The Fairly Good Mother: Mom vs. the independent child (surprises are not always fun)

By: Anne Wise
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Meet Anne Wise:
So you read all the parenting books, you know what to expect when you are expecting, and then the unexpected happens — your baby. Kids do not have a how-to book, they are all wonderfully unique. I am the mother of three small children. But after six years, I still get surprises. Being a parent is one of the most challenging and rewarding choices you will ever have to make. It’s not always easy, but I learn as I go, think on my feet and at the end of the day hope that I’m doing it right.  But, what can I say?  I’m a fairly good mother.

Editor’s note: The Journal is introducing a new regular column “The Fairly Good Mother” to offer musings, advice, etc. on raising children that will be published every other Tuesday.
There are roughly 180 days of attendance in a typical school year. That is almost half of the year that our children spend in a day to day routine, and as much as they do not want to get up in the morning; kids thrive on this routine.
So how do we, as parents keep a schedule with our kids going when the bells stop and the summer break begins? Creating and maintaining a schedule during the summer can be easy and fun for the whole family. Activities such as family outings to the zoo, the park, or even your local library can be a fun way to keep your kids entertained and their minds active, too.
Kids love surprises, but might not always be willing to drop the games and go out to try something new. So make sure that you give them notice of the activities that will be taking place. This will make for a smooth transition and is a good opportunity to get them excited as well.
Establish a time frame, once the fun starts it might be tough to say goodbye. If you set this up beforehand and disclose your expectations of behavior and time, you can hopefully avoid the possibility of a tantrum. If your child is less than enthused about this, give them the clock! Make it their responsibility to keep track of time. Making them feel like they are in control of the situation might help them to keep their emotions in check as well.
Stimulating activities should be followed by a rest time, to calm their minds - and yours. Now, if your child is anything like mine, a nap is not usually in the forecast. Keep in mind, sleep is not the only way to rest. Try offering quiet activities, such as reading or doing a puzzle. After a sufficient amount of time has passed, (and you have had a break yourself) it might be a good time to get some play in.
Outside play can be a fun and messy way to get some hands on interaction with your child and to let out any extra energy before bedtime. A friendly game of soccer with the family can get your heart pumping and just might score you some points with the kids, too.
When dinnertime rolls around, don’t be afraid to let the kids help out. Kids are more likely to make healthy choices and try new things when they are involved in the process. Washing veggies, measuring spices, and stirring are important tasks that can be completed on their own with supervision. When it is time to serve, allow them to help themselves. This will give them control over their choices. Let’s face it, most kids are not going to eat their veggies unless it is on their terms. Dinnertime can be a great time to reflect on the day, and everyone can chime in.
Before you know it, it is time for bed. This can be a very difficult time for most parents. Our kids have never been so thirsty, scared, or had to use the bathroom this many times in the day until now. The key to conquer the bedtime monster (and I’m not talking about the one under the bed) is to be consistent. Bathroom routines are to be completed before bed, eliminating the surprise of “but I need to go potty!”
Now that they are in bed, thoroughly quenched, have emptied their bladders, and you have examined the room for any and all monsters, it is time to say goodnight. Maybe you want to disclose the plan for tomorrow, having a plan to look forward to makes for a good reason to get this whole sleep thing out of the way.
Setting appropriate bed times is very important in the execution of your routine. When we get enough sleep, we wake up ready to start the day. I hope that this article inspires you to create a schedule that works for you and your family!
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