Do you curse, dutifully go home, retrieve the forgotten hat and return it to forgetful child? Do you do this because in that second of angst over a forgotten hat you see visions of your child sitting alone in the shade, sad, with no friends? Feelings of 'My child will hate me if I don't go and get the hat'?
Sometimes as parents, we feel too much for our children. We know that awful feeling of forgetting something and how it might inconvenience our day and we don't seem to want our kids to feel like that.
BUT, what if you don't go home and get the hat? What if your child does walk into school feeling sad that you wouldn't 'help' them? What if they do sit in the shade at play time? Are these really 'worst case scenario's', or are they resilience building moments?
By the time you drive away, full of guilt that your child doesn't have their hat and you don't have time to go home and pick it up, your child has joined their friends, started playing handball and forgotten all about the hat...until play time when they have to sit in the shade, with other children who have forgotten their hats, or who have chosen to play in the shade. Maybe your child might play with someone different in the shade as all their friends are in the sun with hats on, potentially making a new friend. What if they go to the library, or choose to help the teacher out in class because they can't be in the sun without a hat? These are new experiences your child might enjoy. And when you pick your child up from school, are they still holding a grudge or feelings of hatred towards you because you didn't get their hat? Of course not! They probably had a great day, and forgot all about the hat (meanwhile, you have fretted over it all day, burning unnecessary energy).
A forgotten hat is not the end of the world for you or your child. How you react to the situation is what will make it stressful, or a learning experience. If you have a child who is constantly forgetting their hat (or water bottle, or homework...) help them by putting in place a strategy such as a note on the door on the way out, or on their seat in the car, or of course, use My Chart Visual Cards. These strategies will help your child become more responsible and independent, because really, its not YOUR hat, it's their's, so why waste YOUR time stressing about it?
Now, where did I put those car keys?? ...
Remember when your kids were in their first few years of developing (or maybe you are there now) and you would hear yourself say “oh, its just a ‘phase’ they will grow out of” and thinking that saying that ‘phase’ would be a ‘phase’ you would grow out of…well it never happens. There is always a ‘phase’!
We have My Chart down pat in our house now. Moo now breezes through her morning routine (once I actually get her out of bed!) and is ready and waiting when I say “lets go”. But there is one ‘phase’ that could still potentially start World War III here…doing her own hair. Moo has become quite the Independent Little Miss this year, after all, she is Year 3 now! She loves to try to do her own hair, until her frustration sets in when she realizes she can’t do in real life the hairstyle she is seeing in her head (I must admit, I still at 37 have this problem!)
I have quickly learnt that offering to help is totally NOT the solution. Sometimes I forget that I WAS born yesterday (according to Moo) and how could I possibly help! I have even you-tubed braiding because I thought this might bring our mother-daughter relationship closer, but no, braiding takes too long…because I am still learning!! Out of sheer exasperation one morning last week when hair brushes were flying and tears were flowing I explained to Moo about ‘bad hair days’. I don’t think 8 is too young to understand this concept. I told her how we all have bad hair days, no matter how hard we try with the style we want, sometimes a plain old pony is the way to go, and you can dress it up with a funky band. She loved it! An excuse to ‘just’ wear a pony tail. On slightly less bad hair days she will even do 2 pony tails. On good hair days she wants to do my hair…yikes!
So we help them through the ‘phases’ and as one phase comes to an end, another one is brewing. Sometimes we learn from their phases, I can now braid…somewhat… And sometimes we do well just to keep our sanity intact and not maim anybody during the ‘phase’.
Keep calm…until the next phase!
...not sure why Moo gets to be queen???
Yes, yes, I know where they come from, but what about all the other weird and quirky personality traits they have? Where did they inherit those from? (I generally blame Hubby!)
Mr Pre-Teen hails from the planet of OCD and over the years we have had many a challenging ‘parental’ time (and when I say we, I usually mean ME as Hubby commutes to another state for work!)
He needed 5 minute warnings all over the place (and really, what mother EVER sticks to the 5 minutes? It took me longer than that to say goodbye!)
“5 more minutes, and we are leaving…"
“You have 5 minutes to pack away all your toys…"
“5 minutes until teeth time…"
”I have 5 minutes of sanity left!!!”
Thankfully, I LOVE his OCD now. He is organised, never forgets anything and his room is always neat! Although, I still have to shout the 5 minute teeth brushing warning down the hall every night!
Moo though, I think she snuck into our house through a fairy door that I have been unable to locate. My Chart began all because I would find Moo drawing instead of getting ready for school. I would send her to her room for her uniform and find her down in the playroom building a Lego house for the lady beetle she found in the front yard…when did she even go out the front???
Thankfully My Chart has improved her
‘getting ready’ skills. Only she does it on Moo time, not Planet Earth time,
but somehow we still make it out the door by 8.20am each morning. Moo doesn’t
care much for being hurried, she will get ready when she is ready thanks.
I do know where both my kids came from, a little from Column A and a little from Column B … and they balance each other out. Mr Pre-Teen can teach Moo how to be organised and Moo can teach Mr Pre-Teen how to chill out….
Love and nurture your kiddies as they are, and allow
them to teach you a couple of things.
We don't know everything, but they don't need to know that! ;)
Because she has attitude, is ALWAYS hungry and walks...really...s-l-o-w-l-y!
But! ... this trip is what I needed to understand my daughters behaviour.
Ordinarily we are madly dashing to school, madly dashing from school, madly scoffing afternoon tea to then madly dash to an afternoon activity...as my husband is a 'commuter' to another state most weeks, I usually have the pleasure of dealing with the evening meltdowns by myself because I can't cook dinner fast enough or someone is too tired to understand homework (usually me!!). My behaviour usually resembles that of my 8 year old by 8pm, and I just look forward to tomorrow being a fresh start!
So having some alone time with her, in another state, with fun activities planned was always going to be interesting...for both parties. She learned that I really am the cash cow that she thinks I am (why does everything cost so much?!?!) and I had a good opportunity to analyse her behaviour without the influences of her big brother, her beloved Dad and our insane routine.
And here is what I learned:
- My daughter has a gorgeous sense of humour. She just 'gets it' and has the ability to see the lighter side of life.
- She is observant and full of wonder and asks loads of questions!! (which I actually had time to answer!)
- She loves to explore and make new friends...anywhere!! (I already knew this, but just forgot with the busyness of life. It was nice to see it all over again)
- Walking slowly isn't all bad, and it doesn't matter how much I bribe she isn't going any faster!
- I am starting a love affair with frozen yoghurt shops with yummy toppings!
I need to take a leaf out of her book...no need to hurry, you will get there in the end, and no doubt a lot less stressed too!!
...yes, it now seems we have 'styles' of parenting. What you believe is best for your kids will lead to your style of raising them.
Just to show I do cook!
I call my style a 'Quasi 80's Parenting Style'...
Why quasi? ... because my parenting is a mix of what I believe to be great methods from my childhood (yep, I am an 80's kid!) and some other bits and pieces I have learnt from having my kids in the new millenium where we have waaayyyy too much access to information about parenting!
I'll break it down for you: (try and read that without thinking of MC Hammer!...)
- Kids should be kids and play outside without needing me there 24/7. That's why I had two kids, so they had an inbuilt playmate who is not me!
- Kids being kids and playing inside without needing me to instigate the game, set up the game, monitor the rules of the game, PLAY the game...GAH!! I need a drink just typing this!
- Enabling my kids to resolve issues themselves. Ok, sometimes this involves a bit of fisty cuffs (usually my little girl hitting my BIG boy!) but unless someone is dying, I don't need to know about it!
- Standing on my front porch yelling for my children.
- Serving cereal for dinner sometimes. And yes, Vegemite and cheese is the lunch of champions!
- Allowing myself to show that I am annoyed by my children. I love them with all my heart, but why do I have to pretend they don't annoy me when at times they really do?!?
- Not allowing my children to interrupt a conversation I am having with another adult (again, unless someone is dying, I don't want to know about it!)
- Listening to my children (when I am not conversing with another adult!) and encouraging them to have an INFORMED opinion.
- Being a parent first and then maybe a friend second.
- Allowing my children choices within boundaries (like helping to choose a family holiday destination. Although Hawaii is lovely it is not in the budget. How about we drive to Noosa for the day and dip our toes in the ocean?) See? Choice and boundaries...they have a choice, but I set the boundaries =D
- Admitting I don't know everything and totally encouraging Google as the 'go to' tool for any questions I can't answer (and then telling them to come back and tell me so I know the answer!)
- Using Skype to encourage the relationship between kiddies and Grandies.
- Telling my kids via iMessage that it is bedtime!
It is like I say to my Preppies when one is upset that another thinks their painting, drawing or creation is 'silly' ... "That is their opinion. As long as you're happy with what you have done, then it doesn't matter what others think"
Righto, I am off to feed the kids.
Weetbix or Cheerios?? Can't remember what I served last week!
I had a friend honestly tell me over coffee the other week that while she loves the concept of My Chart, it simply would not work at her house as she just isn't motivated to follow it through each day. She could admit that if she isn't committed to implementing a routine system that works, then it will fail before it's started. And that's okay. My friend and her son still get up every day and get to school and work on time, just in their own 'un-routine' way.
For others though (such as myself!) routine is key to keeping it together. Developing a routine that works for your children doesn't just help them get ready on time, it has many other positive benefits.
- Having a solid routine can:
- Give confidence and comfort in knowing 'what comes next'
- Allow your child to begin to do things for themselves.
- In a school type setting the whole day is a routine, so kids with a good base routine will settle quicker than those without.
Yep, it gets a bit tricky. While routine is great, kids also need to be able to cope with change. Changing the order of your routine, or even adding or removing an activity can help build resilience in your child. Resilience is essential to being able to sufficiently cope in different situations. Resilience is also VERY IMPORTANT to build in little people WHILE THEY ARE LITTLE (but I will cover this in another blog space...)
Before embarking on your hunt for a routine, routine chart or routine method...ask yourself some simple questions to help you determine the best solution:
- What do I want to achieve? - Getting out the door on time? OR Helping my child learn to do things for themselves?
- Am I committed to following through? - Choose a system YOU are happy and comfortable to use.
- Is this the right routine for MY child? - If your child is stubborn, dreamy or downright lazy (with selective hearing!) you need to be smart in your choice of method. Basically you need to be routine with your routine charts or kids will just get sick of trying something different all the time, and before you know it, you are in a state of chaos again.
"I start my morning routine by gently waking the sleeping beauty...sometimes known as the sleeping giant!"
Practical: "of or concerned with the actual doing or use of something rather than with theory and ideas"
Parenting: "be or act as a mother or father to (someone)"
Well Hallelujah! Because I didn't fare too well with study at school, so I was not about to start the habit to find out how to raise my children. I just bumble through and hope that I look like I know what I am doing. But if that fails I always make sure I have a slightly crazy hairdo so people just think I am a whack-a-doo parent and don't question my methods! (some days I even carry a couple of cats, let them think I am Crazy Cat Lady!)
Practical Parenting is exactly that...parenting a child in a practical way. Kids were invented before books, that says something right there! (it is easy to be deeply profound at 9pm on a Friday evening...)
It is not something to be over analysed, nor were we meant to enjoy every single second of the experience. If we did, girls weekends away would never have been invented (yes, I am the Mum who thinks all the other Mums are crazy when at 7pm the conversation turns to "I wonder if hubby fed them a decent dinner? Did he make them brush their teeth? Who cares?!? We have wine, nail polish and 24 hours without children!!!)
There is a certain level of cliche-ism involved in practical parenting though...use your intuition...go with your gut feeling...Mum knows best...That's not to say you CAN'T go looking for an answer, moreso, just don't take the answer you find as gospel. Reference books are for just that...reference!
Sage words from my Mum who parented her way from the mid 70's and through the 80's... "You all think about it too much!"
If we were supposed to parent 'by the book' then surely we would have been given one at birth! Maybe someone stole my copy...???
”…Oh no, my son isn’t doing THAT? He’s got a good head on his shoulders.”
Seriously, I want to be able to say that.
(Check back in 2-3 years, I will let you know how I am getting on with that! Look for me in the Sav Blanc aisle at my local Dan Murphy’s…)
My Chart for Teenagers would probably only work if there was a $50 note attached to each Visual Card, or maybe the keys to the car. My Chart is about building those good routine practices now in our young ones so when they become teenagers, it is all just a natural habit. One can live in hope, or should I say one DOES live in hope because as soon as my boy has had his turn in the ‘teens’ Moo will be entering hers, and I have heard girls as teenagers are a whooooole other story.
So much to look forward to! Any advice is appreciated (or wine!!)
I mean, I am sure my kids probably call me that under their breath and behind my back, but at least I already know it!
I am mean because I don't do rewards. I am not against rewards for kids AT ALL. In fact I totally see the benefits of rewarding children especially in a school setting. Something as simple as the promise of a sticker can produce great results.
But you sell Reward Charts? I hear you wonder... I do, sort of! My Chart was developed in my house as a routine reminder for my fairy who struggles to choose what colour underwear to wear because "they're all so pretty". But the more I was developing my product, the more I realised it had to be versatile and not rigid in its format. Many charts I found while googling were very set in their methods, and mostly based on rewards (well, stickers really...another thing I despise, along with balloons BUT that is a topic for another blog!)
So the concept of My Chart was refined to include many facets like behaviour (you CAN do it), routine (boring...but necessary, even at age 5!) versatility (reward chart, routine chart, chore chart, do-your-jobs-in-whatever-order-you-want-as -long-as -you-are-ready-by-the-time-I-leave chart...) and mostly creating a method of achieving all of those facets that is fun, visual and interactive for the kids. We need them to be engaged.
How you go about achieving all of these things is up to you and your style of parenting. I have probably chosen a hard road by going with sheer determination and stubborness (or stupidity!) not to reward all the time, but that is how I operate.
Maybe my kids will thank me one day....hopefully with a reward!!
Do you reward or are you Mean Mummy?
The frustrating part was our routine had not changed in 4 or so years through daycare, then kindy and then starting school. Moo loved all these places but just got overwhelmed by what she had to do to get ready. I would find her drawing, or downstairs building Lego instead of getting ready, so I knew I had to think of a different approach.
I fruitlessly searched for appropriately motivating morning routine charts but nothing suited what I wanted. (I am just not a sticker chart kinda gal)
So one morning I had a thunderbolt thought ... appeal to her creative side. By using visuals instead of my cranky voice, Moo was getting ready...independently. We play games with the chart. I have a shower and she tries to see how many smiley faces she can achieve before I get out. I cheat a little and have a slightly longer shower, knowing that Moo is out there trying to get lots of smiley faces.
I am now being told my my gorgeously dimpled little girl that I would not have My Chart if it wasn't for her.
Hmmm...pretty sure I would have a few less wrinkles too!! Kids...You have to love them!