Part two: Learning to relate to my increasingly independent child

Last week I introduced this series by sharing how I realized my son and I were not spending much time together as he grew more and more independent. Today I’m sharing two ways I have found that have helped us grow closer again.

Look for more opportunities to say ‘yes’.

An article in this Friday Finds really sparked this idea. In general I started to examine if my “no”s really could be “yes”s, and honestly most of them could be. But one major thing I started asking myself is: can a no become a modified yes? For example AJ always asks to play on my phone in the car. Instead of saying “no – let’s talk” or “sure” and turning on the radio I suggested he be a DJ and play us some music.

This approach lead to non-stop conversation about what songs we like, why we like them, how it’s nice to play some of my favorites in between his favorites. Car rides have quickly become a favorite past-time! I do however get unlimited veto power on songs–because a girl can only listen to so much Whip and Nae Nae.

Do you already have certain times that you and your kid spend together by default? Can you find a way to turn that time into a favorite for you and your child?

Make spending time with mom (or dad) a “special” event.

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It is impossible to talk about how we spend our time without discussing the use of technology. Listen, this blog is a no judgement zone and technology is an important but touchy subject in parenting these days.

I’ll just put a disclaimer in here that we do NOT have it figured out and provided my kid is healthy and happy I don’t put too many limits on electronics. That said – we do have one major tech rule in this house: one electronic at a time. Basically this means that, no, you may not have a show playing, youtube going on a computer, and be playing on your iPad at the same time.

Almost every rule I have for my kid, I try and apply to myself. Which is why we have one big exception to this rule, sports. If you are watching sports on the TV, you may also have one other electronic. Because of this rule (and the exception to it instead of AJ being downstairs watching something while I’m in my room watching something else, he will often end up sitting next to me while I’m watching sports. He probably knows more about women’s professional soccer than any other boy his age – but honestly it’s so cool. He has favorite players and he asks me about them all the time and makes sure not to miss any of their games.

AJ will often get to stay up a little past his bedtime if he’s watching sports with me. I cannot stress it enough, make doing something you love doing (watching cooking shows if you’re not into sports, staying up to play your favorite games, etc) feel like a special treat for your kiddo!

Keeping an eye out for opportunities to turn a ‘yes’ into a fun shared moment and making time spent together extra special have helped AJ and I find new ways we enjoy spending time together.

Next week I’ll share the most surprising activity that has brought AJ and I even closer together recently.

Read part 1 here!

Read part 3 here!

Friday Finds

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Hey there!

It’s Friday! I find most things as a parent to be slightly bittersweet – like weekends. Though wonderful in many ways they’re definitely not the same as my pre-kiddo days. And while I am looking forward to spending time with AJ, watching his various sports and maybe squeezing a hike in Sunday morning – I also know that Monday won’t have the same dread that it had pre-kiddo either because… routines, man they are the best. Do you have anything planned this weekend? Have you come up with a way to incorporate the right amount of structure and fluidity into your weekends?

Without further ado here’s another round up of different articles and finds from around the internet this week relating to parenting:

  • Six Screen-Time Studies That Changed My Parenting Approach is a very digestible summary of the studies and how the author used the information. I especially appreciate the last two about reading and acknowledging our own roles.
  • Amazon is coming out with a children’s version of the Echo – along with some parental controls and FreeTime content it comes with a feature that will encourage your child to say ‘please’. I showed this article to my mom and she responded that my dad wants one “so that he can talk better than command… Hey, google.”
  • On A Cup of Jo, the author shares the Three Words That Changed How I Parent:  “Aim for yes.” This is very similar to advice my mom shared with me early in my parenting journey “avoid the power struggle” and was such a good reminder. The examples in the article made me smile and also realize I could definitely say ‘yes’ to a few more things – I read it Monday and can already sense the positive influence it’s having.
  • In this Scary Mommy post,  My Kids Eat Dinner At 3 P.M., And Here’s Why, the writer explains how changing the expected routine has worked for her family. I think it’s important to always do what’s best for your family, not one answer works for everyone – but if you share some of the same struggles I do this might work.
    • From me: While working as a teacher in OKC I incidentally started this routine of grabbing a quick, (often fast food – no shame y’all) small meal for AJ on the way home form school. It completely changed the tone of our afternoons and evenings. He often ate a little bit of the dinner I made myself later in the evening as a second dinner of sorts. By avoiding behavior driven from being “hangry” we were able to keep peace and it was so worth it!
    • From my mom (Dr. Venters): I use to feed the kids the dinner that I had made the day before since they were always hungry earlier than when their dad got home around 7pm. By the time we moved to Denver I just started eating with them at 5-5:30. Kept me from being “hangry” also.
  • BONUS: Having trouble transitioning your little from book read to actually falling asleep? I was recently reminded of these audio Sparkle SleepyTime Stories and wanted to share them with you.
    • When AJ was younger we used these at the end of our bedtime routine; I would rub his back for a couple minutes before leaving the room while it played. The stories are about 12 minutes long and were usually sufficient in slowing down his little brain and sending him off to sleep. I also used them quite successfully in my classroom as a pre-k teacher. I find kiddos really only need to lie still and  be quiet for 5-10 minutes to fall asleep. This worked for us. The other stories were not of much interest to my five year old but I’m thinking of resubscribing to try a few stories for my now nine year old. By the way there’s a similar adult version, Sleep with Me, I haven’t tried it yet though!