Raising an Independent Boy

Raising an Independent Boy


I live with two of them.  A big one and a big one in training.

I will leave you to decide who is who.

They exhaust, amaze and consume my heart, often all at the same time.  I spend my days tidying toys, books and magazines away.  I return socks and underpants to the laundry basket they were intended to reach.  I wipe surfaces clean. I help them both fasten tricky buttons and straighten shirts. I prepare home-cooked meals. I clear empty plates away. I unload and reload the dishwasher.  I put the toilet seat back down. I listen to fart jokes and pretend to find them funny.  I am third in line for the remote control, the shower and the sofa.  ALWAYS.

When I went to NYC, I admit I was worried how they would cope without me.  Obviously, the Greek God(zilla) is perfectly capable; however he does not know the day-to-day routine as well as I do, whereas our son knows it a little too well!

I need not have worried. Everything ran smoothly and they both had a wonderful time hanging out together under ‘Daddy House Rules’.  I think my being away also helped the Greek God(zilla) to realise just how challenging it can be to juggle being a work from home parent with meetings, school runs, after school activities, playdates, homework, school admin, shopping, cooking, laundry and housework. Sometimes the line between home and work life can become blurry.  And, finding the right balance can look easier on paper.

So, since I have been back, I have decided it’s good for them to do a bit more for themselves.

Especially my big boy in training.  That’s the 5-year old, as opposed to the 45-year old.

One day he himself will be a man and I need to know I am sending him out into the world, and into the arms of another, knowing how to look after himself.

For 5-years, I’ve watched him grow and develop.  I’ve shed tears of pride over his first word, first steps and first poo in the potty.  I have taught him to feed himself, to drink from a cup and to wipe his own bum (I know his future partner will thank me for this one!).  I have hovered over kids climbing frames while he mastered his technique.

When he became fascinated with dinosaurs, we arranged day trips to the Natural History Museum and Dinosaur Wildlife Park.  When he moved on to planets and the solar system, we visited the planetarium and watched the sky at night.  He is a great companion.  He is learning to read the books he loves so much, to ride his bike in the park, and to swim in the deep end of the pool.

He loves to build things – Lego, towers, caves.  He loves to create things – paintings, cakes, mess.

He has many varied interests and we encourage him to explore them.   We are sensible with his screen time and about what he eats and drinks. We spend a lot of family time together, doing things to stimulate and capture his imagination.  I think I am being a good guardian of his social development in this respect.

But, in other ways, I still totally baby him.  I place food on the table, already cut up into manageable bite-sized pieces and when he has finished, I clear it all away. I load his toothbrush with paste and supervise cleaning.  I wash and brush his hair.  I flick TV channels on the remote for him.  I fetch toys from different rooms.  I cover him with a blanket when it’s cold. I pick out clothes for him to wear in the morning. I zip up his coat and help him into his shoes.  I even carry his book bag to school.

Yep. I’m a pushover.  Or, maybe it’s because it is easier if I do it for him.  Perhaps he has inherited lazyitis.  It’s definitely not that he will always be my baby and I want him to still need me… Nooooo, it’s not that at all (OBVS it is a bit of that).

Either way, I think it is time he started to have a little more responsibility for himself, so Project Independence has begun!

Bearing in mind he is still only 5, we have started by making just a few small changes.

Yesterday, he put his own Weetabix in a bowl and poured his own milk on top.  I resisted taking the spoon and mashing it all up together, and handed it over for him to do instead.  He then poured his own juice, buttered his own toast, spread his own jam and sliced the bread in half.  When he had finished eating his breakfast, I asked him to take his plate into the kitchen and put it on the side… and he did!

So far, so good.

Upstairs, I let him squeeze his own toothpaste on to his toothbrush and clean his own teeth unaided.  He picked his own clothes out, dressed himself and brushed his own hair in front of the mirror.  HEART. MELT.

‘What can I do next, Mummy?’ he asked excitedly.

Make your bed…? I suggested tentatively.  Then, off he went to make his bed.  He even placed Bear at the top, next to his pillow, just as I do.

He retrieved his own shoes from the rack, put them on his own feet, zipped his own coat and carried his own book bag to school.

After school, he put a discarded banana skin in the food bin rather than pass it to me, or just lay it to rest on the carpet.  Hoorah!

In the bath later, I put a blob of shampoo in his hand so he could lather his own hair.  He then wanted to rinse it off himself under the shower.

I did not know why I hadn’t thought of implementing this independence plan sooner – he was brilliant at it!

I hopped out of bed this morning and as he followed me downstairs, I started talking about even more independent things we could try.

To which he replied ‘WHAAAAAT?! It’s not Independence Day again today is it?’ before slumping on the sofa and asking me to fetch him a blanket.



  1. March 10, 2015 / 7:43 PM

    Hahahaha brilliant – the novelty had clearly worn off after 1 day!

  2. March 11, 2015 / 10:27 AM

    Ha ha love it!
    It is so scary when they want to be independent and so empowering all at the same time. My 3yo has days where she won’t let anyone do anything for her from getting dressed to putting her plate away after dinner but in the end, they always need Mums help (whether they are 5 or 45) xx

    • Grenglish
      March 13, 2015 / 7:49 AM

      Ha! So true.

  3. March 11, 2015 / 11:06 AM

    LOL, that is so sweet. The Boy is beginning to do more and more things on his own now…it kinda makes me sad.

  4. March 11, 2015 / 12:01 PM

    Oh bless him! Ozzy is turning 6 soon and he too is starting to gain independence – at times that suit him that is !

    • Grenglish
      March 13, 2015 / 7:46 AM

      It is definitely on a suits me basis in this house too!

  5. March 11, 2015 / 12:31 PM

    Haha, this has made me laugh – I think it is a ‘boy thing’, although Sophie can be a bit lazy at times and I have to remind her to pick up her banana skins!

    • Grenglish
      March 13, 2015 / 7:46 AM

      Those banana skins will be the end of me! I find them EVERYWHERE.

  6. March 11, 2015 / 12:37 PM

    Ha ha ha I did wonder if it all sounded too good to be true. I have three males in the house at the moment and we have a good balance. I do some things for them and encourage them to do things themselves, it is good to get into good habits though and as my eldest is currently in New Zealand by himself, travelling on a trip that he organised and paid for by himself, I know that the balance worked. As for my husband, there is no hope and I just do things or they won’t get done.

    • Grenglish
      March 13, 2015 / 7:45 AM

      Haha, I know that feeling! Sounds like you have a wonderful balance. Hope your eldest has the most amazing trip!

  7. March 11, 2015 / 3:53 PM

    It seems to take boys a lot longer, or that’s what my MIL in law says. Sometimes I think I am still waiting 😉

    • Grenglish
      March 13, 2015 / 7:45 AM

      My husband is still not quite there… 🙂

  8. March 11, 2015 / 10:21 PM

    I am always conscious of the mother/son thing as my Mum still thinks my brother is hopeless – him and his wife had to live with my folks for a few months when their house purchase fell through – and I caught her making him a packed lunch for work saying ‘well he won’t eat if I don’t send him with something’ He was 34. She stopped making my packed lunches before I left school! She is massively supportive of me in many ways, but treats me as an equal and my brother as a child – def want to avoid that trap with my two boys, and am sure their future partners will thank me for it!

    • Grenglish
      March 13, 2015 / 7:44 AM

      If we lived with my mother in law, she would definitely be making packed lunches!

  9. March 12, 2015 / 11:12 AM

    My daughter is always helping around the house, taking clothes upstairs etc. My son on the other hand is a little more reluctant… I need to work on this

    • Grenglish
      March 13, 2015 / 7:42 AM

      Yes! Despite a good start on ‘Independence Day’ he has been reluctant to so anything more since 🙂

  10. March 12, 2015 / 11:06 PM

    Lol independance day I love it. A bitif responsibility always helps them thrive though I think. Mich x

    • Grenglish
      March 13, 2015 / 7:40 AM

      I agree! Small acorns and all that…

  11. March 13, 2015 / 9:24 AM

    Ah yes, independence is wonderful when they want it and on their terms. For my two this is usually when either they want something or they are up to no good 😉

  12. March 13, 2015 / 9:52 PM

    Love this post so much, and can absolutely relate! We are in a very similar place with our small person, with the added bonus of his stubborn streak, which means that if we push him too hard we’ll set ourselves back months. I don’t know if your man in training is as competitive as mine, but I’ve found that turning tasks into races seems to help – who can get dressed fastest, can he set the table before I finish cooking, that kind of thing. xx

  13. April 30, 2015 / 11:38 PM

    Bahah this made me laugh. Mine try and be too independant and I’m like, ‘hello, you guys are meant to still be babies’. I’m soooo Greek x

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