But when the Sun has his hat on, then
the children want to play!
For many parents of young children,
this means sleepless or late nights, and early mornings.
ITS NOT FAIR
I remember my own two little ones
complaining at bedtime, about the children playing outside in the street, younger
And questioning me why they had to go
to bed, while the sun is still shining?
Often using guilt as their preferred
tool of triumph, protesting;
‘I don’t want to go to bed, it’s not
fair, the sun is still out.’
But I was confident that, keeping to
their bedtime routine was good for them. That’s how I managed to remain calm and
stay strong and persevere.
It was hard though, I must admit.
But had I felt guilty and uncertain, I
may have succumbed and given in, allowing them to stay up a little later?
That would have been a BIG mistake!
If we succumb to our childrens guilt
trips, and move the goal posts just once, we can expect our children to make us
move them even further the next time, as they try to find out how far they can
push things in their favour?
Guaranteed, next time, they will use
that as their trump card.
So, prepare yourself for most childrens
favourite phrase, you know, the one that makes most parents cringe in annoyance
at themselves of;
‘It’s not fair, you let me yesterday,
why not today?’
To which, no parent can ever find a
So, we either end up giving into them
once again, creating another unwanted habit, that’ll be hard to break?
Or, we become annoyed and upset with
ourselves, for giving in to them in the first place?
Resulting in a no win for us parents!
REVELLING IN THE RESULTS
That’s why, it’s best to persevere and
stay strong from the outset.
If we can persevere with routines until
we get the results we want, then life will become much easier for ourselves, as
well as our children.
Other parents and their children, (such
as those playing outside at bedtime) may take a different approach?
And that’s fine for them.
After all, they are the ones who will
be responsible for their own childrens health and well -being and managing
their own childrens behaviour.
But you will be responsible for your
children, no one else’s.
Focusing on the most beneficial, proactive
approach, that’s suitable for you and your child is always best.
This I may add, is not the easiest
approach initially. But I promise, long term you’ll be revelling in the
KEEP IT POSITIVE
It’s a good idea to keep a good
balance between, the positive reasons for following the routine, and the
negative reasons for not. This means, if our children refuse to go to bed, we
can point out the positive reasons why they should, and highlight the negatives
of staying awake.
A typical example could sound something like this;
‘Go to sleep now Sam or else you will
be too tired to play with your friends at nursery tomorrow, and that won’t be
any fun. And don’t forget that you’re going to need plenty of sleep to give you
energy, so you can climb that big climbing frame when you go to the park with Granddad
in the afternoon too! But you won’t be able to if you are too tired. And I know
you are really excited to do all that so, the sooner you go to sleep, the
quicker tomorrow will come, and you can show him how high you can climb.’
Always try to end on a positive.
This may seem like a long -winded way
‘Go to sleep!’
But it’s the quickest and most
effective way in the long run.
Highlighting the positives and negatives, encourages our children to want to follow routines, a lot more than just telling them to comply or else.
Providing an explanation helps them to
know, exactly why it benefits them and why we want them to go to sleep?
Routines then make sense.
And when they make sense to our
children, the sun may have his hat on, but our children will try to sleep
Children all over the country are
jumping for joy. Schools out for Easter, YIPEE!!!!
Or maybe ‘No way!!!?’ If you’re a parent crying into your coffee?
Its not that we don’t want to spend time with our delightful cherubs, eating chocolate eggs and playing the days away. It’s just we know how difficult its going to get after day three, when the sun stops shining and we’ve run out of art and crafts/ films/ books and things in general to entertain them.
And if you’re fortunate enough to have more than one little cherub to love and entertain, then you know that sibling rivalry and warfare will ensue. In this blog this week, we’ll cover entertainment, next week we’ll tackle sibling rivalry and staying sane.
Our children crave our time and attention and delight in any we offer. So, with their normal routine disrupted, if we just try to leave them to get on with it, they’ll probably misbehave in order to grab our attention. Partly because they just won’t know what to do, other than get hypnotized by a screen or digital device. Believe it or not children actually like being told what to do? It’s usually they way we go about telling them that’s the issue, not the instructions themselves.
School and childcare are great for our children because it gives them a structure to their day, which is broken up into various activities. They are also in the company of others their own age and they know what is expected of them, when and where and more importantly why?
At home through the holidays, this all goes out the window. They wake up too early or too late. They eat treats and snacks at various times of the day. If they have siblings they bicker, if they don’t have other siblings, they are alone or in adult company, which soon gets boring. Often, they lack the physical and mental exercise, as they’re not running around the playground or walking on the school runs, or stretching their brains. Meaning that at bedtime they are not tired and end up going to bed later, as there’s no school the next day. After a few days they don’t enjoy spending time with us as much, because the novelty has worn off, and our nagging is irritating us as much as them.
But stress not, there are ways to ease
Following (and also in next week’s blog
post) you’ll find a few pointers to restore some balance, keep them happily
busy, keep you sane and help you regain your composure these hols.
Keep to Routine
Our childrens Routines are simply their
everyday activities such as going to bed or eating dinner at a certain time.
Children especially like the
predictability and stability that routines bring in an otherwise chaotic and
confusing world. Lack of routine causes confusion and that results in
misbehaviour. If our children don’t know what is expected of them, when or why?
They get confused, angry and upset.
It scares them not knowing when or what to do, or not to do as the case maybe? It’s best to have a routine in place that they are used to. Giving them a set of instructions that they can learn to follow, until eventually they become an automatic habit is best.
Once they are in the habit of say,
having their tea at 4.30pm and going to bed at 7.30pm, let’s not break those
healthy habits because it’s the school holidays.
If we do break them then, re-establishing that routine again when they return to school won’t be easy!
great to spend family ‘Us Time’ together, but trying to please more than one
child at the same time can be difficult. Each will have different interests
from the other, and will likely try to compete for individual attention, but
being blessed with more than one child can make finding time for each one
generously giving of our time can become a stretch, each child will benefit
from the attention of one on one time, making them feel special and important.
That’s why it’s important to factor in ‘US- Time’ for each individual child, by asking each one to write a list of the things they would like to do during US Time. One child may be a football fanatic but if your other child isn’t, then taking them to football matches isn’t going to be the time they will enjoy. Of course, they’ll be times when they will have to tag along, but this isn’t what we class as ‘Us Time’. Maybe the child who doesn’t enjoy football can stay at a friends for a few hours, while you take the other child who enjoys football to the match?
also try to find some common ground, family Us Time together is still important
and finding things we all like to do, is a lot easier when we have a list to
look at and can see where everyone’s preferences lie. So get all those
individual lists together, including your own, and plan to do those things you
all enjoy together, alongside individual Us Time.
Us Time is not all about doing a
certain activity or going anywhere in particular, it’s about being together. What’s most important
is that you enjoy each others company and look forward to spending it together.
there are times when we all need some alone time too.
All children with time can grow to enjoy their own company, as long as they are given the opportunity to do so and receive adequate US Time, with us.
We’ll soon discover that after adequate Us Time that, our children soon bore of us and demand our attention less, naturally stepping back a bit, and giving us the space we need for U Time.
U time is exactly that, time just for YOU.
The truth is, even if we could give our children a hundred hours a day, it would never be enough. Our children’s need for our time and attention is insatiable, and can never be constantly met, no matter how hard we try, or how much time we dedicate to them. We need to clearly communicate the importance of time just for ourselves to them, in a way that stops them from feeling rejected.
We can do this by explaining that, we won’t be able to devote time just for them later to do whatever activity they want to do with us, if we don’t finish what we need to do first.
have to let them know in no uncertain terms, that we expect them to leave us
alone to get on with it. Our children
need more than a playmate from us, they
rely on us for everything, including their clean clothes. So finding time to do
chores, as well as time to pursue our personal goals is vital.
It’s not selfish to satisfy our own needs or do what we have to do, to provide the best life for our family. It’s the one thing that prevents us feeling resentment towards our children, for taking up all our time and energy. Therefore, it’s the most loving thing we can do for ourselves and our children.
we can fall into the parenting trap, of being so focused on our children that,
we lose the desire to pursue our own dreams and ambitions.
If this sounds like you, then now would be a good time to list as many things as you can in ten minutes that you would like to do, if only you had more time. This is where writing your own list, when getting your children to write their lists for Us Time, is also handy for some U Time ideas and inspiration.
will give you the clarity you need to discover what it is that you really want
list is not to include things such as spring cleaning your children’s bedrooms;
this is the time to list those things that will make you happy when doing them,
for no other reason than pure pleasure or relaxation.
Things like investing in a spa day, taking up windsurfing or whatever else happens to be your cup of tea. Try to be as adventurous as you can, but it’s not necessary. Even reading a book or going for a walk are great ways to spend time on you. All that matters is that it’s something for ‘You’ that ‘You’ really want to do.
MY U TIME LIST
Having things to do that you look forward to will keep you balanced and refreshed, so don’t neglect U Time.
This will help provide some free alone time for our children to ponder and daydream, but it’s also a good idea to plan some activities to occupy them too, until they learn the skill of occupying themselves.
the past fifteen years as a Childminder, I’ve had the opportunity to observe
different age groups of children, all playing together. At the beginning of my
career, I felt the need to structure and plan activities and to keep them all
experience has shown me that children require as little adult intervention as
possible, and more free choice and opportunities for spontaneous play.
is when they have real fun and enjoy each other’s company, and when you hear
real laughter and joy.
we interfere or try to entertain them constantly, they don’t learn how to amuse
themselves, and inevitably get bored when left to their own devices. This can
lead to negative or positive attention seeking
Give them the props, materials and resources, and leave them to it. A bowl of water in the garden and some plastic cups, never ceases to entertain little ones. Or some junk household recycling, can be used to build and create any number of things from their imagination.
Its not about technology or toys or going to expensive softplay areas or days out, an afternoon in the garden or trip to the local park is just as good. School holidays needn’t be expensive, the best things in life really are free.
However, If you have children of varying ages, or you want to keep them happily entertained for longer, a little intervention or guidance and some structure can be good.
Finding ways to stretch an activity, as well as their imagination and concentration is useful. Like suggesting they paint a treasure map and write a short story to go with it, while writing some clues to find hidden treasure for us to find, that they can make from junk materials such as bottles and boxes or play dough. This can extend an activity and prolong their interest and creativity.
Sometimes we can give our children too much choice and this can overwhelm them. We may think that by giving them lots of toys or laying out different types of creativities to do that we are keeping them occupied, but this can have the opposite effect.
we follow their every desire and whim, then no sooner than getting the paint
brushes out, they will be onto the play-dough shouting ‘Finished what’s next?’
Leaving us exhausted and frazzled by the end of the day, as they un-contentedly and continuously flit from one activity to another.
Adding interest to an activity as in the above treasure map suggestion helps, but sometimes, we have to let them just get on with their own business of playing.
Until next week, enjoy the hols, stay sane, Stay Present,