Several months ago I wrote a post about the gap that is frequently present between my childrens’ ideal behaviors (whether it be obedience or simple daily routines) and reality. This gap (chasm? no, surely not that far) is often filled with parental inconsistency. In that post, which you can find here, I mentioned some resolutions that my wife and I had made and promised an update. So here it is!
What went well:
– One thing we did was write out a list of the areas we wanted to work on. These mostly concerned parenting, but there were a few other things thrown in there as well (related to marriage and hospitality). One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that clarity and memory fade over time: while I might come up with a specific plan to work on a very specific issue today, in two months these “specifics” get foggy. I focus on them for awhile and then, as the acute pain of whatever the issue is dissipates, so does my follow through.
Hence the list. But more than just having things written down, we put a note on our calendar once a month to make time as a couple to evaluate our progress and remind ourselves of those things we had committed to working on. This was really helpful! Whenever I noticed the event coming up (not on a specific day, which would be difficult and easily missed, but basically a reminder to say, “Fit this in this week!”) I’d remind Kyna that we needed to evaluate, and we’d find a night to sit down and talk about it for 20 minutes. It let us consider how we’d done and reminded us what the areas were that we wanted to be focusing on. It’s been more than three months and our list has changed (see below) but I find this monthly “check-in” to be really helpful.
– There were several issues that improved to the point that we took them off the list. We found that our kids interactions with their teachers at Highlands Latin greatly improved their ability to interact properly with adults and didn’t feel that we needed to focus on that anymore. We also felt that we’d established our morning and evening routines sufficiently to take that item off the list (though we added a related issue).
– There were other areas that were up and down, but the list has kept them on our minds and, even though their overall trajectory has been upwards, we kept them on the list for further improvement.
– Though I put evening and morning routines in the “win” column, we also noticed that our schedule has gotten busier post-summer and there are many times when the ideal “routine” is disrupted by forces outside our control. We’ve also found that the rigidity of the routine as originally designed wasn’t really necessary and we’ve become more flexible while retaining some of the key points (cleaning up after dinner, reading time before bed, etc.).
– Table manners has been hit and miss. A reward system we tried was initially successful, but we’ve found it hard to be…consistent…in watching for the things that we’d like them to work on. Overall, I don’t think some of the specifics (like leaning over the table, NOT EATING SALAD WITH YOUR FINGERS, etc.) have become habitual. More work to do here.
So there you have it. Maybe you’ll find some of these ideas helpful…. Or you’ll use other ideas (feel free to share!). But whatever you do…keep at it!
As will we.