parenting

What are we really saying “yes” to?

What are we choosing when we say “yes” or “no” to: “Mommy, can I play xbox/wii/computer?”

What do our consents, denials, or non-answers like “I don’t care”, or “I suppose” really lead to?

When I give permission for games and television that’s exactly what I get…my boys don’t opt out on their own. So they are sucked in to generally mindless entertainment.  Even if I allow only educational programming, games, and websites, part of the child’s system really does check out when he is absorbed by visual stimuli.

If I don’t agree to electronics, but don’t give a clear and direct “no”, the default for them is…you guessed it, electronics.  They are drawn to them, they are stimulated and entertained without much effort.  Even when they get frustrated with the outcomes of their actions in their games they still stay.  Being a “non-gamer”, I really don’t understand that behavior.  But I don’t truly have to understand the underpinnings of motivation to see that too much time in front of a screen is detrimental.  They are less relaxed, more irritable, less creative and imaginative, more frustrated and less patient to name just a few outcomes when they spend too much time drawn into computers and devices.

They aren’t as happy and they aren’t as much fun.

I am not one to eliminate games, movies etc from our home.  I really do believe they have a place in our lives.  I do applaud those who are happily living without some of them though.  To own and use the many options for electronic entertainment and information is a personal choice.  It’s the overuse that causes problems in our home.  And I believe “over use” has a personal threshold.

What truly surprised me was the realization that saying “yes” to electronic entertainment really meant I was saying “no” to other things.  Since my boys, by default, are drawn to this type of entertainment, by saying “yes” too often I was removing other options that they wouldn’t have discovered if I had said “no”.

By denying the privilege of  games and movies I was saying yes to so much more!!

I was saying yes to: Continue reading

Change is in the air

Saturday we were preparing for a family to come over and spend some time with ours.  We have children sprinkled in between each other and they all get along quite well.  A big boisterous bunch of kids (I would have said boys to keep the alliteration going, but she has a couple of girls to throw in the mix-who are just as boisterous and fun), running, playing, jumping…they are like a big pile of puppies so excited to get together and play they are just a mob falling and rolling and laughing.  It truly is amazing to see.  The unbridled joy and seeing each other and anticipating all the fun they can have.  Even the preteens are young again, and can let go of that big girl/boy air about them and just wallow in the fun and joy of friendship.  Needless to say, we were all looking forward to the night.

There had been some miscommunication between us moms though.  It turned out she came alone with the kids intending to babysit while hubby and I went on a date.  We weren’t prepared for that, but decided to rejoice in her generosity and head out together for some alone time.  We had already eaten dinner, and there weren’t any movies playing that we wanted to see so we used our old standby-bookstore with a coffee shop inside!!  Yes!!  One of our favorite places.  The name on the door doesn’t matter as long as there are books to browse, wifi to utilize, and coffee to consume. Continue reading

Weekends are for India, Vikings, guns, and picaken!

This weekend was just as full as the last one I do believe, but in good ways.

We went to the World Fair fundraiser for the local school district.  The elementary school transformed several of their rooms into experiences from different countries.  The kids enjoy going and seeing how the rooms transform.  They like to see their teachers and their friends, and to do any fun hands-on activities.   There is  food to sample from the different countries (this was mom and dad’s favorite part), usually some artifacts of some type, sometimes a demonstration and almost always a craft.  My boys like crafts, but prefer those with a purpose or when they are in the right frame of mind (read bored, and feeling creative). Continue reading

Chore Strategy

We are big on chores here in our cozy stuffed full home.  We believe that it takes a family to make a house run and that children are chore list on refridgeratorintegral in running a household.  The kids have a separate set of chores for morning, after school, and evening.  They know what they are supposed to do and when it is supposed to be done.  They even have an understanding of why it is important to complete their chores (at least intellectually) as members of a cohesive family.  But, as with many of us adults, they have  difficulty with follow-through.

The usual way of getting through this thrice daily chore time has been rather painful.  It has evolved into something ugly and unsatisfying for all involved.  It has become something that no one in their right mind would want as part of their daily, let alone three times a day, routine.  I believe I must bear the brunt of the load when it comes to figuring out how this happened and why it continues, and ultimately how to mend it.

I have been a bit of  a curmudgeon (actually angry and frustrated with ugly words and sounds) when it comes to chore time and the natural tendency to rebel against that type of parenting has become the modus operendi for our family.  This is what it looks like.

Mom says, “Chore time”.  Kids all scatter or ignore mom and go play, wrestle, read, fight, whatever happens to pop up.  Mom follows and tells them they must do their chores.  They state that they are sorry, and with sad faces begin with something on their list.  Then they start playing, fighting, reading, etc.  This time mom comes and yells and threatens with punishments and removal of privileges and sometimes even outrageous threats that we all know are outright lies and kids respond the exact same way..apologies, sad faces and half-hearted attempts to do a chore.  This again devolves into “not chores” and mom just raises the frustration response and attempts to force with ugly words the act of “doing chores”.  This process is repeated until we are all tired and frustrated and unhappy. Then, if they haven’t done them properly I also have a habit of just finishing it up while they are at school, or outside playing.  So, they really aren’t learning any personal responsibility or motivation other than keeping mom happy, and that doesn’t seem to be much of a motivator either.boy scrubbing stove

Their chores are not unreasonable.  They are pretty much personal chores which involve taking care of their own bodies and their own belongings; getting dressed, picking up their toys and anything else they have left lying around the house or their rooms, homework, showers, brushing teeth, putting their clean folded laundry away and their dirty laundry in the hamper etc.  The usual things that any reasonable parent expects their children to do.  Then they each have a “pay chore” to earn their spend/save/give money.  This is one particular chore per child such as -taking care of the pet, washing dinner dishes, taking care of trash and recycling etc.  Reasonable tasks, and if they truly don’t want to do their pay chores they don’t have to, but they won’t earn any money at they end of the week. Continue reading

Bowls, Bunnies, and Bullies

My rabbit, the house kind that just hops around all the time and doesn’t even have a cage to call his own, seemingly doesn’t like his food in a bowl.  We put it in a little plastic dish intended for a small animal and he dumps it in a heap then grabs his bowl and throws it across the floor.  I have been known to sweep that food up and put it back into his bowl, only to have him repeat the spilling and throwing again when he wants to eat.  I believe it’s easier to find the tastiest little pieces when it is all spilled out on the floor, and it’s a more natural form of grazing.  It’s the way God created rabbits, to snuffle over the ground and find the tasty bits to munch on.  The confined walls of his bowl only frustrate this behavior because they don’t allow the searching.

This little seemingly insignificant behavior led me to think of my son, my all-spilled-out boy.  That’s what he is….he doesn’t hide much of himself and you can’t really find his “place” in the house because his stuff is everywhere.  He just drops stuff all over as he moves through the house.  If I didn’t insist that he pick up all those things and put them in the proper places we would be searching through all the piles for the pieces that are needed or wanted.   He bares himself naked all through his day-the naked raw emotions of the entire spectrum.  He sprawls and drapes himself where ever he settles.  He is physically, mentally, and emotionally all-spilled-out.  Does he need a container? Probably, but only to help him find what he needs, to label his mental and emotional states, and then move on to the next spilling out.  It’s like the rabbits bowl, he needs that bowl in order to find where his food is placed, because unlike a dog, he really doesn’t do a very good job of finding all the little pieces and eating them.  He could be lying right next to a favorite piece of food and not really even notice unless he happened upon it by chance or it was pointed out to him, so putting it all back in his bowl brings the important things together so he knows where to find them, and so he can spill them out again.  And so it goes with the all-spilled-out boy.  He needs order and structure to bring the things together that he needs so that he can spill out again.  It’s a dance. A beautiful life-affirming necessary and sometimes frustrating dance. Continue reading

New Beginnings

A new adventure awaits and I hope you will join me in seeing how it all turns out.

baby robins in nest

I am excited and nervous about this new beginning as a blogger.

Looking forward with anticipation to the new world ahead and to sharing my little slice of the world with you.

A little anxious to jump out of my “nest” and to stretch my wings and learn to fly.

It’s difficult to try new things and learn new things….which is what we ask our children to do frequently.  I forgot how difficult that can be.  Stepping out of my own comfort zone helps me to remember what they must struggle with often, still being relatively new in this world to which I have become much more accustomed as an adult.

I love how, when we stop to think, we are given new chances to remember what childhood was like and how it was a struggle in ways that we often forget.  The ability to see that, and to use it to understand our children is a gift.  A gift of gentleness and understanding.  A gift of love and patience.

As I begin this new story I am thankful for the chance to remember what it feels like to step outside of the usual routine, to learn new things, and try new things.  I am thankful for those who have blazed the trail on which I am about to embark.