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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Parenting Tips: In Praise of F.O.B.

As heat continues to be a problem for many many states around the country, kids are tired AND hot, bored AND hot, whiny AND hot.  It is not a pretty picture for parents who desperately want a few minutes without whining, complaining, or interruptions in general.  I offer no miracle, but an idea that worked well as I was growing up and has continued to work with the many children I have raised.

When I was a child and teen my parents called it a "reading nap." My older kids resented anything with the word "nap" in it so I stole and adapted the term summer camps often use: "F.O.B."  At summer camps "F.O.B." stands for Feet on Bunk.  In my house it stands for Feet on Bed. What is Feet on Bed?

1. 30 to 60 minutes of respite for everyone from everyone.

2. Their feet must stay on their bed for whatever the specified time is. [I've even done it with just 15 minutes when desperate.]

3. Children can read or look at books. If they aren't readers they can play with legos, color, cars, craft, whatever, as long as they are quiet and their feet stay on their beds.  [When starting it, give them ideas and materials to stay occupied. Even the gift of a special coloring book or puzzle book or new toy car to make it special can make children more amenable to the idea.]

4. Use your own judgment about whether electronic devices are allowed or not

5. I set their alarm clocks so they know when time is up. [Otherwise "Is it time yet?" will become as frustrating as the traditional "Are we there yet?"]  Hint: Also be sure to have each child use the bathroom before heading in to avoid the other obvious ploy.

6. On hot days it will cool you down, in cold seasons you can cuddle in and get cozy warm.

Try it!  Start young if you can and it will be a happy habit for years to come. For some the alone time will be more reward than routine.  F.O.B. helps teach children to find a quiet time and space in their day to slow down, calm down, play independently, and more. A good lesson for all of us, children, teens, or even adults.

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