I Can Do It Myself

I Can Do It Myself

Guest Blog by Bruce Devereaux

Even though it can be frustrating waiting for a little miss or sir to work out which of the holes to stick their head into, or which shoe goes on which which foot, you’ve got to keep the big picture in mind – if you want them to stand a chance of meeting that special someone and moving out of the house before you die you’ve got to teach them little things like how to dress themselves and cook two minute noodles so they can survive in the real world.

No one is going to date someone whose mum helps them put their undies on before they go out.

I myself lived in one of these magical homes, where meals appeared on tables when I was hungry and rooms left in disarray in the morning were transformed by bedtime into 5-star havens of clean comfort with hospital crisp folds in the fresh linen. It made it very difficult when I first moved out and nothing seemed to work – not the vacuum, not the washing machine, not the sink. In the end I’d have to get up off the lounge and do it myself – there’s only so many wears you can get out of a pair of pants before they seriously need a wash (these days I’d say it was one, but back then it was substantially higher).

And for the record, as much as you love the little cherub now, you WILL want them to move out at some point, if only so you can play some decent music. When Master20 left home for uni when he was 18 we were able to rid the house of annoying shouting matches which were coming out of his stereo masquerading as music.

Miss17’s music is more to my taste, with Adele and Savage Garden, but yesterday she brought home a Reece Mastin cd. She’ll have to go.

As parents, one of the things we try to teach our kids is how to do things for themselves, whether it be making their own beds or dressing themselves properly.

I have a work colleague who is far better at this than I am. Her daughter has been making her own lunches since prep. My kids don’t seem to know where we keep the lunchboxes – for a while there I’m pretty sure they thought their lunch boxes stayed in their school bags (which stayed in the car) and magically refreshed themselves with food overnight, much like a computer game.

A level of self sufficiency is even more important in a house with this many souls in it. And a house with me in it. I don’t know which dresses belong to which girls – I swear some of Miss17’s clothes look like they’re small enough to fit Miss4.

Cleaning up after themselves is another thing they have to learn, which can be hard because it’s another thing which is just easier to do yourself. This morning an ice-cream truck drove past with its Pied Piper-like Greensleeves tune so we raced out and grabbed some. Five minutes after returning home Miss4 was walking around without hers.

“Finished your ice-cream already?” I asked.

“No, I put it in the fridge,” she told me.

So she spent the next five minutes wiping out the sticky shelves with a damp cloth. Sure, I had to re-do it after she’d left the kitchen to annoy her brother, but that’s hardly the point here. She’s learning if she makes a mess she needs to clean it up herself.

And although getting them to do stuff for themselves is important it inevitably leads to some amusingly disastrous results. Like today, when Miss4 (yes, her again) was making breakfast for herself and Miss2 and she covered herself, the chair, the table and the balcony boards in milky cereal.

Frustrating? Yes.

Funny? Hell yes.

Something she’ll learn from? Well, I’d like to say yes but this isn’t the first time her breakfast has leaped out of the bowl and made a dash for freedom, which is why they were breakfasting on the balcony, so I might get back to you on that in another 14 years.

Wish me luck though, cause she likes listening to Justin Bieber.

Bruce started his blog because friends and family kept wanting to know how he managed to feed and clothe such a large family while still having fun and being able to afford holidays and beer. He had no idea, but thought if he started writing things down some sort of pattern might emerge. When not at work Bruce enjoys reading, writing, hiding from his children and not changing nappies. He’s recently taken up the cycling challenge with a view to surviving long enough to see all his kids out the door so he can finally sleep in.


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