Because the Lessons Are More Important Than the Results

posted by Andrea | 05/29/2015

lessons

Growing up, my sisters and I helped out a lot around the house. We were all fairly close in age, so by the time we were all in school, my mom had us “trained” to dust, vacuum, sweep the floors, empty the dishwasher, clean the bathroom, wipe down mirrors, shake out rugs, make the beds, fold laundry, etc.

We certainly didn’t do all those chores all the time, we definitely didn’t always do them willingly, and I KNOW we didn’t always do as good of a job as my mom would have done, but she didn’t care. She always told us how good we were at dusting and vacuuming and other various chores.

In fact, I can remember when I was finally old enough to realize that she was probably just complimenting us so that SHE didn’t have to do the chores — but at the same time, I also didn’t care because I was happy to be doing something well (at least in her eyes) and be helping out around the house. What can I say, I guess I’ve always enjoyed cleaning 🙂

bush gardens

(this picture is simply to show you how super cool my sisters and I were back in the day — I’m on the far right!)

In general, I’d say my mom was pretty laid back about housework — as long as it was DONE, she didn’t really care how we did it. However, I can remember her telling us stories of when she was little and my Grandma (basically Martha Stewart on steroids) would re-do everything after they did it because it wasn’t good enough for her standards.

Please know that my grandma is basically a saint and probably one of the most helpful, giving people I know. But the woman is a perfectionist and a clean freak… to the point that I look like a slob compared to her.

When my mom would tell us those stories, I remember thinking that I never wanted to be “that mom” who always picked up and re-did chores after her kids because it wasn’t good enough for my own standards.

Many times already, I’ve reminded myself of this “promise” I made to myself, but I honestly never expected that I would be putting my promise into practice already!

Lately, little miss Nora has been very interested in “helping” me out around the house — and more than just picking up her toys or books. Everything I do, she wants to do it too. And if she can’t do it, she wants me to teach her how to do it.

Although this obviously makes everything take SO much longer for me, I’ve really enjoyed the process of teaching her something that I love and watching her get so excited when she feels like she is mastering her new skill.

Some of her favorite things to help me with are:

  • watering the plants — or anything with gardening in general
  • baking or cooking anything
  • feeding Simon
  • making the bed
  • scrubbing or dusting anything (table, counter, floors, window sills, etc)
  • emptying the dishwasher
  • folding laundry
  • washing dishes (she just stands on a stool and watches while making endless commentary)
  • sweeping — especially outside
  • clearing the table (this can get ugly, especially when syrup is involved!)

I promise you, I am NOT a perfectionist, but it honestly took every ounce of self control I could muster up to not go back into my bedroom and remake the bed — or at least fix the pillows 🙂

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Nora has also been insisting that she dress herself every morning. Sometimes she’ll let me pick out her outfit (with her approval, of course) but then SHE has to be the one to put it on.

Everything is usually backwards (sometimes even her underwear) and at least one item is usually inside-out — but she is proud as a peacock that she did it “all by herself.”

Oh, and don’t even get me started on the fact that she now wants to do her own hair (notice the inside-out, backwards shirt!)

I think if Nora hadn’t been so extremely stubborn from the moment she was born, I would probably be more frustrated by her independent nature; however, after living with her for 3.5 years, I know that it is so much better for both of us if I just let her do her thing.

Unless she is physically harming someone or something, acting totally disrespectful, or breaking a law, it is so much easier in the long run if I simply let her try and fail and try again. If she gets frustrated enough, she’ll ask for help. If she gets cold in her shorts when it’s only 55*, she’ll ask for pants. If she gets dirty enough, she’ll eventually asked to be wiped up. However, if I offer my help without her wanting it, the temper tantrums ensue!

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Due to my ultra-productive nature, it’s often hard for me to sit back and watch her SLOWLY learn to do something I could do in 10 seconds… especially since I can obviously do it so much better as well.

But at the same time, it’s also extremely rewarding for me to see her so interested and excited about learning new skills — even something as simple as FINALLY being able to blow her own bubbles!

She is always SO proud of herself whenever she figures it out (whatever “it” is), and eagerly waits to tell Dave (or whoever crosses her path next) about how helpful she was, and how big she’s getting, and how she’s learning so many new things.

Even before we had kids, I always guessed that 3-5 would be my most favorite age… and boy is that proving true so far.

Life with Nora is most definitely NOT all butterflies and roses — she is a difficult personality to be around ALL day long and she pushes me to my limit almost daily. But she also makes me smile and laugh and beam with motherly pride!

(This picture was exactly one year ago today… I can’t believe how big she has gotten!)

In some ways, I actually feel proud of myself for giving in and letting my VERY stubborn, strong-willed, independent little girl learn the way she learns best (trial and error). Believe me, it’s not always easy — after all, she had to get her stubbornness and strong will from someone, and it sure wasn’t Dave 🙂

I know that the lessons she is learning are much more important than how well she’s doing the chores. Plus, if we can keep her enthusiasm up, I might be able to pass off my housework to her in a couple more years.

Oh, and yes, she enjoys “helping” Dave as well!

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34 comments

  1. Barb T.

    06/14/2015

    One of your best and most fun blogs, Andrea! Oh, and I love the “fanny” packs.

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  2. Cara Thompson

    06/12/2015

    I love this personal post. I struggle with the desire to make everything efficient with training my kids too. My oldest is 7 and she still has to remind me to “let her do it herself” because I am in the habit of just doing it – faster.

    As with a lot of lessons in childhood, staying teachable is key. I hope to be modeling that to my kids!

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    Andrea Reply:

    I love your goal to “stay teachable” that’s great!

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  3. sukanya

    06/01/2015

    Hi Andrea,

    Thanks for the post.. I love Nora’s adorable outfits.. Especially her leggings .. Where do you get them from?

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    Andrea Reply:

    thanks 🙂 I get all her clothes from garage sales or from ThredUP 🙂

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  4. Nancy

    06/01/2015

    Glad you’re enjoying the 3 yr old stage. When my oldest was an infant, a friend told me, “Every age is the most fun.” And you know what, even now when my oldest has hit the teen years, my friend is right! There’s something new and fun (and yes, challenging) around every corner. Something to look forward to .

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Nancy! I think you’re probably right… except for the baby stage (which I still hate after 2 babies!)

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  5. Nellie

    05/31/2015

    Thank you, Andrea, this is a wonderful post!

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  6. April

    05/29/2015

    I LOVE the picture of Nora making cookies. The look of determination on her face is sooo adorable. She is a sweet little girl.

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  7. Chris K in Wisconsin

    05/29/2015

    She is really growing up! I remember your posting on FB, I think, that Nora went to pre-school for a one week trial this spring. How did it go? Wondered if that wasn’t part of the reason why she is on a learning spurt.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yup, she went to ‘school’ for 4 weeks (two 2-hour days per week). I’ll actually be talking a bit more about this next week, but overall it was a really good experience for her!

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    Chris K in Wisconsin Reply:

    I am so happy for BOTH of you!!!!

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  8. Jamie

    05/29/2015

    Yes! So painful at the time, but so helpful after they get the hang of it. I’ve been reminded of this lately as I’ve been waiting in the driveway (for what seems like hours) for my 3 year old to try to buckle HERSELF in her car seat. I usually end up having to unbuckle myself, walk around the van, open the door and reach in the backseat to help her finish after she’s gotten too frustrated. But today she did it ALL BY HERSELF. Twice! A milestone almost as exciting as when they take their first step 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha, Nora can do the top buckle of her carseat on her own, but she can’t get the bottom clip yet. Hopefully by the time the new baby comes she’ll have mastered it!

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  9. Melissa

    05/29/2015

    I am so glad I found your blog! I only wish my 20 something year old self with her first baby would have had it to read! My oldest is now almost 12…she is very independent and stubborn, which of course she gets from me, and we have battled for years! I am slowly learning to let go…but it is such a struggle and I often wonder if it will be too late by the time I figure it out! But reading this has encoraged me to try again and to keep on trying for as long as it takes! Such a good lessons for the young and …old(er)!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Melissa! And FYI, I don’t think it’s ever “too late”! You’re doing fine!

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  10. Natlynn

    05/29/2015

    I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m the clean freak, perfectionist type. Thank you for this post! I really needed to be reminded that the lessons are more important than the results.

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    Andrea Reply:

    no need to be embarrassed — I’d much rather be a “clean freak” than a total slob 🙂 But yes, sometimes when little people are involved, we just need to let a few things go!

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  11. Jamie

    05/29/2015

    Thank you for reminding me I’m not the only one struggling with this! I also have a very independent 3 yr old daughter (and 1yr old son and another son due very soon, we have so much in common ). I really enjoy your blog, about 85% of your posts I feel like I could have written myself..if I had your writing and time management skills, of course! You’re doing a great job!!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Jamie!
    And wow — our kids are all practically the same age!

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  12. dianne (baking4six)

    05/29/2015

    You’ll look back on these pictures and you will miss these days…. you’ll also be thankful too to have a “grown-up” looking house 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes… someday I’m sure I’ll enjoy a more “grown-up” house with more magazine-worthy decorations instead of toys!

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  13. Anne

    05/29/2015

    Great reminder. I have a 2.5 year old and while she isn’t as stubborn as Nora, she is not compliant at all! It turns out she is in the first percentile for receptive language so she genuinely doesn’t understand a lot of the time and she was identified with an attention delay at this young age (we have ADHD in the family so I’m not that surprised). I have to remember to follow through when I tell my daughter to do something instead of doing it myself. It also stretches me to my limits and I try to remember God gave her to my husband and me for a reason, probably to move us from our own desires (productivity, order, etc) and closer to Him through love and patience.

    I was a 2nd grade teacher before I had my daughter and you are doing Nora a favor by not jumping in and doing things the ‘right’ way for her! I know it takes more work, but it what we have to do as parents to raise adults. 🙂 Thanks for sharing some great wisdom!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Anne — glad to hear from a teacher that I’m doing something sort of right 🙂

    And yes, I think all toddlers stretch their parents to the limits — the stubborn ones are just that much more “stretching”!

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  14. Kourtney

    05/29/2015

    Very insightful. Thank you!
    I expect my kids to do their chores but after some trial and error, I had to institute the “each person is responsible for their own room, including parents”. The crazy bed making and out of order pillows caused me almost physical pain…

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    Andrea Reply:

    hahahaha!! yes, the pillow situation was somewhat “painful” for me. All day long, every time I walked into my room I desperately wanted to fix those pillows but Nora was SO excited to show Dave how she made the bed when he got home from school, so I knew I couldn’t touch them. Maybe I’ll just let her make her own bed from now on 🙂

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  15. Kristen @ Joyfully Thriving

    05/29/2015

    Good for you, Andrea! I’m a perfectionist as well and am already seeing how challenging it will be bite my tongue as Nathan (15 months already!) starts doing more and more on his own. Like you, though, I know how important it is…so I’ll be quiet on the imperfections and simply encourage him! That’s my goal, because everyone has to start somewhere. Thanks for sharing this!

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, we all need to start somewhere!

    Also, I totally would NOT have pegged you for a perfectionist!

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    Kristen @ Joyfully Thriving Reply:

    Ha. Oh, I totally am, Andrea! However, spending 10 years teaching early childhood has taught me the importance of process over product. 🙂

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  16. Jenna Bishop

    05/29/2015

    Oh my goodness, I literally said almost word for word this same thing to my sister yesterday about letting kids learn and explore new skills: “Unless she is physically harming someone or something, acting totally disrespectful, or breaking a law, it is so much easier in the long run if I simply let her try and fail and try again.” Great article! I know it’s SO hard to sit for five minutes and watch them do something you can do in seconds, but so, so important for their development! Great article, as usual 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Jenna 🙂 and yes, I can literally do things in seconds that take Nora 10-15 minutes. Painful… but worth it!

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  17. Abby

    05/29/2015

    YES!! I struggle with this daily. At times, it becomes a mantra I am repeating to myself. 😉 Oh, and I have the male version of Nora over here. 🙂

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  18. Julie G.

    05/29/2015

    OMG…fanny packs are coming back into style btw. So y’all were just ahead of the curve 😀 I understand what you mean about not going back behind to clean up. My mom was in the military and would get mad sometimes when we didn’t exactly have military corners on our bed. But that was just the way she did things and I hope to be a little different. She did everything in the house and didn’t really teach us the skills. Needless to say I am a bit of a slob and I am trying to get over this, but I don’t want my daughter to not know how to do anything.

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — I just saw something about how fanny packs are coming back. Not for me — at least hopefully not 🙂

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