Oklahoma City family fun is the bright spot through all the gray days and parenting woes.
This fall has been an odd season for family life. We've had rain, sickness, more rain and a lot of societal tension.
One of the most difficult aspects of parenting is making quality experiences happen between all of the daily living that has to take place. This is the time of year where the novelty of the new school year has worn off and we're just trying to make it through the week. Somehow, in between all the read-a-thons and birthday parties and homework assignments, along with muddy boots and "don't forget your raincoat," the quality experiences of childhood also happen that are memorable and formative.
I am parenting four boys and this is an important time to decide how to do that because there is so much emphasis on the ways we want them to be respectful and to advocate for others. There is a lot of talk at my house lately about keeping hands to ourselves and listening when other people say stop. Red light, green light, don't tickle me, don't touch me, leave my hair alone, no hair gel even though it's picture day.
I don't think that's partisan. I think that's human. And as a parent in charge of leading us forward, ever forward, through each day's tasks but also imparting some sense of how to respect others, it feels a little daunting. Many parents are having the "how do I teach my children, especially my sons, to be respectful" conversation right now but I wish there was more of the "this is difficult as a parent" one. There is no shame in recognizing that we are all-powerful in the minds of these young children but so rarely have all the answers.
If you would like to ask more questions, we can all talk it out in MetroFamily's Ages & Stages groups. Join and say what's on your mind. I'll answer back and some other parents might too.
What works for my family is spending time together. That's hard because each of my children go to different schools, my husband works until 10 p.m. four nights a week and we're just pulled in a lot of different directions. Whether it's with sports practices or other commitments, I feel like many other families are also living the fast life with us over here.
October, though, has a packed calendar of community events and from this month, it's a quick slide into Thanksgiving, Christmas and 2019.
It all comes down to time, what we have time for, make time for and where we spend it. Having some good memories to look back on has been a key part of adolescence already with my sixth grader so I want that to be the way things go for his brothers too.
Here are four ways to maximize time together without spending too much:
- Clean together: I know, it's not fun or anyone's idea of a memorable time but we have to do it, so things go better when everyone pitches in; sometimes, I bribe them by saying when their tasks are all done, everyone gets ice cream. Really. That's just where we are, pretty much every weekend. If you can hire help and just go get the ice cream, I can see that being a good option since there's a never-ending slate of chores they can learn from later.
- Take Fall Break too: My husband is a teacher so he's on fall break at some point this month and that occasionally matches at least one child's school here. If you can take the time off work, at least a day, do it. Everyone needs a day. Here is the full list of Fall Break activities, camps and classes. I am going to point my family in the direction of the Oklahoma Hall of Fame at the Gaylord-Pickens Museum. There's literally a fun free thing there every possible day of Fall Break.
- Set aside one hour: I can't always commit to a full weekend day of togetherness but I can find an hour. My oldest child and I go get coffee; he drinks cocoa still but we leave the house. Same with my middle child. My toddler just wants a cookie. The point is going. Talking. Best tip? Turn off your phone and listen.
- Free Fall Fun: What sometimes stands in the way of enjoying time together besides already being busy is money. There are a lot of options that don't cost where you can get out and enjoy. This list has four pages of activities and events. That's one less reason to stay in the house.
Quality time is on my mind right now. We're all trying, between the unavoidable and the optional.
If you have tips to share on what works for your family, email me. We could all use the support, rain or shine.