I’m Using This Phrase to Teach My Kids to Be More Thoughtful and Considerate

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As mums, it’s often been our societal job to be martyrs. We do all of the things for all of the people and don’t care if all of this mental load takes us down. Only now, we’re finally fed up. Mums are over all of it and willing to accept help. Hell, I’m even training my kids to help me because I don’t want that vicious cycle to continue if they choose to have kids. So, the one phrase I’m trying to instill in my kids is, “How can I help you?”

Just the day other, I was feeling stressed out. So, of course, I started mopping the floors (because THAT makes sense). As I mopped, I started grunting and making many unpleasant noises. My son sat at the kitchen table eating his cereal, stopped to look up, and asked, “Mum, are you okay? Can I help?”

I paused. I wanted to say, “No! I’m not okay. This house is a mess!” But instead, I took a deep breath and said, “No. I guess this messy house is stressing me out.” My son plopped his spoon into his cereal bowl and stood up. “What can I do?” he asked. So, I told him, “You can start by wiping off the kitchen counters.” He got out a rag and did just that. His let his cereal get soggy to help out his imperfect mum.

“How can I help you?” These are the simple words that I’ve tried to train my kids to use. Because as mums, our society has always taught us that we must do everything and we must do them well. Well, I’m not passing that baton to my kids. No way. I struggle – daily. I swear, I forget appointments, I yell, I need space (so much space, please), I get McDonald’s for dinner, and more. My kids know their mother as flawed.

And I think it’s great.

When I start to huff and puff, my kids have learned that they can help by simply asking, “How can I help?” This way, my huffing and puffing never blows the house completely down. I want my kids to have realistic expectations of adulthood. It’s not always easy to, well, adult. I also want them to understand that it’s okay to both ask for help and receive it.

Sure, my kids are just kids. They don’t always ask if I need help. Sometimes they forget . . . because they haven’t quite learned how to think outside of themselves on command yet. But just like me, they’re working on it. And I’m working on it. There are times I just throw a toddler-like temper tantrum because I forget to ask for help. After all, society has trained me over the years that I should be able to do everything on my own.

But now I know better. I know it’s better to raise my kids in a home where we all learn to be a little softer. To know that it’s okay to crumble, or yell, or just be this giant mess of an imperfect human – because that’s what we all are anyway. Sometimes we have to sacrifice a little in families. Sometimes, we have to let our cereal get soggy. Because mums can’t do everything themselves.

Not anymore.

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