Sunday, September 6, 2009

How do I teach my children that I need time to study?

Dear Mom,

I am a full-time college student. I am also a single parent. How do I teach my children that I need time to study; that along with being their mom, I also need time to do my homework?

Sincerely,

Stuck between the lines


Dear Stuck:

Try not to pull your hair out. Balancing school and anything else-especially children-is no easy task. On the one hand, you want to make life better for your family, thus the interest in going to school. On the other, in order to have a good family life, time must be spent with your children. We all know this. And yet, how is this balance achieved?

I have a sneaking suspicion that having time for homework when children are around is something like talking on the telephone. Your children don't necessarily need your attention until you're on it. When they see you occupied with something, or someone besides them, they suddenly want your attention.

Why is that?

They need you, plain and simple. They need to feel your love, and they need to feel secure in their environment. This often means your undivided attention.

I have great respect for a friend of mine who waits to do her homework until her children are in bed. Only then is it "quiet enough" she says, to do it. Besides, she wants to spend time with her children as well. This is a good idea, but not the only solution.

Another friend takes her homework wherever she goes. She uses every spare minute to do her homework. Others I know take the bus. There is much you can accomplish on the bus, that is, unless you get "bus sick" like I do.
Spend at least ten minutes with your child doing something they love before pulling out your homework. Experts agree, by focusing on your child first, he or she will feel better about themselves and allow you to take some time to do what you need to do.

Keep a schedule. That is, have a time for homework, a time for dinner, a time to read stories before going to bed. Let your children in on the plan and stick to it. Children crave order and you will find that the more organized you are, the easier it will be to complete your homework.

Talk to your children about the importance of getting your homework completed. Ask for their help. Children are pretty smart. If you tell them, "I will need to work on homework until 7:30; after that, if you've been good, we'll go out for an ice cream cone," they will want to be good to receive the promised reward.

Have some toys in your home that are brought out and played with only when you are doing homework. Your children are less likely to be "bored."

Praise your child when they have been especially good while you have been working on your homework instead of focusing on their bad behavior during a similar time.

Praise equals better behavior.

Lastly, have your children give you ideas about what they would like to do while you are doing your homework. Get your children involved. Children like to be a part of anything new and exciting.

Happy homework!

Mom
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