Spring is here and with it late night soccer tournaments, the end of the school year and the beginning of the summer routine (which could basically even be considered no routine) and the extra daytime light that can make bedtime a horror.
—but if anything is the norm about childhood it is that everything changes.
Infants become toddlers, the pre-school years become the school years and then suddenly—bam!—it is high-school.
But some things don’t change—like these 5 back to basics parenting tips.
These are the steadies we can always count on, that we can bring to our parenting life that will ensure our children have the basics they need to thrive.
We all need sleep, although children are often the last to admit it. That is why it is the parents’ job to create an environment conducive to sleep. This looks like a quiet house in the evening, a bedtime routine that includes pj’s, teeth and some out loud reading (even the teenagers like the reading believe it or not) and a firm hand sticking to ensuring everyone stays in bed and has quiet time even when they have trouble sleeping. I know all about this one because my 8 year old gets out of bed every evening saying she can’t sleep and just like with meditation and going back to the breath we lovingly guide her back to her bed.
2. Nutritious Food
We all need fuel for our bodies to operate. But processed food and sugar only gives short term energy before the fatal crash. Yesterday I thought it would be a cute treat to buy my 8-year-old daughter and her friend a small lollipop at the deli—but when the crash came we had to bail on swimming lessons because she was too tired. As adults we find it hard to have enough energy for the whole day if we aren’t fed properly. Well, kids burn way more energy throughout the day with all their running and hopping around than we do. This is why they need whole grains, quality protein and fat and lot’s of veggies and fruit. And not too much juice, because that is just more sugar.
3. Having Food Available
Younger kids (and sometimes older kids, too) are usually not able to monitor themselves when they are hungry. This is the adults role. Not to tell them they are hungry but to make food available. Predictable meal times, leaving out healthy snacks, being there at breakfast before school to make sure they eat something healthy and having dinner ready at a reasonable time (crockpots filled in the morning are great for this) are just some examples. For young kids this means carrying healthy snacks with us when we run around town. This is the role of the adult. To ensure food is available. This helps children wire into their brains that they are safe, nurtured and healthy through the reliable access to food.
We all thrive when we’re really heard. Children need to feel heard and understood. This means we need to just listen. Not advise, not criticize, not explode our opinions all over their thoughts. But listen and say “mm…hmmm”, and “that is interesting” and paraphrase back what we are hearing and say we are proud of their thoughts, interests and ideas. And let them be their ideas. Let them have their own interests, thoughts and viewpoints that are uniquely different from us. We don’t need to compare their childhood to ours or their beliefs to ours but instead just see them for who they are and feel lucky to be around them. We show this by putting down our phones, turning off our computers and looking at our children to listen and engage.
5. Unconditional Love
Our children haven’t come to us to make us look good, to be a reflection of who we are as people or even to make us happy or proud. They have been born to live their own soul purpose which only has the slightest bit to do with our own personal journey, really. That is why unconditional love is so powerful, which can manifest as loving them no matter what. And we can show this in our actions and in our words. One great way to do it is to shower them with love after a big fight, tantrum or some other disaster. Later when everyone has calmed down we tell them how much we loved them during that incident. They will be surprised. Because our big, red parenting faces that were screaming and cursing looked like anything but love. But letting our kids know we love them no matter what frees up their emotional energy so they don’t have to spend it holding on to love but instead can spend it growing, changing and transforming as they are meant to do.
Modern parenting can be a little complicated. So many choices. Attachment, free range, helicopter.
But this list is the basics.
The things we need to do.
No matter what.
These five tips can help guide us when we don’t know what choice to make but can also help us congratulate ourselves and see we are doing a great job parenting just by sticking to the basics.
Author: Ruth Lera
Editor: Alli Sarazen
Photo: Aikawa/ Flickr