Archive for the ‘special time’ category

Big lessons from little ones

February 28, 2011

slowing down, conscious parenting, savoring the moment, appreciating everything that children can teach us, living in the moment can all be learned from children. Children can be wise teachers. Carl Honore wrote about about being in the moment because of what his son taught him about bedtime routines and bedtime stories. Slowing down is an important lesson of parenting. Having patience is one of the most important things a parent can learn from their children. Parenting is about patience, love and forgiveness.Welcoming my firstborn into my world when I was 22 years old changed the course of my life and taught me more about life and love than I ever imagined.

Casey Anne and her three siblings put every human excrement imaginable on my narcissism and flushed it all down the toilet. She forced me to think about someone else besides me, and to put me second. Ironically, that became a habit. A decade later, I had to resurrect my needs from the toilet and take better care of me.

My children taught me how to be interrupted and still get something done — in addition to taking care of them. The hardest jobs are when you’re constantly interrupted — like secretaries, teachers, nurses and mothers.

Bob and I bought a house that had been neglected when the children were 4, 2 and 6 months old. The 35 windows were so gray with dirt that you couldn’t tell the weather outside. Every day for a month, I plopped them in front of Sesame Street and washed three windows until chaos erupted and I surrendered — another lesson from three children born in three-and-a-half years.

The most valuable lesson was patience, to slow down to their pace, to revel in the present moment. To appreciate humongous earth movers and construction sites; wild animals like squirrels, ants and robins; the wonder of a train station or airport.

Bob and I spent more than a decade giving the kids a nightly bath, reading a book, singing a song and tucking them in. It was like a meditation, and it worked, because they stayed in bed and went to sleep early. It bonded us for life.

In a lecture on Ted Talks,  journalist Carl Honore said that reading a bedtime story to his son taught him to slow down his hectic life. It inspired Honore to write a book “In Praise of Slowness,” a valuable lesson to most 21st century Americans.

Now in their 20s, my “children” continue to teach me different lessons about relationships, technology and  life. They’ve returned the favor — I was their most important teacher because humans learn more in the first four years than they do for the rest of their lives.

When my children were little, they patiently allowed me to make the same mistake, over and over, until I figured out to do something different. Nowadays, they could have more patience now with their ol’ Mom, but they haven’t had any children to teach them — yet.

What have your children taught you?

Let them work it out. It will work out better that way.

December 20, 2010
Sibling rivalry is a part of growing up. Holiday times intensify everything -- including rivalry. WHen children fight, the best thing is to let them. Children learn how to negotiate from sibling rivalry. You might be afraid the children will hurt each other. They might. Then they learn that fighting hurts and bigger people are dangerous and can hurt you. Little people have their ways to find revenge against older and stronger and smarter siblings. When parents are judge jury and executioner, it sets up a dangerous precedent.

Two of our family's most prized creatures: Snow Bear and Gonzo.

That’s Snow Bear, given to our four children by my in-laws about 20 years ago. My children, now in their 20s, will see Snow Bear this week and say in jest, “Snow Bear! I want to sleep with him!”

Snow Bear made a limited appearance every December, which heightened his special-ness. You can see, despite his age, he is still pristine. That’s Gonzo beside Snow Bear, another fought-over treasure in our home.

The children fought for the privilege to sleep with Snow Bear and Gonzo. Many tears were shed over who would sleep with Snow Bear.

Christmas is already a time of heightened emotions and expectations that children can barely contain. We adults forget that intense feeling of Christmas anticipation,  which for us would be like a combination of: dynamite about to explode; an unrequited crush on someone; sexual desire; worry over job security; looking forward to a vacation; and meeting your idol — all on the same day.

Kids are going nuts for the next six days until Santa arrives and they have the 15 minute present orgy. Take it easy on them and know that their emotions are on edge. Every feeling will be intensified, including sibling rivalry.

Especially sibling rivalry because brothers and sisters will see each other get something more than they got; or see them get something they wanted and didn’t get; or perceive that mom and dad love brother or sister more.

The best medicine for sibling rivalry:

1. Let them work it out.

2. Even if there’s a big or small age or size difference, Let them work it out. They will and they will learn so much more than you will ever teach them by serving as judge, jury and executioner.

3. Even if you are worried for their safety, let them work it out. Smaller people will learn an important rule of the world: bigger people can hurt you, so don’t mess with them. They will all learn that fighting hurts.

One year Snow Bear went back into the attic because the children couldn’t work out a sleeping schedule for him. Removing a toy is very effective: “Either you all figure out how to share Snow Bear, or no one gets him.” Then take action — quickly and with as few words as possible.

When my children fought, they were escorted outside to resolve the disputes, where on cold nights without an audience, the disputes ended rather quickly.

When children are allowed to work out their differences, they learn negotiation skills, that fighting hurts, that scarce resources can be shared, and most importantly, the self-confidence that they can work it out and make good decisions.

Make sure your children are getting daily doses of positive attention without asking for it and they don’t have to use fighting or other negative behavior to get your attention. As you know, assure them they are all loved equally. Do not show favorites. Do not imply favorites. Just don’t.

Special time

September 22, 2010

Mother-daughter time is so important. How much time and attention do children and adult children need? Spending time together is the foundation of a relationship.

Casey, my firstborn, preparing red peppers to grill and serve with goat cheese, a family favorite.

Casey and I spent some “special time” together a few weeks ago. We went to the Brimfield Antique Fair for a day, came home and fixed dinner together, and she spent the night.

I wrestle with how much time together with adult children is the right amount. I’m lucky that she lives nearby, which means we must be intentional about inviting each other to do things.

For the last 14 years of my mother’s life, she lived 350 miles away. I assumed the invitation for her to visit was always open.

However, my mother said, “Invite me.” I took her advice and sought out events that would pique her interest and be the catalyst for a visit. Then she didn’t have to feel like she was intruding.

I enjoyed the special time with Casey. We both took a day off work to be with each other, uninterrupted, for a whole day. It was marvelous.

When my children were growing up we feebly attempted to schedule special time with all four of them. Stephen Covey scheduled special time each month with each of his nine children, why couldn’t I schedule special time with only four? Obviously I was not effective enough! It’s challenging when teenagers want to push parents away, not spend more time together.

No matter what the age of your “child” ensure that you set aside time each day, week or month to be together, with no agenda. If they’re under age 5, 15 to 30 minutes a day of time together is an excellent investment because it will satiate them.

For ages 6-11, 15 minutes a day along with family dinner is good.

Ages 12 and up, insist they eat family dinner with you. Ignore their resistance. It’s the best investment you can make in their mental and physical well-being according to research.

For teens and tweens, find an activity you both like to do and schedule it at least once a month — or more.  You are laying a foundation for a lifelong relationship and nurturing an individual you want to spend time with.