Tag Archive: raising children


Uni-tasking

160A few days ago, I was sitting at the table talking to Will about kindergarten, checking facebook on my phone, watching Ellie out of the corner of my eye hiding behind a chair (this is how she poops now, hiding behind a chair for privacy. The parents reading will understand this), and I had breakfast on the stove. I was the definition of multi-tasking. I am super mom, hear me roar! So, why then, do I feel crummy about it?

Have you noticed how much we value multi-tasking in this country? At work, one must be a good multi-tasker. It is a standard interview question now, “Are you a good multi-tasker? Give us an example of a time….”. We have become obsessed with how much can you get done in the least amount of time. We all have so much going on in our lives and it seems like we never have enough time to get it all done.

But at what cost?

When you are doing 4 things at 1 time, chances are, you are not doing any of them very well. I probably wasn’t giving Will the attention he deserved, I certainly could have used the opportunity with Ellis to get her to sit on the potty, and I probably over cooked the sausage. I really nailed my facebooking though!

Multi-tasking has become such an obsession that I actually now find it harder to uni-task than to multi-task. How often are you just truly engaged and focused on the task at hand? Go to a park and look around. You’ll see mom’s every where on their phones. Go to a bar and look at a group of friends. They are all probably ‘checking in’ and tagging each other and seeing where everyone else is and…. You get my point. We are never ‘just where we are and with who we are with’.

People hearing their text message alert while they are in the middle of a conversation is the human equivalent to the movie UP where the dog goes, “Squirrel!”

squirrel
As a parent with young children I feel like this is my chance to teach them a valuable life lesson. If I don’t want to raise kids that stare down at their phones while they talk to me, I can’t do that to them. I don’t want to teach my kids that getting a lot of things done is more important than the quality of what you create.

I want to teach my kids that it is possible to prioritize their lives in a way so that everything that is important can get done.

Time is not our enemy, WASTING time is our enemy. A lack of prioritizing is our enemy. A lack of consciousness is our enemy. (more to come on our relationship with big bad TIME)

My first step is to identify my ‘drifts’. In other words, the things that I do that suck me out of consciousness. Things like facebook, television, alcohol, staying up too late and subsequently sleeping in too late. Once you know the things that cause you to drift, you can be more aware of when it’s happening. This doesn’t mean I am giving up TV; I am certainly not giving up alcohol! But, I’m going to try not to slip into these drifts without consciousness.

And I am going to practice my uni-tasking! If I am with the kids, I’m going to put the phone away and focus on them because they deserve it. If I am writing, I am going to go somewhere away from the kids and television because I deserve that. If we are eating, we are only going to be eating (no phones, no televisions) because my family deserves that. If I am out with my husband, I will keep the phone in my purse and focus on him because he deserves it.

I am going to start valuing uni-tasking as a skill. “Name a time when you focused on one thing and did a great job”

What about you? How do you drift?

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will dinnerThis blog has been in my brain for a while now and I am finally putting my thoughts down and together. It all started a couple months ago when my family was going to go out for dinner. It was not a fancy restaurant, but it wasn’t a chuck-e-cheese either. My 4.5 year old son and my 1.5 year old daughter were coming with us and three other adults. I don’t know about you but there is always a little anxiety about how they are going to behave. Right before we left, my husband said, “Should we bring the Kindle for Will?” I was surprised by my reaction but I said, “NO. Absolutely not! We are not going to be that family that doesn’t talk to each other because we are all staring at a screen!”

I said I was surprised by my reaction because I never really thought about it before that moment. Of course we have all seen that group of people out: no one is talking, everyone has their cell phone or tablet or game boy (or whatever kids use these days). But I had never thought about what I was going to do as a parent to prevent that with my own children. The more this idea sat in my brain, the more I felt compelled to write about it.

So, I will ask the question again: Do your kids now HOW to be bored? Do your kids know how to BEHAVE when they are bored? Dinner at a restaurant with a bunch of grown ups is not fun for most kids. They have to sit still, use inside voices, have polite conversation, eat different tasting food, etc. This is dreadful for the average 4 year old. Is it easier to give them a tablet and have them play angry birds for an hour? Of course it is! Does that teach them anything? Absolutely not.

ellie box

As a parent I believe it is our job to make sure our kids are capable of entertaining themselves, speaking clearly to other grown ups, sitting for five minutes without some kind of electronic entertainment. If every time they are on a road trip they can watch movies in the back of mommy’s seat they will never play the alphabet game with their sister. If every time they are sitting in a waiting room they are playing with a cell phone they will never play I Spy with mom. If every time they are bored at home they play on the computer they will never go on a treasure hunt in the back yard or play pirates with their brother. If every 5 mins. mommy has an activity planned they will never learn to have fun with only a box. If every time they are at a restaurant they have a tablet to stick their nose in they will never learn the importance of small talk and table manners and the joy of sharing a meal with the people that they love.

will treasure

I am grateful that my grandma used to tell me to sit up straight, and say ‘yes’ not ‘yeah’, and to put my napkin in my lap. I LOVE that my husband takes off his hat when he sits down at the dinner table. I love that my family still all gets together to share meals. And, I love that when we do, we don’t watch TV.

Kids are naturally resilient and creative and have amazing imaginations. As parents we don’t need to do much other than occasionally say NO. Say no to the TV. Say no to the computer. Say no to the constant requests for ‘mommy’s full attention’. It is okay to tell your kids to ‘just go play’. It is not mommy’s job to constantly think of things for your kids to do. Every day doesn’t have to be planned and structured with mom as the entertainment. They will naturally figure out what to do. Sure they might fight you a little. It might be frustrating at first, but worth the trouble! Besides, they have their whole adult life of no creativity or pretending to look forward to!

Let’s all take a pledge: I hereby promise to have at least 5 dinners per week without any electronic entertainment! I will unplug (at least partly) on the weekends, and encourage free play (for kids and parents!). I will teach my kids that even though they are bored, they still HAVE TO BEHAVE. I will be firm with my children when they misbehave in public (or at home).

I will teach my kids that ‘mommy will not have that shit!’

Are we too kid crazy?

This is a question that is on my mind often. Have our lives been taken over by our kids? Sometimes I almost feel like there is something wrong with me because I am not willing to sacrifice everything for my children. To answer this question, I think we need to ask ourselves:

Why do people have kids?

Do we have kids because society tells us to? I hope not. That’s a pretty big commitment for something that you don’t really want.

Do we have kids for the sake of the kids? No. The kids themselves don’t exist yet and are therefore no better or worse off if they were not conceived.

You could make the argument that you are doing it for society or for god, but we are so overpopulated as it is, that is not very likely.

No, most of us do it for ourselves. To make ourselves happy, to complete our lives. Pretty selfish, huh?

So why is it then that we forget about ourselves and our lives as soon as the kid is born?

It is our natural instinct to protect our children and keep them healthy. That is thousands of years of evolution. ‘Take care of your kid or he’ll get eaten by a saber-tooth tiger.’ There are obviously less threats to children these days (less wild animals, less plague) so we have replaced that worry with modern day anxiety. Are we doing what’s best for Hannah? Are we giving Julian every chance to succeed? “I better expose them to every possible activity and tell them to how great they are and put my life on hold.”

Back in caveman days, your job WAS to procreate. You were done after you created a couple viable off-spring. Mom no longer mattered after that.

Well, times they are a changin’!

My identity is not my career. My identity in not “mommy”. My identity is Candy. Yes, I have a career, and Yes, I have children. But that is not what defines me. That is not what makes me- me. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my children to death. You threaten my babies in anyway and I will come at you with all the crazy inside me. But, ‘Mom’ is not who I am.

As parents we make a lot of sacrifices for our children. My husband and I have to make decisions by prioritizing every day of our lives.

Preschool > Eating out

Mortgage > T-ball

Mommy’s wardrobe > Kid’s wardrobe

Mortgage > Mommy’s wardrobe

Now, I’m not saying I’ll let my kids go to school looking like scrubs or having them wear the same 2 t-shirts every other day. But, let’s be honest. Whose wardrobe is more important? Me- who works in a professional setting, or my son who plays in the dirt? I know so many moms that haven’t bought anything nice for themselves in so long because, “they only get stuff for the kids now”. I have a one year old, she doesn’t give a sh*t if she is in a onsie or a pretty dress.

What about exercise? You don’t have time to workout because your kids are involved in a different activity every night. Prioritize! Fat, tired, and neglected Mommy is not a happy Mommy. (See Mommy Martyr: http://wp.me/p2kXHK-1b )

So, back to my original question: Why did you have kids? To enhance YOUR life. I know that sounds selfish but it’s not. We have just been trained (brain washed) to think other wise.

Now this does not mean we don’t try to make our kids happy. But, what makes kids happy?

-Time with you

-Being loved

-Being well-adjusted (not spoiled)

-Having adequate social skills

-Being prepared for the future

Notice I did not say Disney World, Horseback riding lessons, and a fancy closet. Our kids value what we teach them to value. Sure everyone likes ‘stuff’, but we don’t need it. I truly believe there is an achievable happy medium:

-Adequate socialization through activities, but not so over-scheduled that everyone is stressed out.

-Enough stuff (toys, clothing, computer) but not so much stuff that they don’t appreciate what they have.

-They need to know that they are important, but that the world doesn’t start and stop at their convenience.

-They need to know that you will make sacrifices for them but that you will not lose yourself along the way. Remember, they will be parents some day too and they are learning from you.

-We need to tell them how wonderful and how loved they are, but we also need to keep them grounded. Not every kid can be the best at everything. Not everyone can win first prize. We need to make sure they don’t have a false sense of entitlement. Teach them how to have confidence despite their imperfections.

I don’t know if any of this will ever change. I don’t know if I’m wrong and actually am just selfish. But, this IS what I believe. We are kid-crazy, kid-centric, kid-blind. It is going to come back and bite us some day. I apologize for not knowing the source of this quote, but someone once said that “The greatest dis-service we could do for our children is to make their lives easy.”

Where are you on your priority list?

 

*On a side note, I say Mom/Mommy because it is easier than saying Mommy and Daddy every time. There are plenty of dedicated dads out there who go thru the same things. No offense meant.