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Super Mom and the Bratty Kids size>
This article, by Debra Newby, was originally published in the January-February 1995 issue of Home Education Magazine.
I have really nice kids. My children are home educated, and therefore we spend a lot of time together. (Just about every waking, and sometimes sleeping, moment) And you know what? I really enjoy being with them. But sometimes, I fall into the trap of being... drum roll please... Super Mom! Which in itself sounds all well and good, except for the result of my "attempt" at being a "Super Mom" is that all of a sudden my kids become.... another drum roll please.. Super Brats.
How can that be, you ask? I mean, isn't it important to take our kids to plays, concerts, ballets, museums, nature hikes, music classes, dance lessons and soccer practice? Yes, all of these things can be valuable. But not all in one week! The problem for me, living in Los Angeles as I do, is that there are so many great places to go, fun things to do, and interesting people to spend time with. And I want to do it all. My children do not.
An example of this took place at a recent Mommy and Me music class that I decided to add to our already hectic schedule. The class had an age span that encompassed both my children. Perfect! We can all spend some real quality time together (That famous buzz word for the nineties.) The kids can dance around with instruments, sing songs, do finger plays.. Wow! So off we go. The first few classes go well. Then my children stop participating. All they want to do is sit on my lap. I can't figure it out. Week after week, all they want to do is go to the class and sit in my lap. Finally, my three year old explains it to me. "Mom," he says. "I just want to sit in your lap at class because it is the only time you are sitting down." Oh.
I find that the more time I spend at home doing what I consider less "educational" activities, such as playing with my son and his train set, or playing tea party with my daughter, the more nurtured my children feel. To be honest, it is sometimes hard for me to see the value of playing trains or tea party until I start to connect the playing to their behavior and their satisfaction and contentment with life. Going to a museum every week, on top of everything else we do, is stressful. Going once a month is a treat. Also, all these activities that I choose for my children are so educational that I usually invite other families to join us. The kids spend time with other kids, and I get to chat with some other moms all day. This is fun for all of us. But, I have not spent time with my children. I have been with them but I have not spent time with them.
This has been a very difficult thing for me to learn. The strongest indicator to me whether or not we have been too busy is the way my children treat each other. If we have a different activity every day and we are constantly on the run, my children become total brats. I find if I make a point to sit and play with my oldest child, she feels nurtured, and then nurtures her brother by reading to him. I play with my son, and he later runs up to me and says, "Mommy, I am sharing with my sister." ( And he is sharing the toy that they both fought bitterly over the day before.) They both become very eager to help me and do their chores. I know it sounds too good to be true, but it happens all the time. We run all the time, and they become brats. We stay home and play more of the time, and they become loving, cooperative children.
Many people have told me that they would like to homeschool, but their kids fight all the time, and drive them crazy. My kids fight too, but only when we have been on the run too much.
I have shared my new found awareness of the connection between our activities and our family's ability to work together with my children. I now (at least try) to give them more choices on our activities. Often, when offered a trip to the museum or a day to stay home, my daughter will ask if we can stay home and play checkers. And I am discovering that this is what we really need to do. We still do go to museums, go on hikes etc., but just not everyday. If we have spent several days at home together cooking, playing games and reading, my children are ready for an "adventure." Going on a big activity usually means that rest times are missed. But, we go and have a great time because my children are rested and nurtured before we go. Then we stay home the next day and rest up. There are so many activities to participate in. My new philosophy is to say no to the good things, and say yes to the great things. And what could be greater than having your daughter beat your socks off in checkers!
© 1995 Debra Newby
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