Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Child-rearing nuggets of wisdom

So with the first of my brood about to fly the nest (stop - I can't even talk about it. Sniff), and many bloggers with years to go till then, I was thinking I'd share a few nuggets of child-rearing wisdom.

Then I realised I didn't have any so started pondering the things I might have done differently with the benefit of hindsight. Oh yes, there are a few things:-

- spend time in the kitchen with them. Doing so might have made me more tolerant of the whole experience myself, but more importantly, not only does it give them a much-needed life skills, it kills occupies a lot of time. Now I'm having to cram cooking survuival skills into the last four months with the Queenager.

- eat together as much as possible. When the older two were little, the Ball & Chain travelled a lot or came in too late to eat with them. Now that he's the big boss (ie. has no more promotions to chase) he works less hours and travels less. Now the less frequent travel has a huge downside, which I blogged about not long ago and am still coming to terms with. However, the upside is that we have family dinners at least three school evenings a week, if not more. It really makes a difference, and is invaluable when they are teenagers. Your under-10 year old might talk your ears off now, but it doesn't always continue and you need to keep the lines of communication open with teens.

- watch the extra-curricular schedules. When they're little, kids it's easy to enrol them in lots of different activities; in reality, it makes for very tired children and a worn out parent or two. As they get older, they drop a few of these activities, and are no worse off for it. While it's great to expose them to a wide variety of things, they will gravititate to what really interests them with very little pushing from you. In fact, if you're having to push them to do anything, you should probably examine your motives.

- don't sweat the small stuff. I have to admit I never really did this in the first place. They never had clothes that "weren't suitable" so I never had wardrobe battles, and if, like the Man-Child, he wants to wear a bandana for his first ever two weeks at school, so be it. As long as it's OK with school. He is now sporting a giant mohawk, which is also OK for school and I'm still trying not to sweat about it!

Be interesting to hear what others with older kids would have done differently. Please add your nuggets:


  1. I completely agree with limiting extra-curricular activities. I watch so many parents run themselves ragged and their children barely have a moment to breathe and just be a child. Some children are screaming out for time with their parents in lieu of one more activity. On the other hand my son had no interest in anything extra-curricular so I found it hard to make friends with parents. That is one thing I wish he had done - been a bit more involved in school.

  2. Good advice! sometimes at the end of the day it is tempting to 'get rid of the kids' and have a quiet dinner alone but like you say its best to encourage kids to talk - that way if they have a problem they'll hopefully come to you with it too

  3. I think we all have regrets and wish we could have a second chance. I wish I had've been stricter! About homework and deadlines!
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  4. I'm diligently taking notes for future reference!

  5. If it's any consolation...my summer job while I was in college was down at the beach, and the nicest customers were always the Hell's Angels and the guys with mohawks. Seriously.

  6. Glad to hear I mostly seem to be doing it right! Definitely limiting the extra-curricular activities - and I returned home tonight to find that DD had prepared dinner :-)

  7. I don't think there's a short-cut for time spent together. We try and eat together as a family, but it's important to have one-on-one time with each as well.

  8. I'm taking these comments to heart. My kids and 2 and 4 and they tire me out but I'm going to try & do better at family meal times and spending quality time with them. Thanks for posting this little reminder!

  9. Whaddya mean, if you have to push them to do anything, you should examine your motives?! Mine needs pushing to do ANYTHING, and I mean anything at all, apart from play on the computer and football (soccer). My motives are to get him off his backside and doing something (anything!) constructive!

    I wish I had pushed him a bit more when he was little. He never wanted to do much extra-curricular stuff, and the only thing I insisted on was swimming. He is actually a bit more motivated now than he used to be, but I do wonder if he'd be better if I'd insisted on more activity when he was younger. Or would I just be even more frustrated?

  10. My husband is a tennis coach and knows all about over-scheduled children. I think it's particularly bad over here where parents are desperate for kids to get a scholarship to a college. I really enjoyed reading this. Would also appreciate advice on how to raise half British/American children when at 5 yrs old they already describe themselves as 'haf British but mostly American!'

  11. Great tips and I always love to hear what mothers of older kids have to say. My kids are the most silent kids on earth...there's no talking anyone's ear off but somehow constant bickering so hard now to see that dinner times together would be lovely. They have dinner at 5pm - as per Jinny Contented Little Baby Book, even though its 13 years on and I listen into the conversation. But must say when we take just one out to dinner the vault opens! And I'm right here with you. bring on the mohawks that's the least of my worries!

  12. love the idea of you sitting down to share your nuggets and then realising you didn't have any!
    And then you did.
    We eat together, always. Occasionally a bad tempered affair, a "what's THIS?!" but so aware of time running away that I more or less don't mind. Doubt the children would agree on that take on things.
    One child is very easy to manage, the other is a maelstrom of impossiblity. I suppose that's what makes it interesting and why no piece of advice works for all people.
    Good luck to the Queenager. I'll be sorry to see her go!

  13. Definitely a nugget is to chose your arguments! As you know, I'm all for not forcing them into too many extra curricula activities as they usually drop them anyway and how many HOURS have you then wasted hanging around swimming pools, dancing studios, cricket pitches, rugby fields..... What would I have done differently.....nothing really as I think I did it better the first time round with Big Bro, probably, and this is contentious, because boys are easier and not as hormonal and temperamental as girls.......that has been my experience anyway!

  14. Mrs Baum (too funny) I think Diney is saying it better than I did. If you force them into an activity that they really don't care for, they'll drop it as soonn as they can. I'm with you on making them do something though. My little guy would stay in all day every day if I let him (and he's not even allowed on the Wi during the week)!

  15. We eat together as a family most days, it's really lovely apart from the talking. It just doesn't stop!

    I did see a game about conversation starters for families - we need one to shut people up! Sounds like the same in your house.


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