About a week ago, I read Oliver DeMille's article, What Do They Want From Us?
In the article, DeMille talks about a study conducted by the Families and Work Institute. Researchers asked over 1,000 children this question: "If you were granted one wish about your parents, what would it be?"
Most parents believed that their children would wish for more quality time. The results surprised them. They overwhelmingly wished that their parents would just chill out and relax.
When I asked my 7 year old daughter this question, she said just that. Personally, I feel like a very relaxed person, so I said, "Do you think I'm busy and stressed a lot?"
She shrugged. "Well, sometimes," she said.
So, I've been thinking about when to say yes and when to say no.
It's a constant battle for balance, isn't it?
We're either stressing about everything we're doing, or we're stressing that we aren't doing enough. And it's different for everyone. Some people do well with busy-ness. We don't. I love having days with nothing on the schedule other than learning together. As my children grow in age and number, though, those days are fewer and fewer.
Here are some tips that keep me sane:
- When one of my kids is looking for one-on-one with Mommy, I often have to set a limit to it. For example, when my four-year-old asks me to read to him, I might say, "Help me finish the dishes, and then I'd love to read three stories to you." After all, if he doesn't get the attention he needs in a healthy way, he's likely to start whining, fit-throwing, or fighting...whatever it takes to get it.
- Say no. If an activity isn't going to fill a need in your family, why do it? Is it just filling a space on the calendar, or is it important? Remember Elder Dallin H. Oaks' talk about prioritizing? It may be time to revisit it.
- Say yes to enriching activities that you have time for. Our essentials are piano lessons. Other activities worth our time away from home include co-op and some field trips...and of course there are others that must be done...errands and stuff.
- Teach kids to clean up after themselves. This one swings on a pendulum, doesn't it? Sometimes kids will be good at it for a while, and then slowly they start trailing messes behind them more and more. When things start to get out of hand, I like to take a couple days where my main focus is reminding kids to do this. Also, think about what chores they may be ready to handle themselves...dishes, laundry, etc.
- Take time for fun. I think this is what the kids in the study were really trying to get at. They want us to relax and enjoy. Take a walk. Look at the beauty around. When I'm stressed, I love to turn on some upbeat music and dance while I work. We all take frequent breaks to dance together for a minute or two and then continue on. This is a great way for me to lift my Spirit. Field trips can do this, too, because we get away from the norm.
- Remember that you want your kids to LOVE LEARNING. Try to focus more on the wonder of learning together, instead of the gotta-get-it-done.
After all, aren't the quiet moments on the couch with a book in your hand and your children leaning in, the best moments of all?
Emily blogs at Homespun Light, where she talks homeschool and clean books, galore.