work

After years and years of parents not spending enough time with their children, we are seeing a backlash (only in certain cases) of parents not “working” in front of their children.   For many, many parents, this is not a problem as their children see them working all the time, but for some parents, they have let the pendulum swing too far in one direction and that can be damaging for the child. It manifests itself as:

  • I will wait until the children go to bed to clean the house, or I won’t clean the house at all.
  • I won’t make a phone call or use my phone in front of my children (there’s a lot of guilt surrounding this one especially after the viral post about moms on the phone came out)
  • I won’t go back to school because I don’t want to take that time away from my children
  • I will hire cleaners, personal chefs, lawn-mowers, etc to do the work

Parents have a lot of guilt around how much time they spend with their children.  We’ve all heard that saying about the one regret we had before dying was working too much and not spending enough time with our kids.   This rings true for any parent who is working 60 hours per week and then taking home work as well.  I’m not talking to those parents because I know how hard that is.  I tried it and it didn’t work for me, for my husband, for my kids or for my work.

I’m talking to parents who work part-time, work from home or are stay at home parents.  

I’m talking to parents who have guilt around doing work while their kids entertain themselves, or sit in a bouncy chair or do whatever while the parent gets things done. 

There are sweet sentiments out there about spending more time with you child and less time working on things around the house. If you aren’t spending anytime with your child, then it is a good reminder.  But if it is keeping you from getting things done and it is keeping your kids from seeing you work, then throw it away and find some balance.

This means that the kids are watching you do the laundry after breakfast, instead of everyone going and playing together in the backyard.

This means that the kids are sitting on the counter while you prepare dinner.

This means that you are relaxing with your husband after the children have gone to bed rather than doing all the housework.

This means taking an important phone call and reminding the kids that they need to wait a minute while you do a bit of work.

This means talking about how mom and dad work hard to take care of the family and that’s how we earn money to buy our food and our house.

This means talking about how we take care of each other and that means sweeping the floor after eating cereal, taking out the garbage all together, putting the dirty laundry in the washer, emptying the dishes, cutting the vegetables, etc.

This means that you find balance in a crazy world of parenting, and don’t spend all your days and nights working, but don’t leave all your work for when the children are sleeping.

This means children will understand that people have purpose in a family, that clothes need to be washed and how to wash them, that food doesn’t come from a box and that money doesn’t grow on trees.  Obviously, having them work with you and eventually on their own is the logical path that they will follow.   But this is the first step, it’s an important step- let them see you work!

 

 

rotate-toys

With Christmas just behind us and the onslaught of new gadgets overwhelming us, let me tell you about another great little trick.

You may have heard about the idea to put a lot of the new Christmas toys away and slowly bring them out as each month goes by.  I love that idea and I want you to take it a step further.  Do it all the time instead of just at the holidays. 

Rotate your toys!

Almost every preschool teacher in the world does this and it is really quite simple and superbly brilliant!

If you have any storage space at all (or if you are like me and live in a small house, create storage space by building high shelves) then put the majority of your children’s toys away in that space. This space should be out of reach and out of sight.  

Rotate your toys!

This way, you only have a couple of toys out with which the children can play.  It may sound counterintuitive because if the children only have a couple of toys out, they are going to fight more and they are going to be bored quicker, but it actually works the other way.

Here’s some things that will happen by rotating your toys:

  • Children are less stimulated and overwhelmed by the sight, noise and options of toys and will be calmer.
  • The toys will be more interesting since they haven’t seen the toys in a couple of months and they will be more engaged.
  • Children need to learn how to take turns with toys and once they are used to the idea of fewer toys and they have learned how to take turns, they will be able to navigate the play room more easily.
  • Cleaning up toys is an issue with every child and every parent and if you have fewer toys and the children know where each toys belongs, then cleanup is easier, faster and less of a headache.
 
Start by getting some opaque storage crates because it helps in organizing the toys and if you haven’t created storage room yet, you can just stack them in a corner.  Pack up about 60% of your children’s toys in these boxes and almost immediately, you will feel lighter and you will see the difference in the way your children play!
 
Rotate those toys!

I’ve been seeing this quote a lot lately and I love how this quote makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

But I also feel a little guilty about it.

It makes me feel funny when my house is all clean, because does that mean my kids aren’t happy?
There is one part of this quote that refers to allowing your children to get dirty which is super important, but they can also be part of getting themselves clean.
I agree with anyone or anything that takes guilt away from parents and that is all that this quote is meant to do, but we also need to be reminding ourselves how important it is that children learn about taking care of their things, which includes keeping the house in order.
This can start as early as the newborn stage, when the child can be strapped onto mama or papa while they clean.  The child will learn the sounds and motions of cleaning.  Very young children love to be part of what mama and papa are doing and they will enjoy the sounds and motions of cleaning.When my boys were just a couple of weeks old and they wouldn’t stop crying for anything.  I learned that they would stop immediately once I turned on the vacuum.    This won’t work for everyone, but the while noise was perfect for my boys.

Then as the child becomes a toddler, it is important that the parents clean in front of and with their children.
A lot of parents may save the laundry, dishes, vacuuming until 9pm, after the children have gone to bed so that it is easier.  But a child who never sees or helps with any of those chores, never learns about those simple but essential tasks.
I often think of children growing up on farms who are doing tasks all day long, and they are rarely seen as unhappy children.  They are known to be fastidious, hard-working and happy children.
It is also important for parents to have their down time and couple time after the children go to bed.
So how does this work?  When a chore needs to be done, the parent tells the child, “it is now time to wash the dishes (clean the clothes, clean the floor, etc).”  When the child is young, they can either choose to play by themselves or help the parents.  Of course, they will probably choose to cry because they would rather have their parent’s undivided attention, but it just takes a reminder or two as well as asking if they want to help, before they realize that taking care of the house is part of the routine. As they get older, the charm of helping will disappear and that is when chore charts will need to be implemented, but the earlier you start having your children help, the easier it will be to maintain that structure.
So tomorrow, resist the urge to clean before the children wake up, while they are gone or after they go to bed, involve them in the process!

This article is © Copyright – All rights reserved http://boulderchildwhisperer.com