Practicing Parents

UGH

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~by Jennifer DiFrancesco

UGH, there aren’t too many things that make me go “UGH” but the one that has me doing the long guttural cry are school projects. We’ve had the range of projects from developing a math game, National History Day Projects, Science Fair Projects, Black History Month and good old book reports.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of school projects.

I love the idea that they get kids digging deeper into a topic.

I love the idea that they allow kids to creatively express and share about the topic.

I love the idea that they build skill sets across academic disciplines.

I love the idea that they help kids work together in teams.

I love the idea that they teach kids to manage their time.

I love the idea of the last one, but the reality is a whole different matter. UGH. Even as I say it, I feel the dread. I can already sense the anxiousness around the due date of the project.  I can already hear the screaming and the yelling as my hubby attempts to “force” the kids to start the project at a reasonable time and not at the eleventh hour.

Time management is a constant struggle in our household. It doesn’t matter if the teacher gives us three days or an entire month, the project won’t be done till the night before. I love the idea of teachers giving timelines to help the kids plan out their projects. But let’s be honest, they don’t always work. Even with timelines, my kids are ALWAYS racing to finish at the last minute.

I’ve tried to get my kids to think ahead and to work ahead. Sometimes it works, but most of the time not so much.  So now I am left thinking and wondering, “In where and in what should I invest my time?”  Should I ”helicopter” this or are there bigger issues to focus on? That’s always the dilemma as a parent, isn’t it? We have a limited time to influence, shape, and develop our kids.  We can’t do it all, so we are left picking and choosing our battles.

What battles do you choose?  How do you pick what matters?  Obviously, it’s different for each family and even for each kid in the family.  I choose to teach my kids those things that others can’t or aren’t.  (I may not be the best person to teach time management, honestly, because I am a huge procrastinator.)  So I am choosing to focus on other character traits like being a good neighbor and standing up against injustice when you see it.

So while my hubby and I will still nag our kids about getting projects done before midnight, and I make a loud guttural “UGH” sound when my kids mention they have an upcoming project, I do realize this is just one of the many battles we can or will choose to pick with our kids.

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