Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Some (of Many) Parenting Difference and Child Order

There is no question in my mind that child order plays a part in the whole nurture part of the nature/nuture equation. For the record, I'm a true believe in BOTH nature and nuture playing significant roles in childrens' personalities, temperment, behavoir and all that.

Since having the Pookie, I've been noticing some major differences in the ways I have taught things my first born and my second born. I would like to say I'm simply catering to the different ways that my children learn, but that's not it. It is definitely more a matter of child order and the fact that parenting two children is just different than parenting one. I am certain that parenting three or four or more would also be very different from parenting two.

For example, with the Pumpkin I would often ask her to recite things like numbers, the alphabet, words in other languages, animal noises, shapes, colors, etc. I would ask her all the time, and she loved to list the things she knew and answer any questions I asked her (well, on a good day when she wasn't being contrary).

Her nature has always been that she need interaction and attention, especially from adults, and she has always been very verbally advanced. Since her birth order was first born, we were able to give her a lot of the attention she wanted and she had my husband and me to converse with to advance verbal skills. And in order to entertain myself, I would teach her the names and sounds for everything (and I believe my husband did similar).

With the Pookie as a wonderful addition to our family, there is a lot more juggling and chaos in our household. I realized that I don't focus on him in the same way I did with the Pumpkin. I don't naturally sit there and teach him lists of things or quiz him on shapes and colors. I have to really think about teaching and asking him to name things.

His nature is such that he's more content to sit and entertain himself, and he's always thrived with fine motor skills over verbal skills. As the second born, he has his older sister to follow around and learn from, while Londo and I don't have as much time to focus on only him. This is definitely a different dynamic than we had with only one child in the house.

So though there's probably some nature involve, I have definitely nurtured my children's learning in different ways. Sometimes I worry about it, feel a little twinge of that mommy guilt. But mostly, I try to focus on the fact that the Pookie has three people to learn from in the house, and that he's picking up a lot of different skills from all of us. He also learns some things from his sister (who is two years older) that she didn't have the opportunity to learn at his age.

A good example of that is that the Pookie learned how to play pretend really young. I remember when he was just starting to interact with his sister, just starting to sit up and hold things, and she was very into using the play kitchen and pretending to make, serve and eat pretend food. At first, that baby boy looked so confused when she offered him a handful of nothing to eat, but he quickly caught on and pretended to munch on everything she handed him.

Instead of feeling guilty, I am going to keep focusing on the social interaction he gets from his sister and the fact that they are both able to learn a lot from each other. He'll get his share of learning lists and getting quizzed on what he's learned through his school career in the many years to come.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Question of the Week - Time for Projects

We are in summer break from the Montessori school that both kids attend. When we decided to put the kids in the Montessori school, we knew that there would be a 6 week period that we would have to cover somehow. Although the Pumpkin is old enough to go to some camps and the Pookie's previous daycare allows kids to come for a day or a week or whatever, those things cost money. And money is tight right now for us as it is for everyone else.

Luckily, Londo and I have wonderful, helpful family who live close enough to make kid coverage (mostly) work. My mom watched the kids one week, my MIL came up for another week, and they both will do other days coming up. In addition, Londo took the kids for one week and I will take them for another week. That will cover us for most of the 6 week period.

So that's what's been going on. It's quite a logistical feat, to get all this organized in a way that works for everyone, especially the kids. And things will come up to rock the boat, as they already have. But overall, it's a good plan and working pretty well.

Last week was Londo's week with the kids, and he took them down to his parents house for the week. That's right. I had the house TO MYSELF all week last week! I'll bet you think I would have spent the week sleeping in and writing blog posts and watching movies and generally laying around enjoying the peace and quiet.

Of course I didn't! I decided that with everyone out of the house, that was the perfect time to get some projects done. After all, the house has been in a state of disarray since I tore my meniscus just after I start a re-organization project in my closet and the guest room/my office. But finishing the organization of my closet depended on moving my old dresser out and into my daughter's room. But first I wanted to paint it so it would be cute, not old and fuggly. And finishing the organization of the guest room/office depended on painting the room first.

So that's what I did last. I painted. I may have taken on slightly too many painting projects, but it's been years since I painted ANYTHING. BC (Before Children), I used to refinish furniture, and I've missed that hobby a great deal. But that hobby, like with all painting, requires a lot of time devoted to it in which you get messy and can't stop in the middle of it. It also requires a lot of prep time and clean up time. And a place to do all of that without kids running around.

By the end of the week, I had two coats of a brownish, rosy color on the guest room/office walls, matching headboard and dresser for my daughter's room, and halfway painted shelves for my son's room (which I will finish this week sometime). Though my body aches in places I'd forgotten existed and my knee has really gone to the edge of its capabilities, I'm really proud of what I've done and so happy that I've gotten to do those projects! Now I can finish organizing everything!

This week's question of the week is:

What projects do you have on your To Do list that you haven't had time to get to yet?

The painting and reorganizing has been on my list for years, so I'm really glad I can cross them off. But I have other projects on my list.

Next up is hanging curtains! We have lots of curtains that we brought with us from our old house FIVE YEARS AGO. Besides lacking the time and energy, we also have some weird issues with the blinds on all the windows which has made it difficult to find curtain rods that will fit correctly.

I also want to frame and hang many prints, posters and pictures on walls of numerous rooms. And work on decorating the dining room better. And completely redo our kitchen (but we totally don't have money for that one!) And probably a ton of other things, but that's all I can let myself think about for now.

What about you? What projects have been on your list? Are they house-related, personal, kid-related or maybe even couple-related? What have you not been able to find the time to do? What would you do with a week at home by yourself?