There’s a lot of hand-wringing over raising kids these days, isn’t there? Mostly over kids who are well fed, well educated and well loved. I don’t know if the hand-wringing benefits the kids but I do know that it’s exhausting parents and that can’t be good for anyone.
1. I don’t spend 10 seconds feeling sorry for my kids. Unless they are bleeding or vomiting, I don’t get too upset on their behalf. If they miss a party because we’ll be away or the budget means they can do gymnastics or ballet but not both – that’s a bit of a shame but not much. Tears over not being in the same class as your best friend are tears wasted and missing the Junior Masterchef final because it’s on a Sunday night isn’t worth me emailing the CEO of Ten.
2. You’re special but not THAT special. I reckon if you sign up for a school or a sport, you go with the flow. If your class does NAPLAN, so do you. If everyone is expected to swim in the carnival, you will swim. Even if you hate it. The good swimmers need someone to beat so it’s a way of helping them feel good. Chances are those kids aren’t as stellar in the classroom so give them their moment.
3. Go outside. This isn’t possible for families who live in apartments or arctic environments but if it’s possible for you, I highly recommend it. If you’re shopping for a house and have a choice between a media room and a backyard, go for the latter. There are myriad benefits: healthy appetites; vibrant imaginations and a house that stays tidier, longer. Of course the kids need stuff to do outside so you might need to furnish them with props – old bedsheets, pots and pans, a trampoline if you can afford it. Or (best of all) other kids. Get to know your neighbours and open your world to them. Be clear they are there to play – not to be fed and watered. We installed a bubbler in the yard for precisely this purpose.
4. It’s okay to suit yourself sometimes. When my daughter was offered a place at a kindy closer to home than the one my son went to, I leapt at it even though there was a question over whether the program was as good. One mother questioned my decision, ‘You wouldn’t compromise her education for your own convenience would you?’ she asked. ‘In a heartbeat,’ I replied. It was kindy. I had a son in school and was pregnant with our third. Fifteen minutes saved was fifteen minutes gained and that’s priceless. So far, no ill effects of the b-grade kindy are evident.