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My kids walked in from school today, at 3pm as usual, and *shock horror* I was busy.

I was not at the door, ready to greet them, nor did I rush to their needs. I decided that it is OK to not give my children 100% of my attention all the time.

Now while some people will read the above sentence and want to call Social Services, let  me explain.

You see, I have tried all sorts of parenting – hands on parenting, co-parenting, organic parenting and old fashioned parenting. I’ve tried “talk to my kid for an hour before they go to bed so that they feel loved” and “pack only super-foods in their lunch box.” I’ve warned my husband to be “alert” when they are around and that we must NEVER be on our phones/computers/iPads and must absorb their presence. Yes, I said those very words.

And then I realised there is a tiny, tiny word that gets lost in parenting these days. Balance.

Balance can sort out the worst of days and can ease everyone’s guilt. People should try it more often.

Balance means that when your kid scoffs 5 Oreo biscuits, you remember the last 14,570 days of super-clean eating that has happened.

Balance means that bedtime can sometimes be a simple “good night love you” to your kid and that. is. all.

Somehow, with the plethora of articles and philosophies about parenting available to read and the shift in parenting styles to suit the 21st century, mothers and fathers have become inclined to always be on ALERT and this is a bad thing. A VERY BAD THING.

We will raise bad kids, folks.

I did NOT have a lunch box that looked like this when I was growing up:

 

lunch-box2

I had a cheese sandwich, some CC’s, a prima and a whizz fizz. And while I recognise that healthy eating is imperative and I strongly believe + maintain it, I will not succumb to cutting my kid’s sandwich in the shape of aeroplane because it looks “cute”. Nope. Won’t do it.

I am also done with the gazillion after school activities. Since my first child was born, I was always doing some class or signing them to some activity. It was freak-ing exhausting and I felt like a taxi driver. So now, I make my children decide on 1 or 2 fave things to do and THAT.IS.IT. Oh, and if they don’t show me over the top enthusiasm towards that particular activity – we quit.

Speaking of quitting, I was in a moral dilemma late last year. My 7 year old decided that she no longer liked Gymnastics. I’ve invested 3 years into classes and equipment and the ball breaking effort of doing her hair so perfectly for her classes and then one day, just like that she says “I don’t like Gymnastics anymore”. So for a week I tossed between: should I let her quit (and therefore teach her that quitting is OK), or do I force/bribe/blackmail her into continuing because I bloody love seeing all the tricks she can do?

In the end, folks, she quit. Was I sad? YES. Was I sad because I was losing a potential Olympic Gymnast? Nope.

I’m no psych, but I just have a feeling that being on ALERT for our children will decline their level of independent activity. And by independent I mean “it’s OK that mum is not watching you do the 62,534th cartwheel”.

Again, I must stress to those that forming a negative opinion right now, there is a balance. Let’s not chuck our kids on the street and say “GO FORWARD CHILD AND FEND FOR YOURSELF!” (imagine a heroic voice), but rather “I am here and I love you, but if your brother/sister has hit/annoyed you – work it out yourselves.”

It goes without saying that some days the balance is shifted more to one side – a sick child, an assignment due in the next day, whatever – then, by all means, we should get on board and help.

But if my kid cannot understand that mummy has a personality and that sometimes mummy has needs too, then I think I have failed as a parent.

Just my Tuesday thoughts.

Till next time

Be happy.

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    3 Comments

  1. Corinne

    As you probably already know, I’m a big believer in independent kids. I think I told you I didn’t like the way our maid jumped in and played with Darby the second he played on his own, I like the fact that he can entertain himself and stretch his imagination to create his own little worlds, I think it’s really important for him.
    For me it comes down to balance. There are times when I’ve said to the kids, ‘Sorry, you’ll just have to wait’. And that’s OK. There are other times when they need me to watch or talk about Shopkins or Zelfs or whatever is important to them in that minute.
    Many (read every) nights my number 2 girl asks me to lie with her until she goes to sleep. Most nights I say something like, ‘No, I need to tidy up the kitchen or talk to dad’, some nights I’ve even said ‘Nope, sorry mum time is over, it’s Corinne time now’ (shock horror, damage them for life), but there are nights when she’s a bit fragile and I know that she needs a little extra attention so I’ll lie with her.

    We have never done a lot of activities after school as I think kids need some down time, just a few here and there that I think are essential (swimming lessons, sport) and things they really enjoy – art. I’m also a big believer in allowing kids to get bored and making them come up with their own fun. Anyway, that was my essay!!

    • MF

      Hi Corinne, Thanks for reading my blog :) It means a lot! My kids also get shocked when I say “kitchen is closed, mum time if over!” .. X

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