19 May 2009

How to make sure everyone is alive and maybe one or two people are not crying when Dad gets home

There is no right way to spend time with your kids as long as you're not waterboarding them. Unless you are a person who genuinely enjoys engaging in kid activities for hours on end, you will do your kids a favor by choosing activities which you personally do not hate. If you spend a whole day forcing yourself to do things you hate with them because they're the things you think you should be doing (?), you will probably spend the rest of the week inventing other work so that you won't have to spend time with the kids.

If you hate reading books*, play Memory.

If you hate Chutes and Ladders, play Uno.

If you hate blocks, put together puzzles.

If you hate everything in the playroom, concoct things in the kitchen.

If you hate Raffi, listen to the Beatles. (HT: Gauntlets)

If you hate "teaching" your kids to "help" you with necessary household tasks beyond their abilities, find a parallel activity:

Have them color while you write thank-yous and pay bills at the same table.

Have them put away silverware while you put away the other dishes (now you know why my silverware drawer looks like a scrap metal heap).

Have them match socks while you fold the rest of the clothes.

Have them throw all the dish towels on the floor while you wash pots.

Have them pull pans of boiling water off the stove while you blanch rhubarb.

Most important: If your kids are happy playing by themselves, LEAVE THEM ALONE.

*You should probably read some. I'm not convinced that in a generally literate, TV-free household the need to read for hours a day is as dire as it's made out to be--remember, most of that READ ALL THE TIME OR ELSE rhetoric is overstated government propaganda directed toward extremely irresponsible people. You may recall that I hate reading. I've worked on improving this by getting rid of most of the books we had that I hated, building a home kid library I like, and only checking out library books I can stomach. If one of the kids brings me a book I don't want to read, I tell him/her to pick a different one. It's allowed.

If you hate kids, deal with it.


Monique said...

Several years ago an older/ wiser mother relieved of my guilt to feel the necessity of being the constant activities organizer and entertainer for my children. At the same time I need to remind myself that I am home to enjoy my children and I want them to have lasting memories of our time together.

I would also add to your list of activities, simply playing outside with them or going on long walks. I would SO much rather kick a soccer ball around with my kids than cut paper into a million different pieces. Of course I have been known to get too engrossed in a game of mock Olympics and catch a glare or two from other mothers when I shove my sons out of the way to win a race :-)

Rebekah said...

Monique, definitely. Do what works. I am a mother, not a preschool director.

Tena said...

Rebekah, I just absolutely love the way your mind works. That's all. I have nothing brilliant to add to the discussion other then my adoration and awe. I hope you have a beautiful day. :)

Melrose said...

grace at its finest, I will now go to amazon and buy books I actually would enjoy...

Rebekah said...

Tena, quit giving me a big head. :D

Melrose, have fun!

Reb. Mary said...

Your title--it--it--it's just too true ;)

The rest of it too of course.

Sarah D said...

I have been blessed with two kids who since at young age have been able to play by themselves for longer than most kids. Their attention span is longer than mine.

I have found those moments when I truly don't want to play "kid stuff" that cooking is the great unifier. Sometimes I just measure things for the heck of it or chop a lemon for the sake of chopping a lemon and the world is peace again.

Theophil Jones said...

I say make enough kids so that they have a little play group/baseball team/destruction crew that operates independently of any parental involvement. Also, if you put in enough time reading books with the oldest you can often get her to then read to the others so you can slip off to mix a drink.

Rebekah said...

Theophil, definitely. A few more months of sophistication on the part of our youngest and they'll at least be able to get a decent Duck-Duck-Goose going without me.