The stay at home section of the Oh Waily family have fallen into some rather undesirable habits of late. The dreaded television has become rather more than an occasional treat and enjoyment, to the detriment of concentration and the ability to self-entertain. Worse still, the very excellent habit we had of reading LOTS of books had shrunk to Lilliputian proportions.
I won’t regale you with the hows and whys of us arriving at this situation. They are mostly mundane and directly related to extra-family stresses. What they did do, however, was start a slippery slope of auto-pilot parenting.
Find the simplest solution in order to accomplish non-kiddie related tasks?
What better than the television as babysitter?
Tired at the end of a stress-filled day? How quickly can we get to stress-relieving hobbies and habits?
Read less bedtime stories.
Seriously. What a numpty. Two of the biggest promises I made to myself when I became a Mum were – no babysitting by television and instill a love of reading.
So the auto-pilot changes have been recognised for what they are and what they have been doing. No more. Television has been relegated to the short time between waking and breakfast, plus the afternoon addition of Art Attack. Any time in between is for play, reading (oh yes, it is back), arts & crafts, field trips or other regular events – like our Tuesday afternoon swimming lessons. And the assumption* that the couple of hours of daycare made up for any stupid amounts of television in the afternoon has been kicked to the kerb, permanently. Now we have lots of imaginative play, and I mean LOTS.
I am also trying to introduce a regular, once a day, Reading Hour – separate from the bedtime stories. I have been finding this one a little harder to implement. Tearing them away from their games, having to run family or work errands, and generally having to squeeze it around the existing activities has proved a little less simple than I first thought. But I am determined to have it become a permanent fixture in our daily rhythm. I just need to work out when is best, and where it works best in any given day.
I feel slightly embarrassed to have fallen into such a simple trap. Auto-pilot, thoughtless, parenting. Not the way forward when you are planning to home educate your little people. Then again, I’m not superhuman. It’s time to face that fact, and realise that to keep on track means to take care of myself, make choices that help reduce external stresses and take a regular look at what we are doing around the Oh Waily household. We do much that is good, but that doesn’t mean we don’t also have areas that could do with changing.
How about you? Do you have any areas of auto-pilot parenting that you want to challenge and conquer?
* like I didn’t know that it was a load of the proverbial !