Parents: Less is More for Kids in School

By Carissa Garabedian, Publisher of Macaroni Kid Richmond, VA August 22, 2018

Now that the kids are settled into the new school year, it may be time to evaluate and see if it is time for some changes. With each year, kids are older and more capable of taking on some additional things to be more independent and organized. 

I share this as our middle daughter starts her senior year. The time goes by quickly and soon enough, they will be off to college, a full-time job, or whatever their path may be. Truth is, we aren't doing them any favors by making it so easy that they are lost when they are on their own. 

I am not preaching, nor am I saying I have had success with all of these 100%. It is a work in progress and can always be tweaked, but your children will thank you and you will be so proud of them when they can successfully manage as individuals in the big, wide world. 

Here are ten ideas to consider for your own family. 

1. Let them wake themselves up in the morning.
Yes, the first few days, you may need to check on them, but they can have an alarm clock and create a schedule that works for them. If they oversleep and miss breakfast, they will be more inclined to do it differently the next time. 

2. Let them make and pack their own lunch.
Kids can provide a list of the items they would like to have during the week so you can shop and have it available. They can pack their lunch the night before and put it in the fridge so that it is ready in the morning. I am just as busy, so no need for me to be doing something they can do! 

3. Let them make their own breakfast.
In many homes, breakfast is on the go — a bar, a piece of fruit, or a quick bowl of cereal. Time doesn't always allow for a fancy breakfast spread. Most kids can handle getting breakfast together for themselves, and again, we are really teaching them how to become more self-reliant.

4. Don't fill out the school forms, just sign them.
For middle and high school students, most are capable of filling out all of the information on papers that require your signature. It is a good task for them to do and will save you the eye strain and wrist ache! You can look it over, sign it, and hand it back to them. Soon enough they will be applying for jobs, so let them practice now!

5. Have them be responsible for their own laundry. 
In our home, I will do all the laundry just once a week. I am happy to do the kids' clothes if they bring them down and then sort and put away when I'm done. My kids all know how to do laundry, and on weekends they all do their own. If they need something done immediately, it is not my job — they can do that. Why should their clothing emergency become mine?

6. Let them do their own homework/projects.
It is theirs to do. If they need help, certainly offer that. But completing it for them isn't helping anyone. If they are not understanding the subject matter, they can ask for help from the teacher. This teaches them how to ask for and seek help, and also lets the teacher know the need for further guidance. 

Projects need time... what our role as parents can be is to offer a timeline of how they can complete it over the days allotted so they aren't up until midnight the night before.

7. Decide what to do about a forgotten form/project/lunch.
Make a plan with your kids... will we bring them their forgotten item once, twice ... or not at all? We can't always rescue them; it is not teaching them the importance of learning to be organized.

8. Help them learn to manage finances.
Set up an allowance and/or a bank account for your child. It is a great way to save and be aware of the money they earn with allowance or a job. Our kids should know that money comes from work and if there is no money in the account, they may have to wait until there is to get the item on their want list.

You may also like: 10 Tips to Help You Raise a Money-Savvy Kid

9. Set limits on after-school activities.
Extracurricular activities and volunteering are both beneficial to the development of a child, but too many commitments can become overwhelming quickly. Kids (and adults) need enough extra time to fulfill their responsibilities at home and at school, as well as room in their weekly schedule for free play.

10. Assign chores.
Children of every age can — and should — contribute to the maintenance of the home. Whether it is setting the table, unloading the dishwasher, or walking the dog, they have an important part to play. They will thank you when they are parents and are expecting the same from their children.

Giving our children more responsibilities will prepare them for the real world. They will gain confidence and skills by achieving success on their own.

May the new school year will be as calm, organized, and stress-free as possible.