I will never forget the elation of my last day of school. Never again would I have to dread going back to the classroom after a long summer holiday! After 12 long years, I felt like William Wallace (Braveheart), shouting F- R-E-E-D-O-M at the top of my lungs!
And then, as fate and inevitable foul up would have it, I became a mother and my new definition of freedom changed to taking a ten-minute shower ON MY OWN. Washing my hair is heavenly. Washing my hair AND shaving my legs is a victory! And “guess what?” – I hear my tainted past whispering in my ear? In a couple of years, your 15-month old bouncing boy will also attend school. Already I find myself thinking about and dreading reliving “those days”.
Will he be well-behaved and listen to his teachers or will he be the class rebel? What will I pack into his lunch boxes that will be both nutritional and that he would want to eat? Will he be sporty like his dad and attend hours of extra mural activities, or will he be a geek like me and partake in cultural activities instead? And most importantly, how will my role as his mother negatively or (hopefully) positively affect this?
“On-the-job” training is all good and well, but I really, really (really) want to be one of those moms that can whip up a healthy meal in two ticks, have fun activities ready in a jiffy and have strangers in awe of how well-behaved and obedient my little munchkin is.
Part 1: Listening skills
I believe that listening skills are essential for excelling throughout life and should therefore be cultivated from a young age.
In today’s techno driven age of distraction, I think it is a much harder task than in days gone by. In the “good old days” parents maybe had TV to contend with. In our age, toddlers are already mastering I-Pads before they are able to read.
Here are 5 tips about listening skills that I’ve found to be effective:
• Lead by example Super Granny always says “Good morals are caught, not taught”. I’ve also come to realise that teaching listening skills would have to start with me. We all know kids are imitators. I can’t expect my child to look up and listen to me, if I am talking to his dad while sending a text message and checking my emails all at the same time (even though I am more than capable of multi-tasking like that).
• Have clear boundaries No mobile phones at the breakfast, lunch or dinner table or browsing social media in bed at night. This is family time. Nobody wants to contend with bowed down heads and responses like “mmm, that’s nice dear”. Start enforcing good communication skills when your children are still very young and still listening to you.
And speaking about the table…
• Eat meals at the table I grew up in a household where all meals were eaten at the table. Back then I often despised having to sit through dinner while my favourite show was on TV, but now that I am all grown up I understand and appreciate the value of it.
Not only does it aid in teaching the appropriate table manners, but it is also one of the few places where the entire family can connect simultaneously. In the movie, “The Story of Us”, they even enforced a “high-low” rule, where every family member had to give the highs and lows of their day to get the conversation started. Andalene’s family refers to it as MSG (mad, sad and glad moments). Engage in unique family rituals, so that it becomes an activity that everyone looks forward to. And if your place is too small for a table, enforce tip number 1 (also switch off the TV when you are eating).
• Make it fun to learn I came across this awesome blog called the Kids Activities Blog showing a list of fun activities for kids that teach them listening skills as they play. It’s a really cool site with lots of different age appropriate activities.
• Find a mentor/role model I’ve had two-second knowing glances in public spaces that have expressed more than a thousand words. Only as part of this inner circle of motherhood can another mom nod to you in understanding and instantly make you feel like you are not alone.
Realise, that as a mother, you will never be able to be 100% objective about certain issues that may arise. Find a non-judgmental, rational person who can help you gain perspective in difficult situations and dish out sound advice.
The parenting coaches at Munchkins are simply amazing. They come with a myriad of experience, practical advice and skills that will blow your mind! Take a look, for instance, at this video of how Celeste Rushby’s adorable 20-month old twins behave whilst out on a shopping excursion and tell me that you do not wish to gain the tools that can help you achieve the same results?
Click here to view the video on our dedicated YouTube channel: http://youtu.be/TfiDfvB7DpE
Check in with our social media pages for updates on part 2, when we will take a look at how to cultivate healthy eating habits and prepare some fun, but nutritional lunch boxes!