Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Tips for Taking Your Kids Anywhere

I learned a long time ago that if I wanted to continue to live my life of adventure the way I did before motherhood, that I was going to have to figure out a way to incorporate my kids into the things I love. To quote a post from 2011, "Swim Lessons: Adventures in Art and Motherhood," "I started becoming
a better mom when I stopped trying to be one and decided to be myself. The thought occurred to me that I didn't have to miss out on exciting things I wanted to do, I just needed to have the guts to bring my kids along with me. This began an incredible adventure of self discovery and inspiration. It has been so exciting to see what has rubbed off on my boys, and how they in turn have inspired me in new ways. Most of the time, I endure what I like to call controlled chaos, although I'm not sure it's even all that controlled. I never really expect anything to go smoothly..."

Well, since that time, I've maintained my attitude of not fearing adventure with children in tow, but I think I've learned a few things about controlling that chaos a little more smoothly! Watch as I share my tips for taking your kids anywhere!

  1. Lay Ground Rules - Your kids have to know what you expect of them if you're going to expect them to behave well, or appropriately for the setting to which you're taking them. I mentioned the book Parenting with Love and Logic, which I've reviewed in my post "I Just Want to Be a Good Mom."It's an excellent book with the message that you can prepare your kids to be self-sufficient, independent thinkers and problem solvers by setting and enforcing boundaries in an empowering way. I feel like it's such a positive and well-rounded parenting solution. It discourages helicopter parenting, and also overly permissive parenting as well as emphasizing consequences over punishment. Basically, if you expect your kids to listen to you in public, you have to be practicing good parenting skills at home so you have skills to call on when you're in public and need to reign them in. Also, share your expectations, or ground rules WITH your kids ahead of time so they know what behavior you expect of them when you reach your destination. And if they don't behave as expected, you must follow through with the consequences!
  2. Be Prepared - Always keep a small bag in your car or diaper bag or purse with small, handheld activities to keep your kids occupied. Encourage individual play, so you can enjoy yourself with your spouse or other adults (or yourself!), and try to choose toys that are inexpensive (in case they're left behind or broken) and don't require charging or batteries. Kids SHOULD be able to be still, patient and quiet for age appropriate amounts of time, but when that calmness has run out, have something for them to do so you can keep the peace if the wait time for a table is long, or the restaurant kitchen is taking FOREVER to bring the food out!
  3. DIY Game Cards - Our family loves games like "I Spy," "My Grandmother Has a Restaurant," and "The Alphabet Game." These games are great because they require imagination and NO supplies. They're the games you play on road trips or any other time you're stuck somewhere and can't move but need to tackle boredom. I just got some index cards and wrote the name of the game on one side and the rules on the other. At a restaurant or anywhere else where you need the kids to be occupied and not bother you, you can hand the cards to the kids and have them play the game without your help. It's a way of encouraging interaction between the kids in a way that doesn't elicit [much] jumping, shouting, running, fighting, etc.

What are YOUR tips for keeping the peace in public? I'd love to know! Share your ideas in the comments!

1 comment:

Lana Wilkens said...

Love it Missy. We really value taking our kids along with us, like you said, to not limit their experiences based on hypothetical (or real) fears about their behavior.

One idea that we've done is to tell a story together, where one leaves of with, "And then..." and the next person picks up where they left off. It's fun to play with just kids, or if adults want to join in it can be really fun too.

WOW! You were on TV. :) Way to go Missy! Sounds like your business is taking off. Hope all is well.


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