My name is Kelly, and I have a strong-willed daughter. There really needs to be a support group, but as there is not, I keep playing the trial and error game with how best to raise my little sour patch kid.
Like with most everything in parenting, I have no idea if what I’m is the right thing. However recently I dished out a punishment that struck a chord with my little girl. It has definitely helped her from saying things she’ll later regret as well as teach us both a lesson.
To give you a little back story, my daughter is almost 6, and though she’s incredibly intelligent and can be the sweetest kid in the world, she also has sass for days! Hence the sour patch kid description. She has the tendency to say things out of anger like I’m “The Worst Mom In the World!”. Well, this particular day, she was mad at me (for some reason I now can’t remember), and my sweet child uttered the words “I wish I wasn’t your daughter”.
It always shocks me when she says stuff like this. And honestly, it stings to my very core.
To keep from tearing up in front of her I sent her to her room and went to my own to think about what I wanted to say. That’s when I remembered the episode of Full House where Danny and his 2 roommates taught his 3 daughters how much they did for them by letting them be the parents for a day. I decided my daughter was old enough for “a day without mom”.
After letting her cool down for a while, I went to her room and explained how much her words hurt me. I told her that my greatest joy in life was being her Mom and how sad I would be if she wasn’t my daughter. Then I explained our little experiment. She would have one full day without me doing all of the things I normally do for her as her mom.
Experiment: A Day Without Mom
Now, before I get all the negative comments, the entire day would still be supervised by me, and she was not permitted to do anything dangerous or age-inappropriate such as using sharp knives. She would however make her own meals, clean up after herself, do her own laundry, and monitor her school and extracurricular activities. (This was a few weeks into Shelter-In-Place, so both school and activities were online.)
Things started off well enough. She chose yogurt and fruit for breakfast which was easy for her. Next came school work though. I have to mention before distance learning my daughter had very little practice using technology, so navigating the tablet on her own was a pretty foreign concept to my Kindergartner. I stuck to my guns though and watched on as each assignment took her double the amount of time to complete, as usual, leaving no playtime before lunch. This realization warranted a meltdown, though no name-calling or ill wishes were made.
Before starting lunch I told her today was laundry day. She looked a bit panicked but lugged her laundry basket in from her bedroom without a complaint and started to load her clothes into the washing machine. I have to say it was a little funny watching her try to figure out where to put the detergent and peg away at the buttons trying to find the right setting. She eventually was able to read the words “Kids Wear” and got the machine started. Then she declared “I’m going to need an extra nap today!” (If only, honey! )
For lunch, she made a one of a kind recipe of peanut butter powder and applesauce. She then washed that down with another yogurt. (It took everything I had not to intervene by adding some veggies or meat to her plate. Instead, with my husband’s suggestion, I decided she had to help make dinner for the family that evening. (This ensured at least one meal with proper nutrition)
After lunch, she had to clean up her tornado of a room without any help at all. About an hour, and several tears later, she finished. She admitted she missed me being her mom and helping her with things.
When the laundry was done she lugged the basket back to her room and disappeared to fold and put her clothes away. Of course not before dramatically telling her 14-month-old sister, “I miss when I could play!”
By late afternoon, much to her dismay, she realized she didn’t know how to start her Zoom meeting for karate. She made the decision on her own to make up the class later that week. (Though straying from her normal schedule isn’t something she likes to do.)
Finally, it was dinner time. She learned how to wash produce, measure ingredients and though she accidentally broke a glass dish in the sink, it was actually enjoyable cooking together.
At dinnertime, she told her Dad about our day. How it was hard to not have my help with things she normally does. She admitted learning to do new things like laundry and navigating her own school work was tough. We both agreed that we liked it better when I was the mom and she was the kid.
We both learned a lot that day. She’s learned to appreciate all that I do for her. She realizes that we can’t take back harsh words once they are said. But together we learned that she’s capable of a lot more than we both knew. I tend to do things for her because it’s often easier and faster to do things myself. I now realize that I am not doing her any favors by doing everything myself.
She has more responsibilities now since that day. She puts away her laundry and helps with the occasional meal. I think we’re both happier for it. The circumstances that led to our “day without mom” experiment were not ideal. However, I honestly believe the outcome was better than I expected. I would highly recommend a similar experience to any mom struggling with this type of situation.