Several weeks ago I was on my own with the kids, and had a list of things that had to get done including a trip to the grocery store. The day wasn’t going well, but in the end we came up with a new idea–one that worked so well we will be using it again and again.
Kids often need to feel like they are in charge, and since we had an afternoon with no plans (though really I should have been hacking weeds in our garden) I decided to cart 4 kids to the grocery store. Of course, that led to some not so great behavior (mostly annoying each other) so on the ride home we had a conversation about being respectful, and the things that have to get done. In case you’re wondering, yes, I tend to be a ‘lecturer.’
As we neared home we discussed what the kids wanted to do with the 6 hours that were spread before us, but with a twist. Kids’ Choice Night is not new (even in our family) but I managed to put a nice spin on it, and I think it’s notable enough that it may help other parents too.
First things first, I asked for everyone to listen. There would be rewards in it for you, I told the kids, and so they buttoned up their mouthes and listened intently.
I shared that our first priority was to get the groceries put away neatly (I elected Audrey for the job), but that I would then need a break. Call it a time out for me, or a reset button for our day. Whatever it was I got 20 minutes of much needed peace and quiet. They got to go to their rooms and read, play, or do whatever they liked for 20 minutes.
Next, they would all tell me one thing they wanted to do with the rest of the day (calling out was quickly put to a stop-I said it’s like school, I’ll call on you). While I could have added parameters like 1) It can’t cost money and 2) it has to be something we can all do in less than an hour or two, I didn’t.
I called on each kid, and they all had their say.
Emma? “I want to go to the pool!”
A plan quickly formed as we drove, and I told them that we would do ALL the things. The hitch? They were responsible for maintaining good behavior (no arguing, no talking back, listening well) or no one would get to do their choice.
Everyone was excited. I was thrilled to have something to do rather than sitting around thinking about the things I should be doing. I would much rather focus on them than try to multitask and fail miserably.
We arrived home and the kids dutifully listened to my directions. I got 20 minutes of ‘time out,’ and we went off to the pool. We spent a wonderful hour+ playing at the pool, and I managed to teach my very determined 6 year old how to swim a length of the pool so he could ride the water slides. We also managed to convince Audrey (who is extremely cautious) to do some sliding as well.
On the drive home we thanked Emma for coming up with the pool idea, and applauded everyone for their accomplishments. Considering only a year or so ago the pool was an anxiety-ridden event, I had to give myself a pat on the back too.
The kids showered, played a little screentime (Minecraft for the younger two, and other games for the older two), we had a quick dinner, and milkshakes for dessert.
It was a wonderful way to spend an afternoon, and we’ll plan on Kids’ Choice Night again soon. After all, it’s now bedtime and they are happy, worn-out, and headed up to bed without any guff. I call that a perfect afternoon.
Do you ever do Kids’ Choice Night or something similar?