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
- 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: