Gimme 5: It takes a village… a village and a portable entertainment device

Gimme 5!

Tips from a mediocre Mom, neatly packaged in list form

~Kristine Gresh

It takes a village… a village and a portable entertainment device

Sure, it’s nice to be able to “do it all” and feel that sense of Supermomma pride, but sometimes the cape needs a rest. And so do you. Plus, kids benefit from ‘other’ people getting involved in their upbringing. They need to experience other voices, other sources of information, other noises, smells and sights. And it helps them realize that they are capable, independent and one part (albeit an adorable one) of a great big world…not just a world that exists when their parents are around. How to make it happen? Read on…

1 Ask for help from your inner circle – but don’t stop there!

It’s great to have family in the vicinity to spend time with your child. It’s also a perk to have friends and babysitters that you trust. And this is a great start. However, they are treating your child according to YOUR directions, YOUR wishes, and sometimes in YOUR house. It’s a baby step for those uncomfortable leaving their children, but it shouldn’t be the only time child and parent separate.

2 Take advantage of local MDOs/preschools/camps.

This is the option that will do more for your child. Someone else (that you trust, but that doesn’t take direction from you) will be in charge. Preschool and “Mom’s Day Out” programs are the best and easiest ways to get your child to listen to someone else, to follow instructions, but also to question authority when confused, and maybe most importantly, to see that things are not going to fall apart simply because you’re not around. Start with a half-day, move on to a few days a week. Or try a camp, some lessons, something. But something where you are not 10 feet away with a camera.

3 Visit (frequently) libraries/book stores/computer labs.

Go forth and read. Let your child read (or be read to). Fiction and non-fiction! Don’t forget to pick up the books that explain thunder, or pinpoint where the Galapagos Islands are, or describe how guitars are made. Let your child see you researching information from sources you trust. Ask him what he’s curious about/fascinated by and plop down in that section of Barnes and Noble. Or google it. Bing it. Whatever you have to do. And this can be done from a very early age, with appropriate “literature” (whether that’s a picture book or The New York Time’s website). Just help him understand that in order to “know” stuff about the world, you have to read and research and ask follow-up questions, then read and research more…

4 Demonstrate friendliness…to the Earth.

If your child finishes a yogurt, studies the container, and asks if it should go into the garbage or the recycling container next to it, you’re on the right track. Strong work. Kids need to grow up thinking about the Earth and what they (as small but already-significant individuals) can do to protect it. Yes, it helps them grow up “thinking green,” but it also is a small way of illustrating the relationship between human and planet. Not to get all hippy or philosophical, but kids need to realize there is life outside their walls, their town, their country. With Earth Day occurring this month (April 22), now would be a fantastic time to start making small household changes if you haven’t already…carrying reusable bags, turning lights off, planting your own vegetables, etc. Just make sure to explain as you implement some of these projects, so they get the connection.

5 TVs/iPhones/video games aren’t evil.

Well, let me clarify…catching a glimpse of Jersey Shore may lead to brain deterioration, but other than that, a little entertainment can be a good thing. So let the kiddos put in a DVD while you take a shower long enough to condition, let them play on your iTouch when there’s traffic, and let them watch the latest “Sid the Science Kid” on YouTube. You’ll have some “me” time and so will they. Sure, no one wants kids who sit still too much…but no one wants kids that can’t sit still either. So strike a balance. Children need to have different ways of occupying their time. And if some of it seems indulgent and mindless, don’t panic. Similar to how you like to unwind with your favorite show on Sunday night or that one game of iPhone “Word Warp” in the carpool line (what, it’s fun!), it’s ok for kids to spend some (some!) of their time “goofing off” and indulging in some fun gadgets/shows, etc…

Basically, just remember you’re not in this alone – and you shouldn’t pretend to be. It’s not benefiting you or your offspring. Rely on friends, teachers, books, and a little Mario Bros to help get you through … and to show your kids there’s a bigger world out there ready for them when they’re ready for it!

Kristine Gresh is a freelance writer who thinks it’s ok to have just one child… and to enjoy an afternoon cocktail with a friend instead of cleaning…and that it’s definitely ok to jump on hotel beds.

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