Colorado Srpings, CO
Monday, February 27, 2012
We're right smack-dab in the middle of the winter parenting doldrums. Your kids are sick and tired of homework every night. School's really getting boring. One more poor effort from your child might just be the last straw. And the cold and dreary weather doesn't help a bit. Is spring break really four weeks off?
No matter how you slice or dice it, this part of the year is one of the toughest for parents and children; seems like there's no fun to be found. So where was Thomas Edison coming from when he said, "I think work is the world's greatest fun"? (Tom, was that before or after lightbulbs caught on?)
Even though you may think Edison had pulled one too many all-nighters when he made that statement, take heart. He wasn't far off the mark. I've found several tips that I hope will shed some light on making work fun for your family. Who knows? Maybe your child will be the next Edison.
Increase pleasurable opportunities. Variety really is the spice of life when bland routines become most of your daily life. If you're not doing family activities, start with one family night every two weeks. You could play one of the popular family board games like Qwirkle Board Game (8–12 years) or Wits & Wagers Family (10 years and up). Anticipate teen resistance at first, but expect signs of acceptance later on. Teens really do value family time; they just don't show it. If screen time—social media of any kind, video games, and so on—occupies most of your child's free time, reduce it to no more than 20 percent of total time. For the remaining time, encourage your child's passion. Offer dance classes, drawing lessons, and so forth. Insist on mostly screen-less friend time. And once a month find opportunities for your child to learn the pleasure of helping others. It's one of those acquired pleasures that's taught best by parents.
Make work fun. Chores and homework fun? Come on! Okay, how about drudgery-free work? Allow a chore-less Saturday once a month, or surprise your child by deep-cleaning her room once every three months. Give a nice bonus when chores have been done well for a week—extra money or a coupon for a video game rental. Each month allow your child to pick his chores for the month from an acceptable choice list.
Offer homework help. What about dreaded homework? Give more support with difficult subjects. Work together on math; you do one problem and Amie does the next one. And for essay-writing difficulties, give ideas for the beginning, middle, and end of the assignment. Reward best efforts at the end of the week—maybe a trip to the ice cream store or a weekend lunch together at a favorite restaurant. Maybe a ten-minute break for texting would help. The key: shake up boring routines. Doing something different often helps.
Take-home lesson: Energize boring routines with pleasurable activities and watch the winter parenting doldrums fade away.
Colorado Srpings, CO