Nighttime Routine: Offense versus Defense
Most nights, the four kids and I arrive home, exhausted from another busy day. October seems like a long month. Sports, activities, and homework have kicked in and there are no major holiday breaks. I want to use everyone’s time wisely. I really don’t want to yell or berate any of my kids although I could easily come up with a thousand reasons to do so. Food left in the car, forgotten homework, late for a pick-up that made all the other pick-ups late, bickering, and a hundred more. So many things do not go as planned every day that it’s unproductive to dwell on them and instead push through.
I think, “What do I wish someone had said to ‘child me’ in this moment?” and I channel that big picture approach. What will motivate them to do their homework and get ready for another big day tomorrow?
Here are the Top 5 things I wish someone had said to ‘child me’ as I approached another night of dreaded homework and school routine.
#1 Take a risk on your interpretation of Whirlygig or the Merchant of Venice or whatever book you are reading. Think outside of the box and look at the other side. Then prepare to defend your idea. Knowing what the majority will say strengthens your premise. If you can argue both sides reasonably well, you can argue your own points even better.
#2 Plan to do something unexpected tomorrow. After you complete all your homework, look up a cool Spanish phrase. Approach your teacher before class and tell her the phrase. It will make her day. It shows that you are invested in the class and motivated to learn.
#3 Be memorable. Compliment someone, state an opinion, be happy (it’s contagious), or just be a little louder than usual. People are attracted to interesting people. And every child is interesting. But many times, they don’t show it. We need to encourage them, especially when we are dragging them through an assignment, like studying for a spelling test. Ask them, “Which word is the coolest word on the list?” and “Which word should be thrown in jail for being so boring?” They will absolutely remember these words on the quiz tomorrow.
#4 Be kind to someone, especially a sibling. Under roofs across America, there is too much bickering among siblings. They say mean things to each other and, if tone police existed, most children would be arrested. Home should be a safe place where kids are comfortable and find support. But it is also a safe place to express frustration over a tough day. It’s a fine balance of allowing them to vent, but not at each other.
#5 Remember to be an observer of things. Notice something. The most innovative people are ones who notice and embrace changes. This evolves into seeking out changes and finally starting to create them. Children have this natural inclination. We just have to nourish it.
We are building too many little robots today with all the pressure on them and on us, the parents. I want to teach my four kids to live life with more offense than defense. Have you ever seen a football team with a big lead that doesn’t want to lose? So they start to play safe, make conservative calls. They lose their energy. Yes defense if critical, but childhood should involve parents rooting them on as they play offense. Because we all know we are constantly on defense!