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Teaching My Kids To Take Care of Themselves

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It's a hot topic these days: Leaning Out vs. Leaning In. The complicated, never ending math of the who-does-what/who-makes-what equation that can consume a marriage when kids enter the picture. When it comes to family financials women are expected to equally contribute and men are expected to be on dish duty and diaper patrol without having to be corralled into it.

Enter reality. Moms are paying for our homes, our kids and ourselves. We're also doing the dishes, food shopping and laundry. If it's not us, then we're hiring the perfect person to do so as we go out and earn. In other words, we're doing our part and then some.

While I hear this isn't the case in every household, my extensive and *highly accurate* scientific research (err, girl's nights and Pinot) has led me to believe that while us mamas are working our tuchas' off, our male counterparts are still not lining up to spray clean the toilet. They are not instinctually picking up clothes around the house and throwing in a load of laundry. And more often than not we end up picking up the slack and taking over—because we can and we will. Sigh.

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For years girls have been raised to consider themselves equal to men in the workplace. But remind me of the movement where men are working their asses off to become equal in the home? Exactly. As the mother of both sexes, I want to best equip them to care for themselves, their future partners and children with equal aplomb. I want my daughter to kick-butt slaying the beast and my son to filet and fry that tasty sucker up. And vice-versa. They both need to learn how to make money. They both need to cook, clean, fix stuff and take charge in all matters of home life. I am teaching my kids to do it all. God help them if they actually have to wind up doing it.

So, how do I do this?

Don't Teach Perfection. In fact, I expose my several flaws in homemaking of which I have many. My penchant for leaving piles of clean laundry on a bed for days is met with "See this kids, this is not OK!" Same goes for the multitude of other piles that exist everywhere. I am not a neat person nor do I clean by nature.

Age Appropriate Participation. I can't expect too much from my almost three-year-old son, AJ, but he does know how to bring his dish to the sink. He also sits on the side of the sink with me and we do the dishes together. He and my daughter Aria, 7, pull up chairs and help me cook. The love to bake, stir, make smoothies and get involved.

Let Them Help, Even If It's Not Helpful. Aria transfers laundry and AJ likes to roll shirts and "put them away" which means he throws clothes back in the basket. I can at least have him pour the detergent in, close the door, and turn the handles at laundry time.

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Play Time is Learning Time. We all grab our tools when something needs to be fixed, a lightbulb changed or a wall painted. I show them how it's done and give them pretend tools to pretend help.

Take Them To the Store. Food shopping is a group project to learn about food and the value of it. When you throw things in the cart, show them why you chose it, what it's made of and why you chose it over another brand.

Get Creative With Allowance. To teach them value of money, I'm using "mitzvah" chips for doing good deeds and this goes toward "buying" things. They also get them for helping out without having to be asked and for helping each other. Instead of fighting off the begging at every store, I assign a chip value for the toy they're dying to have, right now. They know how many chipos they have, and how many it takes to "buy" what they want. They understand how stuff is acquired and that it needs to be earned. For now they get to do that with good deeds, which helps all of us.

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