Parenting on the Go
There is more to life than simply increasing its speed.
—Mahatma Gandhi, philosopher
Part of parenting involves getting your children to school, sports, programs, and back. If you’re not careful, you can feel like a full-time taxi driver (or that you’re riding public transportation with your kids all the time). To be successful parenting on the go, consider these ideas.
Tips for . . .
- all parents
- Have an activity bag packed for yourself. Rarely can you drop off a child and pick him up without having to wait around. Carry magazines, a book, or work that’s portable. If you can get something done, you won’t feel like too much time is wasted.
- Take time to watch your child participate in the activity. Sometimes it’s easy to get so caught up in your long to-do list that all your child sees when she’s at soccer practice is you with your head stuck in a computer, on your cell phone, or reading a book. Be intentional about creating a balance between watching your child and getting things done.
- Get to know other parents in your child’s activities. Sometimes you may discover a trusted adult with whom you can coordinate transportation. Or you can talk with the parents of your child’s friends to see which activities your children can do together.
- Set limits on the number of activities that family members do. Some families (particularly large ones) say that kids can do only one or two activities at a time and that one evening each week is reserved for family time.
- parents with children ages birth to 5
- Try to keep your schedule free of too much activity. Young children don’t do well with packed schedules. Yes, they like routines, but they also like times to be home with an adult.
- Have a diaper bag (or an activity bag) packed and ready to go for times when you need to leave home without much notice. (For example, when your child suddenly gets sick, you may rush to the doctor and then find that your child gets bored in the waiting room. An activity bag packed in advance will help.)
- Always be prepared with snacks, juices, and water bottles for times when you’re on the go and your young child gets hungry or thirsty.
- parents with children ages 6 to 9
- Carry a deck of playing cards with you. When you and your child are waiting for a program to start (or for a doctor or dentist), play a game of Go Fish or another simple card game.
- Work with other adults in your child’s life so that one adult doesn’t do all the driving (or accompanying kids on mass transit). For example, split up appointments and activities between both parents in two-parent families. For single-parent families, see if a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or friend can help out.
- Make sure your child isn’t over- or under-scheduled. Your child also needs downtime at home, as well as time with you.
- parents with children ages 10 to 15
- As kids find activities they enjoy and excel at, they can sometimes get into programs that demand a lot more time and energy than what you’re used to. Learn as much as you can about the expectations before you agree to the activity. Parenting at the Speed of Teens is a helpful book that contains great advice on topics such as these.
- Depending on how safe your area is, kids at this age sometimes can walk to programs (or be more independent by being dropped off at the door instead of walked inside). Don’t pull back too fast, but you can gradually loosen the reins.
- Make sure you’re also finding activities that stimulate you as an individual. Your life shouldn’t revolve only around your kids. See if there’s a community education class you can take, or pick up an instrument you used to play. It will be easier to bring your kids to their activities when you’re also taking time for your interests as well.
- parents with children ages 16 to 18
- Some parents are surprised how packed their schedule can get when older teenagers are involved in programs and activities. Even if your teenager is an independent driver, it’s still important to make time to cheer on and support your teenager at events and programs.
- Be clear about your expectations for family meals and participation in family religious, spiritual, and cultural activities. Some teenagers can become so busy that you rarely see them. Try to schedule family dinners where everyone can be together.
- Prepare yourself for the senior year, when many time-consuming, one-time activities pop up, such as getting your teenager’s senior pictures taken, helping him with college and scholarship applications, applying for college financial aid, preparing for a graduation open house, and helping him find a job (if he doesn’t have one already). Helping your older teenager make the transition from high school to his next step can create a lot of activity. For helpful advice on college applications, read Staying Sane During the College Application Process from ParentingTeensOnline.com.
- If it feels like you’re always on the go with your older teenager, try to put the busyness in perspective. Soon she will be leaving home and you’ll have more of a say in how busy you are. It may not feel like it right now, but the Trace Adkins song may be right: “You’re gonna’ miss this.”