I heard about a study awhile back that crosses my mind on almost a daily basis. Maybe it’s just my lifestyle, but I really do think about it quite a bit.
This study involved two groups of moms. Group one never opened a book all day long. They just went about their motherly business while their kids were at home. Group two at a minimum had a book open on their laps whenever possible. If they weren’t actually reading, they at least gave the pretense of it. The study found that the kids whose moms were in group two were significantly more likely to become readers than the kids who grew up in the homes of group one.
To tell you the truth I can’t find that study anywhere to provide you with the link. Don’t remember where I heard it, or whether I heard it or read it. Maybe I dreamed the whole thing, I don’t know (if so, props to me for dreaming about scientific studies!). But I guess that’s also not really the point for me.
The findings are not shocking by any means, I’m pretty sure we can all agree that our kids watch us. Our actions speak far louder than our words. They do what we do. They learn to value what we value.
After reading (or dreaming) about the study, I started to mentally mull over my day. I imagined what it was that I was showing my kids about what I valued. Exercise? Computer? Work? Outdoors? Phone? Service? Them? Cooking? Health? Art? TV? Reading? Funny how what you think you value isn’t always reflected in how you choose to spend your time every day. I also thought a lot about what I wanted my kids to know that I value, and subsequently what I want them to value.
I made a few changes in my weekly routine.
I started doing more of the outdoor sports that I love in my ‘free time’. I started planning more outdoor picnics, hikes, and bike rides. I stopped ‘reading’ stuff on my smart phone in front of them. I started listening more, working harder, and making more things with my hands. I’ve started opening my computer less, if at all, during the day.
I can’t say it’s made for a whole lot of blog entries. You can rarely get ahold of me the first time you call/text me and I email about as fast as I snail mail. But It’s been really great for my kids. I’m showing them what I value… and reminding myself in the process.
Is it working? Are my kids learning to value what I think is important? Its hard to tell at this age. Values may develop after hand-eye coordination and potty-training are out of the way. But I look for the little things, and hope it leads to something bigger.
They devour stories and beg to be read to every evening; they even want books on tape in the car on long trips. They’re happy as frogs in mud to play in the sunshine in the backyard. They think the science museum is a perfectly normal afternoon activity. They’re fascinated by living creatures, happy to watch birds on the lake, insects in the grass, and any lizard that will hold still long enough. Movie night with Dad (while mom goes for a hike) is like a national holiday, and the ‘tv’ is not yesterday’s news for them.
Ari values knowing the right answer, and prides himself on figuring things out and then telling the whole world about his ‘eureka’ moment. We rented a ‘fancy’ van for a road trip a month ago. Ari wasn’t satisfied until he had figured out what every single button did (it had automatic doors, etc.) I think he gets that from watching his dad. My little scientist.
Last week Isaac took it upon himself to clean up some muddy prints the dog left on the floor, using an entire box of baby wipes to make sure it was spotless. He was clearly proud of his hard work.
Then again, if my kids are a reflection of my values, it appears I don’t value sharing with my siblings, sleeping, eating dinner, or hiking all day long. Baby steps, I tell myself… baby steps.
And if you want more to mull over, this article really caused me to make some life changes as well: How to Miss a Childhood from Hands Free Mamma. I think every smart phone owning parent should be required to read it. I for one read it often.