Adults like to have a plan for what is coming next in their day. Children are no different. When they know what’s happening later, it can help them balance their emotions and better handle the transition between activities.
I get so many phone calls from clients about challenges in parenting, especially parenting more than one child. Some are adjusting to life with a new baby, some are solo parenting while their partner works out of the country half the time, others are commuting long hours to the suburbs because they can’t afford housing in the city. Most just ask how they can connect with their children and provide them with greater continuity during these changing times. How can they forecast the days events for their children in order to foster smooth transitions and resilience throughout the day? Teaching the child to see the rhythm of the day and week can help.
He crossed off today on the big calendar she had drawn, each square filled with a cartoon picture of a plane, mummy’s face, trees, beach, a house, another plane on the last square. He pointed to mum’s cartoon face -
“Later, we are going to FaceTime mummy.”
He jumped into the daytime reality of wrangling a toddler and a preschooler, shopping for groceries, outdoor playtime, then lunch and naps, and more outside playtime before dinner, bath and bed. That night, after the kids were asleep, he looked at the dishes piled beside the sink. Maybe he needed to work out a better schedule for the day. He had chosen to be the at-home parent, but it was hard when they cried for mum when she was away at a conference. Perhaps, he thought, she had drawn the calendar for him, more than for the kids.
He posted to Facebook that he just wanted to find balance and avoid chaos this week while he was solo parenting.
Today, parents face the near impossible task of following evidence-based parenting, reading Gordon Neufeld and Jennifer Kolari when they can, navigating each day consistently, while trying to focus on connection, setting realistic expectations, calmly setting limits, giving 5-minute warnings, singing transition songs, and avoiding screen time and treats. Perhaps they need to remember the “good enough parent” rule of not feeling guilty when things don’t go exactly as planned. You can only do your best.
Then how do you stay connected with your children, so you all have the resilience to deal with any big feelings that come up, when moving from one activity to the next?…