I used to vow I would never be like the parents in the picture above. Then I had teenagers. I have to admit, our house looks exactly like this every morning. It turns out life is just busy. It's not that you try to plan a million things, but each child's activities, along with family obligations, can make for a tight schedule. So after being a parent for awhile and having children of differing ages here are my thoughts.
1. Young Children need lots of time at home with mom and dad. They need the structure and stability of a routine and the attachment time with their parents. I wouldn't schedule them for too many activities, unless they are extreme extroverts and seem to need people all the time.
2. Elementary Age kids also need structure at home with maybe one outside activity.
3. Middle School Age: It's important for this age to explore their talents and what they like to do. I would say let them try lots of things, but remember to help them have homework and family time each day. They also need some pondering time to figure things out.
4. High School Kids need to explore their independence and develop talents for self esteem. Let them enjoy their many activities, again making sure they are scheduling in enough homework, family, and ponder time. Be sure to eat dinner as a family each night, if possible. Teens need this bonding activity. Establish good curfews to make sure they get enough sleep.
Need fun ideas for teaching and playing with your kids? (Or for giving them the gift of "Time" with mom or dad?) I've pinned almost a thousand pins on fun activities to do with your children. Follow my "Kids" pinterest board here.
I am a strong advocate of positive parenting, and parenting without punishment, but instead, using love, teaching, and limits to mold children. However, in light of some parenting trends taking positive parenting to the extreme and saying that you should never say "no" to your child, I have to say I strongly disagree. Their idea, I think, is to work around the child's demands and spin it so that they can have an always positive response (For instance, if a child demands 5 scoops of ice cream, say yes, but give them five tiny scoops instead of full size scoops).
This is harmful to children. The reason is that a child needs to understand that there are good limits to place on oneself for healthy reasons. For example, how is the child in the ice cream example able to learn about eating healthy portions, if you teach him that he can have whatever he wants, whenever he wants?
A better way is to say, no, and then teach with love. Say, "I wish we could all eat 5 scoops. Ice cream is yummy. But no, we have to try and stay healthy, and so we just eat 2 scoops." If the child resists, it is a good time to teach him about how healthy limits help us to stay happy and free of illness.
Saying "no" when appropriate and with love and teaching will help your child grow up to be a happy and healthy, high functioning adult in today's society.
Three words: Reading, Homework, and Settling down. Children do not get enough hours of sleep. Even a teenage child needs as much sleep as a toddler. We've always put our elementary age children to bed at 7pm and we start moving our teens toward bed at 8pm with lights out an hour or so later. This is because it takes them a while to settle down. They will putter around, and ask for drinks, and remember they forgot their homework every night. When they are put to bed early, they will have a chance to settle down, read a little (very important), finish up homework in their beds and then fall asleep much earlier than if they started later. It really works! And it makes for happier children in the morning.
My own addition to this list is that every child needs to hear the word "No" sometimes. This is because they need to understand that there are limits in the world. Children who don't understand limits grow up very unhappy.
This is going to be my New Year's resolution. This article was written by a teacher and she says to have your children read out loud to you 20 minutes a night to improve their reading skills. That's so easy! I'm going to start tonight! (Click the caption to read her article)
You can probably tell one of my children is sick right now, thus I'm remembering all of my tips about illness. Some of my children are reluctant to take medicine. I don't blame them. The stuff is nasty! But we've learned a couple of tips from our doctor and friends along the way that make this situation easier.
If your baby or child won't take the medicine, a technique that works is to have one person hold the child laying down or tipping the head back. The other person uses the syringe to depress the tongue, and squirts the medicine into the back corner of the throat. This will prevent gagging and force swallowing. Do not squirt it into the back middle of the throat as this will induce gagging.
Another way to disguise medicine is with applesauce. You can crush up pills and mix them with applesauce to make them easier to swallow.
Bribes also work well. I'm not joking. You are not a bad mom if you promise your child a popsicle if they plug their nose and swallow quick.
Juice is another option. You can sometimes disguise liquid medicine in juice, though you'll have to make sure the toddler drinks it all down.
When I was a kid, I remember sticking the thermometer on a light bulb trying to fool my mother into letting me stay home. Then I burned my tongue when I tried to stick the thermometer back in my mouth. Ha ha! I must have passed that on to my kids, because they always used to try and tell me they were too sick to go to school. But I finally learned how to stop that problem and here is how; I instituted a rule that if any child is sick, they must stay in their bed without anything but books to entertain them for the entire time they are home. No T.V., no video games, no iphones....nothing....never leaving their bed.
This rule had cured my children of most ailments, it's quite the miracle! But before you are too hard on your kids, be sure to check them for a fever, and review their symptoms to be sure you are not making them go to school sick. You don't want to pass the illness on to others. I carefully watch them when I tell them my "rule". If suddenly they are peppy and ready to go, then I send them to school. But if they are listless and say they don't care if they stay in bed all day, I usually let them stay home. It's a good way for me to tell if they are faking. I hope it works for you too!
THESE TIPS WORK! I have used all of these ways to show my son love. It is hard sometimes, because teen sons like to keep their emotions close, so they don't react openly to your love, but trust me...if you do these things, your son will be pleased. Click the caption to see all 15 ways to show your son love.
It may seem good to control all the things your child does for their own safety, but too much control is bad for your child. This is because a child and especially a teen needs to learn self-control. I've seen it over and over when a parent has been too controlling, the child either rebels as a teen or young adult, or they have no idea how to practice self-control when they leave home.
Don't get me wrong, too little control is just as bad. Permissiveness is not good parenting. The best way is a middle road. Your main form of parenting should be listening, teaching, and loving. Then let them learn through their own experience. Give them practice making choices with their electronics, without giving total free reign. For instance, you can have house rules such as computers only in the main area of the house, and no more than one show a day be watched, or 45 min. of computer time. Then you can teach about not watching violence, or pornography. You can fill them with love. Then let them choose, but watch what they do, and discuss their choices and the consequences, but only control what you need to keep them safe...not every little decision. If you clamp down, and don't allow any t.v. or electronics, your child will not have the experience he needs to make good choices in the world of electronics when he leaves home.
When children are younger they will need much more control than when they are teens. Your control should loosen as they get older so they will be able to practice being independent. This doesn't mean you can check out as a parent. You need to know what your kids are doing and be talking to them and teaching them often. You can let them choose how they spend their time, after they have fulfilled their home and school responsibilities. You can teach them that the better they are at fulfilling responsiblities, the more freedom and trust they earn. This is how it works in the real world.
Your goal is to have them be able to take care of themselves when they leave home. Your teaching and your love should not lessen when your children are older. If anything it may need to increase. Don't nag your teens, but pick moments when their guard is down to talk to them about life, mostly listening and guiding them to come up with their own solutions.
The middle road, not too controlling, and not too permissive. Therein lies the "sweet spot" that will help your children grow to successful adults.
I know, I know, I already have two blogs going, a writing one, and a parenting one, but now I started a SEWING one, to document projects I make with my daughter, who got a sewing machine for Christmas. It's a great little project we are doing together, and it's helping us bond together. Working with your child to develop talents is a great thing to boost their self-esteem too! Click Here to go to the new blog, if you want to check it out! Below is one of our first posts.
Here's a picture of my 12 year old daughter. Together our first project was this zippered pouch below. I think it turned out rather well! What do you think?
Below is the tutorial we used. (Click the caption to go there)
I LOVE soup in the wintertime, and tonight we are having one of my favorite dinners: Ultimate Lentil Soup, out of Slow Cooker Revolution, by America's Test Kitchen. Here is the delicious recipe!
2 onions, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 T olive oil
1T tomato paste
(Cook the above in the microwave for 5 minutes to bloom the flavors, then place in crockpot)
1 can mushrooms
4 C chicken broth
4 C Vegetable broth
4oz. bacon, uncooked, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 cup brown lentils
2 bay leaves
8oz swiss chard, chopped (opt. I don't use this)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Add remaining ingredients and cook on low for 9-11 hours, or high for 5-7 hours.
PS.NEW YEAR...NEW LOOK FOR THE BLOG! DO YOU LIKE IT?