I thought I might tear up as my small people ventured in to their new year of school for 2015, but I held it together. We had the very best summer as a family….we vacationed, they did their requisite sports camps (oh-so-many-of-them), ran around with their friends like the crazy kids they are, played marathon games of Monopoly, swam and somehow allowed me to continue juggling being their mom and doing the work I love.
Somewhere in all of this, I began to notice they are growing up. They don’t need me to remind them to make their beds, they are capable of making a healthy meal or two, they DO need me to remind them to empty the dishwasher (but they can do it!), and they can head to their own corners if they decide to bring me in to a sibling moment.
Despite missing them while they are in school during the day (I swear I do!), I’m left in this beautiful place imagining the possibilities this greater level of responsibility brings. I’m doing my best to encourage their free thinking, to guide them if they veer off course and to remind them that I believe in their abilities.
Wondering how to encourage your kids? We partnered with Horizon Organic to give you some ideas about getting started:
Talk to them: This may sound like the most basic of advice, but I’m finding the conversations I have with my kids – both before and after school – to be invaluable. I know who they consider friends, which teachers they worry about, if there are assignments due soon, what excites them and, yes, what makes them nervous. Knowing all of this, I can determine if they are ready for greater responsibility or if they are feeling overwhelmed by their new routines and classroom expectations. Some kids thrive with change, while others crumble a little and need time to build back up again.
Let mom escape the lunch-making routine: I don’t mind back to school. Truly. But the monotony of making lunches day in and day out can do a number on me…so, allowing my kids to decide what they want to eat each day (with my supervision of course) means 1) I know they won’t be throwing anything away, 2) they are choosing foods they like AND that meet my approval and 3) my attempts to teach them to make a good variety of choices are successful. In this case, in addition to a sandwich, they opted for fruit, cheese (Horizon’s Colby and Mozzarella Cheese Sticks) and Horizon Snack Grahams. (Coop likes the honey and Delaney will always choose chocolate.)
Backpack Packing 101: I will be the first to tell you this is a challenge for me….allowing my kids to pack their own backpacks without looking over their shoulders inquiring about a missing folder, the new ChromeBooks Delaney is using in class or the inclusion of the aforementioned lunch box. They are smart enough, and NEED to be responsible enough, to put their homework in their backpacks when they are done working on it…..and yet, I do worry. I’m working on letting go. I swear.
Freedom in after-school snacking: This has taken some practice. My kids are snackers and walk in the door from school S-T-A-R-V-I-N-G. You’d think they hadn’t been allowed to eat all day. While I know better, I recognize their brains completed a workout and it will still be a few hours before dinner is ready. The key is to make sure your kids know which snacking options meet your approval. Then let them choose. My small people LIVE for chocolate milk, so that is frequently on the after-school menu. I’m never far away, so I’m happy to ensure they are making good choices.
Let them make mistakes: This again. Much like packing a backpack…and potentially forgetting to put the correct item in your bag for school the next day, I do have to force myself to allow them make mistakes. Take homework for example: it would be easy for me to sit with them and monitor their every problem. Instead, we require they complete the work and then come to us for help. I want their little brains to focus on problem-solving, rather than taking the easy road and reaching out to us for ‘help’ the second they hit a bump in the road.
I’m grateful that my kids seem to be sitting in that ‘magic age’ where we can have full, intelligent conversations with them and yet, Mom and Dad are still ‘cool enough’ to qualify for quality time and ‘smart enough’ to know the answers to some of life’s great mysteries. At least for now….
How do you encourage responsibility in your kids?
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Horizon Organic. The opinions and text are all mine.