Friday, March 2, 2012

Q & A -- parenting stuff (part 3)

Quick question, I LOVE the idea of sneaking your kids out of school for a date {I've written about this a few times but initially it was from this post clear back in 2008...it's #3 on that list}... can you tell me do you just take them out for a morning or afternoon, or a long lunch, or how do you work it? LOVE the idea.

This has become one of my favorite things I get to do with my kids. Mostly because it seems to be rare when I get to have them one-on-one all to myself to talk about anything they want. For that moment in time I am "theirs." Let's note that when I say "all to myself" I mean, to-myself-along-with-whatever-preschooler-is-around-in-that-particular-stage-of-life:) But this year it's a little different because Lucy has afternoon preschool which means I really do get them all to myself.

Our lunch dates are random. Sometimes they happen every month, one date with each child. So I have up to four different lunch dates in a month. (Lu doesn't really get lunch dates yet). Some months stretch out without us getting to our "dates." But the kids are good at reminding me when it's been a while. I like to think that's because they love to be with their mother more than life itself, but really I'm sure they mostly love it because we always get dessert. I know, sugar is bad and all that jazz, but these dates are pretty special.

Elementary school is easy-peasy. I just pick them up at their lunch hour and we go to lunch and run and errand together. They don't generally get back for school right when the bell rings after lunch but we try, depending on the day and what we have planned.
This was Claire and my lunch date last week. We finally got her scriptures she was supposed to get for her baptism and to say she was excited about them would be a serious understatement. She has cradled them carefully examining them over and over again ever since.

Jr. High is more tricky. Max missed out on lunch dates a lot when he was in Jr. High but we have it down to a science now that he's in high school. Elle doesn't get to go much because of her schedule, but she gets out of school way earlier than the other kids cause she does "home study P.E." with all the tennis hours she puts in. So we soak up that time as well as we can when it's just her and me.

I have a parenting question for you. I know you have mentioned that Lucy throws some awesome tantrums. I'm wondering how you handle them? (Or, how you handled them with your previous children as well!) My 2 and 4 year old can both throw some disturbing tantrums and it's hard to know whether to ignore it or try to help them through it. Thanks!

I answered pretty much this same question in more detail back here. But I forgot to write my favorite tactic there, which I have found to be the best, most effective one: DISTRACTION (which I talked about back here in the second question). Giving them some (probably seemingly undeserved in mid-tantrum) extra "love and attention" that the Mother of the Year told me about back here helps SO much as well.

In the "gatherer" post {back here with a follow-up post here}, you say that you USED to want to be the house where all the kids and their friends gather, but you've changed your outlook on this. I was just wondering what made you change my mind. Thanks :)

I guess I've come full circle on this one because in December we bought a house to transform into a place conducive to "gathering." As our family grows we hope to be able to provide a safe place for our kids and their friends to gather. The reason I said back in that post that maybe I wouldn't embrace that so much is because I realized it's tough to always be "on" and life has been so crazy this last year even my very social self has not wanted to entertain when I finally get a minute to be home with my family. I just have generally wanted to hug them close under my wings and squeeze them with love.

Plus, seriously, who can keep a pantry stocked with food when there are hoards of teenagers constantly traipsing through the house and who can keep up with the mess they leave behind?

BUT, recently Dave and I have taken into consideration how much we adore the friends our kids have chosen. We want them to be influences on our kids for good. We also want to provide a good influence for them by having a home filled with love and care where they can spend time. We want anyone to feel welcome in our home (even if all we have to offer them is gluten-free snacks). I want to overhear their conversations and I want them to have extra adults who care about them. My kids' friends have started being better sources of information for me than my own kids are so I need to keep them close :)

I feel like we are morphing into a stage of life where even if we are tired we need to buck up and brace ourselves for the gathering. Because Grace is going to be a teenager before we know it...and heaven help us with the gathering she's gonna do! I want them all to have the option of gathering if that's what they want to do.

I have heard you say that you love your kids middle school. Recently, I have been hearing horror stories about my own kids middle school - foul language, prevalent drugs and really inappropriate behavior in the stairwells and on the bus. So my question is this - does your middle school have the same challenges but your kids have found a good crowd and thrive in the midst of such things? Or have you found a school that has a more wholesome atmosphere? We have charter schools here which would have less "bad influence" type problems but also a lot less diversity and sports opportunities etc. Please advise :)

Oh this is such a great question and I'd love to hear what others have to say about this as well. I must start by saying that definitely, I'm sure there are some schools with more wholesome atmospheres than others. The atmosphere in a school can be influenced by so many factors, and sometimes all the elements just line up in the right way to get a school with minimal problems. But on the other hand, I don't think there is a middle school out there that doesn't deal with at least some sort of challenging issues. Drugs could be more prevalent in one, where respect (of property and others) could be the biggest factor in another, etc. I think issues come regardless of diversity or culture or economic levels.

Some kids have the personality that may be easily caught up in the "bad influences" surrounding them and other kids may be completely oblivious to it all.

I think I was personally the oblivious kind of kid. I know now that there were all kinds of not-so-wholesome things going on at school, but at the time I had no idea. I was in my own world of trying to figure out which humongous rugby shirt I should wear or which cute boy was in my class. I was surrounded by other naive kids and school was a dreamboat for me.

I kinda think my kids are in the same naive phase right now and I pray and hold out hope that it will stay that way. I just asked Elle today what kind of influences there are at school and she opened her eyes wide as she explained the crazy stuff she sees, but she's kind of in her own little bubble with friends who so far are making great decisions and she doesn't' let it affect her.

So in answer to this question, I think our kids have found a good crowd and thrive in the midst of the stuff that goes on there. I think it's good for kids to be exposed to things because that's how life goes, but oh how I hope to have the opportunity as a parent to be proactive and to discuss those things with them and help guide them to make the kinds of decisions that will make them truly happy in life.

One thing that I think helped me so much growing up, (and will hopefully help our kids when we have our trip where I'm planning to focus on it this summer), is what my parents call "Decisions in Advance." And that's going to have to be something I must explain another day because right now I must run.

Happy weekend!

15 comments:

  1. "which humongous rugby shirt to wear" I love it! Brings back my 90's high school memories :)

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  2. Oh the rugby shirts! Gotta love those ones. I don't always comment, but I ALWAYS read your blog...each day. Thanks for everything you share. :)

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  3. YES! Decisions in Advance is such a huge help to teens who are going to be facing difficult situations. I always tell my girls that turning down a cigarette is as easy as saying "No Thanks" as if they offered a piece of gum. Say no and let it go, change the subject, move on. There are many other situations, like boys, that aren't so easy but we aren't to that level yet. Boys are still very gross in my girls' world.
    love your blog! Thank you for the contribution you make to our lives through it.

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  4. Just want to say that I love your blog. You are such an inspiration! Thank you so much. :)

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  6. I started fretting about my oldest starting middle school before he even started kindergarten! I have four kids and the two oldest (both boys) are in 7th and 8th grade at the middle school in town where I NEVER thought I'd have to send them (somehow I thought we'd find Utopia and be living somewhere "perfect" by then). The stuff that goes on there makes me sick and sad and angry sometimes, but it has necessitated open and frank dialogue about so many things, which I think is a good thing in the end. We have certainly had to talk to them about things earlier than I would have liked, but that again has been ok. Still, we often fantasize about living somewhere where are there are more kids that have the same values as we do, just so my kids have a few more on their "side". My sil lives in your town, and we think things look a little more "ideal" there than where we are, for sure! I know you wish there was more diversity, but sometimes in my frustration w/ our middle school I wonder if all that "diversity" at the expense of some other, very good and positive things about living where you are is a bit overrated. Can you tell by this novel I've written that this has been on my mind???

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  8. I have another question, but first, i bet i'm not the only person that day dreams about spending the weekend at your house, and been able to ask every question that springs to mind, and then i thought ( and giggled) at the thought of living in your neighbourhood, i think i would be at your door 24/7 with questions!! i imagine a long line of women knocking every 2 seconds hahah..
    anyways onto my question..
    I know your kids are involved with a tons of sports and after school activities, i just wondered how crazy it gets paying for it all! for certain lessons, like tennis? dance, gymnastics etc? Is alot of it in school time and free??, or do you have to pay a ton like we do here.. just wondering in comparrison. For piano we pay $60 a month per child ( 30 mins lesson once a week), dance can run over a hundred a month per child etc.. and we have not dived into sports yet.. i'm sure thats coming real quick! oh,and do your children have to pay for any of the activities themselves?

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  9. I just wanted to tell you that I came across your blog today and it is BEAUTIFUL!! I really mean it, I love it. Thanks for "keepin it real!"

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  10. I love the gathering idea. I have a good 10 years before it really happens, but I hope when it does I can be a gracious and compassionate host.

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  11. Love your blog! I always look forward to your Q&A. Great advise always!

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  12. Love your blog! I always look forward to your Q&A. Great advise always!

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  13. Shawni- WOW! I just discovered your blog before the weekend... and then spent my spare minutes the last few days browsing through your wonderful words and learning about you and your gorgeous family. You're amazing! I first saw your "I'm a Mormon ad" and then read more about you under your press tab- I am AMAZED at you! I told my mom about you and she said she had one of your parents' books. :) Anyway- just wanted to say thank you for sharing who you are and your cute family too! (And by the way I have a brother who's 17 who I'd love Elle to marry- she's such a cute girl!!) Thank you for your words of wisdom on mothering!! I'm sure you've done a post like this before- but I have two little girls right now- a 2 year old and a 7 month old- my husband is working and doing an evening MBA program- so life is a little crazy right now- and I'm wondering if you could write about what you wish you would have known when your first two were these ages. What are the BEST things to remember and do at this time in life? I want to be the best mom I can be- but it's hard to have perspective some days. :) Thank you again for sharing your talents. You're incredible. (Oh and it sounds like we live just up the road from you- I'm not sure exactly where you live but we're in Scottsdale- I would love to attend an event you're speaking at if there is one any time soon? I know you did TOFW last year- anything like that coming up soon?) Sorry I wrote a book on here. :) Happy Monday!

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  14. I love your blog and read it ALL the time for advice. I just have a question of something that I'm dealing with right now. I notice that you talk a lot to your kids about getting into good colleges and that your kids are straight 'A' students. I know it could have a bit to do with how you were raised also, that education was a priority, but I didn't feel that in my home growing up and it is something I definitely want to change with my kids. Mine are still young, only in 2nd grade and kindergarten, but I want to instill the homework and school comes first mentality while they are young without being over bearing about it and still letting them have fun as kids. K...so on to the actual question. What is your homework policy in your house and how to you get your kids to actually do it?? Cause my second grader right now sits in front of it for hours when it could easily be done in like 10 mins and I just don't know how to 'make it work'. I would really love some ideas!!

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  15. At church on Sunday I saw a poster advertising a class your parents will be giving in Germany March 23! I was so excited to see the poster! I pointed to the poster and said, "I know them!" and the Germans standing nearby were like, "Really? How?" Then I was like, "actually I don't really know them - I just follow their daughter's blog." :)

    I want to go to their class so badly but the city is too far away from where I live in Germany (and the train ride is too expensive) Anyways, fun to see that they are in Germany.

    (In reference to the picture of Claire and her scriptures): Is Claire's middle name Kate? Or? Do your other kids have middle names?

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