Night one of TV-free week was uneventful. I didn’t get anything extra done and, surprisingly, I didn’t feel like I gained extra time. I did go to bed a little earlier, but I wasn’t any less tired this morning. It’s only day one, though. There’s still hope for increased productivity.

On another note, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the concept of capability, and I’ve come to the conclusion that children are far more capable than we give them credit for – or allow them to be. 

Several weeks ago, Dave and I gave Katherine the weekly chore of waking up early on Sunday mornings to make pancake batter while Dave and I sleep in. We weren’t sure she’d be able to do it; it seemed like a lot to ask of a seven-year-old, but we figured we’d give it a try.

Well, she can do it, and it is by far her favorite chore, probably because we let her put chocolate chips in the batter, but also because it requires the most from her. Sweeping the kitchen floor is plain old work, but making pancakes for the whole family is a challenge and a big responsibility. She loves it. It is also an indication to us as parents that she is quite capable.

If she can make pancakes, then surely she can fill her own water bottle when she gets thirsty outside, and pour her own cereal and milk for breakfast, and put her clean clothes away, and the dozens of other things I tend to do for her without thinking about it because it is simply my habit to do so.

So now I’m starting to think twice when she (or Clara or Alexandra for that matter) makes a request or asks for my help. Is this really something she needs me to do for her? Surprisingly (or perhaps unsurprisingly), the answer is usually no. Slowly, we are shifting the habit of her asking and me doing to one of her taking the initiative to do it herself.

The shift has been slight so far, but I think we're both feeling a greater sense of freedom from it. It is also trickling down to the little sisters. Just the other day, Clara refilled her own and Alexandra’s glass of milk at breakfast without any prompting. A huge improvement over the typical “Mom! More milk please!

I wonder what else they are capable of…