A Busy Mom's Guide to Building a Team
On the average day the typical morning routine is wake up, use the bathroom, get changed, have/grab breakfast and we're out the door.
Later in the day we walk through the door, settle in, eat dinner, take a bath, have playtime then story time and hit the hay.
Most of our days are simple, uncomplicated and aside from the occasional cluster the machine runs pretty smoothly. Part of it has to do with sharing a common vision of the home front with the hubs and part of it is having a clear picture of how all the pieces of our lives can work in harmony. So much of parenting is experimental trial and error but mixed with some conviction and you stand to have a pretty solid theory. Mine consists of three things.
Rhythm and routines. Maintaining momentum. Every parenting guide book reminds us that adhering to routines lends itself to a more calm and centered child - anytime there's a repeated sequence of events there's less anxiety, especially where there's predictability. And who really wants to have to figure it out every single day anyway.
- DO: encourage and reinforce importance of routines by bringing enthusiasm to each activity, i.e. Which cool undies do you want to wear? What's your favorite color today - is that what you want to wear? I love breakfast - what should we have? And yes that means having cool undies or breakfast options to get excited about.
- DO: go off script every now and then for the sake of fun. Eight times out of ten I'm down for an autopilot kind of day but two times out of ten me and routines have a power struggle and I'll play the "thanks but we'll do what we want" or "because we can" card. And yes that means running through the sprinklers on a Wednesday night or skipping storytime to build a bedtime fort.
Space and Place. Our Home. We're traveled enough to know proper guest etiquette in others' home. We don't touch anything that isn't ours; avoid imposing our preferences; and are hyper-conscientious of how our host manages their home. This is exactly the opposite of how I want my kids to move around these walls. I love our home and every intimate detail, from the paint on the walls to the books on the shelf, is a reflection of us. And that means where there is art, there is a mini artist or interior decorator.
- DO: decorate on their behalf. All day everyday mid-century modern, said no child. Our rustic contemporary tastes do little to inspire creativity with them right now. Bright vibrant colors and shapes do. And any wall or detail that includes this in their home environment reinforces their place. For us that means having decals on walls or brightly painted furniture or accent containers throughout the house just for them.
- DO: dedicate "free" / parent-free spaces. We put toys and clothes away for them and generally undo many things they do. And as someone who rejects micro-management this would drive me nuts. While there are certain guides for cleanliness there are some spaces and activities that should be more or less child-managed. For us that means the their room is largely their boy-cave. It's their space and I respect however way they arrange their things. Particularly the magnet board with its animals, dinosaurs, numbers and letters; and chalk table, with its practice writing or raceways, is whatever they want it to look like.
The why in DIY. There's a few scenes in the DreamWorks movie Boss Baby where the baby slaps the mom's hand away every time she tries to assist with holding the baby's bottle. One part amused because that was both of my kids = one part amused because that's me in a nutshell. If I'm guilty of projecting anything on my kids it's fierce independence. There's no exaggerating a child's ability to learn and grow at this very early age so I've made it a point to create a home setting where my boys can test their limits by minimizing limits.
- DO: allow opportunities to build life skills. Strike a comfort zone with some daily activities and determine how much of it can be entrusted to them without you. To us that means all clothing is within reach and we encourage them to chose what to wear. Our fruit bowl is always full as is a drawer in the fridge and freezer that is completely accessible to them at anytime. They also have their own cupboard with plates, bowls, cups and forks. They are essentially free to make these choices and are equipped to satisfy their own needs. Here encouragement takes the form of empowerment.
- DO: acknowledge mundane accomplishments daily. While many of us have had the greater part of a lifetime making mundane decisions our little ones start counting these accomplishments in weeks and months. No one knows better than they do what it takes to get your shoes on the right foot or keep food on the fork and they deserve some credit. For us that means big high fives and lots of wows when they walk out of their room completely dressed without help or are sitting at the table with a snack they put together themselves. "I'm so proud of you" is never underused in our house.
Each home is unique with its own way of doing things but what's common above all things is that we are all trying and that's probably the most valued thing we share. It's parenting and it's a journey and since family is the source of all love that exists we are paving a well intended precious path.
I'm always open to any and every perspective so please do share any tips from your tribe - I'm all ears!
Lotsa love from our family to yours