Hopes, dreams, goals

Hello, Minnesota!

Let me introduce myself: My name is Megan Devine. I live with my husband, daughter (age 9) and three sons (ages 7, 5 and 3) in Northeastern Minnesota. 

I’m delighted to be joining the team at Minnesota Parent — to share my perspective as a mother and an educator — as the publication’s new School Days columnist. 

I live on a small hobby farm, where our family of six tends two hives of bees, a flock of chickens and a rowdy white German Shepherd. Our days are rich and full! Along with raising a family and maintaining a small homestead, I’ve also established a career as an educator. I’m in the middle of my 14th year of teaching full-time at a public school. This year I’m teaching kindergarten, but I’ve also taught second and third grades. 

School-age children need our love, guidance, care and support. It’s our unique challenge to let them be little and big at the same time. 

I live in a beautiful place and I try to get outdoors each day for a walk, run, hike, cross-country ski or snowshoe, either by myself or in company of my family. I find balance with creative hobbies. I like to write and take photographs, blog, cook and dabble with activities like soap-making and fiber art.

I’m approaching this column-writing experience with an open mind and heart. I hope to contribute in this space in a meaningful way. Though I have more than a decade of experience teaching and nearly a decade parenting, I won’t be writing as an “expert,” but rather from the perspective of a parent like you, who makes an effort each day to live with thoughtfulness and intention.

Through my own experiences, I’ve found that transitioning from parenting an infant, to parenting a toddler and then a school-age child doesn’t really make things easier: It’s just different. 

Children at this age continue to grow and change. They’re developing their own unique personalities and independence. They make decisions, explore friendships and are busy with school work and extracurricular activities. 

School-age children need our love, guidance, care and support. It’s our unique challenge to let them be little and big at the same time. 

Because we’re beginning a new year, I thought this would be a timely opportunity to share my goals and aspirations as a parent of a fourth-grader, first-grader and two preschoolers. 

 

Parenting with purpose

My hope is to make informed decisions as I guide my children through their growing and learning early years. 

We make so many choices and decisions as parents that affect so many aspects of our children’s lives. Some are easier, like deciding what winter jacket to purchase or what to make for dinner on Thursday. Some are more complicated, like choosing a school or figuring out how to guide a child through a tough friendship situation. 

Though there are countless books on how to parent, our individual children simply don’t come with instruction manuals. However, we can do our best to make sound decisions by seeking out information and ideas that can help us validate and support decisions that are in the best interest of our family life.

 

Making time for connection

I want to spend meaningful, undistracted time with my children (and husband) each day. This sounds like it should be easy, but, as you can probably relate, the challenge is to be fully present without preoccupation with something else. I want to be attentive in my thoughts and actions to those around me, even if it’s in small segments of time throughout the day. This can be as simple as sharing a meal, playing a game, reading a story or listening to my child talk about his or her day.

 

Seeking balance, experiencing joy

We’re pulled in so many directions as parents. We, along with our children, can be overscheduled and stressed. My hope for this year is to stay grounded by working to make mindful choices, balancing family time and external commitments for myself and for my children. I also want to make time to share in the simple joys of childhood.

I invite to you work toward these ideals along with me in this new year. As Gretchen Rubin notes in her book The Happiness Project, “The days are long, but the years are short.” I find this so true as a parent, especially with school-age children. Let’s make the most of these days and work to make our hopes and dreams as parents come alive.