Monday, September 30, 2013

Balancing Act: Balancing the Kids

Last week we talked about how you are enough. This week let's talk about balancing the kids. There are so many areas where this needs to be discussed. I am going to try and limit it to a few today.

Balancing Work and Children:
This topic never seems to get any easier. I have been on both sides of this as a working mom and now as a stay-at-home mom. There is just never enough time in the day. My advice is make all the time that you are awake with your kids count. I don't care if you are just sitting at a table eating breakfast with them, riding in the car with them too and from school/daycare, or watching T.V. with them at night.
- Be attentive and listen to what they did today or what they hope to accomplish for the day either at meal times or in the car. I realize that for the ones with younger kids that this will not be a "normal" conversation. My 3 year old keeps telling us all about his blue, yellow, and green work and how he gets candy and ice cream there- but he stays at home with me all day and I know all about his day. But my 13 year old is less talkative and since he is gone all day I try to engage him in more than his typical "school was fine" answer, even if that means that all I hear about is what the snake was doing in Science class today.
- Put work up in the afternoons until they go to bed or better still LEAVE IT AT WORK if at all possible. I know that sometimes you have to bring it home. Grading papers for teachers, internet research, paperwork, meeting preps, etc.- I know, believe me, I know. But try and wait until they have gone to bed to pull it all out or at least figure out a way that they can sit at the table with you and "work" too.
-I know you're tired. There were days when I was working that I was so drained by the time I got home that the last thing I wanted to do was sit in the floor and read outloud for hours or play with a bunch of action figures. And there are days that I didn't and now that my kids are getting older I regret not doing it. They are only little once. And since they are with someone else all day, this is the time that you get- enjoy it!

Balancing Technology and the Kids:
I am going more in depth on this one later this week. But the main thing is: PUT DOWN YOUR PHONE, LAPTOP, I-PAD. Give your kids your undivided attention. I know it is hard with these smart phones because you can check Facebook, browse the internet, look something up on Pinterest, and play whatever is currently the popular game (I think right now it's Candy Crush. At my house it is still Angry Birds- because you haven't beat it until you have 3 stars on every level.) It is very hard. I am guilty of this. I have kids that point out that there are somedays I seem to be on my phone or laptop more than with them. And that would be true. As a stay-at-home mom, there are days that I use it as an escape. I am working on it.

Balancing School and the Kids:
My children went to public school up until Fall of 2012 and the oldest one continues to go. And I am in awe at all the extra work that these schools are coming up with now for PARENTS. Costumes, projects, and my 7th grader brought home a paper last week that was a whole sheet of math stuff for the PARENTS to complete. I was in shock. And don't get me started on this homework that he is bringing home that I don't even remember ever learning the topic- EVER not even in college. But you are your child's first teacher. You need to keep being their teacher even after they go to school.
- Get to know the teacher at school, have an open relationship with them, know what is going on at the school. I can't count on my 13 year old telling me anything. But I talk to his teachers and other parents so I have a pretty good idea.
- Participate, participate, participate. Be as involved as you can. Go to PTO meetings, volunteer in the classroom if you can, and go on field trips. Let your children know how much you care about their education.
-Check homework. Even if you don't understand it. Make sure that they are doing it. Send a note and ask for resources to help you understand it.

Balancing Kid versus Kid:
I was an only child. I got 100% of my mom's attention when she was home from work. It. drove. me. crazy! Now looking back I see how much easier it was with one kid. I have 4. You may have 2, you may have 10. And all of those children want one on one attention. Give it to them. It only has to be 5-10 mins a day that they have you, by yourself, undivided talking to them. And it will make them feel important in a home where they may feel lost in the shuffle. It happens. The best part to me about home school is that my two middle boys both end up having one on one attention a lot through the day. My 3 year old pretty much demands a lot of attention and after school is over he knows he can climb in my lap, ask me to play cars, or just be held. That is his time. Set boundaries on one on one time or more like guidelines to the other kids about when they can interrupt, etc. Be deliberate in your attention. Saying all that- it works when you have older children. If you have more than one child under the age of 4 it doesn't work very well at all. But start young. Continue to be deliberate in scheduling time alone for each child. For us sometimes it means that we get a sitter for 2 of our kids when we go grocery shopping and then split the kids up in the store where we each have one child and they have one of us all to their selves. Do what you have to do.

Balancing Kids and the Hubby:
Again be deliberate. Make time for your hubby. It doesn't necessarily have to be a date night. My favorite thing is when I am cooking (or let's face it John is cooking on a night off) and John sits in the kitchen and talks to me. Sit next to him on the couch and watch a show together. Put down the phones and have a conversation. Hold hands. Little things matter. Just make sure that you are still spending time with him and putting effort into your marriage. One day the kids will be gone and you don't want to have a complete stranger on your hands.

Wow. That is a lot. And I know that there are so many more.

The main thing with balancing the kids is to be deliberate and be undivided in your time with them. I realize that is easier said than done. It is a choice that you have to make. And sometimes you have to bring work home or have a late meeting. It's okay. Just don't make it a habit to put it before your kids. And remember that you have resources. Ask for help when you need it. Love your kids so that they know you love them. Embarrass them, it's okay. Pray for them all the time. Teach them to love God and Jesus. Remember, GOD HANDPICKED YOU TO BE THEIR MOM! YOU ARE THE MOM THAT YOUR KIDS NEED. YOU ARE ENOUGH. 

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