SING THEIR CHILDREN By Dana Diehlman The Christensen family’s methods:
Mealtime: During the week, meal time includes mostly Melissa, Keira, and Soren at the table. “My husband works really strange hours, so I’ll cook dinner and make him a plate to set aside for when he comes home,” Melissa says. On occasion, when Keira and Soren have leftovers, Melissa might make a fresh, special dish for Ryan and herself that she knows the kids wouldn’t particularly enjoy. As a general rule, however, she doesn’t make separate food for the kids.
OUR JOBS ARE A PART OF WHO WE ARE, SO HOW DO OUR OCCUPATIONS INFLUENCE HOW WE RAISE OUR CHILDREN?
On the weekends, Melissa’s family doesn’t spend a whole lot of time in the kitchen. She makes Sunday dinner, and that’s about it. On Friday or Saturday night, they’ll dine out. “We eat a lot at Noodles & Co and Chipotle,” she says. “Shiraz and Gustavo’s are also family favorites.”
Rituals: Most of the Christensens’ traditions and rituals are centered around their Christian faith. They have a daily Bible study and enjoy holiday traditions such as reading the story of Christ’s birth and enjoying a big dinner on Christmas Eve.
Screen Time: Melissa limits her children’s screen time and tablet use. Keira and Soren know they have to ask before they turn on anything with a screen. They will sometimes use the DVR to record their favorite shows, and they have access to the family iPad. But, Melissa says, “We have had some issues with the iPad — we only have one, so they have to share it!” The Christensens also have an Xbox for games. “But when the weather’s nice, it’s so much easier to get them to forget screen time and go play outside,” Melissa says.
Child care: When Melissa works out at the YMCA, she typically uses the provided child care as much as she can. When that’s unavailable or she needs more time than the YMCA’s three-hour limit, she’ll call in the cavalry. “In the summer, I’ll hire teens from my church to babysit,” she says. “I’ll also ask friends who have children the same ages as mine for help by setting up playdates.” Melissa doesn’t have family in the area, but for big events such as when she or Ryan — or both — are competing in a race, her parents have visited to help with the kids. Exercise: Melissa is serious about fitness, and her family is on board with her active lifestyle. She leads intense spin classes at the YMCA and teaches her children the proper form when TODAY’S FAMILY
exercising. Ryan is a competitive bike rider sponsored by V02s Multisports. But this family isn’t all workouts and no playtime. In fact, while she encourages family bike rides, Melissa says most of the exercise her kids get is through active play.
Food/Snacks: “It’s all about moderation!” Melissa says. She and her family don’t eat a lot of red meat and get the majority of their protein through fish and chicken. While she admits they don’t eat as many veggies as she’d like, everyone does like fruit. “Keira and Soren love our homemade fruit rollups. But there still always seems to be some sort of junk food around the house!” Melissa says she’s happy that Keira and Soren are learning about healthy plate guidelines at school, but she’s also aware that those guidelines need to be adjusted at times for the needs of their active family. “That creates conflict, though,” Melissa says. “The kids always want to go with what they learn at school and not what Mom says!”
Chores/Allowance: Melissa and Ryan don’t believe in monetary incentive for chores and don’t pay for things such as keeping bedrooms clean and making beds. “The way we feel is that if you want to live here, you have to work,” Melissa says. “When you grow up, no one’s going to pay you because you kept your room clean.” Extracurriculars: Keira attends dance lessons once a week, and Soren plays soccer twice a week. There are times the entire family travels when Melissa or Ryan compete, such as when Melissa ran in the Boston Marathon in April. Religion: Melissa and her family are active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where they have served by making sure the church gets cleaned after services. In addition, Melissa realizes the importance of being able to worship and connect — which she knows is sometimes hard to do while parenting — so she and Ryan regularly volunteer to sit with another family’s special needs children during worship. FALL 2016 17