Bob was grieving his mother intensely because she was the one real person in his life (other than seeing his relatives once a year). He also had been left completely stranded - his mother had done everything for him. She had grocery shopped, cooked, cleaned, paid bills, done the laundry, done the banking, etc.
I was called in to help him learn to do all these activities of daily living. Bob learned well, and was able to keep living independently. It just seems to me that he went through a lot of unnecessary hardship at a time that was a very difficult time for him.
Bob is not alone. I have had so many clients where they never learned skills such as cooking and budgeting in the home. It is much harder to learn these skills as an adult in a psychiatric facility.
I guess what I am trying to say is, start teaching daily living skills as soon as you can.
I'm a mom - I get it. It takes a lot longer to teach your child to do an activity than it does to just do it for him or her. It also will likely continue to take longer for a long time before the skill is mastered enough that it actually saves you time. This length of time is even longer if your child has special needs.
However, it's worth it. Consider it time spent on therapy, because it is. Take the child's abilities and needs into consideration, but here are some ideas for places to start:
- Dressing and undressing independently. If you would like ideas, check out my post on Hygiene and Grooming Interventions. It is also important to learn to put their own clothes away.
- Basic laundry is one of the tasks that most people seem to be able to learn to do. Not the kind of laundry where you have to check all the tags etc., so first remove any clothes that require special care. Using a stepstool can help even a small child do laundry.
- Using the microwave. At least with the microwave there is a very low risk of fire. Ensure proper use of oven mitts to handle hot items. With practice, it can be quite helpful to assign your child the task of microwaving an item such as vegetables while you are cooking supper.
- When it comes to money management, ensure you talk through your reasoning for your financial decisions, to model good budgeting. For example, if you are choosing to not buy an item, use it as a chance to explain that you are not buying it because you cannot afford it, or because you are saving up to buy something else.
- An allowance can be a great learning tool. We help our kids split their allowance into saving, spending, and give-away.
- Cleaning a bathroom sink and mirror can be a fun activity if your child likes bubbles and spraying things. With my kids, I use a vinegar and water spray bottle for most of my cleaning so that I do not have to worry about them contacting chemicals.
- Bring your kids with you grocery shopping, and talk about which products you are purchasing and why. I know it is hard, but how else are they going to learn? You can start by bringing them just when you are going for a small trip.
- Using a calendar. As soon as the child is able to write, he or she can write activities on the family calendar.
It does not have to all happen right away. However, slowly working on these things will help raise kids who are prepared for the world, and who are better prepared to handle negative life experiences such as mental illness, or the death of a parent.