Kids are no different from adults when it comes to leisure time; they resent the intrusion of work upon their free time and especially when it comes to holiday school breaks. I know a lot of adults who will procrastinate on the work until the last minute, but spending panicked time trying to accomplish something under a tight deadline isn’t a way to live a life and it isn’t something that I want for my children. And the kids aren’t going to learn a proper way to do things if I don’t at least sit down with them and work on how to manage time and work properly.
And in the last several days, I haven’t served them well.
This particular break, the family had multiple activities planned – including a weekend visit to distant relatives – and we hit the ground running for getting into the Spring Break spirit. Note that my kids are all still in elementary and secondary school and none are in college. Kids came in the door and backpacks hit the floor; I did review the items that came home but didn’t press on exactly what homework was due on what particular day. And the party commenced.
And with school in session tomorrow, we returned late this afternoon to find that there was actually a fair amount of homework still to be done. Younger and Middle were able to get things done in a timely fashion but Eldest is still sitting next to me as I write, and will probably stay here until after midnight.
So what do I take from this screw-up?
- I have to remember that time management is largely a learned skill and not something that’s going to come naturally to any youngster.
- While there’s sufficient time available, it’s up to me to walk through the scheduled work with the kid and help them to figure out how to plan their work so that the late night extravaganzas are minimized.
- I can’t just lay back and grouse at the kids when a fair part of the responsibility lays on my shoulders. Kids learn discipline and it takes a large investment of time and repetition to get that concept across.
Fatherhood lesson #5 is a family corollary to Newton’s Law of Gravity. Inelegantly put, stuff flows downhill.
It’s one that regularly grabs my ear and kicks my butt. The more time that you spend with the kids, the more attuned they’ll be to your moods and concerns and while you might tell kids otherwise, they are pretty perceptive. You help set the tone in the house and it does have an impact.
In this particular instance, I’ve found that if I respond harshly – whether it’s deserved or not – to a child, that child will pass the love onto a younger sibling. And if you have more than two children, you can watch it pass in a linear and chronological fashion through the children. So I’ve had to really work at trying to temper the response to the situation. Honestly, if I’m in a really bad mood then I can tell the kids to go to their rooms for a period so that I can come to grips with myself. When they were younger, there was confusion as to what they might have done but continued conversation with them can help understand that there are moments when Dad needs a break as much as any of them. They now understand that there are moments when I just tell them to go to their rooms while I regain control and that it’s nothing that they might have necessarily done themselves.
All told, it beats the stink caused by spreading the toxicity through the household.
We try to keep some basic food items in the house for when a kid comes down with a virus. Note try since the shortsighted little beggars will pilfer through supplies despite your best efforts, in which case you have to replenish quickly. Despite that, what can you keep around for those days when a child is sick?
- unopened bottles of Sprite/Ginger Ale/7-Up;
- Apple juice (note that some acidic juices like orange or grapefruit juice will further upset the stomach);
- unopened packs of plain crackers, like Saltines;
- Bouillion cubes for mixing with hot water;
- cans of simple soup, like chicken/noodle or chicken/rice.
Remember that the idea for a child with a stomach virus is to keep them hydrated while they’re sick and then provide them with mild items as they recover. This morning, I’m bringing Eldest – who’s recovering from a stomach virus – along with a juice/Sprite mix. When she deals with that successfully, then we’ll move up the ladder to dry foods, followed by soup and soft foods. After she’s successfully handled these items without further nausea/vomiting or intestinal problems, then we’ll get back to the regular foods.
Note this is not intended to be medical advice, but an insight into what can be used for kids with a mild virus. If you have any questions or problems, immediately contact your family physician or pediatrician.
And sometimes you don’t even see it coming.
You expect a virus to have a typical modus operandi with exhaustion and the droops, fever, nausea/vomiting and perhaps some intestinal stuff. But then you have the occasional critter that sneaks in and works it’s way through the entire family. No sense of being tired or fever, just some onset of nausea and then family members are greeting the commode.
Middle started it yesterday after a busy day and we chalked it up to extended car travel – middle tends to motion sickness – and exhaustion after an overnight scout event. Plenty of fluid and a long night sleep – and no fever whatsover – and he was back to school this morning. And then Eldest came home midday with the same, and no fever. So we’re again working with a virus that is going to relay around the house until everyone’s suffered, including me.
Could it have been shortcircuited? Probably not, but had I been thinking, I would have started disinfecting common surfaces yesterday just to keep up with controlling the thing. This afternoon, I started the process of hitting all of the common touchable areas:
- faucets and toilet handles;
- doorknobs and lightswitches;
- telephones and remotes;
- countertops and doorframes.
So now we sit tight and see what happens. If I’m really fortunate, it’ll pass Youngest by. And me? Well, they say that all the great men of history are dead, and I don’t feel too well, myself.
People want their kids to have a broad array of activities from which to choose, but the unfortunate reality is that the broad array takes manpower to happen.
And there usually aren’t enough paid professionals to make it happen.
So be ready to step up and take a role, whether you have a clue about the activity or not.
It’s fairly straightforward if you spent your youth learning a sport or activity, like soccer through high school or camping with your family. But the kids might want to try something different and that’s fine. So don’t let lack of knowledge stop you; there are any number of ways to participate. The simple reality is that when your kids are little, they’ won’t see the tentativeness if you’re unfamiliar and will honestly appreciate the time spent with them. Since my first child came along, I’ve learned how to:
- measure the correct dimensions for a soccer field;
- line said soccer field;
- keep the basketball score book;
- run any number of basketball scoreboards;
- fill in as soccer and basketball coach;
- start a fire;
- tie six different kinds of knots;
- cook a foil dinner on an open fire;
- build a kayak (okay, it’s a work in progress);
- managed a Brownie Troop cookie program (my wife, the "cookie mom" gave birth the week before product delivery).
It works like this. Each activity or organization is akin to a raft in time’s river. As the raft travels, it periodically puts to shore with the parents of older children exiting and being replaced by the parents of younger ones. And the traditions and lessons are passed along over time, improved or changed as needed. But if there are no new members, then the raft fails.
The benefits are immeasurable. You can spend time with the kids to create a wealth of memories and experiences that can be shared in the future. The prospect exists that the activity will continue and develop into a shared interest to carry over into the teen years and beyond. And those are the years when you’re going to need it.