Parents are really bad at practicing what we preach. Myself included.
We have all these great ideas that we believe would bring such enjoyment, learning and fulfilment to our children’s lives, yet all too often we like to sit back whilst they get on with the *stuff*.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this and through unschooling have been trying to make changes to our lifestyle to maximise happiness and practise what I preach.
I’ve come to realise that I actually feel pretty good about my boys spending alot of time on the screen/games. They become so immersed in it, have so much fun and they do learn lots from what they are doing. How can I possibly take that away from them? After all, I play games sometimes. But I do more work on screens than games and to me this is just the equivalent of games.
They play alot of Minecraft, though we got an Xbox One recently so they’ve been spending some time on that too. We have a few iPads in the house too, the use of those are a bit more sporadic and perhaps more relevant for long car journeys. We guide them alot on the things they are doing are try to support and guide them in a direction that they want to be heading in. I need to share more about the stuff that they are up to on Minecraft. It’s certainly going in interesting directions. More on that in another blog post.
Health and Exercise
This is perhaps one of our hardest and most time consuming challenges. As a family we are committed and believe it is right that we are a physically active. I get lots of comments saying things like ‘gosh, 3 boys. That must be hard work!’.
And yes it is. But I am grateful for it. Especially more recently where I am really trying to practice what I preach with regards to physical activity. I’m currently on a road to becoming (super) fit. I feel I’ve neglected my personal fitness for the past 10-15 years (I’m 35) and it’s vital that I get back into shape.
Part of this is me doing my own exercise regiment (I’ve started running recently), but another part of it is ensuring that (especially in this good weather) that we get out every single day and do something together. My boys aren’t really up for classes so it’s really down to my husband and I to ensure that we all get our fair share of physical exercise. To be honest, it ends up being better and cheaper for us that we all do they exercise/activities. Sometimes it’s trips to the park, they scoot and play about, I do my playground exercise. Sometimes it’s a long walk. Or a bike ride. Or a trip to the beach. Or to the skate park where I participate on my rollerblades and they scoot or rollerblade. Sometimes we split up the activities - I’ll go to the park whilst my husband and the boys go for a cycle.
For Aaron and Ben we need to get better at just kicking them out to go to the park by themselves. We haven’t pushed that too much mostly because we’ve been enjoying doing the exercise with them.
I’ve increasingly been letting go and do not force my boys to do anything they are not up for. Our main rule these days is that as long as we get our physical exercise for the day and we live in the same timezone then I’m quite happy letting them choose how else they want to spend their time.
We talk a lot about their ideas, thoughts and plans (there is a lot of learning happening when we talk!). And out of habit they always come to us and ask if it is ok to do x or y. I have no issue letting them know if I feel there is a lack of balance in what they are doing and rather than enforcing that they stop doing something we tend to compromise.
I’m constantly trying to come up with ideas of things to do and will seed those about in rosie ways. Some things stick, others don’t. We keep experimenting and discovering what it is that works for us as individuals and as a family as a whole.
We all have things we want to do, the trick is to try to make them all happen. As the kids are learning, sometimes that means they need to do things that they would prefer not to do (like cleaning up, helping out, playing with their little brother).
I have better things to do than monitor every little thing they do (plus I would hate it if someone monitored everything I did to ensure I was learning!), but I am very confident they get a good balance of learning and life opportunities.