Originally published on Family Footnote.
Life has changed quite a bit since I was a kid. Social media, text messaging, and Snapchatting are all components that were missing when I was a child, so parenting in this digital age is confusing.
In a world that is still quite new to me, I often get nervous about raising my kids well; however, there are some times when I’m able to sit back, relax, and tap into some of those parenting skills my parents instilled in me many years ago.
I think it’s healthy to have some old-school parenting in this new world.
1. Go Outside and Play
One of my favorite things about living in a cul-de-sac is having the ability to still say “Go outside and play.” When we were kids, we were definitely the kind of children who would check in once or twice, but didn’t feel the need to come in until the street lights came on. I know that times have changed, and I get why, but my kids still get a huge slice of that freedom.
They bounce from cul-de-sac to cul-de-sac and house to house. My neighbors and I parent the same way ― if they can hear us and we can hear them, then they are free to play in front yards, back yards, and the open spaces in between.
I think this freedom is good. It’s where games are created, problem-solving can occur, and my kids would tell you it’s amazing to play for a couple of hours before they stop in at our neighbor’s house for a snack and a Capri Sun.
My “go outside and play” mantra comes from my parents, and the times that I explored my neighborhood are the ones that I remember fondly. I think my kids will, too.
2. Wait While Others are Speaking
This old-school way of thinking is a work in progress for my children. I’ve mentioned many times that I have very loud and excited kids, and for them to hold in what is on their minds for longer than 30 seconds can prove to be nearly impossible.
However, when others are speaking, I try to get them to wait. They may look like someone asked them to hold their breath while they’re waiting, but they are learning to wait for a little bit.
I realize people generally don’t have to be patient for a darn thing anymore. This is one of the ways I’m trying to get them to realize that waiting before speaking is not only polite, but it can also help them formulate what they want to say more articulately.
Again, this is not a perfect science, but I appreciate the idea of courtesy and valuing another’s ideas when communicating. I hope it rubs off on my kids.
3. Shake it Off
Since we are fully into summer, our Neosporin and Band-Aid stash is dwindling. My middle should permanently wear a helmet and bubble wrap, but since that isn’t an option, I’ve got to try to make him and his brother and sister a bit tougher.
Save for a broken bone, most cuts and scrapes in the summer are status quo for living an active life. Each time they fall on their scooter or while running on the slippery gravel (that I warn them about once a day), my spouse and I tell them to shake it off.
Mostly because I need to know if it’s possible for them to recover quickly or not. If they aren’t able to compose themselves after a routine fall, their injuries may be pretty bad.
Also, I find helping them handle these tiny tragedies calmly can make the recovery process faster and easier. This is not always easy, but it has worked pretty well with our three. Our sons would physically shake their bodies each time they got back up from a fall. It was so cute, and it made the pain dissipate with each incident.
4. Do Your Chores
When my sister and I were growing up, we did dishes, laundry, mowed the lawn, and countless other chores. We were not excited about it, but I know we were learning responsibility and house management skills.
Now that my children are old enough to help out, it is so much easier to run a household where most of the inhabitants pull their own weight. Obviously I take on the biggest chore load, but that’s what I signed up to do. However, my kids are learning.
My oldest can make his own breakfast and lunch (he still prefers me to, but knowing he can makes me feel better); he can sweep, scrub, mow, etc. My middle and oldest have worked out a great dish-washing routine, and they both don’t even bat an eye at their trash day duties. Phew!
Having my kids do chores without payment is important to me. I believe there will be a time for allowances, but I plan to use that more as a money managing tool than payment for giving back to their family by way of hard work. It’s an old-school belief that giving kids responsibilities before leisure is the way things should go, but it makes for a saner mommy and proud kids.
I loved my upbringing. I think my parents did a great job of instilling love, duty, play, and activity into my younger days. It’s my goal to do the same for my kids. There is nothing wrong with a little old school in this new world.