SELF CARE FOR PARENTS
I didn't support our children having more than one major out of school activity at a time, each. Because it impacted on family time we used to build positive relationships.
If the only people your kids are having fun with are outside the house, are your kids more likely to want to spend time at home or not?
For example gymnastics was three afternoons a week at one stage. It was when it was required to attend two morning before school and Saturdays as well as the three afternoons a week I decided it was too much of a family commitment to continue, especially as my eldest son was going into a Selective High School where there was a lot of additional homework too.
Children generally benefit from the predictability and structure routines offer
Routines provide the organization to support children's health, schooling and their interests
Limiting afternoon activities to one major commitment per child allows families to run more smoothly: e.g healthy meals, homework, time to maintain positve relationships
Routines support child independence, positive behaviour, organizational skills and autonomy
The fact my husband was unable to drive, but worked full-time, meant I spent a lot of time driving everyone to and from school and work.
We had one rule in the house during these years... and it was co-operate. And it applied equally to all of us.
Most of the time it worked well. Natural consequences occurred when it didn't work that way.
For example, if my kids chose not to cooperate in the mornings, I had less time available to play in the afternoons.
T.V. and computer time was a privilege in our household, not a right.
I certainly didn't get to watch it if my jobs weren't done.
I remember my Year 1 son being asked to get his home reader. But instead of being cooperative he dragged his heels. After fifteen minutes we were still having a power struggle.
The next day I explained he had fifteen minutes before his favourite show came on the T.V. If he went and got his reader, and did his ten minutes of reading, he'd get to watch all of his show.
But he chose not to cooperate.
Plus I explained I wasn't being a good mother if I let him behave irresponsibly, and not learn to read. It was his responsibility, every day, to get his home reader and come to me ready to read. And he had to do it before the TV went on.
The next afternoon I did the exact same thing, with the same time constraints, and he read within the time frame perfectly.
Not only did he get to watch his show every afternoon as he wished, but by the end of the year he became one of the best readers in his class, winning the Academic Excellence Award.
Reading became an absolute joy in his life because he used it to independently read whatever he wanted. And initially adhering to a regular routine made it possible.
I explained his show was on and he was missing out. But he thought he'd try to negotiate his way out of his responsibility.
He grizzled. 'It's too hard. It isn't fair.' And the time ticked on... After another five minutes of grizzling and whining, he saw I wasn't going to give in.
I explained that he had to learn to read, and it was his responsibility. It was my job to help but I couldn't do it for him.
My husband and I had learnt to read. His older brother had learnt to read. And he knew to read the level of books he wanted to, he needed to learn to read himself.
Cooperative kids can help make family life a real joy.
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