21 April 2015, by Mandy Loh

Independent Boy = Happy Mom

Recently, it struck me that Cristan has become extremely independent in his daily self-care routines. His preschool teacher even mentioned this in his end-of-term report. I think this is probably quite common in families with more than one child (and no helper/ other caregivers), where the older child is expected to be more independent because mommy has to attend to the younger one.

While Cristan is now able to do many tasks on his own, it certainly doesn’t mean he would do them willingly, and most definitely not immediately when asked. There is still a fair bit of nagging, cajoling and even threats of Mr Cane involved to get him moving along. But I must say, for a boy who hasn’t even turned four years old, he’s doing pretty well! Here are some of the things he can do by himself:

1) Brush his teeth

This includes squeezing the toothpaste onto the toothbrush, rinsing his mouth after brushing, and washing his face/ mouth so that there is no toothpaste residue. Although he usually insists on doing it himself, I would still try to brush for him whenever I can, just so I’m assured that his teeth get a proper cleaning once in a while.

2) Pee in the toilet

Many times, he will just go without even telling us anymore. He can lift up the toilet seat, aim, shoot, and very occasionally, wipe with a tissue afterwards. Unfortunately, our toilet is rather old and the flush is quite tricky to operate, so he cannot flush on his own, but he would if he could.

3) Rinse off after a shower

I would do the soaping and shampooing for him, because I’m a bit OCD about cleanliness. I sometimes let him help by putting some shower gel on his hands and he would lather up his belly and legs. Thereafter, he will wash himself off, even his hair, by tilting his head backwards into a stream of water.

I would still guide him to "tilt left and right" and do a final rinse afterwards, but he usually does a pretty good job of rinsing.

I would verbally guide him to “tilt left and right” and then I’ll do a final rinse afterwards, but he usually does a pretty good job of rinsing.

4) Wear his own clothes

Cristan likes to pick out his own outfit from the chest of drawers, and put everything on by himself. He’s got a cute way of doing it – by laying the clothes on the floor so that he can get it on the right way. I’m not too sure where he learnt this from, and I had assumed it was from school, until his teacher told me that she didn’t actually teach him either!

Methodically wearing his clothes, and posing for the camera when he's all done!

Methodically wearing his clothes, and posing for the camera when he’s all done!

5) Self-feed

Well, we’ve been encouraging this since his baby-led weaning days, but recently, he’s been pretty good at mealtimes – creating less mess and finishing up a lot faster. On days that he dallies, we will load his spoon and keep prompting him to put the spoonfuls of food into his mouth. We also threaten to take away his TV privileges if he does not eat properly at dinnertime.

Of course, when it is his favourite food like mac & cheese, there's no need to prompt him. He will wolf it down quite happily!

Unless, of course, it is his favourite food like mac & cheese, then there’s no need to prompt him. He will wolf it down by himself quite happily!

6) Get into the car and buckle up

Cristan is now strong enough to open the car door, climb in, close the door behind him, and put on his car seat safety belt, all by himself! I just have to turn back to check that everything is done, before we drive off.

Buckling up

Buckling up carefully so that he doesn’t pinch his fingers with the buckle.

There are plenty of other little things that Cristan has figured out how to do independently, such as switching on the lights by himself. (He will pull a toy box towards the wall and stand on it to reach the light switch.) All these little things, while not extremely extraordinary per se, do add up and help make life just a bit easier and more sane for this often frazzled and tired-out SAHM. 🙂

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