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May 7, 2011
Welcome to another fun Saturday Playdate! Today we're playing with Katie from Practical Parenting. I have to say that Practical Parenting is one one my favorite blogs! I subscribe by email so that I don't miss a single post, and I have learned so much from reading them. Katie is a child, adolescent, and family psychotherapist, and more importantly, a mom. She knows about kids. She writes about parenting and how to deal with every day issues that families may have. Katie has really helped me with some issues we have faced, and I can't thank her enough for the advice she has given me.
When you're done here, please check out Practical Parenting. Give Katie some comment love, and let her know you stopped by from the Playdate. And trust me, if you're a parent, you WILL want to follow her blog. Feel free to come back by and thank me for introducing you to this great blog! :-)
A huge thank you to LeeAnn for inviting me over to play today. One of things that I most admire about LeeAnn is that, despite her busy life and successful blog, she makes time to feature another blogger each week. Blogging is a wonderful world that opens doors to friendships that might never have existed without it, and LeeAnn truly works toward uniting bloggers with her unconditional support. She’s one of a kind and I am honored to be a part of her community.
I started my blog, Practical Parenting, near the end of what was a very long year of my husband touring with his band. The longer he was away, the more I realized how much I came to rely on a combination of my mom instincts and my training as a Child, Adolescent, & Family Psychotherapist. For years I worked with parents to help them hone their parenting skills and survive the ups and downs of parenthood, and suddenly I found myself following my own advice. Putting it in a blog seemed like the best way to share some ideas and find another outlet while my husband traveled the world.
Since starting my blog I’ve “met” many moms with husbands in the military, husbands who travel extensively, or husbands who work nights while they work days. Despite the differences in career choice, we’re all faced with long separations and helping the kids cope with different family situations.
While my husband is not currently touring, this weekend I find myself alone with the kids for the second Mother’s Day in row. He’s off making a record in New York. All of the chatter among friends and bloggers about planning the perfect Mother’s Day got me thinking about how we make family time work in our little corner of the world. We don’t always celebrate holidays on time (last year the Easter Bunny showed up a week early), we don’t always have family time on the weekends, and we certainly don’t have family dinners every night, but we do manage to find time together as a family as often as possible. Today I thought I would share a few tips for focusing on family time, no matter your circumstances:
1. Make it meaningful: We try to make the most of smaller outings instead of trying to fit in some great adventure every time he has a day off. Sure, going to the zoo is fun, educational, and special. But just getting there takes a lot of planning, coordinating, and running around. That can make for a hectic morning. We much prefer a more local outing that lends itself to a slow morning at home followed by some family fun out in the community. Running through a fountain together can be just as meaningful when we are all calm, happy, and enjoying ourselves. Take a small family moment and make it meaningful.
2. Use your time wisely: The upside of the super late hours that musicians keep is that they tend to start their days a little later. They sleep a little later than the average dad, but they have a little more flexibility when it comes to getting out the door. So what if we don’t have “family dinners”? We have family breakfast (which is often a second breakfast for the kids while daddy eats his first)! The point is that we sit around the table, eat, chat, and read stories together. We use a timeframe that works for us. The benefits of family dinners are often cited as time spent together, improving conversational skills, and modeling healthy eating. We accomplish all of those things; we just happen to do it at a different time of the day.
3. Read together: Whether snuggled up on the bed or sitting around the table, family reading is a great way to connect. The intellectual benefits of reading to our children frequently are numerous, but there’s an emotional component there too. Children feel connected to their parents during these quiet moments where everyone shares the same focus. It’s a great way to involve everyone in a joint conversation, versus the competition for attention that often happens when the kids are all trying to talk at once. It’s a nice, quiet time to sit together as a family and enjoy a story.
4. Find the common bond: We all know that every child is different. Their personalities start to emerge within weeks and soon they become specific in their likes and interests. Some siblings play beautifully together (I have to say that I’m lucky in this area) while others can’t seem to agree on a toy or game that suits everyone. But somewhere beneath the surface, there’s always something that brings them all together. Maybe it’s a dance party, an obstacle course, or a treasure hunt. It might even be building a fort out of pillows and blankets. In my house, it’s music. Despite my complete lack of musical ability, my children can’t get enough music. When the four of us are enjoying a “lazy” morning at home, it usually means my husband and kids each have their own guitar out and are running through a family set list. I sing along (out of tune), and am usually handed a tambourine out of pity (poor mommy is left out!). These small moments equal big happiness in our house.
5. Pick your battles: When you have limited time to spend together as a family, it’s no fun to get stuck in a cycle of dealing with discipline. Temper tantrums, acting out, and regressed behavior happen with young children at various times for a variety of reasons. Try to address the big issues and avoid focusing on every little speed bump. You’ll be a happier family for it.
For me, every day is Mother’s Day. I get repaid in hugs, kisses, and lots of declarations of love (some of the time, anyway). But for those of you lucky mommies who have husbands around to spoil you tomorrow: Enjoy every minute! Take a breath, relax, and soak up some well-deserved mommy time.
How do you make the most of family time?
Thanks for stopping by for our playdate! I hope you had fun! If you would like to come over for a playdate, let me know in a comment or an email.