Whether you are a full-time stay-at-home mom, a full-time working mother, or the the double whammy of the part-time working mom/who’s still in charge of the home — here’s a few tips I have learned over the past two decades that are tricks of the trade.
This is a key at our house no matter the time of day. A little happy, upbeat tune in the morning before school helps keep the tots moving and grooving. And, some instrumental music during dinner, homework time, and/or before bed helps calm the tribe. I recommend the piano stylings of George Winston.
With so many streaming options available your choices are limitless! (These are also primo opportunities to educate your children on some of your favorite music of yesteryear.)
Setting the table
Even if you’re grabbing fast food or have something percolating in the slow cooker — let your family know that you really do care and take a little extra step by setting the table. A few place mats (our family loves fun seasonal ones) and a couple cloth napkins can make your table go from drab to fab. AND if dinner is running late — for whatever reason — a set table says, “Look at me! There’s something great coming your way, family!”)
I know this can be a hot topic for some parents, but at our house we have found a few responsibilities can go a loooooonnnnng way. You don’t necessarily have to go full on chore chart at the onset (but you can if you want!); but maybe consider starting small. Before heading to school perhaps everybody picks up their dirty clothes and tosses them in the hamper or clothes basket; and have them try making their bed. A comforter pulled up and a sham tossed (even haphazardly) over the pillow looks like a completed project. Bedrooms will look a little more tidy and your young one will have a sense of pride in a job well done.
Kids of all ages can help around the house. Putting silverware away, setting the table, feeding pets, walking the dog, emptying bedroom/bathroom trash cans, etc.
It’s ok to say ‘no’ to our children. (It’s ok to use that magical word in MANY aspects of your parenting life.) No devices during homework time. And, I have heard it all as to why they NEED [it] to do their homework. Have your kiddo plan the things where they truly need the device for a designated period of homework time.
We also have a ‘charging station’ where devices go during homework time, at a certain time each evening (this is usually about 30 minutes before lights out/bedtime), and during our family movie time.
Don’t check their academic process online TOO often
Ok, this one is obviously geared more for your middle to high school students. And, this one took me a long time (too long in the case of my eldest child who I made all my mistakes on — poor girl). If your child is truly struggling in a class — of course — You do what you gotta do.
BUT for me — micro-management of the grades only created undue tension between me and my kiddo; plus, it often caused more anxiety for my student in what might already be a stressful course or situation. Honestly, it can be lose-lose.
By their teen years the student needs to take ownership of their academic career (we can’t do it for them). Trust me. I know.
This one goes along with the music tip. If you have children that are not morning people — turn on some lights! Set the stage brightly and help them wake up. (And, if you’re not a morning person–it’s a nice compliment to that first cup of caffeine-filled java.)
At the end of the day if you are wanting the babies to wind down — dim the lights.
As the kids get older we also introduced candles around the house to add to the quieting of the evening. I also start pulling blinds early evening and having bedrooms lit just by lamps to help with the close of the day.
A great lesson for our children is getting them to think about someone other than themselves. And, it’s never too early to start! You can do your own food drive, book drive, diaper drive, have a lemonade stand and donate the proceeds to your favorite non-profit organization. There are a number of ways throughout the greater Madison area where you can volunteer or find opportunities to make a difference. Simply type ‘family volunteer opportunities madison wi’ into your Internet search bar and BOOM the list is long. You will be able to find something that meets you where you are — it’s a lesson that will impact their young lives.
Disclaimer: I am not guaranteeing that any of these are fool proof or that I have all the answers (believe me!), but these have worked for our household.
Parenting is never easy and I welcome any help or tips. Feel free to offer your tips in the comments below to share your knowledge.