Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Staying Connected with Your Kids (yes, it's possible)

I like to start every "parenting" post with this:

I'm no expert.  I have four fab kids and I think I do a pretty good job.  That being said, I make mistakes. I yell, I forget to pack plastic spoons with the yogurt and once in a great while the kids dig through the hamper for clothes.

In my almost thirteen (gasp) years of parenting, I've realized that once kids start going to school it becomes a challenge to really know what is going on inside those walls.  Some kids are better than others (girls usually), but most of the time after school discussions go like this:

How was your day?


Have any tests?


Do you have homework?


How much?

"Not much." 

These discussions don't tell us much about how school really was; they're like trying to change the channel with wrong remote.  It looks good but it does NOTHING.  My method of getting to know a little more about school, friends or anything is to just open a window.

I ask what the best part of their day was, and the worst.  I ask who they sat next to at lunch and who they played with at recess.  I ask what they ate first out of their lunchbox and what they are making in art class.

Every time we sit for dinner we go around in a circle and everyone answers the same question.  If we don't have dinner I get them at bedtime or homework time.  I get them when they aren't preoccupied on a video game or watching a television show.

The key is getting them.  I've realized on many occassions a happy smile after school doesn't mean school went well.  Sometimes kids are just happy to be home.  My best friend didn't speak a word in school until fifth grade, yet she talked all the time at home.

These are the things parents need to be on top of; the little things that lead to the big things.  Not every conversation will lead to giant "aha" moments; most of them will just keep you connected to your kids.  You'll have opportunities to teach them how to be kind, what is appropriate and what maybe wasn't the best idea ("I couldn't study I had gymnastics" written on the top of a test? Not so much).

But every few weeks you might open that window and talk for an hour about something that is really bothering them at school.  Or a friend who isn't being so nice.  The conversations I love are the ones that shed light on issues that don't have to big problems, but kids don't know how to maneuver them.  Which makes them big problems.

There is nothing more rewarding at this stage in the game than giving my kids perspective. 

Happy Tuesday everyone.  Grill your children after school today.  "Good" is not an answer.  Neither is "I don't remember," I don't know" or "nothing."

See what you get out of them, it just might surprise you.


  1. I just read the first paragraph of this blog and its like you are living my life ��kudos to you for being a Real Mom just like me!

  2. Anthony is only in 1st grade and I get this already! I think we pretty much set ourselves up for a single word answer when we ask questions that can be summed up with only one word! I do the same thing...."What did you play at recess today?" "What book did the teacher read today?" Most times it gets him talking. Molly will be in Kindergarten next year and I'm excited to hopefully have lots of chatter in the car about how school went on our ride home from the bus stop.


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