There’s something to be said for planning. While I’m a decent planner in general, I can’t say I’ve done a lot of planning in my mothering beyond logistical basics like readying a nursery for a newborn or packing my diaper bag the night before an outing. And that’s fair because a lot of mothering simply is reactive. Like – my kid learned to turn the TV on; now I have to figure out how to address it. You deal with phases as they come.
My recent diligence kick, though, and the fruit that’s coming from it has left me thinking about planning… And about developing a vision for building what you want to ultimately see in your kids, step by step. And since I’ve begun putting my house in order – literally and figuratively – space in my brain and our schedule is being created to envision some new things. Things that my older children, now 2 and 4, are (or soon will be) ready for. “The plans of the diligent lead to profit,” the Bible says, and I want to spend my time with my children profitably. Better said: I want to be diligent to ensure that they profit – spiritually speaking – from theirs years in our home.
In that vein, I’ve begun thinking and praying through a few new ‘initiatives’ (to apply one of my oft-used consulting terms to parenting life) to begin with my kids in the coming months:
1. Circle time. I really love the idea of gathering the kids together in the early hours of the day to connect together around the essential parts of life. Bible-reading, prayer, singing songs, perhaps memorizing some Bible verses… Checking in as a family and focusing together on God. I’ve not yet read this e-book by mentor blogger Kendra Fletcher but plan to. We’ll start very small as my two-year old is not yet able to sit still through a story, but I feel pretty confident that the 5 to 10 minutes of daily circle time before our “room times” will grow alongside the kids’ growth in years, attention span, and maturity.
2. Jobs for kids. The only jobs our kids are currently expected to do relate to cleaning up messes they make: usually picking up their toys. [We’re getting better at learning how to oversee and direct this effectively – more on that in another post.] But I agree with Mary Olsytn that job “training should start young…; kids need to know that everyone in your family helps out, and they need to learn that complaining will not get them out of work.” Her book lists the jobs that her children of varying ages (from 3 to 19 years) are responsible for, saying, “Don’t just give children busywork. Kids are competent.” It was inspiring. This item was the real kicker in my recent let’s-get-diligent wakeup call because 1) how can I expect my children to do their jobs well and cheerfully if I am not doing mine? and 2) if I’m not organized myself, I will never be able to make time for them to do chores (and for me to train them in this).
3. Some “creative” time. I dislike crafts and generally avoid them in life with my children. We color a little, do some play doh here and there, and occasionally paint. But I dread and rarely initiate any of these. I would rather read 5 books with my kids than get out the paint. Lately I realized that my aversion is probably, in the end, shooting myself in the foot. Being willing to try out a few creative activities will be good for my kids and me and help ward off some of the day-to-day boredom that can come with a stay-at-home life. It’s time to break out of my comfort zone, and I appreciate this blog and its user-friendly mode to kickstart my thinking.
Stay tuned for updates on all of the above. And in the bigger picture, I’ve been thankful for the reflection that God’s instigated into planning ahead with mothering. I want to keep asking myself the questions – what phases are my kids entering? What are they ready for now that they weren’t last year? Am I remembering my vision for who I pray that they’ll one day become and building toward that incrementally?