You’re doing what with your kids?
Seriously, stop the madness.
I cannot be the only parent who thinks that kids shouldn’t be the focus of everything. Don’t get me wrong, if my kid is in a burping contest, I will be there to cheer them on and make sure they are longest and loudest but this idea that they always have to be entertained makes me tired. The idea that they have to be “involved in” something every night of the week doesn’t work for me. I love my kids but I should be able to have a life, too. I believe that living our lives with everything our kids want to do at the center leads to self centered kids. Besides that if I am carrying them somewhere all the time so that they can have busy lives, when do I have time to fold the clothes?
“I was hoping maybe our kids could get together next week over spring break. I plan on carrying Little Johnny to the movies one day, to mini golf at the mall one day and then I am going to rent a bouncy house for the weekend. We will probably do those on Monday, and Wednesday because he has karate, basketweaving and baseball practice on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I just hate for Little Johnny to be bored and not get to do anything fun over spring break.”
Seriously? It is spring break. Little Johnny can read, draw, play outside, build stuff with Legos, and help do the laundry (call it a bonding experience) and the fun thing he gets to do? How about not going to school?! That is a fun thing.
This is the same kind of mentality that says “We are throwing a little party for Suzie Q because she got class favorite.” Hello people, the reward for being class favorite is BEING CLASS FAVORITE! I personally don’t even believe a kid needs a huge birthday party every year. Go ahead and make the call to child welfare.
If you have allowed this to slip into your life, how do you fix it?
Stop trying to convince your child (and yourself) that every moment in life is Pinterest worthy and that you have to do a bunch of “stuff” to be like whoever down the road that is taking their kids to Timbuktu for the weekend to watch the International Frisbee Throw Off.
Want to know what Little Johnny and Suzie Q would really like? Quality time with you. It doesn’t have to be a big elaborate thing. Trust me, kids can sense when you are finding them activities to do so that you don’t have to spend time alone with their annoying little behinds. When they are small, they won’t care; they will just love the fun stuff but as they get older, it will hurt their self esteem.
Does your kid really get on your nerves and drive you crazy? Maybe it’s you. Maybe you have created a little monster by not requiring anything from them besides smiling for a family selfie on Instagram.
Step one and step two…
- Help Little Johnny realize that he doesn’t have to be entertained every minute. If he is constantly telling you he is bored, find him a chore or two do. In this scenario, most kids will decide they are way less bored than they thought they were or they will just be less likely to come whining to you about it.
- Realize there is no award for the parent who spent the most money and drove the most miles. You don’t have to spend last week’s paycheck to have fun and Little Johnny needs to know that. You can find entertaining things to do at home (or close to home) for cheap. Be sure to look for teachable moments in all of them.
Cheap stuff to do with your kid:
- Go to the park. Before you go, have Little Johnny help you pack a picnic lunch. Eat it together at the park. Don’t have a park nearby? Eat it in your yard. Don’t have a yard. Eat it in your living room floor and teach Johnny about make believe!
- Wash the car. I know this is work for you, but unless Little Johnny is already a teenager, he will think it is fun to help and get wet. If it turns into an all out water war, so much the better.
- Have an all out water war. Hoses, buckets, sponges, water guns – whatever you have.
- Lay on a blanket and look at the clouds.
- Take a walk. Talk about different plants you see or houses or cars or dogs or cats or squirrels or whatever – just talk to your kid.
- Ask them what they want to be when they grow up. When he says nurse and she says firefighter, ask some questions. Why? Where? Kids? Dog? Ford? Chevy?
- Volunteer at the animal shelter. I know this sounds a lot like work, but you and your kid will feel good about it and you can talk to them about responsible pet ownership. Use the teachable moments.
- Plant a small herb garden together. This is another teachable moment. You can talk about the plants – how they look, how they smell, how things grow. Then, you can use them later to cook something together.
- Visit a nursing home. My kids have always been good with elderly people and it a good way to teach them about doing nice things for other people without any expectation of getting something in return.
- Fold the laundry. Yes, your kid can help and needs to. Children need to know that it is work for you to take care of them. If they don’t do it perfectly, LET IT GO. The main thing is that they try and that you spend time together.
Use what you have and enjoy the teachable moments. Let me know how it goes!