by Michelle LaRowe
Editor in Chief
Recently I had a chance to connect with Wendy Wolff, a writer, thinker and mother who is passionate about making life easier. We talked about time management and ways parents can make life just a little easier. Here’s some of her thoughts and tips for putting more easy in your day.
eNannySource: What do you think parents waste the most time on?
Wendy: I’m not so sure that parents waste their time, it’s that time is fleeting. Everything moves so much faster and technology forces us to have an immediate response to a call to action. If both parents are working and don’t have flexible schedules, then the majority and priority of their time is spent focusing on work. Children are often left to their own devices – and I mean that literally.
eNannySource: What are some practical tips parents can do to make life easier each day?
Wendy: Time management is key. I try to spend Sunday’s cooking for the week so that we all have a healthy meal when the day is over. If we can sit down at the table at least three days a week as a family and eat dinner together, I’m thrilled. Make lunches for the kids the night before, or give another child that job.
Always say, “I need a minute to think” before responding to a request. 60 seconds is not a lot of time to take when making a decision—and that time will help SO MUCH.
Parents should remember to take a moment and be still. That means no phones, no texts, no TV, no music, no talking….just quiet so that the brain can relax. This only needs to happen for five minutes per day. Just five mere minutes. Teach your children to do it as well. Have a family quiet session in which everyone is still and closes their eyes and breathes.
Talk to your teenager. Go into their room, find a comfy spot and listen to what is on their mind.
Drink water, take vitamins and SLEEP!
eNannySource: Does technology really make life easier?
Wendy: Yes and no. The smartphone gives you immediate access to all kinds of information, which can sometimes make our lives easier, however technology requires you to respond in a knee-jerk way to any request that comes at you and this creates CHAOS.
eNannySource: What about relationships with teens? Any tips for treading through the teen years easier?
Wendy: Spend lots of time with your teen. Most people pull away, thinking that their child is mature enough to relax the reins. I disagree. I spend incredible amounts of time with my teen boys doing the things they want. I listen to silly soccer statistics, bad music, silly trends and anything they want to share all day long. Sometimes I need a minute—and that is good too. We take the teens to see live music, outdoor nature experiences, dog parks, museums and anything we can think of. We make sure they have time with their friends too, but communication and experiences with us are top priority.
When my 9th grader was in 7th grade I sat him down and told him that if he plans on ever leaving the house, he will have to communicate with me. He brilliantly shared that he doesn’t know how. So we role modeled how to talk to either myself or dad about intimate subjects. It worked like a charm. From that point on we talked every day about whatever was on his mind. We walked together daily and he would share what he was thinking. I’m sure I don’t know everything—but I know enough.
There is NO SUCH THING AS PRIVACY. Passwords to online social media are kept by both my husband and myself. We spot check them whenever we feel like it. I found out some very horrific information about things that kids were doing by seeing what my son sees. This gave us a great series of discussion points. If you want to keep your kids safe, know what the heck they are doing at all times. You can do this in a fun, kind-hearted way. It doesn’t have to be a punishment.
Bottom line, my job is to raise productive, upstanding citizens, and I tell them that all of the time. Their job is to learn how to become a productive upstanding citizen and to do well in school. That’s it.
eNannySource: Are parents too busy? Are Kids? Why?
Wendy: Parents are way too busy. My opinion is that it is related to the economy and working. No one I know feels like they have more than enough time on their hands. Some kids are overscheduled and some don’t have anything to do because their parents are working. Schools need to step it up and provide a safe, afterschool environment where children/teens can interact with adults who care while enriching their brains. All teens need something meaningful and exciting to be involved in or they will search for it in very inappropriate forms.
eNannySource: Where can we cut back?
Wendy: Oh, wow. Tough question. I think we need to do more to help each other out rather than cut back. Neighbors need to get in alignment with each other, looking out for each other’s children and providing substantive access to caring adults. I think we’ve cut back—that’s our problem. We are satisfied with pumping our youth full of videogames, reality TV, Facebook, Instagram and fast food. How about making the plunge into getting each and every kid involved with an instrument, artistic endeavor, sport or hobby?
eNannySource: What about saying no? Should parents? Should we not?
Wendy: Absolutely! It is your role as a parent to say no. Your job is to keep your child safe at any cost. If no is needed then use it! YES is a fabulous word and I use it as much as possible, but boundary setting begins with giving children/teens limits to the things that your family does not approve of.
eNannySource: Any additional tips?
Wendy: Set a family constitution for everyone to know and honor. I know that sounds crazy, but if our teens aren’t super clear about our family’s values then how can they uphold them? Make sure you acknowledge your own humanity, and if you need to say I’m sorry, then do so. We are not perfect. Goodness knows and so do my kids—that I’m far from it.
Wendy Wolff is an independent writer and thinker. She is working on a collection of essays regarding Making Life Easier. Wendy also contributes to http://indyreader.org.← Expert Insights with Pediatric Psychologist Dr. Lynne Kenney | Expert Insights: Cindy Wilkinson on Incorporating the Arts into Everyday Life →