Improving after school conversations with my kids. It’s always on my mind. Something I, like many of the moms and dads I know, look forward to all day but they don’t always go too well. Hearing what the boys have been up to, what new things they learned, what new snacks they tried, if they ate their lunch, if they were happy…if anything made them sad, who they talked and played with. How did their day go? Something that until recently, didn’t go well approximately 99% the time…that is, until this past Monday. So this past Monday, I decided that it was time to try a different tactic. I read an article over the weekend that really hit home. Maybe it was me. Maybe I had been going about my conversations in the wrong way all this time. That maybe my frustration with no answers was because of my questions and the way I initiated the after school conversations. The way I had been trying to squeeze out bits and any tiny, itsy bitsy morsels that they would give me. It was painful really. I had high expectations…especially from my 4 year old. He should of course want to tell me the literal second he hopped into the van, all about his day, right? I mean c’mon…we hadn’t been together all day…plus he’s definitely old enough to articulate and communicate. Why was it then that what should be one of the best times of the day – reuniting with my little men– why was that very part of the day becoming one of the most annoying parts of my day? And so incredibly frustrating.
So in the article (sorry, would totally reference it if I could find it) was written by a mother who tried a different approach. One of those things where you’re like…why didn’t I try this before? So instead of being let down with pick ups each and every day and not getting any information from her kids when she asked them the standard question “So, how was your day?”…she decided to tell them about hers.
Yes. Let that sink in for a second.
She decided to tell them about her day first. No questions to them. Just all about her. And they were all ears. She told them about her work day, how the repair man came to fix the broken printer, the yummy soup she had for lunch and the walk she took after to get fresh air and exercise her body a little. She told them about the meeting she attended in the a new office building and how she called their uncle during the ride to pick them up to plan their next family beach trip. She told them everything about her day. They listened. That’s until they started to explode at the seams, wanting to share their own days. Then it was more like, hold on…one.at.a.time.please!! A good problem for a momma to have, I suppose.
Yes, she shared her day and they wanted to share theirs. Simple enough, right?
So I tried it too. I started this past Monday. I wasn’t sure at first but after they buckled into their seats and I into mine, I started talking. I started off with my drive into work and the traffic – how I saw a cement truck and thought of my youngest little guy. How daddy called while I was driving in to see how drop off went that morning. How I had a little help from my friend at work getting my water and salad for lunch from the fridge since mommy’s foot is still broken. How my other friend helped bandage it up so the owie felt so much better. How I had to work on the computer and type really, super fast to get my work done. I stopped and glanced back at them. They were listening so carefully, processing it all. And then I heard my older one say, “Mommy, can I tell you abut my day…I had a good day at school too. I ate my snack and learned a new song. I can sing it for you later. I played with Parker, Samarra and Eliot. And my hip-hop class is so fun. Mommy, can we dance later?” And my younger one interrupted several times to tell me that he was a “big preschool boy and had no tears today.” That he had earned two stars and a sleepy owl for sleeping at nap time and that the garlic bread and cheese pasta was so yummy.
I was kinda speechless. Because for parents like me who were used to getting little to no information usually, this was a big deal. I thought, could it be that simple? I share my story, then they share theirs. Wow, what a concept.
I tried again on Tuesday & Wednesday – same thing. Same sharing of stories. Same happiness and eagerness to share them. Same, happy ride home.
So we will see how it goes the rest of the week. But I think I may have found the key.
It’s so simple…they want to do what we do. They act based on what they see, what we do or don’t. The behaviors and traits we tend to exhibit, they showcase them too. So simple, but we forget so easily sometimes unnecessarily complicating things and getting frustrated with these little people that we care for so much. We are their biggest influence.
So try this out if you’re in the same boat – and let me know how it goes. Hopefully, this simple act will improve after school conversations making them so much better.