Active Parenting!

Common sense thinking about being an ACTIVE parent – What is the end goal?

We are excited to hear from one of our MMM moms as she shares her thoughts about her low tech journey with her four boys! Maureen will be contributing a short series “Active Parenting” for our MMM readers! Thanks Maureen!

Lassen (29)Parenting successfully in today’s world takes a lot of guts.  It is important to think about what we are doing, what our priorities are and what type of children we hope to raise.  Keeping the end goal in mind can help when it comes to making all the daily decisions that build our families. It’s the small daily decisions that make up parenting.

I am the mom of four boys (ages 19, 17, 15, 12).  These boys are energetic, positive, independent, well-rounded, hard-working, responsible, giving, outdoorsy, athletic and interesting young adults.  So far so good!  Thanks to a great and supportive husband, good health, faith, luck, and maybe some “old-fashioned” parenting, I love our boys and our family time.  My husband and I parent “actively” every day.  To me, that means that we take an active role in our children’s lives and we actively make decisions that create our family world, and we have high expectations of our boys. For example, if your end goal is to raise children who are hard workers, you might decide to have the family do yard work together, or stay late and help clean up at the school fundraiser instead of immediately running off when your shift ends.  The kids get to learn firsthand that it takes a lot of hard work to organize an event. Besides, it sure is nice to help out those who have worked hard, and it’s great fun to push the cart loaded with folding tables through the empty school hallways!

Our sons are great kids – not perfect kids.  They get good grades, work hard, and enjoy time with their family. We truly enjoy working and playing together! We live in suburban Knoxville and have one child at the University of TN and the others in the public middle and high schools.  My husband is a scientist and I am now an at-home mom with a science background.  Our priorities are family, education, volunteering, and nature.  Over the years we have made many small choices that have supported those priorities and built our family identity.  I believe that our family works because of the many small decisions that we have made – some mainstream and some counter-cultural and “geeky.”  Through these small, daily decisions we have accomplished some big things (more about some of our parenting decisions in future posts).  Through the years, keeping the end goal in mind has made parenting relatively straightforward.  Notice, I did not say that it has made parenting easy!

Maureen

Our favorites!

We had a fabulous low-tech holiday, hope you did too! I hope you were able to get some good creative ideas from our gift series! Please share your ‘big hit’ gifts on our FB page so others can take note as we head into this New Year… birthdays are around the corner!

One of our top favorites was the pop up soccer goals. Thanks to another MMM mom, Santa was on top of his game with this gift idea.

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Not only did the boys immediately light up with excitement but this gift was perfect as it provided hours of instant fun on Christmas Day and everyone (of all ages) could take turns! The obvious benefit to this gift was the exercise that it provides along with the eye hand coordination, strategy, team building and patience. I love the gifts that have multiple purposes. The goals fold into a small case making them very portable too.

Our next favorite was certainly a wild card (one of those gifts that really surprise you). The Simon Game. This game was passed around all through the holidays, young and old all tried to beat the game. It was very challenging! It required you to remember the light patterns and came complete with a fun song and an annoying buzzer noise when you miss (I became very familiar with that noise!).

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The third hit was the corn hole game! Again proving hours of family fun for all ages and many ‘good sport’ lessons to boot!

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A few new basketballs and some new (used) nice baseball bats were a big hit too. After Christmas, a young friend was over looking at all the boys’ gifts…  “Cool, you got real toys for Christmas! All I got were video games!”

We are looking forward to some MMM moms sharing their ideas on parenting without ‘the game.’ Stay tuned for some great inspiration coming this week!

12. The gift of Your Time.

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The most valuable gift you can give them.

The most valuable gift you can give your child is the gift of your uninterrupted non-tech time. We spend our money and our time on the things we love and our children know this even better than we do.

Think in terms of talking, building your relationship and relaxing or playing with your child one on one. Sometimes it may just be reading a book together in silence. Whatever you are doing there are only 2 rules:

1. You are physically present with your child.

2. You are not connected to your technology (TV, laptop, phone).

It doesn’t really matter what you are doing but rather that it sets the stage for you to bond with your child. The purpose of this gift is also to get to know your child better (making him feel loved) and exposing your child to your values and beliefs. Sometimes just grabbing an unexpected 15 minutes with your child will be easy but most of the time it needs to be scheduled to make it happen.

The gift of time:  Coupon book can include a trip to get ice cream or yogurt on a regular basis, a regular one on one dinner out, a trip to the bookstore to browse.  Eat. Reading a book together, cooking something together or taking the dog for a walk with just one child, fishing (a fishing pole and a note from you), camping or going to the park. This gift of your time will make even your older kids feel loved and special more than any other gift you can wrap up or plug in. Trust me on this one!

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Enjoy these precious magical moments with your child as he discovers all that childhood has to offer; soon they will become the memories that will hold your family closer together and will be the memories that your child hangs on to when life gets hard.  It won’t be long before his childhood door is shut completely and you both realize that all that screen time didn’t count for much.

While this 12 Days of Non-tech Gifting is not a complete list by any stretch,  I hope that you are able to get some new ideas for making Christmas special for your child.  Begin with a plan and a purpose to make your child feel special on Christmas Day and leave the screens at the store for now! Merry Christmas!

12 Days of Non Tech Gifts

11. The gift of Acts of Service.

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This is not what you may think. I know that doing family service projects is wonderful for families. The experience is rich and we need to do more of it.  The service I am suggesting here is the gift of you doing something for your child, helping him/her complete a personal project that is important to them. It involved sacrifice on your end. Our children need to learn what sacrifice feels like from both ends: the giving and the receiving.

It is very hard for children to learn how to serve if it is not modeled for them.  Any mom who has ever had someone make a meal for her understands the value and sacrifice of that gift. She is motivated to return the gift to another family in need because she understands and has felt the benefit herself. Our children will learn how to give sacrificially when it is modeled to them and they feel it in love.

For this category, think of things that will show your child you love him. Acts of service that will show you know his world and care about it.  This gift generally works well for for all children but it works very well for older kids and teens.

The gift of Service: Do something for your child. For a teen, this may be to paint your daughter’s room, help your son build something with wood, or help him fix or wash his car. Do something unique to their interest and personality.  If your son likes outside adventure and you don’t, do it anyway. If you like sports but your son doesn’t, an act of service would not be taking him to a ball game. Build a tree fort with your younger child, build a go cart, fix his bike, build a pitching mound in the backyard, a golf hole, etc. The goal is to do something for him that models service to him. It is a project that you do not just individually with your child for for him.

The benefits of this gift will last a lifetime. Your act of service will be remembered more than that new video game this Christmas….trust me!!

12 Days of Non Tech Gifts

10. The gift of Outdoor Family Fun and Attachment.

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There are so many suggestions for this category! Just think of things you can do with your child outdoors. This is perhaps the richest category for meeting his developmental needs as it covers many of the top 4 necessary ingredients: Attachment, Touch, Movement, and Nature.

Family outdoor activities generally need to be scheduled into our busy lives so Mom, you may have the job of keeping this a priority. Think of things that you can give your child that Continue reading

9. The Gift of Indoor Family Competition.

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Board games! This is a big one!

Your child finds great joy in spending time with you it is what he wants most. He wants you to want to be with him he wants your attention undivided. It is not because he is high maintenance or spoiled, it is a very necessary part of his development. Our job as parents is to help our kids form healthy attachments to our family. When you pull out a board game, healthy attachments are formed and a lot of good things happen. Your child Continue reading

7. The gift of Fashion and Accessories.

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Many things fit under this category. Most kids don’t jump up and down over new underwear and robes for Christmas but I know plenty who love team jerseys, college logo wear, athletic socks, shirts and jackets and of course boots or sweaters for the girls on your list. Other popular items are blankets and room décor.  Don’t underestimate the power of a super hero costume for the little guys and the excitement of receiving nice jewelry for the young ladies. Give that clothing, tote bag or jewelry a more personal touch by adding a Continue reading

6. The Gift of Reading and Writing.

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Reading is one of the best gifts you can give your child! Teaching your child to love reading is priceless. He will never be lonely with a good book and he will learn to use his imagination as he immerses himself in far away places. He will also learn how to feel empathy when he connects with the characters in the book.  It is so important for your children to love to read for many reasons. You may think that he/she doesn’t like to read but don’t ever give up and don’t believe them when they say they don’t like it. I talk with many moms of boys who struggle with reading, they give up too easily. They just need help Continue reading

5. The Gift of Strategy and Critical Thinking.

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Think puzzles and strategy games.

Every child needs to be challenged. When you give the gift of critical thinking you are giving a gift that will pay off huge dividends later.  Competition is good too (we will talk about board games in a few days) but strategy games can be done alone (think Rubik’s Cube) or with another player (Chess, Risk). They are not about the roll of the dice but rather they teach the art of planning an action to reach a certain outcome. Teaching your Continue reading