That was my hubby’s FB post before the holidays ended.
It summarised him as an ‘Action Speaks Louder Than Words’ Dad. I quote
“This is one holidays that I managed to spend almost 2 full weeks with the family. Every single day is filled with some activities to have quality family time together. Ever since we became parents, we have always tried to be hands-on with the kids. We teach them what we know, and what we don’t know, we try our best to learn with them. We DO things together, and observe the little life lessons that we can impart to them in the process. Don’t just BRING them to places and let them do what they want and parents be focusing on the handphone. DO THINGS WITH THEM! Kids love it when parents engage in the same activities as them.
Why bring them to the pool or park and let them play on their own while you are engaged on your handphone? Swim and play with them!
Why bring them to the ice skating rink and drop them there while you are engaged on your handphone? Skate with them! Learn with them if you don’t know how to. Fall with them, laugh with them, get your butts wet with them!
Don’t just BRING THEM THERE, DO IT WITH THEM!
Share with them your passion and hobbies and help them love what you love to do. (Unless you love to be stuck on your handphone and would love your kids to be stuck on a device too)
There will come a day when they will outgrow this process and they will finally choose to do things with their friends instead of us. Before that day come, we will try our best to create as many memories as possible DOING THINGS WITH THEM.
Be a hands-on parent, not a handphone-on parent!”
I must confess that it takes a lot of effort and discipline to get off the phone and be present with our kids. We have been pretty hands on, but sometimes the daily living finds us back to our phones when we are bored or itching to check online. I salute my hubs for his resolute act in not using his handphone completely this hols whenever we are with the kids! No preaching to me was done either. Hubs believes in modeling desired behaviour. I noticed how hubs stopped using his phone during rides or chill times at home when kids are self occupied and it made an impression on me. However, sometimes I still succumb to checking my phone during train rides while my hubs entertained the kids with his antics. However, after his above post, it touched me deeply that he has taken pains to be intentionally making time and effort to fully engage with our kids…. I too will actively put away my phone and be fully present with my kids from henceforth!
Here’s what we have done during the holidays and a few lessons that I have learnt as a hands-on Parent.
- Make It or Break It Together
Rock Climbing was something I tried before in my young adulthood. Somehow along the way I developed a bad fear of heights. My hubby encouraged me to try climbing together with the kids this time round instead of being a spectator. I nodded. We went to Tampines Hubs’ Home Teams Rock Climbing. They have 19 walls for the young 4yo to the adventurous. This was a good fit for my family.
The first climb was awful. I couldn’t make it even halfway a 2 carabiner hook challenge wall. I shivered when I looked down and gave up. (1 is easy, 2 is intermediate and 3 is challenging) The worst part was letting go and free falling to allow the automated machine pulley dip you down. I clung to dear life and screamed.
After that, I tried another wall that looked less intimidating as it was not easy for me to look down with that kind of scaled knob like wall. It was much better. I could go beyond half height but failed to reach the top due to lack of strength. Next I decided this blue cloud wall was worth a try despite being intimidated by the 3 carabiner challenge. I just heckcare and tried. Guess what? My first victory of savouring the top!!! I was thrilled to no end! That taught me not to judge an activity by it’s ‘cover’ or code that others have placed on it. After tasted success, it boosted me to try the black wall that looked like a tough wall. I made it again! All the perceived fears and difficulty banished and I grew confident to try anything even if I fail to make it anywhere. The free falling became less frightful as I tested and trusted in the pulley. Throughout these climbs, my family was highly supportive and cheered for me when I climbed as we did for each child. It was truly a make it or break it together experience that taught both old and young what it means to be an overcomer together. We fall together and rise up together.
2. Pray and Prioritise
This holiday gave me some time to pray an extended time and prioritise what is important to us. A week ago, my head was full, reeling on and on with worries of kids etc. I felt ETWG (Extended Time With God) was due. I spent a few hours praying and meditating on scriptures. Drew out plans and prioritised matters in different areas of life not in order of importance.
1. Spiritual Disciplines : What are some habits I wish to form myself and instill in my children?
2. Work : What are the areas in my teaching do I wish to focus on? How can I refine my curriculum? Have I met the goals I set out to do?
3. Home matters : What space areas do I need to declutter or organise? How can I cook healthy meals for the family?
4. Kids : How can I deepen their understanding of My One Word for the kids? How can I nurture their talents/interests and help support them in their shortcomings?
5. Ministries/friendships/kinship : What is the focus of the ministry I am involved in? Who should I reach out to and make more connections with? How frequent should we meet?
6. Health and fitness : What practical training plans can I make for my half marathon race? What kind of diet will help support me in this training?
8. Marriage : How can I make our evenings more meaningful and interesting? How can we support each other spiritually together?
With a clearer picture of my priorities, I committed the above to our Loving Father and Not worry about tomorrow. He who feeds the Sparrow will meet all our needs ahead!
I then set out reading up on strategies and training plans that could help in my fitness training. One high up on our priority list is to improve the children’s chinese language. I decided it was high time to do a consistent reading on a daily basis. I went in search of chinese story chapter books that had Han Yu Pin Yin (HYPY) so both me and the kids can learn together. It was a tough search as the library had aplenty but few good content with HYPY. I was thrilled to find stacks of them in Popular Bookstore! I bought a few sets and now we’re ready to roll.
3. Serve Together
Nothing motivates like having to whip up a feast for others. My kids do bug me to let them cook. But I think having guests (our relatives) over really serves a purpose and great motivation for all to give our best attention. After the previous hosting in March for their auntie, J reminded me to bake the cupcakes in advance and not wait for the day itself to tackle all the cooking. Words of wisdom from experience! We baked half a day; carrot cupcakes and lemon cupcakes from Andie Mitchell’s recipe as well as the classic blueberry chocolate chips cupcakes from my sister’s recipe. This time round boys had their first handle of the electric hand mixer.
The next day, we worked from 1pm to 6pm with short intermittent rests churning out a whole sack of mashed potatoes, cleaning and cutting for the roasted vegetables and fruit salad. The highlight for me was the boys’ chicken wings war frying attempt! You can see their hilariously cool battle using chopsticks and a shield at my instagram.
4. Create and Support Alongside
After my post on Teach the Art of Learning to Learn, instead of creating a game for my kids to inspire them to learn their multiplication tables, I turned the tables on them. They were to do something for their own enjoyment of learning.
E being the youngest, discussed with me and wished to do a calculator. After discussing in details, I realised she wanted something that could roll out the actual numbers for the answers that she ‘keys in’. I suggested recycling our yoghurt cups and using the turning effect for her manual calculator. So here we have- our calculator game.
As for my boys, J came up with a simple card game where the times table was written down and you just need to turn over to do your calculations. However, it was zero fun. He did it before the holidays after exams. I encouraged them to do another game which would be more exciting to play with. A came up with a board game similar to monopoly. He wanted to do all by himself. So J and E collaborated and did another board game as well.
I will elaborate on their games in another post as I found the ideas and strategies pretty interesting and very localised. It is something I wish to help them further develop and refine. The beauty of their creation lies in the pure joy that followed when they came up with a game that all of them enjoyed playing together while learning their maths simultaneously! I felt it was such a milestone for all of us! I finally succeeded in refraining to create something for them or even with them. I left them to figure things out themselves and fail, then try again by themselves. Now I know is the right time to step in and help them learn higher order thinking by refining their products.
This will be our first time entering @coloursofthebible competition! The kids were not keen prior to this. Come this year, A was fired up to join this art contest. That spurred the rest to follow. A went to great lengths to draw a draft and did a second one. Then he decided the first looked better. But was frustrated and gave up when he had used a ‘wrong’ colour on the face. In fact, it was due to the pencil smudges. J tried several drawings but destroyed all due to the ugly erased marks seen and refused to join this contest. After a few days of encouragement from me and papa, boys finally got back on track. A applied my tip to use pen to outline his work before colouring while J after several discussions and another 3 attempts finally found satisfaction in his piece. E? At this age, she had simple childlike faith to express herself as is.
At the end of the process, it was a spiritual exercise for all of us as we pondered on the miracles and wonders of the bible and in our lives. It was also an opportunity for them to know God looks at their heart works and not just their products. God bless their souls!
Will share more when the contest is over! To me, it is this process that mattered and as for the artworks, to be chosen, it would be a bonus. I am already so pleased with the effort made to draw for Jesus! Coincidentally, the painting I had been working on fit beautifully into the theme. So it’s a family affair!
Another area of support lies in how I can bring out the kids’ strengths/interests/talents? A likes to play the piano but had given it up after a few formal sessions due to his heavier load in school last year. Therefore, I let him watch Youtube to learn his favourite songs. He has been making great tinkling progress since a month ago.
5. Be Intentional
During the holidays, I did not have big intentions, except the intent on relaxing and playing together with the kids. My hub’s a motivated planner. He would seek out activities and events for kids and I to particpate. Just for first 2 weeks of holidays, the kids were sent to the children’s church camp which they paid out of their own pocket-money while whisking me off to our (1st post-children) couple Bangkok trip and helped out in logistics and games for a youth camp.
The rest of the holidays were spent on ice-skating, wild wild wet, outdoor sports, rock climbing, creating and cooking together at home. This new semester, one of my main focus will be to encourage the kids’ talents or interests and promote their hobbies during our 1 on 1 time in the evenings. This brings me to my last point.
We intentionally delayed getting a drum set for our son J. From 3yo, we could sense his love for music especially the drums. He got excited whenever he sees the drums played. Due to his highly active nature, we decided having a music foundation was better for his attention span. We enrolled him in Yamaha’s foundation 2 year course. It trained him indeed to be a better listener and he grew in his focus. It was no walk in the park and both of us were relieved when the 2 years ended. Thereafter, he started his drum classes as desired on 1 condition. He had to save up money for his own drums from P1. We wanted to test and see if he was serious about this. This year he is P3. With his own daily pocket money savings and the help of his ang bao (red packet) Chinese New Year accumulation of money, he finally reached his targeted amount. We matched him $1 for $1 and got him a decent electric drums set which arrived yesterday.
The years of saving had made a deep impression on him to value and savour this gift that arrived. As a parent, I am proud that my son has worked so hard and waited so long for his own dreams to come true. We could have bought him the drums much earlier. I am glad we did not. This experience for the family is more valuable than the instant gratification of having a skillful drummer at home. The radiance and joy of a drum fulfilled assured me that our intentional parenting was all worthwhile.
May we have a refreshed perspective and purposeful year ahead with the new start of school! Let’s be a hands-On Parent together!
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