Kid Kitchen Drawer photo

I Can Do It Myself Except I Can’t

I have a daughter who has enter the I CAN DO IT MYSELF phase, which most people come to dread, but I learned with my first kid how to turn it to my advantage. And by “advantage” I mean “more sitting around doing nothing for me.”

When my son went through this fantastic phase, I cleaned out a kitchen drawer he could reach, added all his cups and plates and responded to every request for milk with: Go get your cup.

Kid Kitchen Drawer photo

Next I created a shelf in the pantry for his snacks. Hungry? Get it yourself oh independent one.

Voilà! Mama on the couch. I-can-do-it-myself kids doing it themselves.

Except, well… I’ve run into a snafu with my youngest. An unexpected snag in my quest to do less during this fantastic phase.

My daughter thinks that she can buckle herself into her car seat.



However, she is toddler-stubborn and watches her brother buckle himself in. So everyday she decides TODAY IS THE DAY I AM STRONG AND COORDINATED ENOUGH to clip my car seat straps.

Plus, for almost all her other independent strivings, I’ve created ways that she can do it herself. My genius is my undoing.

I get a lot of time to think about my mistake of encouraging independence because we spend so much time outside of our home, in the parking lot of school, around the car while she yells: I CAN DO IT MYSELF.

And I respond: No you can’t.

Because she can’t.

N: Yes, I can.

Me: Nope.

N: Yes.

Me: Fine.


{cue hysterical tears} {usually hers}


Me: Let me help.

N: No.

Me: Yes.

N: No.

Me: Yes.

I feel guilty constantly pointing out her shortcomings so my new solution? Pretend I can’t buckle myself in just so she feels a little less inadequate.

Or we’ll stay home. Forever.

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

17 thoughts to “I Can Do It Myself Except I Can’t”

  1. My I CAN DO IT girl went through a buckle herself phase. Thank goodness it passed. She can do the middle clip herself, though lining it up would be a problem. And then with the bottom buckle, I would say, yes, you do it, but I’ll hold the bottom part (and provide the force to get it buckled, including occasional subtle finger moves to the top of the buckle). Now, she demands I do it. No. Daddy isn’t good enough. MOMMY DO IT!

    Good luck. I bet you’re sneaky enough to subtly help…I mean let her do it.

  2. This is my exact life. Well, except my older child is a girl. I too love this stage but have been cursed by the car seat! Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. Sometimes it’s okay if her older sister does it. But only sometimes. And by sometimes I mean on a full moon when she is wearing purple and her sister’s hair is in a ponytail and we are not in a hurry.

  3. The Roo never had a real independent phase. Now when he says, “I can do it,” he can since he’s older…or because someone else taught him. Whoops! Lulu is my Miss Independent (move over Kelly Clarkson) so I am taking notes from this blog post. LOVE the drawer and pantry idea! Now…if only my 18 month old will stop acting like an 18 YEAR old.

  4. We are only allowed to “help” her buckle the car seat in our family. Also, at least your child doesn’t still wear diapers AND have a melt down because the trash truck is taking the poopy ones away. Seriously, you are WINNING! 😉

  5. We went thru this phase. And then littlest COULD buckle. And now he pretends he can’t. So I still spend a lot if time with my iPhone in parking lots and our driveway. Waiting, waiting, always waiting for the kids. Because now that I know he CAN I’m stubborn enough myself NOT to help him anymore. Oh the battles. They’re just exhausting.

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