When we procrastinate, we know we’re doing it to avoid something, and we know it’s not a good idea, but we do it anyway. Why? It’s not a time management or organizational issue – it’s an emotion regulation issue. Certain tasks inspire negative moods for us: anxiety, insecurity, frustration, resentment or other challenging emotions.
When we procrastinate, we are prioritizing short term pleasant mood over longer term issues. And the more we put off one task, the more negative feelings get wrapped around it as we add in self-blame and increased stress. And then we’re even more inclined to seek out a different activity to get relief, putting it off even longer. It becomes a vicious cycle, and can lead to long-term chronic stress and low life satisfaction.
So, once you understand the emotional aspects of task avoidance, how do you get past them? The NY Times article phrases these in ways to overcome your own tendency to procrastinate. That’s the first bullet point in each pair. The second one in each pair is how you might translate this when addressing your child’s procrastination.
Self-forgiveness – instead of beating yourself up for procrastinating, forgive yourself… that may make it easier to do the task the next time around.
Compassion: “Hey, this time you procrastinated a lot, but I know it was just because you were really frustrated about X. Next time, I bet it will go better.”
Cultivate curiosity – Pay attention to how you’re feeling and wonder why you feel that way.
Help them be curious: “How are you feeling right now? What do those feelings remind you of? Is there some way we could help you feel better while doing this task?”
Consider the next action as a mere possibility “If I WERE going to do this, even though I’m not, what would I do first?” Try it out… often if you get started without pressuring yourself, the motivation will follow.
Help them imagine “if your teddy bear needed to do this thing, where would they start? Could you show them the first step?”
Make temptations more inconvenient. If you procrastinate by grabbing your phone and checking social media, try putting the phone across the room. If you stall by tidying up, keep things tidy or move to a different space to work. If you take a lot of snack breaks, don’t work near the kitchen, or have less interesting snacks.
Whatever tends to distract them from their task, can you put it out of sight?
Make the thing you’re avoiding as easy as possible to do. Pack your gym bag in advance and keep it in the car.
Make the thing your child is avoiding easier or more enjoyable. Watch a movie together while they fold laundry or listen to music together as they clean their room. Put their homework out with their snack and encourage them to finish it quickly so they can move on to other things.
It is easy to view procrastination as a character flaw that can’t be overcome or blame it on “I just need to be more organized.” But perhaps acknowledging that you’re avoiding the task because of negative feelings the task brings up may help you get to the root issue and move past that procrastination.
To learn more, check out the original article in the NY Times!
Often as parents we find ourselves making things up as we go along – we think about what we want our kids to do right now, then take actions that give us quick results in the moment. Those actions may or may not be in alignment with our long term goals or visions of yourself as a parent – I’m sure we’ve all had moments of thinking “I can’t believe I just said/did that!!”
One step you can take toward becoming the parent you want to be is to define – in writing – what that means. This can begin with a process of brainstorming your goals and values, maybe even writing a vision and a mission statement. Then as you find yourself muddling through your parenting days, you can occasionally take time to reflect – am I on course toward my goals? What could I do to course correct a bit? You don’t have to be perfect every day if you’re remembering to check in from time to time to make sure you’re still pointed in the right general direction.
Brainstorming the Basics
Here are some questions to ask yourself to discover what’s important to you.
What are your family’s strengths? What do you do best?
What are the most important values you want to pass on to your child?
What is the place of education in your family? What value do you place on work?
What are your family’s attitudes toward money?
How do you view religion/spirituality, and what part does that play in your daily life?
How important is it to you to help other people or participate in your community?
How would you like to relate to one another?
When do you feel most connected to one another?
What makes you happy?
What makes you fulfilled –brings you satisfaction, leaves you with a sense of completeness?
Answering those questions may be the insight you need to get started.
Figure out what the endpoint looks like
Another approach is “Begin at the end” – think ahead 15 years. What is your vision for:
What is your child like as a person?
What skills have you nurtured in them: Curiosity? Confidence? Compassion? Determination?
What are your child’s core values? (see above)
If your child is “successful”, what does that look like?
What are the relationships amongst members of your family like?
How would you like your child to describe what it was like to grow up with you as a parent?
Creating a Vision Statement
What is a vision statement?
It describes what your ideal family life would look like and what you want your family to be someday.
It provides inspiration for what you hope to achieve in five, ten, or more years;
It functions as the “north star” – helps you understand how your work every day ultimately contributes towards accomplishing over the long term; and,
An effective vision statement is inspiring, yet short and simple enough that you could repeat it out loud from memory
Some sample visions from organizations are: “To improve the health and well-being of each person we serve.” (a hospital) “To inspire students to create a better world.” (a school) “We believe that strong families begin at home and building strong families creates thriving, healthy communities.” (a family support organization) “To be a vibrant and welcoming community, feeding the human spirit, lighting a. beacon for love and justice.” (a church.)
Write your parenting vision statement. (Try several approaches until you find the one that sings to you.)
Creating a Mission Statement
A Mission statement focuses on a shorter time frame (1 – 3 years). There are lots of possible formats. One format answers three questions
WHAT you will do – what specific actions will you take?
HOW you will do it – what will be the quality of your actions (this is where you can articulate your values for how you want to interact with your family)
WHY – what results or benefits you will see when you look at your kids / your family in a few years?
Here are some sample missions, from the web… I don’t endorse any in particular, they’re just examples.
We are a family who believes that relationships matter most! We value spending time together. We hold each member of our family accountable for responsible behavior. We support each other in our individual pursuits of personal and professional interests. We cheer each other on. We laugh whenever possible. We hold our marital relationship as a top priority because this relationship serves as the foundation of our family.www.everythingmom.com/dynamics/the-family-vision-statement-a-solution-for-challenging-decisions.html
Our home will be a place where are family, friends, and guests find joy, comfort, peace and happiness. We will seek to create a clean and orderly environment that is livable and comfortable. We will exercise wisdom in what we choose to eat, read, see, and do at home. We want to teach our children to love learn, laugh, and to work and develop their unique talents. www.happyfamilyhappylife.com/examples-of-a-family-mission-statement/
Our family mission: To always be kind, respectful, and supportive of each other, To be honest and open with each other, To keep a spiritual feeling in the home, To love each other unconditionally, To be responsible to live a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life, To make this house a place we want to come home to. [also from happy family… cited above]
I choose to raise children who are respectful and believe they are worthy of respect. I choose to raise children who are confident and who know themselves enough to be true to the song in their hearts.I choose to raise children who are kind and caring and see kindness and caring in the world as well.I choose to raise children who are honest and value the power of truth. [in the post, the author gives concrete examples of how their parenting will reflect this mission http://lusaorganics.typepad.com/clean/2011/12/a-peaceful-parenting-mission-statement.html]
Implementing Your Vision & Mission
Write your Vision & Mission down, and post it where you can see it.
Review it on a regular basis and see how you’re doing.
Narrowing the Vision – Action Gap: when the theory of what kind of parent we wish we were meets the reality of how we respond to our child when we’re tired and they’re challenging, it can be easy to get discouraged. Be gentle with yourself – don’t beat yourself up for your mistakes, just use it to help you remember your goals. Ask yourself what you could do differently the next day to move in that direction.
Revise your mission as needed to in order to reflect new values, hopes, and dreams.
On this blog:
Here is a free printable worksheet for developing a mission/vision statement.
Read about Parenting Style: Authoritarian, Permissive, Balanced and Uninvolved are ways to describe the intersection between how high the demands are that you place on your child, and how responsive your rules are to their individual needs and goals. Are you your child’s Boss? their Friend? A Friendly Boss?
Parachutes can be a fun accessory for indoor story-times or outdoor play, for groups of children from birth to adolescence.
Benefits of parachute play:
Collaborative and non-competitive – children work together, need to spread out around the chute and all participate for it to work
Helps to develop rhythm
Builds shoulder, arm and hand muscle strength
Good for practicing listening to instructions – if they didn’t understand it when you say to lift it up, but then their hand is lifted up into the air along with the parachute, that helps them learn the meaning of the instruction
It’s a great way to gain children’s attention when it’s wandering, or to settle down chaotic energy in a group time
If you don’t already own one, buy a parachute. (That’s an Amazon affiliate link to a product that looks good quality and comes in a variety of sizes.) Parachutes are fairly inexpensive, and fold up pretty small so they don’t require a lot of storage space.
The size you need depends on two things – how big is your room and how many people will participate?
Parachutes are described in diameter – so 12′ means 12′ from one side to the other. You need space all around it for the people to move, so really, it’s best to have a 20×20 space at least for that 12′ parachute.
Parachutes typically have one handle per foot of diameter. So, a 12′ parachute could work for 6 people if they all held onto two handles, or for a maximum 12 people.
In my activity descriptions below, I’ll code what age groups they work best for:
B = Babies. The parents hold the parachute and do the actions while the babies observe
P/C = Parent/Child. For toddlers and preschool age. Parents all hold the parachute and do the actions. The children may hold on, they may go under the parachute, they may wander off…
P = Preschool. A group of 3 – 5 year old children and 1 or 2 adults can do this without needing more adults to help.
O = Older Kids. Kids 5 and up can do this.
All = OK for any of these contexts
Up and Down
You can simply stand in a circle, say “up” and everyone lifts the parachute up high and “down” while everyone lowers it. Kids can be holding on the edge raising and lowering, or they can be standing under it or lying down under it. So easy, and it manages to feel intriguing yet soothing at the same time. ALL
You can also put on calming music and raise and lower in rhythm with the music for a calming moment in the midst of a story time. B, P/C
Sing this song to the tune If You’re Happy and You Know It. “When the parachute goes up (raising it up), shout hurray. Hurray! (as you lower it down). When the parachute goes up, shout hurray. When the parachute is high and floats up in the sky. When the parachute goes up, shout hurray.” Repeat with “dance a dance” or “stomp your feet” and so on. P/C, P
Toast in the Toaster– chant – shake side to side, then “pop” it up at the end I’m toast in the toaster / I’m getting very hot / Tick tock, Tick tock / Up I pop!
You can also do lap songs with up/down motions like “Grand Old Duke of York” or “Let’s Go Riding in an Elevator” except instead of lifting a child up in your lap, you’re raising the parachute.
Side to Side
You can stand in place and swish the parachute from side to side. Here’s a chant to go with that motion: “I am a washing machine. Washing clothes till they are clean. I am a washing machine. Swish swish swish swish swish.” P
Making Waves / Shaking
You can shake a parachute slow and gentle, or fast and rough.
With slow waves, sing “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean.” B, P/C, P
With shakes, you can use some songs you use with shakers: “Oh you shake and you shake and you shake and you stop… (3x) Shake it up high, shake it down low, shake it on your tummy, and way down to your toes.” P/C, P
Merry Go Round. The children hold onto the parachute with one hand and walk around the circle clockwise. Play any music – as long as music is playing, they walk, If the music stops, they stop. Turn to face the other direction (e.g. counterclockwise) and wait for the music to begin, then walk more. P
Ring around the Rosie. P/C, P Walk around as you sing: Ring around the rosie, pocket full of posy, ashes, ashes Kneel Down: All fall down! Shake gently, close to the ground: cows are in the meadow, eating buttercups. Then shaking fast: Thunder, Lightning, stand We all Stand Up!
Roly Poly (a chant) P/C, P Roly Poly, Roly Poly, Up, Up, Up lift the parachute up Roly Poly, Roly Poly, Down, Down, Down parachute down Roly Poly, Roly Poly, In, In, In, walk toward the center of the circle Roly Poly, Roly Poly, out, out, out …. fast… slow… shake it
Zoom. (tune) P/C, P Zoom Zoom Zoom. We’re going to the moon. walking around Zoom Zoom Zoom. We’re going to the moon. stop walking at the end of this line In 5…. 4…. 3… 2… 1 lower the parachute gradually to the ground Blast off!!! quickly raise your arms and let go to launch the chute up in the air
Pop Goes the Weasel P/C, P All around the cobblers bench (walk around a circle), the monkey chased the weasel (rattle parachute). The monkey thought it was all in fun (lower the parachute to the ground). Pop goes the weasel (pop it up)
Wheels on the bus.Go round and round… wipers go swish… babies go up and down…
Children on Top of the Parachute B, P/C, O
For 3 – 6 month old babies, you can lay the babies on the parachute, and the adults hold on to the parachute and walk in circles, and give the babies a ride. You have to be slow and gentle so they don’t roll on top of each other!
For older toddlers, who are able to sit well and stay where you tell them to stay, you can have them sit up on the parachute and take them for a ride.
This activity does NOT work well with the “wobblers” in between those ages – the children who can sit but not very well and would tip over, or the children who will try to crawl away, and knock over the other children.
Many of the songs above and below here combine well with taking the children for a ride, as does “Here we go round the mulberry bush” or “we’re going to the zoo”.
Children Under the Parachute B, P/C
Babies can lay on the ground as the parents hold the parachute above them. Toddlers or preschoolers can sit or walk under the parachute as the parents hold it.
Colors Over You. (tune) Red and Yellow, Green and Blue, these are the colors over you. Red like the apple, green like the tree, yellow like the sun and blue like the sea. Red and yellow, green and blue, these are the colors over you.
Peekaboo. hold the parachute low, just above the children Someone is hiding, hiding, hiding, someone is hiding, Who could it be? lift it up high Peekaboo!
Come Under My Umbrella (tune of The More We Get Together) Come under my umbrella, umbrella, umbrella. lift it up high so it “balloons” up a bit Come under my umbrella, it’s starting to storm. again There’s thunder and lightning and wind and rain. shake it hard and fast Come under my umbrella it’s starting to storm. lift it high
Sitting Down with the Parachute P
The children sit on the floor in a circle, holding on to the parachute.
10 Little Bubbles (tune: 10 little indians) shake the chute as you do the counting part – pat the parachute with your hands for the “pop the bubble’ part 1 little, 2 little, 3 little bubbles. 4 little, 5 little, 6 little bubbles. 7 little, 8 little, 9 little bubbles. 10 little bubbles go pop, pop, pop! Pop pop pop pop those bubbles. (x3) Popping all the day.
Row Your Boat – divide the children in half – those on the left half and those on the right half. (It helps if there’s a teacher on each side! They “row” the parachute – holding on and leaning back, then forward. So, as left leans back, right leans forward, and so on. Sing row your boat.
Props on Top – P/C, P, O
For parent/child classes, it’s easier for toddlers to see what’s on top of the parachute if the parents are sitting down and the parachute is down low. Preschoolers or older children could do it sitting or standing.
Popcorn – put several balls on the parachute and do this chant: Popcorn, popcorn in a pan (hands go gently side to side), shake it up, shake it up, (shake it fast side to side) bam bam bam! (three quick “pops” of the chute – will send balls flying off the chute.)
Autumn Leaves. Put lots of silk leaves on the parachute. Sing this song to the tune of London Bridge is Falling Down Autumn Leaves are Falling Down, Falling Down, Falling Down… All Around the Town. up and down gently, so the leaves lift off the chute just a little The wind will blow them round and round… swish the chute Then you shout “oh no, it’s a storm” and you all shake like crazy till all the leaves fly off. Now it’s time to pick them up…. gather up the leaves
Five Little Monkeys Jumping on a Bed. (use monkey puppets)
Games – O. (maybe P)
Ball through the Hole: Only works for parachutes with a hole in the center! Place a ball on the parachute. Try NOT to let it fall through the hole in the center! For children 4+, divide the kids into teams (e.g. everyone who is holding onto a blue or green section of the parachute is one team and the other team is everyone holding onto red or yellow). Put two balls on the parachute – team 1 is trying to get their ball in the hole before team 2 can get their ball in.
Knock the Ball Off: If your parachute has a mesh circle in the center instead of an opening, you can adapt this game and have them try to keep their ball on the parachute while they knock off their opponents ball.
Swap Places. Everyone is raising and lowering the parachute. Then you say “stop” and everyone freezes with the parachute held way up high. You announce who needs to trade places. They swap quickly, then you continue going up and down. “Up and down, up and down. Up and stop! Bobby and Sally swap!”
Parachute Cave – lift up on 1, 2, 3 – when you get to 3, everyone (still holding on!) steps 3 steps forward under the parachute, then sits down with the parachute under their bottoms. You’re all in a parachute cave together!
Pass the ball – put a beach ball on the chute. Person A lowers the parachute till the ball comes to them – they raise one hand to roll the ball to the person next to them. That person then raises the chute to pass the ball to the next person. Keep going, trying to make it all the way around the circle.
Cat and Mouse – Children sit on the floor holding the parachute. One child is the cat – they sit on top of the chute and close their eyes while everyone counts to 10. The “mouse” child crawls under the parachute. Then the kids all shake the parachute to hide the mouse. The cat opens his eyes and crawls around trying to find the mouse.
Group Time: It’s Time to Come to Group Time, It’s Time to Come to Group Time, It’s Time to Come to Group Time, Tra La, Tra La, Tra Lee
Roll the Ball: I roll the ball to _. S/he rolls it back to me!
Pony Ride Riding on a pony downtown, (bounce child up and down your legs) Better watch out or you might fall DOWN! (child falls between your legs)
Elevator Let’s go riding on an elevator, Let’s go riding on an elevator, 1st floor, 2nd floor, 3rd floor, 4th floor, 5th floor, (raise legs a little bit each time) Down, down, down, down, down! (Child slides down legs)
Popcorn. Popcorn, popcorn in a pan, Shake it up, shake it up, Bam, bam, bam (video)
Rain/Thunder. Rain. (run your fingers down your child’s back, like raindrops) Thunder. (gently “pound” on your child’s back) Lighting. (use your finger tip to trace a lightning bolt on the child’s back) Chills. (tickle your child’s neck)
Where is Thumbkin? (Tune of Frere Jacques. The fingers on your hands “talk” to each other, one at a time. On “run and hide” put hands behind your back. Here’s a video.) Where is Thumbkin, where is Thumbkin? Here I am! Here I am! How are you today, sir? Very well I thank you. Run away. Run away. (Where is pointer? Where is tall man? Where is ring man? Where is pinky?)