Kristin Buchtel and her husband live in Denver, Colorado . She is a mother of 4 adult children, and a grandma! She has a masters degree in elementary education. Her parenting career has included many colorful years including being a teacher and parenting note taker.
Her parental note taking began on a road trip when her kids were young, as she shared her worries over the approaching teen years with her husband and issues such as dating, driving etc. That was how their parenting plan or road-map was birthed. Here she talks about the concept of a parenting plan and why it’s important.
Parenting is hard!
It is easy to feel overwhelmed with all of the modern technologies and issues that arise for families.
Years ago, my husband and I began writing down our parenting goals, rules and expectations, as we began to worry about what the upcoming teen years would look like for our kids. We were concerned about the ever-changing climate of technology as well as how to set expectations for our teenagers.
The day we started talking about setting intentions for parenting our teens, we realized how different the rules were in each of our families when we were teens.
- I had a curfew and was expected to be home by 11:30 on weekend nights. My husband did not have a set curfew.
- I had a job while I was in school and was able to purchase my first car. My husband didn’t have to get a job until he was older.
- My parents paid my university tuition, while my husband was expected to pay for his.
As you can see with just these three topics, we had different experiences as teens and if we did not take the time to create our own plan, parenting would have been more difficult.
We happened to be on a family road trip when we had this conversation. The kids were in the back of our van watching videos and we continued to collaborate on our plan. We wrote down our notes and ideas as we created them. This parenting plan or road-map as we call it, became our most valuable parenting tool.
Over the years we added to our plan. We changed and updated our plan as needed.
Were we perfect? No, but having a plan helped us identify where we needed to adjust our path.
Did the plans help us stick to our goals to the best of our ability? Yes!
- When you talk about your parenting goals and plan them out, it keeps you on the same page as parents and as a family. Everyone in the family knows the exact expectations as well as the consequences.
- Writing down your notes helps you to keep track of the details especially when there are disagreements, or children are trying to negotiate an easier consequence.
- It gives parents the confidence, accountability, and stamina needed to keep things consistent.
- It gives you a place to refer back to if you forget a rule, goal or need to make updates to your plan.
Without a plan, parenting becomes harder because life is so busy. We can find ourselves…
- giving harsher punishments than we intended to and then backing off or changing the punishment
- forgetting the rules that we set the last time we had a similar parenting issue
- not touching base with the other parent(s), causing them to create a rule or system different than the one originally set
- revisiting the same issues over and over with no success
The children begin realizing that the parents are not on the same page and therefore they can manipulate different outcomes.
What I propose here by creating a parenting plan is a different mindset for parenting, similar to a business plan or a team strategy.
Businesses go to great lengths to create solid plans for success in the marketplace. Coaches of athletic teams create plans to mentor players as well as strategies for game day wins.
When we become parents, the unspoken norm is to believe we will parent by instinct and we will look to the wisdom of how our parents raised us. This is the foundation of parenting to be sure, but with the rapid and ever-changing environments of technology and social topics, parents today are faced with issues that previous generations never had to face.
Creating your parenting plan requires discussing and noting how you want to incorporate the values and lessons from previous generations and merge them with the new concerns of parenting in today’s environment.
How do you do this?
What method of note-taking is the best?
Let’s begin with where you are right now.
What concerns or worries do you have currently, or do you imagine having in the near future?
Begin your conversation as parents with the topics that are most urgent for your parenting today. Talk with your spouse and begin formulating your plan. If you are a single parent, enlist some parent friends or family to help you.
Sometimes you are able to come up with your plans easily and other times you may need to do a little more research. You can look to parenting books, blogs or classes.
Ask other parents who are facing similar topics how they are managing. Take what advice fits best for your parenting style and form that into your plan.
Your parenting plan is not about the method of note-taking you use, but about the usefulness of your created content that matters.
In the book, Noteworthy Parenting, I recommend keeping your parenting notes in sections according to age. I also offer a journal to get parents started that is separated in to age sections. This way it is easy for you to re-use your notes as your younger children approach each stage, but using a journal is not for everybody.
In this sketch from the book, you can see that I encourage parents to keep notes in whatever way is best for them. Some people like to use spreadsheets, others prefer a notebook and pen, and still others use a notes app on their phones.
Remember, parenting is not about perfection. It’s about the power in your plan!
People say there is no instruction manual for parenting, but I would like to think that creating your own parenting plan is a big step in the right direction!
When your kids are grown, you will be able to look back and see that you did your best to keep the family on track. Your parenting notes may not only become a treasured memory of your parenting career, but a valuable resource for your children to use as they become parents!
If you need more ideas, visit the recent Noteworthy Parenting blog post, How to Start Your Parenting Roadmap or follow Noteworthy Parenting on Instagram and Facebook!
Kristin’s book and companion journal can be found on Amazon by clicking the links below.