If parenting is about keeping your kids at a distance. And teaching them to cope on their own. And refusing to give them things. And restricting, and routine, and ‘letting them know who’s boss’….. then i am happy to admit, i am really really rubbish at it.
My eldest son and i took a huge sack of stuff to the charity shop (thrift store) the other day. We have an agreement – if he helps me, he can choose a ‘new’ (used) toy from the same place that we deliver our bag.
When i was speaking with the shop assistant, i happened to mention that agreement. Her response really threw me. “You’ll create a bad habit there if you’re not careful”. I can only assume that by ‘bad habit’ she meant that my son will expect something for helping me.
Some people might call me ‘soft’, but when did being a parent become ‘them against us’? I mean, its ok to give my child a gift right? And its ok to ‘reward’ him for his help? We’re on the same ‘team’. And i love them. And this is not a military operation. I’m not raising a little army.
I’m regularly offered advice (aka opinions) on how to raise my kids. My neighbour will openly tell me that my ‘downfall’ (as she so kindly put it) is that i carry and cuddle my kids too much……that i pick them up when they want me. And that thats wrong.
There’s an army of folks ready to tell me how i should put my kids in their bedroom and let them cry to sleep. How thats the only way i’ll ever get them to sleep alone. The only way i’ll ever stop them waking in the night. I’d really rather not. I like my kids. Even if they do ‘play me like a fiddle’ (to quote another warning i received). Even if i don’t get nearly enough sleep. Even if i often wake with a tiny foot in my face, or a finger in my ear.
I’m not a perfect parent. I probably get it wrong at some point every day. But i love my kids, and i also like them. And here’s the ‘bad habits’ i am happily letting them develop:
1. When they cry, i cuddle them. And i love it.
2. If they need me in the night, they can have me. Anytime. For as long as they want.
3. I carry them. Albeit for less time than i could when they were tiny. But they like to be carried. So i carry them.
4. If they don’t want to eat it, they don’t have to eat it.
5. I buy them treats. When i feel like it. As often as i can afford.
6. If they help me, i reward them. Sometimes its a biscuit. Sometimes its a trip to the park. But i reward them.
7. They can make a mess. This is their house as well as mine. They can leave their toys on the floor, they can leave comics lying around, they can pull out the contents of the bookcase. We’ll tidy it before bed.
If cherishing and treating and keeping my kids close is creating ‘bad habits’, so be it. My kids won’t always be ‘kids’. For now, I’m just throwing myself into it. They’re kids – lets throw caution to the wind and just enjoy it.
Unfortunately my son’s (our chosen) school is too far away for us to walk there.
I’ve given us a week to get accustomed to the early morning routine, and now, i plan to drive some of the way and make us walk the rest (perhaps a mile or so). And here’s why:
I know it’s premature, and i know that i’ll be really sick of it by Christmas day, but our tree went up this weekend. And now i need to brace myself for 4 weeks of overtired, over excited, slightly delirious kids.
I’m easily over stimulated at the best of times – i hate noise, bright lights, scratchy textures – but Christmas is a whole other level of sensory overload.
Here’s some tips for avoiding sensory overload at home during this excitable festive period:
Here goes December – i’m coming in.
See you on the other side!
POSTED ON DECEMBER 7, 2015
Well….kind of. I’m not exactly suggesting that my 5 year old nips out to the shops for milk, or that my 2 year old runs his own bath or anything. But most kids can probably do more than we give them credit for.
My (almost) 2 year old has started fetching his shoes and bringing them to me when he knows we’re off out. I’m chuffed to bits about this – not only because it demonstrates how well his understanding is evolving, but also because I know that I helped make that possible for him.
We have a ‘shoe cupboard’ of sorts. Well, it’s more like a shoe ‘hole’ in the wall. It is literally STUFFED with shoes. The front is open and it looks really messy (because we aren’t shutting it away behind cupboard doors, and because they’re all thrown in haphazardly). The kids know that’s where the shoes go. They’re not ordered or neatly put together, so as long as they take their shoes off and throw them in there – the job is done.
This all makes it wonderfully easy for my toddler to see where his shoes are, get hold of them, and then return them when finished.
The shoes are nice and low down (reachable), and it is obvious where they belong.
He gets the sense of independence, and pride at being able to participate in getting ready, and I have one less (tiny) task to do myself. Win Win.
We have a similar strategy with the kids coats. We have an ‘adult’ row of pegs, and a ‘child’ row of pegs. The child row of pegs is low enough for both kids to reach, and it is glaringly obvious near the front door. ‘Hang your coat up, put your shoes away’. No excuses, because we have adapted the environment to facilitate independence.
So I’ve been thinking….. There’s 3 strategies that I can think of to support my children in gaining independence in the home:
LOWER – put the things that the kids need, at the right height for them to reach. For example, if I want my 5 year old to start laying the table each day, I need to keep placemats and cutlery somewhere that he can get hold of them himself. Without my help.
RAISE – we have quite a few foot stools dotted around the house. This way, either of the kids can grab one and move it so they can access the sink, or the kitchen sideboard, or the books on the shelf. Without my help.
MAKE IT OBVIOUS – the shoe ‘hole’, the ‘child’ row of pegs, pictures on drawers (for those who can’t yet read). We can help enable independence by keeping things available, accessible and visible for our kids.
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