An oil & gas mum's advice on raising your own little superheroes
My husband might think he's James Bond when he goes to work, but my job is far more serious. I’m raising three superheroes, literally: preparing my three boys to go out into the world with the skills to be good husbands, fathers and men. Creating superheroes is serious stuff. We want them to be well mannered, confident, respectful young men with strong morals and a good work ethic. Just like a superhero ... and who doesn’t love a superhero?
The idea of raising superheroes wasn’t planned. It evolved after Thomas the Tank Engine become uncool and Spiderman, Ben 10, and Superman entered our world.
Often I'll say to my boys: "Would Spiderman speak to Aunt May that way?" It's perfect for bringing them into line. My little superheroes don’t have specific chores, they just do what I ask. It's been that way since they each hit four years of age (and I realised life might get tricky as there's three of them and only one of me!) By the age of four they were old enough to turn on a TV and operate a computer, so I decided they were also rather capable of helping around the house.
My superheroes hang out their own washing, put their clothes away, take the rubbish out, organise their activity bags, keep their room tidy and most often get their own breakfast. It's a rule in our house that if you live here, you help out. They don't get paid for their chores. It's part of life and taking responsibility (and no one pays me, after all!)
So despite their Dad working away four weeks at a time, my boys are turning into the superheroes I'd hoped for.
It comes down to a few other things, too, like diet, discipline and routine.
We eat well, rarely any junk.
And then there is routine - it's been my saving grace. When my first baby was four days old, my husband left for our first offshore job. I sat in that hospital on my own, no family to help me, and I knew I needed a routine. Initially that routine was for me: it helped me put one foot in front of the other when sleep deprivation set in, and it helped determine those crying frenzies in my baby.
My routine was my routine (what worked best for me) but it revolved around food and sleep. Even now, with my oldest being six and my youngest three, it still revolves around food and sleep. Except now there is school added in. I take my routine everywhere and my husband slips straight in when he returns home from work. No questions. He understands its importance to me.
A typical day for us starts at 7am. We do school drop-off and then morning tea at 9.30am. We have activities until 12.30 when we have lunch, then quiet time until 1.30pm. School pick up is at 3.15, then we have a really small afternoon tea, play or activities and then dinner between 5-5.30pm. Bedtime is always 7pm. No exceptions. I take that time when they are in bed to breathe. So important.
Typically, my husband and I are different people. While we don’t have terribly different parenting styles, we do agree on discipline and consequence. What happens when the kids cross the line? Our rule is "three strikes and it’s a consequence". Occasionally, we differ on how one of us handles a situation. If that occurs, though, neither of us interrupts. We allow things to cool down and talk about it. If the kids see we are not as one, they might take that divide and create a canyon. You need to present a united front, even if you don’t agree on everything.
My husband and I talk about the boys constantly - what we want for them and how we can get them there. We talk about what we will do to keep them in school, deter them from drugs and what our reaction should be to teen pregnancy. We talk about everything, not just the boys. You have to.
When it comes to the boys we might have different personalities, but we are literally on the same page of the comic book.
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