This week Mamó meets the Mac Ruairí family from Rann na Feirste, County Donegal. Hugh and Geraldine have three sons; Ódhrán 11, Fianán 9 and Tiernán 5. 'The Three Kings'. The boys have an action packed schedule of activities from boxing to guitar lessons to homework. This is a very busy household with no time to spare. Hugh and Geraldine work endlessly, especially in the kitchen; in Hugh's own words 'the kitchen never closes'. Bedtime is particularly a problem with high spirited young Tiernán. Mamó helps the family start some simple routines which help the household run a bit more smoothly, creating a bit more time for Mum and Dad.
Good habits at the kitchen table:
Good manners are important, especially at the kitchen table. The whole family should eat together and children should always wait for the parents before sitting at the table.
Children and Housework:
Mamó points out to Hugh and Geraldine that even very young children should be expected to help around the house, doing jobs such as setting the table, lifting dirty dishes etc. They should also be encouraged to help with the preparation of food which can also be fun as well as educational; counting etc. These routines will help develop discipline and independence in the children.
Mamó emphasises the importance of setting down rules/ boundaries and this advice ties all the other advice together. For example, insisting on no snacking between meals, all food should be eaten at meal times. This will create more time for Hugh and Geraldine.
Positive bedtime routines:
Mamó gives the Mac Ruairís some simple advice on bedtime routines for young children. She advises removing all distractions from the child's room; books, toys, even a glass of water. She also advises not to read the bedtime story in the bedroom as the bedroom should be for sleeping only. She recommends that as bedtime approaches that parents should create a calm, quiet atmosphere in the house.
Parents don't forget your own relationship:
Keep it sweet and lovely; give yourselves time together, without children everyday. Half an hour at night, a phone call during the day. Go out once a week together, if you can't, go as a family, and keep the emphasis on your own interests rather than the children, make sure its family safe. Don't stifle one another either, have other things to bring into the relationship, otherwise it will be talk, talk, talk about the children. They are leaving some time!