Every weekend, one of my daughters wakes me up early, 5 AM early, to ask me if they can play. And every weekend, I grumble a “yes” with my eyes shut tight. Rarely though, do I ever fall back asleep. Never have I told them that they can’t play. And so this past weekend, we had a discussion about it.
“Why do you always ask me if you can play on the weekends?”
“Because we don’t wanna wake you up Mama,” says five-year-old Madison with her perfectly clear and logical voice.
Of course. They’re being thoughtful. They want to make sure it’s okay to get up and make noise. Kind, but entirely too dependent on us, their parents, for direction.
In my work life, I am obsessed with learner agency. I know that children can do so much more than we think they can. If we get out of the way. (As an aside, the same holds true for leadership.) Yet, at home, my children are highly dependent on me and I worry about practicing what I preach. I don’t want to be a compliance based parent. Yet, I do want children who are clean, healthy and kind. That may seem basic, but when you live in my house and fight twice per day about teethbrushing, you’d understand the clean factor. And so as often as I think about agency at school, so do I think about it at home.
Because I am trying to develop agency and independence, I detest telling my kids what to do. Mornings are a perfect example. They both know the routine, and yet, they always ask what’s next. Teeth? Hair? Shoes? Breakfast? Packed lunch? I have taken to posing the question back rather than telling them. Still no independence. Last week over breakfast, I asked Madison her plan and she told me what she was going to do and in what order she’d like to do it. Then she proceeded to walk around the house with her toothbrush for 20 minutes before I eventually inquired about what she had to do. 10 minutes later, she brushed her teeth. Argh!
I have toyed with the idea of a daily menu or checklist, yet, I’ve not had time to create it. Then, it struck me. An infographic for the summer. With daily and weekly expectations. And so tonight, we sat down and designed one. I had some basic ideas of what should go on it, but I wanted to see what Madison decided. Interestingly, she chose many of the things I would have picked. Healthy food, journaling, reading.
“The days are long but the years are short.”
I am very pleased to present Madison’s Summer Days, an infographic we designed and created together, which will serve as her daily and weekly checklist. Summer weeks can fly by and a bit of haplessness is great, but I find my kids do much better with a flexible routine. My goal with this inforgraphic is to allow them to develop independence and ownership of what needs to happen, in addition to allowing room for voice and choice. It’s an experiment that I hope works; I’ll report along the way. In the meantime, feel free to download a PDF here or use Piktochart to create your own. Good luck as we head into the Summer Daze of parenting.