Play-date? Anyone? Gotta get my kids out of the house… #parenting #mrmom #summer

The inevitable summer doldrums are setting in.  Kids look forward to summer with much anticipation, only to realize how boring life can be outside of the carefully structured school-year.

After all, kids get to see their friends, play at the park, and eat lunch together during school.  Now, friends are at summer camps, on vacation, or at their parent’s beach houses.  That is, the lucky ones…

How does a parent keep their children entertained, especially when they themselves are busy throughout the day?

Nowadays, it seems that kids will not spontaneously wander around the neighborhood looking for a pick-up game or for other equally bored kids to play with.  In fact, the entertainment default seems to be powering up the Xbox or going off to a remote corner of the house with an iPad or iPhone in hand.

We have some relief now that our kids’ summer camps are starting at the end of the month.  Whatever your situation, here are some ideas I’ve put into play during the limbo..

  • Make a schedule for each day: I like starting the day out with homework and some light chores.  If they knock that part out, then they’re free for the rest of the day.  This is particularly helpful when trying to keep kids on top of their summer homework.
  • Set a fixed routine for the start of the day and bedtime: Kids have a way of pushing the envelope at bedtime and sleeping in as late as possible.  They can do that in college…
  • Arrange play-dates days or weeks in advance: If you can put up with screaming kids running around your house, nothing beats the doldrums like have some pals over.
  • Sleep-overs: Same as above.  But, sleep-overs come a major downside – late nights for both adults and kids, and cranky kids the next day.  So, I keep these to a minimum – say, once or twice a week.  And, I usually make it an award for doing the bigger chores/projects.
  • Big chores/projects: Kids can never be too young to learn some hard work and responsibility.  The chores have to be age-appropriate, of course.  Since the concept of what is age appropriate varies and can be a subject of intense debate, I would recommend both mom & dad are on board with the projects (I had to learn this the hard way…).  Some examples – shredding stacks of bills/bank statements, basic landscaping, throwing out 25 unused items cluttering the basement or their bedrooms, grocery shopping, etc.
  • Ice Cream breaks: I try to do this pretty much as often as possible, particularly when the kids complete a respectable amount of chores and/or homework on a given day.
  • Day-trips: When the week is getting painfully monotonous, a day trip to the beach, hiking trail, movies, or the dreaded theme park can provide a welcome reprieve from incessant complaining.  If such trips are put on the schedule at the beginning of the week, you are providing an incentive to get kids cracking on the homework and chores earlier in the week.

This is all basic and obvious stuff.  But, somehow putting it all on paper as a schedule seems to have struck a positive chord with my kids.  Without some kind of structure, I think  kids morph into malcontent blobs.

bored kid

 

 

Going deep here…Book recommendation

Obviously, we have a lot of influence on our kids.  Man, I’ve acted like a jerk sometimes.  But, consistently acting as a functional role model is all that matters…

A boy observes how his dad resolves conflicts, cooperates, and works as a partner in marriage and family, in the community, and at work.  In all arenas of his life, a father’s actions speak more loudly than his words, and a boy is listening carefully to both.  If a father can be emotionally honest, candid, thoughtful, and flexible in his responses, then a son’s respect will follow.  A man who idealizes his strengths and accomplishments distances himself from the reality his son inhabits – a world of more varied emotions and experience.

Ok, a bit long-winded.  But, I really like the message.

raising cain2

 

At-home Dad = Ghost…and not the kind Demi Moore was into…

It’s kind of funny.  A mom who would normally talk your ear off pretends you don’t exist if she is in the company of one or more of her friends.  And, when I say talk your ear off, I’m talking about situations where you find yourself feverishly inventing an exit strategy.

Some at-home moms feel awkward when it comes to the idea of a man doing what they do.  One-on-one is cool.  But, you can quickly become the ghost in a group settings.

I think this is a major factor behind the formation of so many at-home dad blogs and groups have formed over the past couple of years.  We all need a support structure, especially when it comes to the challenging and often monotonous role of at-home parenting.

I often compare my at-home dads experiences to the movie “Mr. Mom,” which usually infuriates most serious at-home dads.  But, there is one part of the movie that was progressive – Moms playing poker (using coupons instead of cash) and drinking beer with the lone at-home dad in the neighborhood…

 playing-poker-512x384

 Now, that’s pretty cool.  I’ve got a big wad of coupons…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feedback from a 15-year veteran stay-at-home dad…

When asked to comment on the mistermomblog.com site, this veteran at-home dad had some choice words:

I wonder who is your target audience. I suspect women would not be very interested in the site as they have tons of their own sites and probably are unimpressed by guys doing stuff they have done for ages.

probably not this guy...

probably not this guy…

Well said!  But, we’re all parents stumbling our own way through the child-raising process. Some parents are more accomplished, some parents try hard, and some parents can get very creative.

Which is why, here at mistermomblog.com, we’re very interested in hearing about different approaches and perspectives on parenting.  I know I could use all the help I can get.  And, wtih the merger of tradtional gender roles in the household, navigating through the multi-faceted responsibility of keeping the kids, routines and activities more challenging than ever.

I know ‘m not inventing anything new here. And, I am not claiming to be a guru on managing the household or raising kids. In fact, the whole experience has really opened my eyes and motivated me to help create awareness among the male population about how difficult and challenging it is to be the stay-at-home spouse.

Managing the household, paying bills, and keeping food on the table is really secondary and misses the point.

Our kids and their development is the really important part. How we interact with our children on a daily basis is the focus of this site. To be nurturing, but encourage self-reliance. To be a disciplinarian, but also provide key emotional support when needed.

not like this guy...

not like this guy…

I certainly do not have all the answers. In fact, I don’t have many. But, I think I’m good at making observations and relaying them in written format. It was this notion that inspired me to start writing a book called The Survivors Guide to Being Mr. Mom™.

Admittedly, I started writing to provide an outlet for my frustrations. The experience has taught me to laugh at myself and those around me doing the same thing. There is an entirely different set of rules in the world of the stay-at-home “caregiver.” The politics are fascinating, and reveal the flaws of human nature and personal character as they do throughout the workplace.

The real purpose of the site is two-fold: what everyone participating can learn from each other, and how we can make each other laugh.  No, the two are not mutually exclusive…

When told by a reader that the expression “Mr. Mom” should be dead…

The connotations associated with the term “Mr. Mom” are on life support and will soon become a thing of the past as at-home dads become more prevalent in our society.   Labeling is wrong, and both genders need all the support they can get, irrespective of experience and comfort level with the ‘caregiver’ role. After all, it <em>is</em> a tough job…

I think our conscious and subconscious psyche as a society tends to apply stereotypes and labels to non-traditional concepts in an attempt to process them. Let’s face it, at-home dads are still new enough to have some novelty and, unfortunately, some prejudice. Even with the growing trend of at-home dads, Parent Magazine recently reported that less than 4% of US households have an at-home male caregiver. And, there is still no accounting for how much of this segment is voluntary.

Societal views on traditional gender roles are developed (and encouraged) at an early age. But, it is time to break the mold and embrace how men can add a unique quality to child-raising (hence the post with attached articles). That said, although the reality of “Mr. Mom” is dying, the self-effacing humor in the way men approach the profession long dominated by the opposite sex should live on…

We dads have to lighten up a bit and stop judging one another, and I think that is your point. A lot of traditional moms already dominate this territory already…(ouch, but it’s all in the book).