In preparation for writing my final “Raising Driftless Kids” column, I referred back to July 2018 when I wrote my first. Four years ago, I started sharing my ideas about raising children in this area. When I wrote my first article I was a business owner, a graduate student and mom to children who were 8, 6 and almost 2.
Now, my children, 12, 10 and almost 6, have lived through a global pandemic and have grown to know technology on a scale this child of the ’80s never could have imagined. Their bonds have become stronger because they had to be each other’s friends during that time. As for me, I finished that master’s degree and transitioned into my teaching career during the pandemic. It was challenging and absolutely worth it.
My first “Raising Driftless Kids” article focused on “Yes, and …” day. This was a day when my children had the opportunity to dictate what we were going to do, working within certain parameters. I was recently able to bring that back with my 12-year-old. After two years of a lot of “No, because … (COVID) …” I was finally able to say, “Yes, and …” and see where our day took us. We spread it out over the course of a couple of days and had a lot of fun.
Now I am planning “Yes, and …” days with my 10- and 5-year-old as well. The difference with these days this time is that our kiddos get to be with us grown-ups alone. We’re looking forward to time together, just parents with one kiddo. We love having them together, but it’s important to give them time to be on their own and express themselves outside of the safety net of their siblings. School, day camps, play dates and lessons also allow them this, however, as parents, we rarely get time with just one of our kids. The real treat is getting to see their unique personalities shine through.
In addition to bringing back “Yes, and …” days we are also venturing farther afield. We are looking forward to once again piling our family into our car and venturing to new places. It’s been a couple of years since we’ve traveled beyond Wisconsin. Our youngest only has scattered memories of our road trip to Rocky Mountain National Park in 2019. The biggest change hit me when I was starting packing lists, and realized that I wouldn’t need to pack a baby-carrier for hiking. We’re embarking on a new era — one where my littles aren’t so little and my adventures can be a little more adventuresome.
The nearby adventures have been a lot of fun over the past few years. However, I’m looking forward to experiencing more. I hope my readers took away from my contributions that we all parent in our own unique ways; and that we are lucky to have so many amazing opportunities and places to enhance our parenting in the Driftless. These hills help me prepare my kiddos for unique terrain. The cultural experiences help prepare them to consider, learn and grow. It’s an adventure raising Driftless kids, and I wish you all the most exhilarating adventures.
Ainsley Rowe Anderson is a mom of three whose roots run deep in the Driftless Area mineral districts of Wisconsin and Illinois. She is a teacher who has enjoyed sharing her thoughts on raising children in the Driftless in this space.