Sunday, June 30, 2013

Happy Kids, Happy Parents, Happy Life

Happy Kids, Happy Parents, Happy Life was the title of the workshop with homeschool educators. It was truly an honor to share some of the strategies I discovered through the years with new parents.

Frankly, the question and answer session that followed was more revealing than I could have imagined. The major struggle for parents is time, or lack of time, as they see it. For me a person who has had to look in depth at time and how I'm always running out of time before my to-do list is done is that I overextend myself.

As a young 20 something, I had come to accept the fact that more often than not, I was late. As hard as I had tried to be on time, time seemed to get the better of me. It was so bad that when I met my then boyfriend, now husband who is chronically early, I had some self examination to do.

Why the man decided my tardiness could be fixed, I don't know. It was clear that I was hard core late. He would be arriving to pick me up for a date. Polite as he was, I saw him pull up in front of the house and I'd scribble a note to come in on the door and jump in the shower. It had come to the point where I was ashamed at my lack of time management skills. Luckily, for me he wasn't offended by my tardiness even as frustrating as it got for him.

Fast forward to three kids under 5 years old and my time crunch as I called really became an impairment. There were days we just didn't go anywhere because I wasn't able to get four people dressed and out the door in time to make play dates.

Suddenly, the pieces fell into place for me. It was all in the preparation. For those of you who are not time challenged, it's a no brainer, but for those of us who aren't so wise, step by step instruction are required... and a watch.

You might call me an optimist because I was always optimistic about how much I could get done in a period of time, always optimistic about traffic and how long it would take to get somewhere, and always optimistic about my kids being blissfully helpful or at least compliant when it came to getting in the car. Thankfully, I'm not the only mom with this affliction but there came a time when I decided that my lack of time management was setting a poor example for my kids.

That was the day I decided to change. It all became clear that I needed to be at least a realist, if not a pessimist when it came to time. By changing this point of view, changing from leaving 30 minutes to get ready to leave, I would plan an exit strategy an hour ahead. For special events, preparation began the night before.

An amazing thing happened, I started to be on time, and sometimes, although not often, early. It felt weird to be early, good but weird.

Since that realization, I've come to the conclusion that optimistic tardiness is in the DNA. Thankfully, my husband contributed the arriving early gene. So with three kids, they naturally present at each point of the spectrum: one is naturally early, one is naturally on time and one is naturally tardy. For the optimistic tardy child, I've been able to offer sympathy and strategies to overcome lateness.

Encouraging other parents to overcome difficulties is such a rewarding experience. I now look at my trial as a blessing so I could share solution strategies with parents who realize being on time doesn't have to be traumatic but a pleasant experience for everyone.

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