Now that I am staying home with the boys without other children in the house, I have decided that it is time to teach them to do more things on their own, especially wth a new baby coming! So far they have been completely on board, as both of them frequently use the words, "by myself." As in, "I wanna turn the light off by myself!" "I want to put my pants on by myself." "I want to climb up this ladder by myself!"
Here are a few things we have implemented to promote independence and help our day go smoothly:
1. Jackson now lets Lady out in the morning when we all go downstairs together and lets her back in. He also gets a scoop of food for her, dumps it in her tray and then takes her tray to the bathroom sink and fills up the other side with water. He is very proud of himself for taking care of our dog "all by himself" and sometimes wants to feed her and let her out more than need be. :)
2. Sam changes his own wet diapers. We are on the brink of potty training, I think. I have not been wanting to start since it was such an ordeal with Jackson, but Sam insists that he "need-a go potty" all the time, so I bought him some pull-ups to encourage him to practice pulling his pants up and down "by himself," and he does. He announces he needs to go potty, goes in, pulls the step stool up to the toilet, pulls his pants and pull-up down, steps up there and earnestly tries to go multiple times a day (without success so far). Then puts his own pull-up and pants back on (with occasional help from mom). When he is wet, he takes his old diaper and puts it in the diaper trash and gets a new one out of the diaper drawer. When he is poopy, he is usually very grossed out and comes to tell me immediately, but just in case, I check him before he takes off his diaper every time. He always announces it before he does this, so I have to chance to check him first.
3. Jackson can get his own juice. (There is a limit to how many glasses of juice he can have.) I bought a large container with a spout and put it on a low shelf in the fridge. I keep it filled with half juice/half water mixture (and sometimes just water) and put cups for Jackson and Sam next to it in the fridge. When he wants a drink (or his brother does), he serves it "all by himself." Occasionally he does spill it a little when he gets eager to pull the cup out from under the spout, but I just put a paper towel on the bottom of the fridge and change it out ever so often. A slightly sticky fridge is worth it so see how happy he is to be a big boy and get his own drink when he is thirsty. The side issues this also helps with is a) drinking out of a big boy cup instead of a sippy cup, b) keeping drinks in the kitchen only (which in turn helps me not to have to clean up disgusting forgotten sippy cups from all around the house).
4. Both the boys undress themselves for bath, and while I am dressing Sam after removing him from the tub, Jackson gets his own towel, dries off and gets himself redressed in bedtime attire I set out while runing the bath. This has dropped 5 minutes off our bedtime routine. Love it! (I don't know why I didn't do this one sooner, but I guess I just got into the habit of dressing them both myself.)
5. Both boys brush their own teeth. I put the toothpaste on (non-flouride still) and turn on the toothbrushes, then I take a short "turn" after they are done.
6. Jackson gets his own clothes out of the drawer and clothes for Sam in the morning. He dresses himself and sets Sam's clothes out for me. We are working on teaching Sam to dress himself too, but this is where we are at right now. To make it easier for Jackson to do this, I have showed him which drawer his summer clothes are in, and when I put them in the drawer, I put them together in outfits that match so he doesn't end up dressed crazy. Eventually, I will teach him how to find clothes in his drawer that match, but he's only almost 4 right now, so that lesson will have to wait until he is older.
7. Of course, both of the boys are in charge of keeping their own rooms and the playroom clean. They have to put their toys away at the end of the day, but we have been cleaning up our own messes as part of our preschool day for so long, that they really don't question it. In fact, Jackson was up later than usual last night, and I was rushing through the bedtime routine and he noticed that he had left a bucket of Tinkertoys out on the floor of the playroom, and before I could read him his bedtime story, he insisted that he needed to clean up his mess. Jackson also hates when there are toys on the floor of his room at bedtime. I think they leave scary shadows that he is not used to, so before he will go to bed, he will pick them up himself and put them where they go so that everything casts normal shadows while he is trying to sleep. :)
8. Do you have two story house? Do you find that you are constantly picking things up that need to go upstairs and storing them on the stairs for members of your family to put away? And how often does that happen? ;) In my house, our stairs were always a mess, and I was the only one who would take things up and put them away. So I instituted a basket system. There is a basket for me, Ben, and the boys, and every night when we go up for the night, we have to take our own basket up and put the items where they go. Right now we are doing some home improvements to our living room and dining room area. Ben is going to replace our carpet with stained concrete floors and put in a mudroom area by our front door. Our stairs are directly in front of the front door, so when the mudroom is complete, the baskets will be stored on a shelf instead of on the stairs.
Well, that is all I've got so far. If you have any ideas, I welcome them. I think one of my newest projects will include an incentive chart for good behavior and chores, but I am still figuring out how I want to do that.