With school pick-ups at 2 o’clock, 3 o’clock and 4 o’clock, I spend a lot of my afternoon waiting around! While it’s sometimes nice to have a chat in the playground with some of the other parents and let the kids have a run around, it’s also nice to try and get a bit of quality one-to-one time with my youngest while I am waiting for his older brothers to finish their school day.
Instead of me sitting in the playground nattering while he gets all the beneficial exercise we decided recently that we would instead go on a 1-hour adventure together. We are so fortunate to have a great park close to the school which has a great playground, lots of trees and squirrels to watch as well as a river with lots of wildlife to spy.
True to form, April has to date been abundant with showers but instead of diving for shelter in the school canteen and passing the hour in a haze of noise and trying to keep my energetic 5-year old from slide tackling his friends and causing someone an injury, we got on our raincoats and headed in the direction of the park!
With muddy puddles galore to jump in and wide open spaces to leap, hop and skip about freely he was totally in his element. He ran and jumped and splashed and got dirty, but what was really nice and unexpected was that he kept running back to tell me snippets of information about his day at school! As I’m sure any parent will testify, getting details out of little ones after school is virtually impossible at times!
On another afternoon we took some bread to feed the ducks in the park. It was lovely to stand back and listen to the giggles as my son threw little chunks of bread for the hungry ducks and so funny to hear him scolding mother duck for being too greedy. We had a jog along the river and read the newly installed information signs about the trees and wildlife that could be spotted in the park.
My son read the signs out to me so not only was he benefitting from being outdoors but he was learning new facts and getting in some reading practice too – great! Kids are learning all the time.
It has been a really fun week spending some time with my youngest child. The years seem to go by so quickly and it is only when I spend some time with each of my kids alone that I realise how much they have grown up and what interesting people they are to be around.
Another benefit of this time spent together in nature is that I am seeing my son’s ability to focus on homework much better. Also, the afternoon dramas and general reluctance to do as he is asked have more or less disappeared! The difficult behaviour comes from tiredness after a busy day at school and so the hour to just run, be free and let off some steam seems to help increase energy levels, attention span and improve overall mood.
I am no parenting expert (who is really?). I am just a normal mum trying to do my best and respond to each of my children as individuals. A method of parenting that works for one child doesn’t necessarily seem to work for another, even if they are all brought up in the same home. I can testify however, that with a little planning (ie: remembering to bring bread for the ducks / or wellies to change into!) a short afternoon adventure can improve the remainder of the day! Just something simple like a stroll together hand-in-hand has has so many rewards both for my son, me and our relationship.