What’s wrong with this picture? NOTHING at all. But it did get you worrying didn’t it?
Let’s face it – there’s a lot of stuff going on once you have children at school and if you let yourself, there’s a lot to worry about.
Lots of us have more than one child and many of us have started back to work (either full or part time). There’s after school activities, class get togethers and the birthday party invitations start to ramp up.
I now have 3 kids at school and have had at least one child at school for 9 years so I feel I’m in a position to look back and realise I’ve made a lot of mistakes. At least I’m not alone – so many of my mum friends feel exactly the same as me.
Here’s my list of the 5 biggest mistakes parents make once their kids at school
1. Being disorganised at home
If you (and therefore your child) is disorganised at home, there is a fair chance that they’ll be disorganised at school too. Believe me, I’ve had times where I’ve fallen off the organised wagon and everything goes to hell. The kids start getting ratty, I become more stressed and even hubby starts chiming in with his two cents worth!
Try and help your children understand how to get organised. My kids each have a big draw in the laundry (you could use a basket, a trug or a box) so that the minute they walk in the door, they take out their homework, notes and lunchboxes and then put their bags and hats into their draw. Later that afternoon or night we put anything that needs to go to school the next day (like permission slips or projects) into their draw so it’s ready for the morning.
Knowing what’s coming up is super important too …
Knowing what’s coming up is super important too – pin up a calendar, a noticeboard or a whiteboard and the minute you find out about something, get it onto the calendar. We have a calendar inside our pantry door and underneath that I have stuck a plastic sleeve – if there’s an athletics carnival, we just write that on the calendar but we know that all the details will be on the note in the plastic sleeve right next to the calendar. Even the kids write on the calendar and put the notes up there themselves now.
2. Not making time to really connect with your kids
Studies show that you spending just 10 minutes of undivided attention each day is all your kids need to feel connected to you. Before you check emails, messages, read the mail or start organising dinner – give your child some of your time.
We have a routine 3 days a week where we sit at the kitchen bench and have afternoon tea. We talk about the day and what’s coming up, homework and projects that need to be done. As much as I know there are emails piling up and my phone is ringing, I ignore them for 30 minutes – which gives each child 10 minutes.
3. Not understanding the importance of good food
Kids need good food to ensure that their minds and bodies work properly. I’m forever telling my kids that they need good fuel to learn, to play and to grow! I do as much as I can to ensure we have a well balanced breakfast and dinner at home and then encourage the kids to get involved in packing their lunches.
They get to choose a piece of fruit and a vegetable (cucumber, carrot or tomato/cherry tomatoes) and they get to choose something from the ‘snack box’ for morning tea.
Again, it’s easy when you’re busy to fall back on all those little individual packs for lunches and opt for basic spreads with bread but there’s not a lot of goodness in any of those.
If you’re super busy, think about offering the kids a tin of baked beans (low fat, low GI, high fibre) instead. My kids love these – the older kids just take the can and the younger kids have their baked beans in a little Tupperware container so they’re not confronted with the can to open.
And most importantly don’t beat yourself up – if you and the kids can eat really well 85% of the time, you’re doing an amazing job. No one is perfect and if you have one bad day, just be good the next!
4. Not giving kids enough down time to relax
This one goes hand in hand with no. 2 (Making time to connect with your kids) … So many times I’ve allowed myself to get caught up in all the activities everyone else’s kids are doing. And my kids get invited by friends to join this team or that team, come to this activity, do that lesson (after all, it’s only an hour a week) …
Suddenly you add it all up and every child is doing something 5 times across the whole week (weekends included) and it’s out of control. You’re running yourself ragged, the kids are tired and cranky, you’re spending a fortune and the kids never get a moment to relax, catch up and God forbid, be bored!
Obviously every family is different but you need to find a schedule that works for you and your kids … and allows them to stay fit but also recharge, refresh and operate effectively within the family.
5. Taking control of homework!
If you’re anything like me (yes I’ll admit I’m a bit of a perfectionist and a slight LOL control freak) homework sets your teeth on edge and unless your child is highly out of the ordinary, their homework will probably be quite messy with lots of crossing out, crooked cutting and dog-eared pages.
As Princess Elsa from Frozen says “LET IT GO”.
Yes you need to step away from the desk and let your kids work their way through their homework, their projects, their ‘talk time’ topics and their Maths Mentals on their own.
The only way a teacher can determine what your child knows is by receiving work that is truly theirs. By all means, encourage, support and show your child how to answer homework questions, but don’t do the work for him! Doing homework by themselves will help your children learn to be responsible for the quality of their work.
I now make a start on dinner at the kitchen bench and the kids sit at the dining room table – close enough to ask questions but far enough away for me to not be watching every move their make!
There are of course many more things I could add to this list, but these are the biggies that every mum I talk to seems to bring up. And as I said, we often slip off the wagon and life starts to unravel but that’s OK. Just pick yourself up and get back to basics.