Thursday, March 3, 2011

Dynamic parenting

I am the momma of kids who like routine. I like routine, too! The challenge is setting up routines and rules that fit with our family's priorities and are appropriate for the children's development. What I love is that as the parent, I can change the routine when it's not working. I don't have to do what any other family is doing or what any book suggests, but I can if I want to! There's tremendous freedom in being in touch with what my family needs and in adapting my parenting to suit our current phase.

The Jedis have a habit of staying up in their room and reading or playing until they finally conk out. It's awful, but we've had trouble figuring out what else to do without resorting to harsh punishment. The best solution is to stay in their room until they fall asleep, which cuts into our couple time. However, it makes a tremendous difference to A-man to have momma cuddle him in bed at night. I-M is the major culprit in the late-night partying, and A-man would gladly fall asleep sooner, I think. We've known this was the best solution, but it takes discipline to go up and do this every night. Now I'm falling asleep beside my A-man and getting up around 9:30 or 10 and moving to my bed. I take my iPod so that I have something to listen to while the boys settle down, and I really enjoy that time with them! I need to work some Bible stories into that routine as well.

The major benefit of this enforced bedtime is that the boys wake on their own around 6:45. I help them dress, and they quickly eat breakfast. Previously, we had to wake them and dress them while they woke up, and they gave us a hard time about choosing what breakfast to eat, and they dawdled through breakfast time.

Their reward for going to sleep earlier and for getting up cheerfully on school days is that they have about 30 minutes to play in their rooms. Any time they spend fussing comes out of their playtime instead of my time getting them out the door. I give them warnings as it gets closer to time to leave, and they can lose the next day's playtime if they are not obedient when it's time to go.

I like that my children can see that if a routine or rule isn't working, we can work together to change it. I love that they are learning about responsibility for their own morning routine. I especially love that the chaos can be tamed with a few little changes!

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