I firmly believe in giving my kids all different kinds of life experiences. Both my children should be able to cook, clean, use a drill, screwdriver and hammer, bathe themselves (though shampoo for Sunshine is still very difficult to rinse out), etc. Yes, even at age 4. I can't remember back to when Monster was 4 very well, but I do have pictures of him helping out with so many things. I think Sunshine was easier because there is no way she is going to let her brother out do her. Apparently, my kids can rock climb. Not great and not completely on their own, but pretty darn good. Yesterday, we went to a local park where there are rock faces that people climb and rappel from. My kids scaled sides of rocks. (Disclaimer: we were right there, with our hands on their backs and would not let them climb higher than we could stretch to reach them...we're not irresponsible...) Where did they learn that? Oh, that's right, from us giving them opportunities and experiences. I am terrified of heights, so yesterday, I was a wreck because I couldn't get within 10 feet of the edge of a cliff, but my kids bounded right along with Husband and sat on the edge. Every time they got within 2 feet of the edge I yelled to be careful and they all gave me those looks. You know those looks....the "Really? I know what I'm doing" looks. On our way back down to solid ground, I had a talk with Monster about how I didn't want my fears to get in the way of his experiences and that's why I go out and do things like that with them, no matter how terrified I am.
Life experiences teach life skills, even if they don't seem related to anything. Sunshine has gotten thrown into way more life experiences at a younger age than Monster. It's because she's the second and she has had no choice but to tag along with us while we do activities geared more towards her brother's age, and that's why she can do almost everything her brother can do. We push our kids a little out of their comfort zones so that they learn how to do more for themselves. So when I come across things that say by the time kids are 4 they should be able to put on jackets and mittens, clean up their spot at the table, put away toys, etc, I worry about kids who don't do this by that age. I get the time thing. I will still sometimes put Sunshine's shoes on her because I'm running late, but that's because of me, not because she can't do it (and believe me, she fights me because she knows she CAN do it). If the kids have something super messy at dinner, sometimes I would rather just deal with it than have them clean up. The difference is, I know my kids can do the stuff themselves. It's when you don't give you kids opportunities to fail, to mess up, to learn, that they can't do these, what I view as "simple" tasks. That all being said, today, I promise to give my children the opportunity to fail, to be messy and to learn. Not yet sure what that's going to be, but something always does come up.