This post is part of an ongoing series to give you an inside look at what I am doing to teach my 15 year old daughter (Amy) the art of homemaking skills. I will also share stories and memories of how I taught my older daughters (currently ages 21 and 22). You can expect to see these posts every Tuesday, here at The Legacy of Home.
Category - Child Care.
How I learned:
When I was 11 years old, I was the youngest of three children. Then Mother had a baby. This was the sweetest, cutest baby with blue eyes and blond hair. We all adored her. I remember helping Mom set up a nursery area in her bedroom. I begged to have that crib moved into my room. Finally, when baby was around 10 or 11 months old, I got my wish. Little Sarah was now in my room. I was given full instructions of how to take care of her during the night. It was expected that she would wake up once in the middle of the night. I was to hand her a bottle. Then go back to bed. But I made a mistake (smiles):
1. When Sarah woke up, I was so excited that I talked to her, smiled at her, and actually woke her up with my enthusiasm. She didn't want to go back to sleep.
The next morning, I consulted my parents. I was given new instructions: "Do not change the expression on your face. Don't say a word. Just hand her the bottle and go back to bed, without looking at her."
2. That night, I followed their directions. But baby Sarah, thought we had a new system and she kept trying to talk to me. She wanted to play in the middle of the night!
Next morning, I consulted my parents again. They said to continue with what I was doing. Just ignore her. Give her the bottle and go back to bed. After a few nights, it worked! Everything was okay again and soon, baby Sarah was sleeping through the night.
This was my first lesson in child care. There were many more over the years, as I learned to take care of my sister, with the help of my parents.
At the age of 12, my mother enrolled me in a babysitter's training course through the Red Cross. I also began taking formal home economics classes in school. These classes included the study of child care and development. I spent several years babysitting for other families and also helping take care of my little sister.
Ongoing support from extended family:
At the age of 18, I became a mother. I soon had five little treasures. For many years, and even to this day, I would call my mother and ask advice about discipline, illness, sleep-issues, etc. My parents have continued to guide and help me throughout all these years.
How I taught my older girls:
I was diagnosed with cancer when pregnant with my youngest child. This was 13 years ago. When this baby was born, my oldest was nine. An older child was always put in charge of a younger child. But they were not allowed to be a "boss." Their job was to protect, keep an eye on, and to play with the younger one. I also encouraged them to tell each other stories, teach them things and to enjoy being together. It took years for each one to learn how to take care of a baby, toddler or preschooler. I shared my methods, instructions and expectations and the children learned to follow my lead. Of course, as normal children, they would tease, argue and the like. This happens in ALL HOMES. But despite the rocky moments, they learned about child care and development. They learned what to feed a toddler. They learned about moods, schedules, and why babies needed naps. They learned how to choose for a small child and not to give them choices. They learned about rules and why they are important.
I also consulted with the ones "in charge." If they noticed a character flaw, bad behavior or some other incident, they would talk to me about it. I would ask them to share with me what they thought would be a good solution. Sometimes it was simple. One would say, "I've noticed "Billy" treating "Suzie" very rudely. It looks like something he picked up from watching that PBS Show "
My favorite books about training children:
"Cheaper by the Dozen." by Frank Gilbreth and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey
"Yes, they're all ours." by Rick and Marilyn Boyer
"The Little Book of Christian Character and Manners." by William and Colleen Dedrick
These three are outstanding and are the only ones I currently recommend. The first two are full of real life stories. The last one is full of old-fashioned advice. You will not find any modern, worldly, examples in these books. Just old fashioned parenting!
My three girls have read these books as well, and learned a lot from them. I considered it to be part of their training in child care.
How I am currently teaching Amy:
When Amy was 10 years old, I opened a day care in my home. John (my youngest) was 8 at the time. We missed having babies around and I needed some way of teaching Amy how to take care of children. She and I operated the daycare together for 4 and 1/2 years. We stopped just before Amy turned 15, in December of last year. In our daycare, we had anywhere from 5 children to only 1 child, to babysit. There was a point when we had two infants - I believe they were 4 months and 8 months at the time. They were from different families. Amy and I had them on a schedule. We would take turns giving them a bottle, then trade off to burp them. We loved those babies! She would rock one to sleep, then give him to me to lay down. Then I would hand her the other baby to rock, while I did some dishes. We had a great routine. Amy also learned about keeping rules, protecting and watching the children, and keeping things orderly. She also learned how to teach pre-school lessons and to entertain the little ones in a productive way.
She was with me, taking care of sick children, tending to babies with fevers, colds and colic. She developed compassion and patience. She also developed endurance and learned how easily we can become exhausted from taking care of children.
She and I consulted with each other when we had a child with a discipline problem. We had to constantly come up with new ideas and plans to help keep everyone happy, safe and secure.
When Amy was 12 years old, I enrolled her in a babysitter's training course through the Red Cross. She learned CPR, first aid and child care.
After working with Amy for the past 4 years, taking care of children, I have complete confidence in her ability as a caregiver, and some day as a Mother.
**Please realize, that my own Mother has been living with us for the past six years. She has been an enormous help to both Amy and myself in doing daycare as well. I love the multi-generational support and wisdom which comes from living with an extended family.**
We all have different circumstances. All we can do is work within our own abilities and with our own situations. I would love to hear what you are doing, or plan to do, in order to teach your daughters about child care.
How did you learn?
How did your children learn?
Do you have support and encouragement from extended family?
Any other ideas you would like to share?
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