Archives for April 2013

Birthdays: A Celebration for Mom?

My daughter’s 6th birthday is on Tuesday April 30th. She is so excited and filled with expectation, anticipation, and aspiration. She is going to be a “big girl” now. (Funny how that exact same thing happened when she turned 5 almost a year ago.) While she is experiencing pure jubilation about her pending big day, I am feeling stressed, pressured, and confused as to what to get her and how to celebrate another year of her life. In order to gain clarity and perspective I stopped for a minute to think. What does a birthday actually celebrate anyway? The person? The persons life? The persons birth? A year in the life of…

As I reflected on this question I decided to focus on the word BIRTHDAY. When considering it from this perspective, I decided that a birthday must celebrate the DAY of a person’s BIRTH. This “revelation” led me on a journey into the past, specifically April 30th 2007 at 4:00pm. I remembered how mentally and physically exhausted I was after being pregnant for 12 days beyond my “due date”. I remembered that she was facing the wrong way in the birth canal and how that lead to intense back labor that slowed down the dilation progress. I remembered how hard I worked to bring her into this world. So far, my trip down memory lane had led me to the conclusion that my daughters birthday was all about me, really. Funny how that worked out in  my mind. Isn’t it? Okay, well maybe my daughter had a little to do with it. After all, birthing is really a beautiful dance between baby (with the help of Mother Nature) and mommy (with the help of Mother Nature and a bit of grit).

So I have decided that my daughter’s birthday is going to be a celebration of her day of birth and how special that day is for our family and how blessed we are because she joined us on that beautiful day.

What about her party, you ask? Well I have not figured the details out yet, but I have scheduled a day at the spa for myself! Because I sure did work hard on her birthday and I deserve a party. Feel free to join me!

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Help Wanted!

Lately I have been feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work the adults in our house have been putting into household duties. Some may call it the “daily grind”.  We were finding that our “family time” had been replaced with parents (us) cleaning and kids playing and creating more for us to clean along the way. Of course, play is a highly valued childhood activity and a necessary developmental activity. But what about mom and dad? We would like to engage in some playful activity with the kids too.

In order to redistribute our time, we decided to enlist their help. In other words, we decided to give our kids chores. Our definition of chores is as follows: household duties that are performed by all family members WITHOUT PAY in the interest of the entire family. This includes duties that all family members engage in together and duties that are done by a single family member. It has been noted by professionals in the field of child development and parenting education that chores have developmental advantages for the child as well as practical advantages for the family. Chores help build responsibility, self-regulatory skills and a sense of accomplishment and pride in one’s achievement and environment.

When developing a system of family chores we had to consider the age of our children (5, 9, 11), their school and extracurricular schedules, and our family’s priorities. Once we took stock of our needs, goals, and reality, we were able do draft a plan. Our plan includes a chart for each child that details their chores for the week in a visual format that is developmentally appropriate for each child. My 5 year-old has tasks such as: straighten bed, put clothes in hamper, and clear her place at the table. My 9 year-old has chores such as: feed and water pets, make bed, and fold his clothes. My 11 year-old has tasks such as: clear out dishwasher, feed the dog, and “pick up” the floor in her room. They are all invited to cross off each task as they finish them so they can see their progress toward our family goal of “all tasks done for the week”. If/when we accomplish this family goal, we go out to dinner or ice cream (whichever our budget allows at the time).

Our family’s plan is working well for us so far. The kids are motivated to participate in chores and they are beginning to internalize the responsibility for their chores. In other words, they can see their chores as “duties” they participate in because they view themselves as  responsible members of our family unit. We have more time to spend together as a family. And we get a fun Sunday night treat, dinner, or dessert out as a family too.

If you are interested in finding appropriate and creative ways to get help with chores from your children check out the quicksheet titled Kids and Chores brought to you by ParentingPress.com.

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Productive Procrastination. Really?

I was recently reading the latest issue of one of my favorite parenting newsletters, Parenting Press, when I ran across an article about how “useful” procrastination can be. This notion is amazing to me because when I procrastinate I usually feel unproductive and behind schedule. So, out of curiosity, I decided to read further. The article goes on to explain how procrastination can actually help us get more things done and concludes with an explanation of how using this notion can actually be beneficial when parents are trying to get children to do important tasks like studying. Are you intrigued yet? If so, read the following reprint of the article brought to you by ParentingPress.com.

The Value of Procrastinating (Really)*
OK to procrastinate? Hard to believe, but science says “yes.”
That’s because when we procrastinate, we’re usually doing something. Not what we should be doing, but something.
John Perry, a Stanford University philosopher, discussed this point in a book last year. As the New York Times science columnist, John Tierney, recently noted, “Dr. Perry was a typical self-hating procrastinator until it occurred to him in 1995 that he wasn’t entirely lazy. When he put off grading papers, he didn’t just sit around idly; he would sharpen pencils or work in the garden or play Ping-Pong with students.”
It’s Perry’s recommendation that you (and your kids) manage the tendancy to put off tasks by committing yourselves to more tasks. As Tierney wrote, “At the top of your to-do list, put a couple of daunting, if not impossible, tasks that are vaguely important-sounding (but really aren’t) and seem to have deadlines (but really don’t). Then, farther down the list, include some doable tasks that really matter.”
He quotes Perry: “Doing these tasks becomes a way of not doing the things higher up on the list, With this sort of appropriate task structure, the procrastinator becomes a useful citizen. Indeed, the procrastinator can even acquire, as I have, a reputation for getting a lot done.”
A Canadian psychologist, Piers Steel, referred to this as “productive procrastination” in his 2011 book, “The Procrastination Equation.” He says, “My best trick is to play my projects off against each other, procrastinating on one by working on another.”
How can you use this with children? Consider Perry’s to-do list concept, topping it with tasks that would be nice to have done but aren’t as urgent or important as what comes in the middle of the list: perhaps “Clean your room” as #1 and “Practice for Friday’s spelling test” as #2, with “Outline book report for next week” as #3.

(P.S. Wondering how much of a procrastinator YOU are? See http://procrastinus.com for a University of Calgary evaluation. The News for Parents editor took the quiz, and she’s proud to report that she was rated “fairly conscientious and self-disciplined.” She does, however, find Perry’s concept helpful, with “Brush dog” and “Screen compost” listed above “Feed dog,” “Walk dog,” and “Buy milk.”)

Links:
The Procrastination Equation: http://procrastinus.com/
Univ. of Calgary survey: http://procrastinus.com/the-procrastinus-survey/

*Reprinted with permission from Parenting Press News for Parents, copyright 2013. For a complimentary subscription, see www.ParentingPress.com/signup.html.

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Go Ahead, Give It a Try

Today’s blog post is submitted by our featured guest contributor, Leonne Bannister.  Enjoy the post and look forward to future posts from Leonne.

I’m always trying to get my kids to try new things. When my daughter, Olivia’s, swimming lessons ended recently, I suggested she take an art class. She was reluctant at first. “How could I take an art class? I don’t even know how to do art?” However, after some encouragement, she agreed to take the class. Her first class was challenging. She was the youngest child in the class and many of the older children had quite an artful skill to their work. I could see that Olivia was intimidated. I continued to encourage her and reassure her that “those big kids started just like you. You’ll be there sooner than you know it. Just keep trying.” And Olivia listened. She kept hammering away at the class and began to feel more confident, her skills improved and she became very comfortable with the older classmates.

Around the same time as Olivia’s art class, I was asked to play on an indoor soccer team. I had never played soccer. My first response was, “There’s no way. I can’t play soccer. I don’t even know how. I’d look like a total fool.” It hit me. Who did I sound like? Or, rather, who sounded like me? I had almost the same response to a new activity and challenge that Olivia had to the art class. With that realization, I decided to try the indoor soccer team. If not just for me, but also to prove to my kids that it’s good to try new things. Even when they seem foreign and challenging.

I was honest with my kids. I told them, that while I enjoy physical exercise, I am not comfortable playing soccer. In fact, I hadn’t ever played soccer and have no experience with the game. They knew soccer was as new to me as the art class was to Olivia. I explicitly told them that I was going to try something new because I was setting a good example for them. I added that I’ve made them try new things and it would only be natural for me to try something new as well. [What I practiced with my children is a concept called “deep modeling.” It’s the idea of taking children backstage into the process of WHY we do things. So rather than just doing something because we know it’s a good example to set and hope that our children learn from that, we can actually explain WHY we are setting the example. Children are able to experience what happens before (or behind or beneath) decisions that we make. Greater exposure to the entire decision-making process and not just the decision itself will create better decision making skills within our children. ]

I have since played 3 soccer games with my indoor soccer team. My husband and children have watched the games. I feel supported by their presence and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.

Is there something you’ve been wanting to try? What’s holding you back? Can you find a way to overcome the challenges? If you can, give it a try. You’ll be setting a wonderful example to your children. It’s ok to try something new and different. You never know, you just might enjoy it.

Leonne is a wife and a mother of 2.  She has been a member of the LBCC Cooperative Preschool at the Benton Center for 3 years. She is a part time Parenting Education Instructor with LBCC and a CASA Advocate. She is also on the Board of Directors of CASA-Voices for Children. Leonne enjoys spending time with her family and volunteering in the community. In her “free” time she enjoys exercising and reading.

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