I never could have imagined that life as we know it could change so dramatically within a week. As the last few weeks progressed, I saw it coming… but NEVER imagined that school would be moved to home base for a month PLUS. I’m doing my very best to embrace this time with my kids that I may NEVER get again, but I’d be lying if I said that this will be easy for me.
I have a confession. I LOVE my kids…. like UNCONDITIONAL love. BUT… I’m simply not the touchy, feely, I want to lay all day in bed and read mom. I rarely play games with them. I have too many rules. I tell them they’re fine when they’ve hurt themselves. I’m THRILLED when one keeps the other company because I can then clean up the breakfast mess, change the laundry, or get some computer work done… totally UNIMPORTANT things in the grand scheme of life. Did I mention I have little patience? Especially when it comes to whiny kids hanging on me. I’m sure many consider me a “bad” mom. I am who I am. I know that what I lack in empathy HAS to be made up somewhere else…
Can I tell you what I AM good at? I’m good at this thing called SELFISH PARENTING. Over the last decade, many parents have asked me about some of my bedtime and disciplinary rules, and about our faithful date nights. I’ve been told SO many times that I need to write a book. The more children I had, the more selfish I got. If I let the kids rule the roost and the schedule this past decade, I would have sunk into a deep, dark hole of disorganization and despair.
I rarely give parenting advice, especially via social media or my blog. I am NO expert in the field of parenting, and you will occasionally see my monsters misbehaving like wild animals in public. But I DO feel my fellow parents and friends are desperate, and need all the help they can get over this next month or two.
Frankly, I think they need to get a little selfish.
If you want to make the most of this time with them, you MUST create some time for yourself. This can be quiet time, work time, exercise time… whatever! There are SO many things to do, and with no plan you WILL NOT get it done. Besides, if you have a break and feel even slightly more productive, you will enjoy your children more. I swear.
Tip 1: Set up EXPECTATIONS and a schedule. If you aren’t clear on what they should be doing when, you WILL be nagged.
Tip 2: Teach them to be INDEPENDENT during this time. (This varies with elementary age, of course.) We have NEVER had a teacher who expected every kid to know everything, and they’ve rarely expected us parents to be available to help. Teach them how to contact their teacher directly, who will likely show them via email or send links to tutorials. This teaches them to PROBLEM SOLVE without YOU having to be in the picture… a WIN-WIN! And, an invaluable life skill they’ll use forever.
Tip 3: Have consequences. I’m not talking about an old-school slap or belt. I’m not even talking about raising voices. Think of THE MANY THINGS they use or own as a privilege… that can be taken away if what you ask of them is not done. This is POWER people! Use this every day, all day. Be strong.
The way I am currently implementing it is this: here’s your schedule. If you finish ELA work before the hour is up, you independently read. If you finish math lessons before the time is up, you do supplemental work or practice math facts online. If you’re stuck, you contact your teacher or take the initiative to figure it out. It’s okay if you can’t figure it out today.
If you’re not doing what I ask during this time frame (THIS COULD BE ASKING OF ANYTHING, ANYTIME), there will be a consequence (see above.)
“Are you serious Ally… it’s only day two and you think you have this figured out? I don’t have the time to create a schedule!” No, I know I don’t have it all figured out. BUT… I will GUARANTEE you that if you take a little time up front, set expectations at the start of this new and challenging phase, and stay CONSISTENT in giving consequences, your life over the next month(s) will be dramatically easier. You will be more productive, happier, and a more patient parent.
“And this is the story of how the stone cold witch got so much done while the kids were home for the never-ending spring break.”
Air kisses from six feet or more,
PS: Stay well.