I’ve come to realize that raising children takes alot of effort and consistency. In order to simplify things, I took cues from my daughters’ classrooms. Surely, if 2 teachers can manage to have 22 kids on a schedule with smooth transitions (most of the time), I KNOW that I can do the same, after all I only have 2. And so the journey begins . . .
First I had to BREAK a key BAD HABIT:
- TV Time – As a working mom, I MUST HAVE HELP (I have no idea how I would manage without my mom aka Nana, she is a GOD SEND! Many have tried to steal her and failed). What people don’t realize is, help can be a blessing and a curse. My mom, as with most grandparents, caves easily and TV time was becoming obsessive in my house. One day, I realized that the more the kids watched TV the more agitated they were and the more they refused to go to sleep at bed time. So I decided to break the cycle THEN AND THERE! I made it clear to my mom that the girls were not allowed to watch more than 30 mins of TV and I made it clear to the girls that going forward, TV time was earned not given (initially they had to make a “happy plate” to earn TV time, I’ve since relaxed the rules but 30 mins remains intact during the week). I also explained why I was making the change (I explained their behavior and asked them if they used good or bad manners which helped them draw the right end conclusion) and gave them a heads up that the change was effective the next day. I reminded them of the plan the next morning and afteroon and realized that I was thankful to be at a stage where I could reason with my children and IT WORKED!!!!
- Sports – It is important to introduce my girls to the things my husband and I love. The Zs play tennis 3x per week (Dad is a tennis coach so that makes this quite easy. Dad also loves golf so we are able to make it to the driving range on occasion). It is also equally important, if not more important, to support their needs/interests so they also take Swim Lessons and Ballet. Although, they now believe they are Simone Biles and they want to take up gymnastics (changes coming soon)!
- Outdoor Play – This is a great way to burn som energy and have family time before dinner. We either go to the park, ride bikes (I let them do this indoors if it’s cold – bad weather does not stop the fun in my house), jump on the trampoline, workout (YES, my kids LOVE to “workout”), roller skate (thankfully I have hardwood floors so they can do this indoors as well). . . or whatever activity I can think of to keep those Zs engaged and entertained.
- In Home Learning – I believe in making learning fun and reinforcing what The Zs are learning in the classroom. I stumbled upon www.SightWords.com and got some great techniques to teach sight words and games to reinforce learnings in a fun way (The Zs love BINGO, Fly Swat and Snakes and Ladders). Khan Academy was recommended by one of my husband’s clients and the girls took to this right away (it likely helped that I encouraged them to use Cheerios as a counting aid and they get to eat them if the answer is correct). This has become a great tool that The Zs look forward to using as well as a good way to speed quality time together. I recently added Spanish to our routine via the Duolingo app. The Zs have also had an affinity for learning Spanish (some of the questions are too difficult for them but we typically skip over them and and I fortunately know enough Spanish to explain what the app may not). The Zs were enjoying spanish so much that they now have private spanish lessons (special shoutout to hicksworldlanguage.wordpres.com)
Third I had to introduce REWARDS
- “Healthy” Special Treats – I typically have all fruit popsicles (I also make these myself from time to time with 100% fruit juice and fresh berries), fresh fruit/berries, applesauce or ice cream and allow the girls to choose their “healthy snack”
- Memberships – We typically sign up for an annual membership so we can have regular fun! The Children’s Museum of Atlanta and Zoo Atlanta have both been great options thus far (The Zs have requested The Georgia Aquarium next so they can see the new Sea Lion exhibit). These activities are both fun and educational and gives us something to do together frequently.
- Special Activities – I love to bake and The Zs love to help so we plan baking activities together and they love to share our treats with their teachers.
- Family Date Nights – The Zs love to be out and about! For family date nights, they get to decide what we do as a family. We often rotate between their favorite Sushi restaurant (Yes, The Zs LOVE sushi! They started with Tuna Rolls and now they are obsessed with Hamachi), Main Event or the movies. This has proved to be a great way to spend time as a family while rewarding the girls for following the rules.
These tips continue to serve me well by providing my girls with the structure they crave. I have always been a fan of winging it but I have quickly learned that routine is best for The Zs. Please feel free to share some tips that have worked for you. I’d love to add them to my list!