18 May 2012

I Don't Want to Miss a Thing

This is the phone that fell in the loo last week.
It survived it's little swim and lived to tell the tale.
It may not be an iPhone, or even an Android. It's a humble pre-pay with no data allowance. I'm not connected to the internet on my humble (borrowed) cellphone. I don't have Facebook on it, or receive emails... all I do is old-fashioned txting.

So when I read this article by HandsFree Mama, I could have sat there feeling all smug.
It's called "How to Miss a Childhood" and it is challenging stuff.
Here's a little taster...

“I can recall a time when you were out with your children you were really with them. You engaged in a back and forth dialog even if they were pre-verbal. You said, ‘Look at the bus, see the doggie, etc.’ Now I see you on the phone, pushing your kids on the swings while distracted by your devices. You think you are spending time with them but you are not present really. When I see you pick up your kids at day care while you’re on the phone, it breaks my heart. They hear your adult conversations. What do they overhear? What is the message they receive? I am not important; I am not important.”

Ouch, right? This is from an email Handsfree Mama received from a reader, a nanny of 35-years.
The whole article is about how easy it is to be distracted by our gadgets and let our children's childhoods pass us right by.
Since I don't have one of those fancy doohickies (much as I have lusted after them), it would be tempting to pat myself smugly on the back. But I know that given half the chance (or an iPhone) I would be that mother Facebooking while pushing the swing.
Instead of feeling smug I feel relieved (that my husband never gave me one for my birthday like I asked him to).
Relieved... and challenged.
Because my vice may not be my cellphone, but I can get just as distracted by the computer in my sunroom. Or the book on my nightstand.

This year, doing the Incredible Years parenting course, I have been made aware of the need to really engage with my kids and have fun at their level. I've become aware of the power of Play.
Since I began blogging nearly four years ago, there has been a tug-o-war for my attention, and for the longest time the kids weren't winning.

Something inside me was pulled towards this place where I receive so much love and affirmation from my sweet readers. Where things are ordered and neat, not chaotic like my house or demanding like my kids. How many times did I overcook the dinner as I slipped into the sunroom to "just quickly check my emails"? How many times in the past has Scrag shouted at me, "Get off that choopid 'puter!"

This is made all the more ironic because of the title of my blog. Great fun for kids.
That was always the intention, but not always the reality.

I've written endless confessional posts about this inner struggle. I've made resolutions and plans to change. They never lasted long.
But this year the tide of the "priorities" battle is slowly turning.

Largely thanks to the Incredible Years programme. As I have implemented just a few of the things I'm learning I start to see the possibilities. I am being more deliberate about the way I spend my time.
Being on the computer when the kids are here is OUT.
Blogging when they're not here is IN. Post-scheduling, leaving my camera at home, having specific blog-time and beginning to enjoy hanging out with my kids are all beginning to bear fruit.
(Of course here I sit on a nippy Friday morning - Mummy and Jono Day - and I'm blogging, so perfection is still a long way off, but I'm improving. We have played hide'n'seek and snuggled up watching Hi5 together already...)

I just don't want to miss their childhoods.
I want to know my children. They are great people.
When I stop fighting it (counting down the hours til I can get them in bed and have "me-time") I enjoy them so much more.

This week I've been on my own as Mr G is in Australia. Usually I would be counting the days til he returns to help me and "give me a break".
Not this time.
I decided that I am going to embrace this time. I am not just going to cope or survive. We are going to enjoy ourselves.

Miss fab's Mermaid Story is also here on her Blog (she'd love more followers)
We have never done so much spontaneous homework. Maths, reading aloud, spelling, creating title pages, writing stories. I've loved it. They've loved it. There's been no nagging.
Guess what? I haven't watched TV at all. And what's more I haven't even wanted to.
We've curled up with books instead.

Miss Fab's rainy netball day was a triumph. Dash helped look out for Scrag, and kept him out of the rain. The boys cheered loudly for their sister. I bought them all a hot chocolate and a shake to celebrate on the way home. Dash put out the rubbish bins and helped clear the junk from the car. We stripped off our wet things and I piled them all in baths and showers, turned on the fire and laid out PJ's, dressings gowns and slippers. We ate pies and sipped milo. The rain fell and we were cosy.
It could have been a nightmare but it wasn't.

Yesterday I created some charts. I put our routines into black and white, got them laminated (so we can write on them with whiteboard pens) and magneted them to the fridge.

Now it's clear what is expected. The chores are listed clearly. The dinner planner is included. There's even a homework schedule and magnets with their faces on to show who's doing what.

*(See below for my printable chore charts)

Tonight we're doing our own Junior Masterchef (we love that show).
I said to the kids, Lets pick something we've never made before and do it on Friday night. If we like it we can make it a regular thing.

They picked "making sushi". The big kids love it, and we've never made it before so this will be an adventure.
Scrag said, yuck I hate sushi, so he will help me make chocolate self-saucing pudding (and have leftover mac'n'cheese).
We are all looking forward to it, me included.
It will be great fun for kids.

I am determined that this shift will permanent. This won't be just one more resolution that falls by the wayside. It will keep getting better, the more I engage.
I want to enjoy my kids' childhood along with them, participate fully in their growing up, be fully present.
I don't want to miss a thing.

So, things I'm loving and grateful for this week?

For those of you asking/looking for my printable routine & chore charts, click here... (there's now also a Reward/incentive chart too) 

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