5 things moms should take off their to-do lists
Does your to-do list look like a child’s list for Santa: long and unrealistic?
If so, it’s time to start crossing things off. A recent survey of 7,000 mothers by TODAY.com found that on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being “extremely stressed,” the average stress level is about an 8. And 75% say the biggest cause of stress is the pressure they put on themselves to be Supermom.
It’s time to chill. We spoke to organizing and parenting experts to find five things every mom should stop doing. Today. Are you guilty of any of these?
1. Taking forgotten items to school. Lunches. Homework. Gym shoes. Most moms have received a call from their child at school asking if they’d drop off forgotten items. But Melissa Schmalenberger, founder of MS Simplicity Professional Organizing in Fargo, N.D., advises against playing courier.
“If we constantly rescue our children, we create kids who ask us to bring forgotten things to them for the rest of their lives,” she says. “If they learn early on when the stakes are not so high, they will develop the habit of being self-sufficient. If a child forgets snow pants and can’t go out at recess, chances are they will remember the snow pants the next time as they will remember how they missed out on the fun.”
2. Being your child’s homework cop. Instead of nagging, begging, negotiating, or pleading with your child to do his homework, Beverly Hills, Calif. psychotherapist Fran Walfish, Psy.D., says parents should butt out and let kids find the consequences at school.
“Parents have so many things they have to enforce with their kids,” she says. “If your child resists doing their homework, certainly no electronic privileges—including TV—can be enjoyed. But, other than that, leave it to the teachers to deal with.”
3. Cleaning your child’s room. From a young age, children should be responsible for taking care of their own belongings, says Allison Flinn of Reclaim Professional Organizing in Raleigh, N.C.
“Don’t put toys away for your children,” she says. Instead, let them do the work.
Flinn says you can help your child become organized by establishing areas where they can put their items, such as a hook in the mud room for their backpack and a laundry basket in their room for dirty clothes. Also, make sure there is enough room for all of their clothing to fit comfortably into dressers and closets, so they can put their clean clothing away.
4. Packing lunches for middle and high school students. By the time children reach middle school they can make their own lunches, says Eileen Roth, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based professional organizer and author of Organizing for Dummies.
“Middle school and high school students have definite opinions about what they want to eat for lunch,” she says. “If you pack their lunch, you are packing what you want them to eat—not what they want to eat. They may throw their lunch out or trade it for junk food someone else brought.”
She suggests teaching kids how to make their own lunches on the weekend. Make a list of foods they like, and shop together for the school lunch ingredients.
5. Reminding your child about upcoming events. When a parent does too much reminding, they undermine the child’s ability to plan and make choices, says clinical psychologist Julia Simens, of Incline Village, Nev.
”If you are in charge of his time table and what he needs to do, you are fostering dependency and not growth,” she says. Instead, she suggests having a general calendar for the family where all commitments are put. Then have each family member manage their own time table.
Stephanie Vozza is the author of The Five-Minute Mom’s Club: 105 Tips to Make a Mom’s Life Easier. She also writes about organization, time management and productivity for Entrepreneur.