I know it’s not fair to compare my life to others, but there are so many times I think about how much easier it would have been to be a parent 50 years ago. It seems like the things we worry about most in our kids are things that didn’t exist then. Screen time, the internet, stranger danger, and violence in schools barely even scratch the surface of what keeps parents up at night.
Starting a new year is the perfect time to reflect on what we did last year and figure out what we want to do differently. This should apply to our parenting as well.
How to Parent: Extra Curricular Activities
This year we dabbled in organized sports. It was an adjustment for our family, as we (read: I) am selfish with evenings and weekends and don’t like to be tied down to a sports schedule. But this year we tried a variety of activities and found what works well for us.
The bigs started First Tee here in Augusta the first week we arrived. Through the summer they participated, sometimes both of them, and sometimes just one of them. The schedule was consistent and planned in advance, and missing a day wasn’t crucial. Declan started basketball just before Christmas break, which consists of two practices a week, in the evenings. It’s not ideal, but it’s not terrible, especially because he’s old enough to drop off and pick up. Abi has piano once a week, where we all hang out in the van while she plays, and it usually goes just fine. The only other regular activity we have is Awana, on Sunday evenings, and all three kids go. (This one is a no-brainer, right?)
How to Parent: Friendships & School
Moving, and then not moving, helped the kids establish some friendships and routines. They both attend the same school this year and ride the bus. They have friends from the bus, friends from last school year and new friends. The whole neighborhood attends the same school, but most of their friends live within a few houses.
We’ve dabbled with sleepovers – both parties and individuals – and we still haven’t quite figured out where we stand. We’d like for kids to play at our house more, but we’re happy that they are playing with friends and outside.
How to Parent: Screentime & Discipline
We swing from one extreme to the other on screentime. We’re a tech-driven family and that makes it hard to say “no screentime, ever.” We limit what and when they are allowed to play video games, watch Netflix, and play on their Kindles. We take them away when they don’t do their chores, abuse the boundaries, or misbehave.
Each kid has their own responsibilities in the house, some they get paid for (when we remember) and some they don’t. They are good at doing them, but still, need reminders. We haven’t had any major issues with respect, discipline, or behavior. It’s been a good year.
How to Parent in 2019
I’ve decided that I’m not changing much in how I parent 2019. Sure, over the course of the year something will come up that makes me completely rethink my parenting method, but I can’t predict that. The most important things I can do can be summed up in a few words.
Listening – I need to spend more time listening to what my children are trying to tell me, and understanding that they may not know how to say it.
Availability – I want to remind my children, at every opportunity possible, that I am here. I’m here to help, I’mherer to listen, I’m here to hold them up and push them forward.
Setting an Example – I cannot expect my children to listen to me say do one thing, and then watch me do the opposite. So I need to make sure they see me. Whether it’s me reading, cleaning, working, exercising, or even crying, making new friends, and learning hard lessons.
As with all things parenting, the unknown is the scariest. But having a firm foundation and a solid relationship with those who help you raise your children are key. We can do this together!