As I’ve been thinking through our whole schedule and routine and such that having extra, non-family, people in our house requires I’ve been reluctant to pattern our days after a daycare routine. I’ve worked in some and one of the things I always told myself was that there was NO WAY I’d put my kids in them! Ha! I’m so thankful that God has allowed me to be a SAHM to my monkeys! Yes, there are dreary days where all I want to do is escape to the tippy-top of a mountain with some coffee and my journal and NO KIDS! But even on those days, in the back of my mind I’m still sooooooo happy that I get to be the one to spend the most time with my babies. Some people don’t have that choice, even though they’d like it, and others simply make the choice for daycare or preschool for their kids. They are NOT wrong!! I know that they want the best for their family and kids as well and are making their choices based on that. It’s easy to judge others and say they should be doing such-n-such, especially when it comes to home and family. I don’t know why we feel that it’s okay to do that. None of us has it all “figured out” and we certainly can’t make “right choices” for someone else’s family or kids. The pride!!! I have to remind myself of that frequently though because I too easily fall into that same awful mistake!
Anyway, that was mostly free. 🙂 Based on my experience in daycare/preschool (and one of them was actually a REALLY good preschool!) I know that I don’t want to run my HOME that same way. BUT upon further reflection I know that the reason that they do things very structured and in a routine manner (at least at the good preschool, the other one I worked at was SADLY lacking in good management and structure and the kids were WILD and the “teachers” frazzled. It was NOT a good situation!!) is to keep things moving smoothly for the kids and the people working with them.
So I’ve decided to “steal” some of the concepts I learned at the “good” preschool to use with my own kids and especially on the days when the gals are over as well. This is the last week that I’ll have them till sometime after Baby shows up. I’m happy about that hoping beyond hope that perhaps I can get some good rest in next week. Unless of course, she decides to show up tomorrow on MY birthday!! Wouldn’t that be fun?? But I digress…
The main concepts that I am going to use are:
1) Praise and reward for the small things.
This concept looks like this. I ask everyone to clean up before we have a story time (oh and I’m going to use story time throughout the day as a transition for many things. I want to be doing more reading with them anyway, so this is a perfect place for it!) as I watch them clean up, I’ll encourage right attitudes and speedy cleaning by pointing out the kids who are displaying that behavior. THEN when it’s done I’ll choose the “best” cleaner-uper and then THEY will get to choose the story. See?? Using rewards such as getting to choose the story or the show or getting to go outside first, whatever, are rewards that I can use so that they don’t get used to getting a sticker for EVERYTHING!
2) Random stickers for desirable behavior!
Here we go with the positive reinforcement! I realize that I’m really week in this area. I kind of feel that since they SHOULD be obeying and having kind words and such that when they don’t they receive negative consequences. It’s how I roll, I know, but it doesn’t mean that I can’t change as well. So while I won’t back off on dealing out the appropriate consequences when necessary, I also want to work much harder on rewarding the right choices they make. So I bought a booklet of about a zillion stickers from Wal-Mart this week and have already had some good success in passing them out. The glee on kid’s faces just for getting to put a sticker on a sticker chart is amazing!! I need to capitalize on that for sure!!!
3) Activity time
We already do room time during the day in order for the girls and guys to have some separate play time, and me to be able to breath a little easier. The siblings are used to playing with each other all the time, even though I sometimes still have to intervene, it’s not as much as when all 4 are playing together. So while that is helpful in my day I’ve come to the very strong conclusion that it is NOT enough. One of these darling girls has a very domineering personality and likes to “run the show” to the best of her ability. After our long weekend with the lads I was seeing quite a bit of improvement in Qade’s attitude issues. Guess what happened after ONE day of having his “friends” back over? Uh-huh, major digression. As I watched them all playing outside yesterday I could easily pin-point why that behavior was surfacing again. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to blame this little girl. God gave her a STRONG personality and due to different circumstances in her young life, it hasn’t really been controlled, and at 4 yrs old, she can’t be expected to know how to control it all on her own. I know that her parents are working with her, and she has learned that she can’t be “the boss” with me. But she still bosses all the other kids, and even when they are just playing. She is the one who decides what they play and even more HOW they play. That’s where a lot of the attitude comes in. So I want to really limit the time that she gets to be in control. That’s why I’m going to get some “activities” and have assigned play time. They will still get “free play” time during the day and of course while they are outside (for now), but it’s going to be a lot LESS! The past couple of days I’ve had Qade and Danielle sit at the table for a few minutes and practice cutting or coloring, and that is something that they can BOTH do, so they don’t feel segregated, but that is still controlled. 😀 See what I mean?? Anyway, I’m hoping that it helps bring a level of peace to our days, and especially to my heart as I get severely irritated when I see my kids being bossed and manipulated. But the attitude issues it brings out are completely unacceptable in our family, so we need to nip that one any way we can. I think if I’m more involved anyway, and have a better game plan for how we use our time during the day, that it will be a help to both Qade and Danielle.