Parenting

First Day of School

1st day finished

If you follow me on Instagram, then you’ve seen my journal post for today. The story goes a little deeper than just feeling good about having 8 hours to myself. I want to talk about the first day of kindergarten and ease my guilt for not walking my young one to her class. This may sound like justification and to be honest, it partly is. See, she’s been fired up to ride the bus to school for more than a year now. It is one of the exciting points of going to school, in her mind. On her 5th birthday this year, she jumped out of bed at 5:30 ready to get dressed and ride because “you go to school when you are five.”

When we started talking about the first day, we realized she expected to ride the bus. When we asked her if she wanted us to take her to school, she responded that she really wanted to ride. We conceded, mostly because I don’t want to walk her into the school. It’s an emotional trigger, comparable but not completely (at all), to handing your grown woman to a man at the end of the aisle. I’m walking out of a room to leave my precious, sweet, strong 5-year-old with a woman I don’t know and children who will surely hurt her one day. Notwithstanding, that my child will definitely hurt another’s feelings (ignorantly, I hope).

Also, the school is absolute chaos and cramped and I don’t believe the teachers want you there. I believe this process of walking kids to their class is for your benefit, not your child’s. You won’t be there to walk your child through every new experience they have at school. It may take them a month to get used to this process, but the school only tolerates your assistance for max the first week. I know my perspective may seem harsh and unfeeling and it partly is. I’m not a “normal” mom and never will be. I see this as a string of milestones in her life. This is her first day of school, not mine. If she tells me she is fine, I will support her in those feelings. If she had said she wanted me to take her to school, believe me, I would have been there.

I believe instilling confidence in your children requires you to block out the “what ifs” and focus on what is. I had a moment where I considered her sitting at the breakfast table, looking around while other mom’s sat with their kids. Or her watching other mom’s drop her classmates off. I asked my husband “what if she wonders why I’m not there.” Enter, another lesson: Your words mean something. It’s a serious and advanced lesson to learn at 5, but still good to know from the beginning. If you say you need space, I’ll give space. If you say you need me, I’ll be there.

As I’m writing this it is 8:16; she’s presently in the classroom, listening to her teacher. All of the parents are gone, she is now the same as everyone else. Except, she survived eating breakfast in the lunchroom and walking to class with her teacher. I hope this has boosted her feeling of independence and self-efficacy. And even if I made the wrong choice I pray for grace. Because one day she may sit across from me and say, “You didn’t even walk me to my first day of kindergarten!” And no matter my excuse or reason, I will be responsible for my choice.


Note to Mothers and Fathers: You are a badass! Whether you walked your kid to class, dropped them off at the line, or sent them on the bus like me. I could never judge another parent for a choice they make for their child. My post may sound like I have a firm opinion, but I don’t. I’m backing a choice I made and I don’t have complete confidence. There is part of me who wishes I had seen her off and had the emotional, choked up goodbye I know would have occurred.

Parenting

Motivation is Key

Meet Makayla

She’s eight and man do I love this kid. She’s emotional, strong-willed, and a serious momma’s girl. I’ve never worried about her ability to thrive in life. She was 9 pounds and 14 oz at birth. Her first day home she rolled over; she’s been in beast-“go get it” mode from day 1. If this kid wants something, she does it. If she doesn’t want something, she will fight it for days and then bring it up a year later.  My only concern for her is the direction she takes this energy. It’s a little overwhelming at times and feels selfish. We work on both physical and emotional boundaries daily. We also talk about her love language and that not everyone has a deep need to spend every waking moment together, connecting (it’s my language too, so, I totally get it).

The area we struggle in most is cleaning or just getting her to do things she doesn’t want to do. If there is any doubt she made the mess, the kid goes into lawyer mode – negotiating areas and trying to push the blame and responsibility on others. I’ve often said that if she doesn’t become an engineer or lawyer I haven’t done my job. Yesterday I had a little bit of a breakthrough though. I worked on her cleaning her room for something like three days. Finally, I told her one night before bed “I’m going to Starbucks tomorrow and if you want to go, you must clean your room.” The next morning it was done before breakfast.

Motivation Factors

I haven’t been in college for 5 or 6 years but one concept I remember are the powers of motivation. There are pull factors and push factors. Pull factors are aspects in your environment that encourage or nag you into behaving a certain way. They are consequences outside yourself that produce. For instance, me telling her constantly to clean her room is a pull factor. Push factors are internal thoughts or emotions that push you to behave. From memory, push factors are always more effective at producing than pull. They are intrinsic; meaning the person wants to do the task.

My Experiment

As a Mom, I feel like I repeat myself a hundred times a day. “Pick up your socks.” “Clean the table.”  “Listen to me, listen to me.”  “What did I say?” And I have kids talking to me ALL THE TIME. Have you ever lingered outside the door of the car, with the kids inside, for a minute or five, just for silence? I do it frequently. I spend too much time talking, but now I’m experimenting. I think if I introduce a series of activities each day, they will do whatever I want, hopefully. Kids want you to spend time with them. So, after dinner, I have built in a game time. The kids can only play games if they have completed the tasks I have given. There must be boundaries on my end too. I plan to give them a list at the beginning of the day. You may ask, “What if they don’t’ want to play games? Good question. If that’s the case I introduce another activity I think they will like – going to Starbuck’s, making cookies, painting our nails, or extra reading time.

Warning: Follow through is a must or the motivator doesn’t work. I realize that if I ever give in, the kids will push their luck every time. Also, if I don’t follow through with the reward they will not believe the reward will be given to them.

I’d love to hear your tricks or tips for motivating others to get stuff done. If you are an employer and you have a magic trick, please share. I don’t think the environments are that different:). Hope you guys have so much fun planned for the week and are feeling on top of your game.

Parenting · Printables

Book Log

I am a book hoarder. I find it almost impossible to throw away my books and my kid’s books, but weirdly, not at all difficult to throw away my husband’s books. Anyway, my summer goal is to read books and donate those that don’t make the cut. And by cut, I mean stars. Below, is a book log I made for the girls. As we read the books we will rate them and give away those with less than three stars (maybe four, if we are rating high). I believe that our house has to be paired down some to look nice. Having too much stuff clutters not only my home but also stifles my creativity. For me, having unread books lying around feels like a list of to-do’s I’m not accomplishing.

Book Log_Page_1

Download: Book Log

Creativity · Parenting · Printables

Chore Cards

I love a good thrift punch card. When you spend money at thrift stores they punch a card and offer discounts when full. It’s free money because I would shop there despite the incentive. School ends Wednesday and the kids home an extra eight hours a day creates more work for me. My goal is to build some protocols to curb the mess. I’ve made color-coded chore punch cards worth $10 each. Their coordinating chore lists give them four tasks to do every weekday. This offers them 10 every two weeks. I won’t punch the card until all four tasks are completed. We will start the cards next Monday so, I’ll update later in the month whether they are effective. I’ve included a blank chore list card if you are interested in trying this method too. Let me know what you think!

 

The easiest way to use these printables is to double-click on the image to isolate. Then right-click and choose save image. The background will appear black but is really transparent. Insert the image onto a word document, resize, and print. If you print on cardstock it will probably hold up longer.