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Tales from Life Skills Summer Kids Bootcamp: Day One

It’s Day Two of our Life Skills bootcamp, and I’m happy to report that everyone’s room passed inspection yesterday. Today, we’re having an all-day It’s-Summer-Vacation movie fest, and I suspected that I was the only one who remembered to make my bed. I decided to remind them that I’ll be doing a room inspection around 9am, since it’s just the first week. To my surprise, they were completely ready. In fact, they pointed out a few things that I had left out in my room. Caught.

Building LIfe Skills Bootcamp for Kids

My oldest found my bootcamp plan posted on the refrigerator yesterday. He expressed his displeasure at “All This Work” and even more dismay when I told him I’d posted the plan on the internet and other people were doing it too. I can’t blame him though – I’m not exactly excited about All This Work either. I woke up exhausted this morning after spending all day in the garden yesterday, and the last thing I wanted to do was make my bed. Sometimes I think that leaving my bed unmade leaves the option open for me to slip back into it for a little nap later. Making the bed makes me a little sad because it discourages napping (even though I only ever nap on Sunday afternoons!). And hey, writing this out and seeing it in print sounds really pitiful. Forget I said anything.

I’m guessing that you’re like me and you want the real story. Here’s how the first day went.

I spent much of the day yesterday reminding people to put things away that they got out: milk, orange juice, bread, cereal, bottles of bubbles, lemons. But they argued about it with me less. And when the youngest expressed his complaints in dramatic sighs when I told him to put his toys in the basement, I told him that if he did that again, I’d send him outside to fill a grocery bag with the spikey balls that fall from one of our trees. (Whew, that was a long sentence!) He quit sighing immediately (though I suspect he’ll be out there collecting yet this week).

In the positive column, my daughter followed me downstairs, helped me sort laundry, and began learning how to run the washer and dryer. She sliced lemons and made from-scratch real lemonade on her own. My oldest son started ripping down the shredded cover of our outdoor playset on his own initiative. I handed him a screwdriver and asked him to give that a try. The cover was held down by screws and washers, which had been tightened by Scott, so I told my son to let me know if the screws were too tight. He never once said, “I can’t do that.” Less than 2o minutes later, he had removed all the screws, taken down the cover, and thrown it in the trash, all by himself. I wasn’t even outside coaching him! He even knew to keep  the hardware together and bring it in to save in case we buy a new cover. And I dropped the kids off at a local amusement park with two high school girls I’ve hired to watch them for me this summer. I’ve never let them go without a parent accompanying, so this was a huge step of my own towards encouraging their independence.

Which leads me to a major revelation: this project is as much about me stepped back, letting go, and giving them the opportunity to try and fail and try again as it is about teaching them life skills. My prediction is that our biggest challenges will be twofold: all of us dealing with bad attitudes and laziness, and me getting over my desire to get everything done the most efficient way possible so that they can have the time to learn.

Are you attempting the Life Skills Bootcamp in any way, shape, or form? How is it going? 

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