Somewhere in between
For the month of June, we’ve been focusing on the fact that #ThereIsAlwaysTime. Today, we want to remind you that, while it feels like there are only two choices: All or Nothing, there is almost always a third choice: Something In Between.
At Parenting Power, as you head into summer, we encourage you to create some structure within your lives. This doesn’t mean that every 5 minutes are structured. It means finding the something in between full structure and no structure. It doesn’t have to be controlling and it certainly doesn’t have to be rigid. It’s about building a framework that works for your family. This way the kids and the adults have some sense of what is expected instead of running into conflicting perceptions of how the summer is going to work.
Often, when all of the structure is gone, kids get bored. Boredom is good. Boredom is the birthplace of creativity. Getting clear about how you will help your child learn from boredom will make all the difference.
You could choose to entertain your kids all of the time (we don’t really recommend that, it’s not your job and it doesn’t help them either.) You could choose to let them figure it out themselves, or you could find something in between: the I Can Do list.
Share some time with your child to make a list of what he or she can do when bored this summer. It might include: reading, drawing, coloring, dancing, building, playing outside, piano, writing, building, etc. Perhaps there are half-finished puzzles to build or science kits that haven’t been opened for a while. Get all of these things on the list. Then, when your child comes to you bored, you can say,
“I know you can handle this, find something on your I Can Do list.”
If you have plans for some of your kids’ free-time this summer, the clearer you can outline them, the better everyone will understand the expectations. This is another place where working with your kids to develop some structure will get rid of arguments. Know who needs to do what, and when it needs to happen. Make sure it is written down and hold kids accountable. They’ll learn that you mean what you say. They don’t need to be working all the time, nor none of it – just find something in between.
Planning some time away? Working with the family to outline how that will look can be a real lifesaver. Create a bit of a framework; will kids be allowed to spend every moment in the pool? What does screen time look like? How many ice-cream cones can they have per day? Who’s paying for the souvenirs? Getting clear with this before you go will get everyone on the same page. Kids love to feel like they have some power and involving them in some of the planning works really well.
Plans change over time
As you find your something in between, remember that you are not finding it for the whole summer, you are just figuring it out for the next short while – maybe a week or so. Give it a try. See how it’s working, then amend where needed. If you are arguing about something every day, that’s a perfect focus for getting together and working as a family to problem solve the issue and build a new framework. You can’t know what you don’t know until you know it.
This week, ask yourself these questions:
What did we fight about last summer? How can we build a framework so that everyone has the same perceptions this summer?
When can we create an I Can Do list?
How can the kids help to simplify life around here this summer?
When can we build some independent time into each day?
Instead of doing all or nothing, find the something in between that makes sense for your family and get everyone understanding the framework. It will make a big difference in the ways you are are connecting this summer.