Parenting Trials: The Checklist

By this time in the day I was hoping to have biked along a trail to a beach or somewhere fun, picnicked, and been enjoying the outside. We're still at home. Because of my 8-year old.

Let me back up. A few days ago I decided to make a daily checklist for the boys. We'd been having a hard time getting things done around the house. Things like cleaning their room. Or a little daily math work. So, I made a list of things they needed to do each day. Accomplishing those things means that we can go do something fun: a bike ride, the free zoo, time at a beach, a playdate, etc.

The list includes:
  • Go to the bathroom, get dressed, put pajamas away
  • Eat breakfast, clear the table, brush teeth, brush hair
  • Do two chores from a list (take out recycling, put away laundry, put away dishes, clean room, etc.)
  • Do 15 minutes of writing (a story, poem, journal--anything)
  • Do 15 minutes of math

Reading is not on the list.  They would do that most of the day if I let them. But I want them to retain the things they've learned in school and work ahead a little, so math and writing are on there. Nils has a workbook he generally enjoys doing. Anders needs to keep working on his multiplication tables. He at the moment really dislikes math. But we've talked about how practice will make it easier.

The last few days have gone pretty well. They got their checklist done right away and we've been able to get out and enjoy playdates and bike rides.

Today has not gone well. It's been a continuous tantrum. Which means that Nils and I aren't able to do anything else yet. We could be here all day. I seriously hope not.

But I've got to stick to my guns. Even if it means the rest of us miss out on what we'd like to do. I will readily admit that not every battle is worth fighting. But our children know that we won't give in to tantrums. A tantrum will not get them what they want. And this is for their sake.

We want them to grow up well. We want them to know they won't always get their way in life. That there will always be work we don't want to do that has to get done. That working through tough things is a reward in itself. That it's not all about them--their choices effect other people.

But it is tough to not give in and just say, "Never mind. Let's just go bike to the lake." It would be easier. I know plenty of people who do it. But I also know the long-term effects aren't worth it. Giving in will just set up my child to believe that he will always get what he wants and have life his way.

I'm trying to teach them that life isn't about always doing what we want, but doing what needs to be done. That we can find joy in life, even in tough times. That serving others is much more rewarding than being self-seeking. That obedience is a show of love.

Hopefully he'll make the right choices yet today. And each day after that. Summer won't last forever. But hopefully these life lessons will.


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Rev. Dave said...

Follow up: The day did get better. He did his work after lunch. We got to go to the beach for a little bit before supper. Let's see how today plays out...