How do needs change as our children grow?
A question arose recently on a forum I frequent asking the order of priorities in our days at home with our kids.
It lead me to think a bit about how my priorities have changed from when the children were really young, but how I'd like to think that my parenting is still largely dictated by me responding to their various needs.
When they were small, the priorities were that they were with me, close, warm, nutritiously fed, played with or given company and my household chores were toward the bottom of my list. My ironing would pile up (still does on occasions) and my housework was quite neglected.
I suppose in many respects the first few priorities are still the first, but my housework and cooking has moved up to take more of a leading role. My crafting has become more vociferous and I even read books again and have time to study (well, I can make time!)
To be honest, I've never actually "played" with my children.
Okay, that sounds bad, I mean, I've never gone on the same adventures they have with their action figures or cars or lego.
Because I would rather observe. I don't think they need me with my big cumbersome imagination, I will stifle them and also, now, they have each other.
My eldest would spend hours as a toddler lining up his cars and making imaginary towns out of blocks. Today at nearly 11 he spends hours with a fine pen and some felt tips recreating similar places and the intricacy is quite something. My youngest will spend hours dressing her dolls or playing with her siblings and my middley just loves his airfix, lego, kicking a ball around in the garden or copying his older brother.
Of course, we play board games, we play football, we go on bike rides or swim or go to visit museums together. We have a family reader. I teach them to knit and cook (Master Beehive the younger has just made turkish meatballs with pita breads for tea) but, I am strongly of the Montessori opinion that play of the imaginative variety needs to be theirs and they will also gain joy in watching me work and thus choosing "chores" - such as crafting, reading, drawing, cooking and even cleaning to entertain them.
I also feel strongly now they are older, that we live in a home together and to make it thus, we all need to contribute. Mr Beehive contributes by going to work and providing a roof over our heads and food in our bellies and we, collaboratively contribute by making the home clean and warm, putting the food on the table, ensuring the pets are looked after. This is something I have always instilled in them by providing a home for everything and also we run the mantra "The big kids look after the little kids, the little kids look after the littler kids and mama looks over us all."
So I have a family chore sheet whereupon everyone has basic tasks to complete, if nothing else, they are there to ensure they look after themselves. So they each have to make their beds, open their curtains, pick up their towels, keep their rooms tidy, but then on top of that we have extra jobs that they do such as laying the table for meals, emptying the dishwasher etc.
I think it's all horses for courses and when you prioritise it will only be the way it works for you. I know that come September, my priorities will have to alter slightly for three years. I may not be able to handcook everything I put in front of them, I may not be able to play board games or read to them every night, but ultimately my priorities will still remain that I am there to answer their needs and, if I were tested for that...they would come first without a doubt.