Parents do not need any more information about what you’re doing wrong or how you’re screwing up your kids forever. Instead, you need a little encouragement and simple strategies for making parenting easier and more fun. In raising my own five kids (and working with thousands of others at my summer camp), I’ve found that doing less can make us better parents and help us raise thriving kids.
Parenting is exhausting. One simple way to lighten your parenting load comes in the form of 2” x 2” sticky note pads that most of us already have in our homes and offices. I call this “The Sticky Note Solution” and if you’re skeptical that it can help make you a better parent, let me provide a few examples of how a well-worded, well-placed sticky note can, indeed, improve your parenting.
A sticky note reminding your children about something (a chore they need to do, a thank you note they need to write, a library book they need to return) saves you from using your voice (especially the high-pitched one). And, because you won’t have to be the recipient of the eye roll or exasperated sigh, you save yourself from the emotional strain of worrying that your children still have not learned to be cheerful chore doers.
As you settle down for the night, you remember that your child needs to take something important to school the next day (e.g., permission slip, sports uniform, a retainer for an ortho appointment after school). Instead of letting this task take up your precious emotional energy and mindspace, you write a quick sticky note and place it conspicuously on the exit door where it won’t be missed during the busy morning departure for school.
Sticky notes can even be used to improve your relationship with your children! Especially during times when your interactions feel negative or stressful, you can use a sticky note to express why you still love and appreciate them. Even if they don’t thank you, an encouraging sticky note on their bathroom mirror will definitely make their day just a bit happier. You will feel better for having written it and it may even remind you that you do, in fact, still love that stinky, messy, back-talking tween or teenager. If you keep up these sticky notes, your children (and you) will feel better about your connection and relationship.
No parent has time to learn everything about child development or the best research backed strategies for working with kids. However, every parent has the time (and energy) to learn one or more simple, new responses to common situations that come up with kids. Writing the exact words you want to say on a sticky note is one way to remind yourself how you want to respond to your kid. For example, if you’re wanting to raise responsible children who solve their own problems, instead of jumping in with advice, remember this phrase: “That sounds rough. What are you planning to do?” Write the phrase on a sticky note and repeat regularly to raise responsible problem-solvers!
In my quest to encourage parents and help them feel less overwhelmed by the monumental task of raising thriving human beings in a complicated and scary world, I’m always on the lookout for simple strategies to make parenting - and life - just a bit easier. Sticky notes are an easy place to start.
Audrey Monke, author of Happy Campers: 9 Summer Camp Secrets for Raising Kids Who Become Thriving Adults, is the long-time owner and director of Gold Arrow Camp in Lakeshore, California. She is among the nation’s most well-respected experts on the topics of summer camp and friendship skills. For more than 30 years, Audrey has researched and improved practices at her camp to promote belonging, friendships, and character growth. Her parenting website and podcast (Sunshine Parenting) have a loyal following of like-minded parents wanting to raise kids who become thriving adults. Each chapter of her book has a “Sticky Note Solution.”
Learn more about Audrey and her book, Happy Campers at www.Sunshine-Parenting.com and sign up to receive her weekly newsletter.