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I was on the phone with my friend Gretchen when I heard screaming in the background. Her daughter had gotten pushed into a door knob by her feisty brother. Gretchen multi-tasked well, soothing her child without missing a step in our conversation. The second time her daughter came in screaming I heard thumping and dead silence. Gretchen saw her daughter coming and ran out the door escaping into the yard so that we could finish our conversation. We shared stories of having to shut ourselves in the bathroom to enjoy an adult conversation with a friend and agreed that it was time for the kids to go back to school.
The boys change so much from one summer to the next and I am enjoying that my role as a mother is changing. I am able to play with them more and cater to them less. The only caveat is the closer we become the more they begin to take ownership over me. My time becomes less my own and time with Wade gets more and more monopolized. To share intimate moments together is almost impossible. If we do manage to slip away we will often hear little gremlins trying to pick the lock on the bedroom door to steal their mommy back.
As Americans we tend to over indulge our children. After a summer playing Camp Director, I have decided that next summer will be different. I have done my boys a disservice by mapping out their days. Next summer I will encourage them to explore our neighborhood more and find the frogs and other treasures in the surrounding countryside, just as I did with my sister’s when I was their age. No longer will I take the responsibility of entertaining them every day and no longer will I be following them around the house cleaning up after them. I will establish a routine now that will hopefully help them with the transition back to school.
We will resort back to our chore list, which I never should have let go over the summer. The list helps the children to better understand their responsibilities as members of the family.
Good habits are not easy to establish, but without them children can feel lost. According to Dr. Laura Markham, a clinical psychologist, specializing in relationship-based parenting, routines help children feel safe and ready to take on new challenges and developmental tasks.
Dr. Markham says that kids who come from chaotic homes, where belongings are not put away, never learn that life can run more smoothly if things are organized a little. In homes where there is no set time or space to do homework, kids never learn how to sit themselves down to accomplish an unpleasant task. Kids who don’t develop basic self-care routines, from grooming to food, may find it hard to take care of themselves as young adults. Structure allows us to internalize constructive habits. Structure and routines teach kids how to constructively control themselves and their environments. http://parentstoolkit.squarespace.com/structure-routines-kids/
I heard on NPR that the routine of sitting down to dinner every night as a family is more important than reading books to your children. It gives children a sense of security and belonging to know that they will have a time every day where they can be listened to by their parents and where their stories can be shared.
According to the Raising Children Network, research has shown that routines have health benefits: children living in families who maintain regular family routines have fewer respiratory infections, and those they have tend to be shorter. There is still some conjecture about why. It might be that the routines contribute to healthy habits like washing hands which prevent transmission of germs that can cause illness, or that they help protect children against the kind of stress that suppress the immune system.
For those of you who are having a difficult time adjusting to the change, try not to lament that the endless days of summer are coming to an end. Embrace the new school year with open arms knowing that the children are getting the education and structure they need to help guide them through life. Enjoy your new free time and indulge yourself! I know that I will.
About This Post
It’s back-to-school time, and this year Sprite and TwitterMoms have partnered with bloggers like me to share back-to-school tips and tricks, advice, stories and more! Visit Sprite’s back-to-school channel on TwitterMoms to get helpful ideas, learn how to survive the back to school rush, seek out advice from other TwitterMoms and join the conversation. You can learn more about donating your My Coke Rewards Points to support your local school, how to enter for a chance to win some Back to School cash, check out recipes, or even play some fun games. Here’s to a successful and stress-free back to school season from Sprite and TwitterMoms!