June is here and with all that the end of the school year typically brings and summer on the horizon, I felt that a good theme for us to explore and tease out this month would be the subject of EXPECTATIONS.
I’ll take a bet that there is not a parent reading this who expects a relaxing June because, knowing what we do about this time of year, it would be unrealistic!
I’ll take another bet that almost every parent reading this has somewhat mixed emotions about the holidays. Yes?
Excited but at the same time a tad apprehensive about having the kids around all day every day for two whole months? I hear you. I feel it too.
I am hoping that by reading this blog and the following weekly tips pertaining to this, that you will be able to make this summer the best one yet.
I believe that with a little bit of planning and organization, the overwhelming, busy, crazy-ness typical of June can be made a little easier.
Here are a few ideas for you:
- Do not schedule anything that does not HAVE to be done into June
- View your life as being FULL rather than busy – it’s a more positive way of looking at it
- Only say YES to things that are absolutely essential
- Make sure you re-charge your own battery
- Try to get your kids to bed on time. They are tired – it’s been a long year for them
- Each Sunday, verbally go through the weekly schedule with the family
- Each day at breakfast, run through the daily schedule with each child
- Honor your sleep needs – if you are sleep deprived, things will be even worse for you and everyone else
Regarding the summer holidays, let’s look at the subject of EXPECTATIONS and kick it off with a definition: “A strong belief that something will happen.”
It is in the expectations that we have for situations, ourselves and of those around us that often fail to be met which cause our emotional reactions:
- How we expect the summer holidays to be,
- How we expect to be treated and,
- How we expect others in our lives to behave
The fundamental thing that we have to understand regarding expectations is that they are future orientated and as such, when they are at odds with what is going on presently, we are often lead to believe that there is something lacking or wrong with the present situation. This can often trigger an emotional reaction in us. In other words, we have a belief of how our children should behave or how things ought to happen when the reality is such that it will rarely follow our expectations.
“The fear at the root of every emotional reaction is, more often than not, connected to the threat that our expectation will be unmet.” Dr Shefal Tsabary
Here’s an example:
A client recently explained to me that she is worried about the holidays and the fact that the only thing that her kids seem to do is laze around the house on SnapChat and Instagram.
“All they do is scroll, scroll and tap the heart… It’s pathetic. They are totally addicted to Instagram. Why can’t they be outside, doing something or hanging out with their friends, playing road hockey, hoop or at the local park? Doing something other than being on their screens. They have no self-control. They end up on the couch for hours. They have to be nagged to do their chores and their laundry. It drives me insane.”
This Mom is not alone. These are problems that many of us can relate to.
This Mom has created an expectation of what the holidays SHOULD look like and the result of this will be:
She will be constantly triggered by her unmet expectations, namely, her kids laziness at home and their device use.
In order to try and manage this situation and many other situations like it, it helps to start by gaining some clarity of our preferred reality by asking questions like these:
- What will your children be doing during their days at home this holiday?
- How would you like your children to spend their “unplanned” time this summer?
- How would your children like to spend their “unplanned” time this summer?
- Do you think your expectations are aligned with theirs regarding what this time will look like and how this might play out?
- What amount of time do you deem reasonable for your kids to spend on their screens each day?
- What amount of time do your kids deem reasonable to spend on their screens each day?
- What is the very least that you expect your children to do each day during the summer holidays?
I encouraged my client to have a family meeting specifically to discuss questions like these and the family’s expectations for the summer. This way, each member of the family will contribute to the creation of a “holiday agenda” and the boundaries that will need to be in place. This means that THE agenda will not just be hers, but rather a collaborative one representative of everyone’s needs.
To help you work out what you might need to do, I’d like you to cast your mind back to Spring Break or the last time your children were at home for the holidays:
What were the things that your children typically did too much of or not enough of that regularly wound you up and triggered you?
The chances are that these will be the things that will trigger you again this holiday. I recommend that you pick your top 2 or 3 and come up with a plan that will effectively manage and deal with each of them. For my client it was:
- Screen time had got out of hand
- Daily chores were not being done
- The laundry was a disaster – clean clothes and dirty clothes everywhere in the bedrooms
Together, we co-constructed a plan and she now knows exactly what she has to do to make sure it works. She is so much happier knowing that she will have her bases covered for the holidays. For her, if these three things are taken care of, she will be able to relax and let go of the rest. This will actually allow her and her children to enjoy their holidays without all the typical conflict.
She is pro-actively managing her EXPECTATIONS: Of herself and of her children.
There are two more key things that have to happen here…
In order for the plan to work, she has to be able to hold the limits she creates and let go of the little things.
For those of you signed up, next week’s tip will be on How To Hold Your Limits and the week after that will be on How To Let Go Of The Rest. Watch your inboxes for them and if you are not signed up, and you want your holidays to be more relaxed and conflict free, do sign up now.
Knowing how to do these well is absolutely vital. In fact, I would go as far as saying that doing these two things well is one of the most important things that you can do for your children and the relationship you have with them.
Before I wrap this up, this time last year I wrote a popular blog on how we as parents can shape our behavior more positively regarding our responses to our children’s report cards. Report cards are almost here so why not refresh your memory on how to shape your responses in a way that will help build your child’s sense of self-worth and courage rather than break it down.
So much to think about but hopefully this will help you put a few things in place that will simplify your life and allow you to meet this busy time and the quiet time thereafter with more ease and joy.
What 3 things are you going to create a plan for in order to really enjoy the summer holidays with your children?
If you need any help doing this, please call me. Together we can make a difference.
PS. Not signed up for my weekly parenting tips? Sign up here.
PPS. Share this with five friends, get them to sign up (in the Free Parent Coaching Program box on my website) and get a free one hour collaborative group Skype session with your friends and me on how to set limits that work. Book now as I only have a few spots available and this offer is only valid until July 8th 2016.