When my kids were babies, there were times that I really wished they were able to do things on their own and not need me so much. It was both exhilarating and terrifying to realize how much a newborn depends on you, especially when you’re sleep-deprived and learning the ropes as a new mom. Then, as toddlers, it got a little easier, but it was still a challenge to balance their need for bigger independence while ensuring their safety. From brushing their teeth to riding a bike, they insisted on doing things by themselves, and at times I couldn’t wait for that day to come.
Fast forward 11 years and then you start wishing you could stop time because you feel your children are growing up too fast. I’m still adjusting to the idea that my son is a middle-schooler and that my 8-year-old daughter keeps trying to prove to me that she’s a big girl now. Since every child is different, every single day you end up learning how challenging it can be to allow your kids to feel empowered while setting limits. On the flip side, it still blows my mind away to see what my children love doing on their own… even if it scares me.
Here are 5 things my kids love doing without mommy’s help:
1. Riding their bicycles
It might have been hard for them to master riding a bike without the training wheels, but once they did, both my kids basked in their independence. My 11 year-old-son often likes to meet his friends and takes off on his bike, but it’s still hard for me to say yes every time he asks.
2. Going to public restrooms
My son is at the point that he feels uncomfortable going with me to the ladies’ room, so I will stand outside the men’s room door while waiting for him to do his business. Every second seems like a minute until he comes out, to be honest with you.
3. Proving how athletic they are
My daughter is an accomplished gymnast and loves to show off how flexible she is, but as a mom, I cannot help but worry about her back, pulled muscles and broken bones. My son loves basketball and also jumps, runs and dunks as if it was the easiest thing in the world.
4. Surfing the Internet
Technology is tricky, because it is an extremely useful tool, but I am also too aware of the dangers lurking around cyberspace. We’ve had many conversations and tutorials at home so they know what to share, what to look for and what’s appropriate. You can’t really fight it. I have learned that all I can do is teach my kids how to use technology and the Internet, and trust they will follow my advice and their own instincts.
5. Trying new things
Since my kids are tweens, stuck between being a child and a teenager, they are constantly trying to prove that they are big enough to do “cool” things. This means they want to try out new things, but without my interference. Of course I still supervise them and am standing by really close in case they need me. In the past few months this meant watching them fly, swim on boogie boards propelled by dolphins, allowing my daughter to jump with bungee cords, and even allowing my son to meet his friends after school for frozen yogurt (while I stayed in my car).
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