Sitting with one of my long time friends, she began talking about parenting and her two little ones. She has a two and a half-year old and a ten month old. “Does it get easier?” she asked. She asked this and I reflected back to the time my first child was placed in my arms. It was so foreign to me and the years seemed like they would never pass. Becoming a parent was a change to me and so was my life. There are some that it seems motherhood and parenting comes natural, for me, it was a bit different. Perhaps, because I never paused to think about my life with kiddos? I am not sure. Though as I thought about it in those brief moments as my friend was waiting for an answer and I saw my eight and a half-year old playing for the most part independently and being okay doing that, my answer to her was yes, it does get easier in some ways. As children start growing you see their inclination to want to grow up and it’s a proud moment and a sad one too. Dependence of children when they are young can be so very draining on a parent. I have three children, each about three years apart, so I never encountered children that are really close together in age. I can see how that could be a bit more challenging. Some days as parents we feel as if we are being pulled in so many directions. Fatigue and tiredness set in and any kind of break is welcome and needed. It especially becomes a little more difficult when there is a lack of family support or limited help around. Not that having some else take care of your kids is what you are looking for, just a break, a moment to breathe, to regroup is a great gift. As a parent of young children, from ages 0-5, some of the things I found to be helpful during those “Does it get any easier” days:
- Get your kid or kids outside (summer is great for this of course but winter works too! Kids love the snow!)
- Read books for ideas on how to communicate with your little one. A couple of my favorite books are, Happiest Toddler on the Block and Happiest Baby on the Block by Dr. Harvey Karp
- Get the craft materials out. Kids love to get messy.
- Bubbles, kids love bubbles
- Have fun with them and give them structure. Visit my Build ME Blocks website for ideas.
What do you think? Does parenting get any easier as kids get older or does it just change?
Oh, I had a million things I could do, catch up on work, dirty dishes, sweep, pay bills, you know where I am going with this. And, there are many days that I do this. The kids were upstairs, content, no squabbles, no he did this, she did that, no tears, no screams of horror that need saving from mommy. Everything pointed toward relaxation time, a time that comes sparingly. Instead, a wild idea enters my thoughts to play with my three glued to the tv–hence the quietness–kiddos. Leaving the computer, thinking it is so very quiet, what am I doing, I enter the room. “Do you want to play a game?” They looked at me as if the Mom they knew had been captured by a magical creature (clarification, we do play games and this was not the first ever suggestion of playing games). They asked, “What game?” “You guys choose,” I said. We cleared some room so we could play Dizios. I played working to block out the things to do all around me. Many times I sit down to play and end up in my own game of pick up (better known as cleaning). Not today, today my full attention was with my kids. We played 30 minutes or somewhere around that time frame. Those 30 minutes could have been used to tackle many other things though I would not have ever had the moment–those 30 minutes of time with my kids.
Have you ever had an experience like this?
Jack’s Five and Ten, Grape and Orange Popsicles and 1 cent fortune gum—the best gum—memories of the past but history of the future. Instead of sitting in traffic on the Kennedy Expressway, we decide to take Cumberland to get us into the city. We hit the city and the neighborhood, streets and areas become familiar. 2543 N. Kilbourn, we are by the first house I remember as a kid. It’s actually and apartment. My parent’s help manage it and took care of the tenants. It is where my sister and I ate our neighbor’s fundraiser Tootsie roll tubes. They looked so inviting in those tubes with the slots at top. Mom was not impressed. “I am going to have to pay for all of those.” Her words still clear nearly 30 years later. I thought to myself, we ate almost all of them. “Oh no!” The backyard comes into view and I remember my childhood play: “I knew a senorita with diamonds in her hair,” my favorite black shoes, the tons of stairs that led down into the back common yard. The garage, the ally. We continue on, “that is the high school you would have gone to if we didn’t move.” Mom says. Kelvyn Park we come upon next. Sprinklers, Metal swing horses—not sure if they were trying to eliminate kids because these swings though fun were deadly! 2825 N. Kenneth, my favorite house. My Mom loved this house. Creativity would sneak in on cold days—tape recording my favorite songs of my favorite station B96. Snowy days Barbies would visit Alaska right out the window of my bedroom. Down the street childhood memories return like the sun on a bright day: neighbors, tragedies, kids and kid stuff. At the stop sign we turn left, Barry Elementary, the grammar school I attended until 6th grade. “Look,” I say to my kids—“that is my grammar school.” “That looks creepy,” they say. I laugh, “you should see the inside.” Past the ally my mom would walk me through when I called home from the office, sick for the 5th time that week. I am lucky she did not follow the “Boy who cried wolf” fable. Teacher problems, I wasn’t really sick. Being a kid seems like a different world as my mind travels back to my childhood. Looking back that different world was forming much of who I am today. Life lessons were learned, fears faced—conquered and not, consequences paid, milestones met. “Mom, I have to pee,” my three-year old bursts out as we are driving. Where will we stop, the neighborhood has changed so much since my childhood, we found a restaurant behind my grammar school. I had not walked near that school in years. A zap, the memories. My kids, our kids, they are in the midst of their childhood. Inventions, technology has increased the speed of life. That is my philosophy anyway. Kids, they are so eager to grow up faster. I am old school I suppose, I say be a kid, cherish your childhood, it only lasts just a short while and “the little years pass so fast.” These are famous words, I hear them all the time. I have no rebuke. I am seeing my kids grow before my eyes.
My heart and prayers go out to those kids whose childhood is less than a childhood in any way. I know that in certain circumstances…childhood can be less than optimal.
“Mom, I want to be your age,” my oldest daughter, who is six, said to me. My heart nearly broke. When I think about life, being an adult and going from kid, teenager, young adult, adult, into older adult, getting older adult and so on…I think of how little the time is to be a kid! 12 years out of 100 or so (hopefully). As a kid, I watched my parents, I thought, yeah, I want to make my own decisions when I get older, use the phone when I want, go to sleep when I want, eat when and what I want but I never realized how great I had it as a kid. Yeah, I had to listen to my parents and a lot of time I didn’t want to do what they said though as a parent now, I realize, I had it pretty good as a kid. We had money to get us through,simple vacations and drive-able cars, my parents took care of us and taught us how to be self-sufficient. We played with fisher price toys, played hopscotch, rode our bikes outside, caught lightning bugs on summer nights and enjoyed the stickiness of hot summer nights. We scraped our knees, watched Scooba Doo, Gidget and I Dream of Jeannie. Computers were barely coming into homes for personal use. Now, it seems like computers and technology are taking over and kids feel like they have to move faster, live in fantasy worlds and give up their childhood. I say, go climb the tree outside, enjoy the fresh air, spring breeze, fall crispness, winter freeze and summertime fun! Swim in pools, read outside, play at the playgrounds. Run, play tag, fall down. Have as much fun as you can in your 12 childhood years, being a grown up comes fast and then you wonder, where in the world did childhood go? And, responsibility, isn’t that for parents?
With young kids, bedtime can be rough. So much excitement during the day, running around, a running thought. So, how to get them to settle and look forward to bed. A little creativity, maybe? I love to hear the different ideas about kiddos and how to encourage them to take responsibility for themselves. The other day a friend of mine and I were talking. She had mentioned her kids bedtime routine had become a little hectic and it was wearing at her. She went with a “sleep fairy” idea, encouraging her kids to close their eyes for the night and to get their much needed rest. Though, the sleep fairy would not be able to come until they were sound asleep. When she did come, a little gift would be left under their pillow. She shared that this idea has been helping to have a more relaxed bedtime routine. So, if you are having trouble with kids getting to bed, give this idea a shot!
Do you have any other ideas that have been especially successful with your kids? Please share!
“It’s my turn, It’s my turn,” Isabella was expressing in her fervent voice as she ran to the mailbox. William had already won the race to the mailbox. I watched them as they ran to the mailbox and noticed how much they enjoyed doing this. I know as an adult I look forward to getting mail, the fun kind of course. As I think back, when I was a kid, I had a mailbox, one from Fisher Price or something similar. I can picture myself looking in the mailbox, wondering when the mail was going to arrive or how it was going to get there. When it appeared, I would be there to get it! I Wondered if there might be a letter, a surprise something special in that box for me. That must be the excitement of the little ones–wondering if there is something mysterious and fun in the mailbox. That day, I decided that they would each get their own mailboxes. I wasn’t sure how it was all going to come together or how it was going to work, or if they would even like it. I decided to have them make their own mailbox, well, at least paint their own mailboxes. We went to the craft store, picked up some unpainted wood boxes and brought them home to paint. William, Isabella, Daddy and Mommy and even one for Liam who was not born yet. They enjoyed this project and the idea that they would receive mail. We found a spot on a shelf in our family room that fits all of our mailboxes. When the red flag is up, there is mail! I write to each child, just a simple letter. The way I organized it is beginning with how the day was, notice some good things I saw in them during the day and remind them of some things they could work on to help themselves become better in their relationships, behaviors and actions with their family, friends and those they interact with. I include a little treat along with the letter. Perhaps it is the treat they like! Though, I have found that it is a great way to communicate and spend time with my children. We became quite regular at our mailbox time though for some reason we stopped. I thought the kids didn’t enjoy it, I thought I didn’t enjoy it. Today, I realized that I did enjoy it even thought it takes a bit of extra work. I also realized that it makes a difference to my kids and myself. I have not committed to everyday of mailbox though I will work to fit it in as much as I can. If you are looking for a fun way to spend time, talk to, or read to your kids, try a mailbox!
I include below an example of a letter I write to my kids.
Wow! I can’t believe how fast today went. Today was your first day of 2nd grade! How did it go? (He usually answers *smiles*) I have noticed that you have been working really hard at being an example to your brother and sister. That really helps mommy and daddy and our family. Thank you for doing that. Oh, I also noticed that you had a harder time sharing your toys today. Do you think you could work on sharing when your sister is asking? Alright, time for bed!
Dad and Mom
I usually include this as part of our bedtime routine. It is relaxing for the kids and for me. I have found it is a good way to wind down the day.
Have you used a mailbox with your kids? Does it work for you and your family?