Posted by: philosodad | September 8, 2009

The Return of the Family

My ninja trick for Dragon*Con this year was to send my family to Rhode Island, thus clearing up some time to hang out late and get up early, and generally enjoy the Con.

Which I failed entirely to do. I just wasn’t able to spend the time volunteering that I planned to, because the qualifying exams that I thought would end approximately 4 hours before I would pick up Dr. Pamela Gay at the airport actually started 7 hours before I picked up Dr. Gay from the airport, and hence I had to study more and party less.

And now the family is back, and with them has come stress and frustration. It doesn’t help that I spent basically all day Saturday exchanging a broken dryer for a new dryer which broke last night. It does help that my kids are wonderful. But even so, I’m left wondering how a skeptical parent can develop better coping skills to deal with anger and frustration. Over on the Half Full Blog they advise that you develop “mindfullness”, and teach your kids to meditate.

Which is, frankly, insane. Not  because it won’t work, but because the frazzled, maddened me that shows up after sleep deprivation meets toddlers is not the best coach in the world, not for me and not for them. By 9 PM, which is when the Grrl arrives back at home, I am frazzled. She’s frazzled and emotionally wounded (the Grrl works in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) and sweetness and light fails entirely to reign in the kingdom of my home. So, introducing “mindfullness” at this point seems a little difficult. Usually I try to introduce chocolate, which is cheaper and easier to come by.

It seems like what I really need is an efficiently structured day, an attainable chore list and the will to stick with it. And the science is with me here. A 50 yearlongitudinal study published in 2002 provided compelling evidence that kids and families thrive with routines and rituals, but really, we all already knew that, right?

What that study didn’t address is the question of developing strong routines that get followed by both parents if you have different strengths and different ways of approaching the day. That’s the tough part.

So, my question to the gallery is this: What routines do you follow with your children? Did you make a conscious decision, based on research, to employ these routines, or are you following your family culture? How would you approach setting up routines if there are several very different caregivers?

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Responses

  1. I insist on naps until age 3. My daughter Juliet has had at least one nap a day, every day, since she was born. I chose to believe Dr. Weissbluth, a child sleep expert who wrote “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child”.

    We also try to eat dinner together and have a consistent bedtime routine.

  2. Hello, this was a very interesting post and I loved the research you presented.

    I am a parenting educator, author and speaker as well as a mother and I am a huge proponent of having routines and creating family rituals which can extend from dinner time to some more personally created ones. It is essential to be organized and schedule in these things so that they are never, or very rarely missed; the benefits are far too great to simply leave them to chance.

    In my household we have a sleep, play and eat routine, and a clean up routine. We also eat dinner together each night.

    My new book, “Juggling Family Life: A Step-By-Step Guide to Stress-Free Parenting” is coming out this fall and gives very specific tools to solving the problem you mentioned above.

    Thank you again, for a very interesting post.

    Regards,

    Erin A. Kurt

  3. Erin, that sounds like a great read. I’d love to review it for the blog!

  4. Our life is really, really, consistent. We wake up, eat, play, go for a walk, eat, nap, go for another walk, play, eat, sleep – every day. This is in part because I have two kids with different naps. One does the two nap thing, the other does one. We need to stay close to home for most of the day.

    Like you, we learned consistent is best, so we try to hit those naps and eating times at the same time each day. In between all of the naps we try to mix it up in ways the kids like. Not parent errands, except maybe twice a week to the stores. Mostly neighborhood walks or to the garden or park, as I said above.

    Anyways, I have grown to like a simple life. So consistent is nice. Also, we have started “bumbling” which is going out without a purpose and letting the toddler lead, or just driving and seeing where it takes us. It brings a little excitement in between the naps and food.

    As far as parents with different views, my view usually takes precedence. I am the one that researches and reads up. If something I think up is illogical though we talk it out and figure something else out.

    I go on and on about raising kids at my site, but you get the jist 🙂


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