Friday, June 27, 2014

Stick to the Schedule

I am very schedule oriented.  When my husband stays home for an extended period, he says it's like living in the movie "Groundhog Day".  You can set your watch by our activites, meals and rest periods. I would love to tell you I do this completely for my children but it is mostly about my sanity.  If I have tired or hungry kids, my day gets bad.  Fast.  But every once in awhile I will let my need for control lapse and try to go with the flow.  Sometimes life demands it.  This week was one of those times.

I had registered for a homeschool conference given by Classical Conversations.  I am considering sending my kids to their co-op and I wanted to have a better understanding of their curriculum and philosophy.  They offer a camp for the kids while we learn and I was excited they would have something fun to do.  At least until I read the schedule.  

The camps would run from 9 - 3:30 with "quiet activities" in the afternoon.  My two year old collapses into bed at 1 and is asleep in minutes.  He's a crying and stumbling mess if we don't meet that deadline.  I hoped the nursery staff would understand.

I walked my two year old into his camp on the first day and asked if he would be laid down for a nap.  They said they would be happy to do that but one look at the room (cribs amongst toys and playing children) told me that he was not going to sleep.  My need to control started to surge up.  I wanted to demand that all the children nap at the same time.  I wanted to tell her his exact routine.  I wanted to scoop up my baby and take him home.  "Go with the flow," I told myself.  "Parents do this all the time - Look at all the other kids (younger kids!) that are going to be doing the exact same thing."  Then I wondered if I should talk to a professional about my hang up...

I picked him up for our lunch break and he was already a wreck.  "He said he's hungry and tired Mom," the sweet nursery volunteer said.  "Okay, thanks," I told her.  I turned my attention to him. "Did you have fun, baby?" I asked him.  "Nope," he said and he laid his head on my shoulder.  

I dropped him off after lunch and asked the volunteer to lay him down for a nap.  I gave him a kiss and headed back to the conference.  I wasn't totally focused - I just sensed that he needed me.  When we were let out a bit early, I power walked to his room and saw a very disheveled guy.  "Hey buddy!" I said.  "Did you get some rest?" I asked hopefully.  "No.  I just wait for you.  Mama, I just so tired," he said as his little bottom lip started to quiver.  I scooped him up and he laid his head on my shoulder.  I picked up my oldest (who, by the way, was absolutely THRILLED to have skipped his quiet time) and headed to the car.

My two year old was asleep in minutes.

As I drove home, I thought about my need for routine.  Was it really just for me?  After seeing my son, I don't think so.  Parents really do know what their children can handle.  We see a look in their eye and know if they are frustrated, tired, angry, hungry or sad.  We can see a tantrum coming before it even happens (most of the time) and we are very attune to their needs.  Why should we squander those insights?  Knowing our children, anticipating their needs and meeting those needs are part of our core job description.  Is it okay to push them every once in awhile? I think so.  But, for the most part, I believe that our kids should be able to count on us to meet their needs.  Even if life begins to feel like Groundhog Day.

Do you find yourself pushing your kids beyond their limits?  How can you use your insights into their needs and personality to be sure that you meet them where they are?

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