take care of themselves. I probably in all honesty should have taught them much earlier. Okay, there's no probably to it. I should have. I can admit that.
I set up a sheet of paper with instructions and walked them all through it. It wasn't long before they were able to do the laundry themselves without me supervising. I was surprised by how quickly they all picked it up.
I realized this morning that I wasn't only handing my children a chore, I was also teaching them lessons in responsibility. They were now the ones in charge of not only doing the laundry but determining when they would need to do it. If they ended up with no clean clothes the next day, that was on them. Being the helicopter mom, I cringe at even the thought of this. But that's life. They have to learn that if you don't take care to prepare for what you need, then there are consequences and you will do without or live with those consequences. What better way to learn that than at home before you hit the real world.
I'm happy to say that the great laundry experiment of 2017/18 has been a success. Happy to report that so far there have been no instances of pink clothing. Everyone has the hang of when they need to do the chore. There have only been a few slip ups and a few instances of forgetting to put laundry in the drier afterwards. But overall, I think they've learned some very valuable lessons.
I think I may have learned the most valuable lesson of all, however. As much as I want to do for them, protect them, make sure everything is as it supposed to be, I can't. I have to give them opportunities to fail, make mistakes, learn from those mistakes, and grow. I have to give them
chances to care for themselves even though I'll only be able to care for them for a little while longer. I have to slowly start releasing the reins as they head into adulthood.