Raising Driftless Kids

Well, isn’t this an exciting new time in which we’ve found ourselves. Parents, how are you doing? 

I’m not going to try to put a shiny facade on this new situation. There is no “Instagram-worthy” picture that I’m going to paint for you about my life at home right now. 

Ainsley Anderson

In all honesty, it changes from day to day. Some days I am doing a pretty good job coming up with creative activities for our children to do after I guide them through their schoolwork. Some days, I feel like a rage-monster who’s just trying to hold it together. That’s my truth right now. I feel some guilt when I don’t spend oodles of time creating slime and sun-catchers with my kids. I feel some guilt when they spend a bit too much time watching TV or goofing around on the iPad. So, I try to balance it. 

We need to find balance. That balance can be as simple as a walk outside, reading a book or magazine, baking, playing a board game, or building something with Legos. You can have a rock-star day and feel like you’ve earned the award for being the most “with-it” parent. The next day you might feel like you’ve totally gotten it wrong. Find the balance. Be kind to yourself. 

Can you balance the schoolwork that’s been assigned and the work of childhood? You bet you can. The work of childhood, according to Mr. Rogers, a man whom I hold in very high esteem, is play. Encourage your children to play. Give them some cardboard boxes and some crayons or markers and see what they create. Encourage them to step outside, safely away from others, and make-believe. 

You don’t have to subscribe to every website that the trendy parenting blogs tell you will help your child succeed during this time, nor download the highly rated education apps that you read about in all of the posts floating around on social media. 

Stay in touch with your child’s educators, if your child is in school. They miss your child as much as your child misses them. If your child isn’t connecting with the work that has been assigned, please let your child’s teacher know. We’re all trying to figure this out together; and there is no perfect answer. 

In my opinion, the best thing you can do for your child right now, regardless of his or her age, is give them love, create a space where they can ask questions and share their feelings, and encourage reading. Read with your child. Books will help your child explore in his or her mind. Those books will help your child’s brain continue to grow and develop and encourage your child’s natural curiosity. At any age, reading is always a good idea. 

Stay strong, parents. There is no perfect right now. The best thing you can do is stay home, stay safe, be healthy, support one another, and trust that things will get better. Oh, and keep washing your hands.

Ainsley Rowe Anderson is a mom of three whose roots run deep in the Driftless Area mineral districts of Wisconsin and Illinois. She is finishing her master’s degree in Education and shares her thoughts on raising children in the Driftless in this space on a rotating basis with other columnists focused on education and kids.