I’m attempting to start a new series on my blog titled “5 Things Thursday.” Every Thursday, or at least I will attempt to on every Thursday, I will post a list of 5 things. They may be ideas, reasons, things, etc…Feel free to comment with either feedback or your own thoughts or ideas on what I’m writing about that week.
5 things Every Parent Should Do With Their Children
1.) Read with their little ones. Reading with your children is both a beneficial and enjoyable activity to do together. And the great thing is that you can start this process early on – even in infancy! In our home, Jerry was turning pages by 18 months and by the time he was 2 we would sit together and read 8 (and sometimes way more) books at a time. His favorites were “Goodnight Moon,” and “Green Eggs and Ham,” and they still are. Reading is an activity that has stayed with him as he has grown. Now, he will even sit and “read” by himself, as he has memorized some of the books that we read to him regularly. Clara, my one year old, is a bit trickier to get to sit and read, as she is busier baby than Jerry was. But we are steadily working on it. On top of the educational benefits of reading, it deepens the bond you share with your child, which is never a bad thing.
But don’t simply sit and read though, try to make it an interactive and enjoyable time, for you and your children! Invest in books with great pictures, and if your children are younger, books with textures are a wonderful option. If your child is older, ask them questions about what they see on the pages and have them respond as to what they think the story will be about. By making reading fun, it will encourage your littles to enjoy and love books, which will benefit them in the long run. Children who learn to enjoy reading have a great start for their entire educational future and will have a great foundation for when they begin to actually learn to read. If you aren’t sure where to start for your child’s age group, simply go to google and search for recommended reading lists for your child’s age. Here is one that I’m working through with Jerry.
2.) Play outside with their little ones. Thats right, get up and go outside (after you have had your morning coffee, mind you.) Sunshine and fresh air are good things for kiddos, and not only in the ways that you would think. Being outside offers mental benefits as well as the physical perks of being an active child. For example, I think the majority of the memories I have from growing up are of being outside, from the dead of winter through the heat of summer. There is something engrained in kids that makes them want to be outside, rain or shine.
The most simple and obvious benefit is that it allows for exercise which will only encourage a healthier lifestyle as they grow older. We all know by now that childhood obesity is becoming, unfortunately, more and more common. Outside time is a great way to combat that in your own child. On top of the physical benefits, going outside is sometimes a great stress reliever (for both you and your children) as well as a chance to start allowing your children to feel more independent. And this activity cultivates a great appreciation and understanding of the great outdoors in them. Plus, it burns off lots of energy and primes them for nap time which is a good thing for mommy.
3.) Let them help with the cooking. At 3 years old, Jerry loves being in the kitchen with me. Whether it is by keeping me company as I prepare dinner, or by doing his favorite thing: helping me cook. He is quite the helper and has assisted me in making loaves of fresh bread and cookies from scratch and boxed cupcakes and cakes. If your children are younger, simple baking recipes are a great way to get them involved. The best part is that the recipes don’t have to be geared towards children because even in your everyday baking and cooking, your kids can pull up a chair or stool and lend you a hand.
Pouring and stirring are right their alley, and this will also help teach them to follow instructions, step by step. Even Clara who can’t do any of these things yet gets in on the action. I pull her chair into the kitchen and give her safe kitchen utensils to play with. This makes for a fun, and sometimes loud and messy, good time. If your child is older, check out some of these recipes for them to try out. To make your life easier, prepare a good workspace free of any dangerous kitchenware that you wouldn’t want them to get their hands on, as well as anything that may make a big, fat mess. This is coming from someone who has left the flour a bit to easily accessible.
4.) Get one on one time with each of their children. Ever hear of of mommy-son or daddy-daughter dates? We try to practice those rituals around here. While it isn’t just boy/girl, we each try to get individual time with each of our children. Rob makes it a regular practice to take Jerry out for play dates to the park or the local YMCA pool while I stay at home with Clara and play the morning away and vice-versa. This is crucially important for both parents to practice doing, I feel. For the dads, they obviously may not get quite as much one on one time with each of their children as momma’s do, especially not as much if their wives stay at home with the kids during the week. My husband nearly outright demands time with Jerry and time with Clara each week, though she isn’t quite as mobile yet to be heading to the pool for the morning. Yet, anyway.
The weird part of this must-do is why moms need to carve out the extra time. I’ll tell you why. I spend quite a bit of time being facilitative. I do the cleaning, the feedings, the majority of the disciplining (namely because I’m home full time with them) and anything else that has to be done every single day. I want to be afforded the opportunity to be the fun mom, who can just pack up and go and only have to chase or give attention to one child. My children love mommy’s undivided attention. And it is sometimes more for my sanity as theirs. I get to only worry about the fun, none of the fuss. If only for a few hours. And for daddy-daugther and mommy-son dates, I cannot tell you the foundation that this lays for your children as they grow up and enter the *gulp* dating world. Dates like these influence and show your children they should expect to be treated and to treat their future significant others. Think I’m thinking to far ahead? These years fly by quickly. I wake up each day and remember that I’m now a mother and am thankful I chose the man that I did. Trust me, get your children off on the right foot.
5.) Make together time a significant part of your family’s culture. This is key. A mentality of togetherness and of placing importance on family time can be infused into your everyday or weekend lifestyles. I try to make the weekends feel like actual weekends around here. I like (though not quite enough for my liking sometimes) to minimize the amount of housework I do on the weekends and at the same time Rob and I try to find plenty of fun, family centered activities that we can do with our children. We incorporate being together into some of the most significant parts of the day – waking up, meal times and bed times. We pray together before we eat and go to sleep. We succeed in eating dinner together nearly every evening that we are all home, with most meals being served at the dinner table. We strive to turn the television off and seek out activities that either get us outside together, or playing inside together.
It isn’t that we don’t encourage independence in our children or it isn’t that we don’t believe in cartoons or family movie nights. In fact, we do have television time together on occasion. We don’t make the television the villain. What we don’t want is a disconnected family who finds spending time together a foreign idea as the kids grow older and life becomes busier. Try to set aside an allotment of time each day to spend time collectively as a family unit, or try to routinely cap off certain points of the day with time spent together. Bedtime and meal time are two of the biggest parts of a child’s day. And try to find at least one activity to do as a family unit on the weekends. Not only is this a great way to build family cohesiveness, it’s also just plain old fun.
There you have it. I’m done yammering. I hope that you enjoyed my first edition of 5 Things Thursday. Unfortunately, this means that I’ll be back next Thursday. That is, if we can hold it together here in the LeCompte household. Have a great week!