It occurred to me yesterday that I have been permitting the kids to watch a lot of TV. Not hours upon hours but more than I am comfortable with. They would ask, I would cave. It is a vicious cycle. I wrote it off with excuses like "they were at school all day, they need to unwind," or "I'm almost done with (insert any half-done project here), just a few more minutes..."
Let me go back. We are not a TV watching family. We do enjoy the occasional movie or show, but nothing we "follow." However, our collection of board games and kid-friendly craft supplies rival retail stores. Honestly. When I first began having children, I dreamed of playing card games, don't ask me why, but that is what I believed a family should do. And we do, most of the time. Every so often we get off track and remain there until I realize it.
That day was yesterday.
Blake had just gotten in the door from work and was unloading a small basket of groceries. The boys were hopping all over the place, waving half sheets of paper that require my signature in my face. It was nearing five and the baby had not yet taken her afternoon nap. I had my hands in egg and flour trying to make pasta for our candlelight dinner. Eden was wandering around my knees muttering something about chapstick. At this point all I could wish for was peace. Bribing them with TV would be a solution, but that is not what I want to teach my kids. I have a goal in mind, why would I want to make any decision that takes me further from my goal. Fully expecting a confrontation, I cheerfully suggested they do some kind of craft at the table.
Duct tape and a cardboard box quickly became a robot head to deposit school Valentine's. Blank paper was a chance for a kindergartener to practice letters by copying my notes. Caed taught himself to draw a star. The girls, being my closest friends, were at my elbows helping press and cut the pasta. In a word, it was bliss. It's incredibly rewarding to see your family function in a way that makes you happy.
Sometimes I feel that I underestimate my kids, my family or myself. I don't give the opportunity to show true potential. I automatically discount what they or I am capable of. For example last night, I didn't think the kids would be able to entertain themselves quietly and creatively without my direct involvement so I was going to throw them in front of the TV. My choices are sometimes based on the moment rather than the big picture. That changed again last night because I'm the mom and I said so. No one will tell you but that is what is awesome about being a mom. You can change the direction of your entire sphere of influence with a single decision. It is pretty powerful. And you can also say when it is okay to eat cake for breakfast or cereal for supper (tonight is one of those nights by the way).
But of course half an hour later when we sat down to enjoy our special supper, the baby was inconsolable and only two of the kids liked what we were eating. The others pouted and picked and asked to be excused. Oh well...
P.S. And it is not just about the after-school / before supper crazy hour. The kitchen table turns into an art studio after breakfast when I let the girls dabble with watercolors and play dough, just not at the same time. While I do morning dishes and get a few things checked off my list, they get a little crafty. Its a win-win!