Friday, June 20, 2014

Deliberate Parenting

School is out for the summer.  This means I'm reminded once again of how I have a tendency to get lazy in my parenting.  When one child is usually gone all day and another one is gone half the day, I just let the little ones play most of the morning without thinking too much about "parenting".  And when the older ones get home, we only have so much time to worry about things like homework and piano before I'm working on dinner or the evening's activities.  So, I guess it's not just laziness but more like just going with the flow and letting life happen.

School is out and now all 5 of my children are home all day long.  What to do?  As much as I love having free time for the kids to just play all day, I also know they need a little structure to go along with that.  I've had to do that annual soul searching of "What do I want to accomplish this summer?" or "What is it I want to do with my kids each day or have them remember about this summer?"

The summer goes by so quickly. I've been reminded of the need for deliberate parenting.  What do I want to teach my children?  What kind of person do I want them to be?  I can't just let them go completely undirected.  If I want them to enjoy reading, I need to make sure there is time to read and take them to the library to choose books.  If I want them to enjoy doing things outside, I need to make sure we go up the canyon or go to the park or have the opportunity to spend time outside.  If I want them to learn to help other people, I need to provide opportunities for them to do kind things for others.

I know this is something I need to work on year round, but summer is always a great opportunity for me to evaluate how I'm "parenting" my children and what I'm doing to help them become the wonderful people I'd like to see them become.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Emotional Bank Accounts

I finally read "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen Covey. ( I know.  I'm like 15 years behind the times here.  I learned a lot of great stuff in studying this book, but one of the ones I really like using in parenting is the concept of emotional bank accounts.

The idea I use in parenting is that we have an emotional bank account with each of our children.  We make deposits into and withdrawals from this account.  Each positive or good thing we do is a deposit.  Each negative thing is a withdrawal.  For some of my children, even a little negative item ("You need to clean your room") can be a large withdrawal.  I need to make sure I have made enough deposits into the account ("Thanks for being so good about always putting your backpack away"), so that there is a positive balance in the account.

Very accounting-ish, but what can I say.  It works for me to remember this and make sure I'm making more deposits.  There will be times when withdrawals have to be made and I don't want to overdraw my account and have it go negative. The fees can be quite hefty when that happens.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Cheerleader/Coach Parenting

I had one of those "out of body" experiences the other day.  And no, it had nothing to do with dying and seeing a bright light.  I saw myself being "that" mom.  The mom running up and down the sidelines at a sporting event, completely oblivious to everyone else.

My children have never played organized sports before.  My 8 year old, though, decided this year that she wanted to sign up for the Orem Track Club.  Random.  They each get to choose one activity each year, and that's what she chose. (After finding out the archery class was filled up).

We went to her first track meet, not really having any idea what to expect.  She is not a fast runner, so she came in last in most of her events, but she still finished with a smile each time.  Isn't that part of the reason we do these things, to enjoy ourselves, not just to win?

Anyway, we had some discussions about maybe trying some of the longer distances, even though they were for the older kids.  She does not come from a family history of sprinters. :) We decided the 800m (about 1/2 mile) might be better for her.  So, we mapped out how far that was around our neighborhood so she could practice.  She ran the first time in 6min 8 sec. (For perspective, an Olympic time is just under 2min).  The next week she ran it in 5min 33 sec.  She was so excited that she got faster. Her comment was, "I guess track really does help!"

Race day came and it was time for the 800m. It was near the end of the meet, and was only supposed to be for ages 11 and up, so we had talked about how because it was older kids and boys and girls combined, some of the kids might be really far ahead of her. She didn't care.  She still wanted to do it.

The race started, and she was, as expected, at the end by quite a bit after the first lap.  As she neared the last corner for the race, I ran down to meet her and cheer her on.  For the last straightaway, I found myself cheering for her ("Go, Catherine, Go!"), encouraging her ("You're almost there, you can do it!"), coaching her ("This is where you sprint!"), to help her make it to the finish line. I think I was almost as excited as her when she crossed the finish line.  She was elated to hear them say her time was 4min 48 sec.  Even though she was probably almost a minute behind most of the other kids, she had gotten even faster. She had worked hard and accomplished something.

I know I looked silly running alongside the bleachers and track yelling for her, but I didn't care.  I was there to be her #1 cheerleader.  It even caused some of the other parents to cheer for her (which happens with the last kid in a race a lot of times). I thought "Wow. I'm that mom being loud and almost obnoxious." But, isn't that kind of my job? Isn't it my job as a mom, not just at a track meet but in life, to run alongside my child cheering and coaching her? Not running the race for her-I can't do that-but encouraging and helping?

I also thought about how God treats us.  Isn't he our biggest cheerleader/coach? Doesn't he run alongside us cheering for us and giving us help/hints on how to succeed? I imagine the joy he must feel as he sees us work hard at something and succeed on our own.  I'd like to be "that" parent.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Feeling like a good mom

I had a moment yesterday where I felt like a good mom.  I know.  I should feel like that a lot, but to be honest, it's easier sometimes to remember the times when I feel like a bad mom. It was 60 degrees outside, but I had to run some errands.  So, I piled the kids in the car to run to the bank and stop by the library for my daughter to run in and get her book on hold.  I then made an impulsive decision to just go to a random park to play, rather than bringing everyone home to play outside our house.  I just googled on my phone to find the closest park to the library and we went and played for an hour.

It was awesome.  Everyone had fun and I wasn't worried about checking the phone or being home getting dinner ready (thank goodness for leftovers). It was just a beautiful day at the park.  I looked at all of my kids being happy and having fun and thought "Look at these happy kids.  I'm a good mom for bringing them here." A moment of positive affirmation.  I think that sometimes as moms we need more of those.  And I think that sometimes God just gives us those moments to remind us that we're doing okay. I'll take those when I can get them and try to remember them in those moments when kids are yelling at each other or me and I'm not feeling like such a great mom.