a mother contemplates what will go on her i don't list
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I Think Parents Would Benefit From Their Own ‘I Don’t List’

May 14, 2020

A while back I read a Facebook list showcasing one mom’s “I Don’t List.”

Included were things she just refused to take on in the parenting arena.

I loved it so much that I’ve captured my own. It doesn’t necessarily paint me in a perfectionist light, but that’s the point — and I’m fine with it.

Here’s what I don’t do:

Make Snacks or Lunches

By the time my kids were seven, they were charged with making their own snacks and lunches, following nutritional and safety guidelines. Lunches needed to have carbs, protein, two fruits/veggies and a small treat was allowed. Sure, I helped with the sharp knife for cutting cucumbers at the beginning, but they quickly learned safe knife skills.

They also learned to be appreciative of leftovers. For at-home lunches, I help with the stove and draining pasta, but the kids have quickly learned how to do that safely as well. I am now — blissfully — not pestered with requests for snacks every hour on the hour. My kids have learned to create balanced meals, and also to appreciate how much effort goes into planning and prepping them.

They’ve had a taste of independence, and they’re learning life skills.

Fold Kids Laundry

We started the kids on folding their own laundry quite early. At first, they were charged with matching up all the sock pairs, like a real-life version of Memory.

They soon learned how to fold and put away their own clothes.

I don’t think there’s anything dangerous about folding laundry.


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Would their stacks meet the exacting standards of exacting retail clothes display? Nope. But I’ve learned that if they fold it and put it away, I don’t see the minor imperfections and freak out.

The added bonus is that we can get through laundry day in one actual day, rather than tripping over baskets of clean yet not folded or put away clothes all week long. We tend to have a folding party on the master bed, playing music and chatting as we sort, fold, stack and then put away — and it’s not the worst chore! Lately the kids have been putting their own loads of laundry through the washer and dryer and I applaud this extra step toward self-sufficiency.

Clean Up Baking Dishes

I think it’s great when my kids want to bake. I know this is happening in a lot of households right now.

When it comes to baking, I will support my kids and keep them safe. I won’t, however, clean up all their dishes after a particularly vigorous round of making cake pops.

"If you want to bake, you need to make sure that you’re also prepared to clean up."

This was a lesson instilled in me by my mother, and she was on to something.

If you want to bake, you need to make sure that you’re also prepared to clean up. Certainly I will help, and encourage everyone who enjoys the treats to help a bit as well.

But there is no leaving the kitchen a disaster while scarfing down brownies in this house.

Go Overboard with Homeschooling

This is a recent addition to my “I Don’t List” given the pandemic.

I’m fine with the introduction of online schooling. I’m not fine with six hours of work assigned every day. These are unusual times. This is not regular school. I support my kids working through a few key assignments, but there is little point in them getting stressed out about one more thing.

Rather like the “unschooling” field of thought, I’m letting my kids set the pace of their learning. I’m fine with deviations into topics and ideas that interest them, even if they weren’t posted on Google Classroom. I think it’s great to work on their own short stories instead of provided language assignments.

"Call it self-directed learning, or unschooling, or whatever."

I’m happy for them to create their own scavenger hunt in lieu of geography homework.

I love when we review fractions by doubling a baking recipe rather than attempting to tutor the “new math” approach. Call it self-directed learning, or unschooling, or whatever. It’s not playing truant, it’s letting kids feel safe, supported and engaged.

So, that’s my list. It was somewhat liberating to write it all down, exploring all the reasons I do and definitely don’t do certain things.

Now I want to know what yours are!

Article Author Janice Quirt
Janice Quirt

Read more from Janice here.

Janice Quirt is a yoga teacher and freelance writer who lives in the beautiful hills of the Headwaters in Orangeville, Ontario, with her blended family of seven. With kids spanning a decade in age, there are always some shenanigans on the go, and she loves being in the middle of it all. Janice loves sharing nature, eco-living and new experiences with her family and friends, as well as a fine cup of coffee and a good book.

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