Being able to manage your expectations, particularly during the summer months is vital to being able to minimize some of the typical challenges you face at this time and you feeling less stressed.
What 3 things do you find most stressful during the holidays?
On the days where I do not manage my expectations of myself and my kids well and fail to communicate my minimum expectations to them, my top 3 holiday stressors are:
- The kids lounging around doing NOTHING!
- The kids looking to their smartphones any time they have “nothing” to do!
- Not contributing to the running of the home
I want to repeat what I said above because it is key:
“On the days where I do not take charge of my expectations of my kids and communicate my minimum expectations of them”
I know exactly what it is I need to do to make life at home during the holidays much much better. And, am excited to share it with you here so that you can do the same.
Doing so will make you feel way less stressed and much calmer.
I believe that with a bit of planning and organization, learning to better manage our expectations, and scheduling less, the holidays can be made way less stressful.
Step 1: Only do what is essential:
- Do not schedule anything that does not HAVE to be done
- 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 recharge your own battery
- Try to make sure your kids get the sleep they need
- 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
Step 2: Deepen your understanding of expectations
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 what we might have expected.
Step 3: Understand the relationship between fear and 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
Step 4: Identify what didn’t work for you during the previous holiday period
This will help you work out what you don’t want a repeat performance of. One client I worked with explained to me that she was 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 piece is key because it is from this that you can create the steps you need to take to avoid it from happening again.
Many of us have an expectation of what the holidays SHOULD look like but do not then take the necessary steps to make sure the holidays meet our expectations.
As a result, we can find ourselves constantly triggered by unmet expectations, namely, kids laziness at home and their incessant device use, to name but two!
Step 5: Establish the minimum that has to be done
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?
Step 5: Create a list for each family member for what has to be done each day
I encourage you to have a family meeting specifically to discuss questions like these around 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 yours, but rather a collaborative one representative of everyone and each of their needs. And if everyone does what they are expected to do, you will have no unmet expectations! Boom. Win-win!
Step 6: Construct a plan
Look back to the 3 things you came up with above, and write them down now.
Construct a plan so that you know exactly what you have to do to make sure it works. You will be so much happier knowing that you will have your bases covered for the holidays. When you know what will be done you will find it easier to be able to relax and let go of the other itsy-bitsy things that kids do. This will actually allow you and your children to enjoy their holidays without all the typical conflict.
This will help you pro-actively manage your EXPECTATIONS: of yourself and of your children.
There is one more key thing that also has to happen here. The boundaries have been set but this alone is not enough…
Step 7: Find a way to hold the limits you set:
In order for the plan to work, you have to be able to hold the limits you create. You have to find a way “to say what you mean and mean what you say”.
>>I have created a Workbook & Guide to help you hold better limits. You can download it via the link below >>>
Knowing how to do this well is absolutely vital. In fact, I would go as far as saying that doing these this well is one of the most important things that you can do for your children and the relationship you have with them.
I have also spoken about this in a recent podcast which you can listen to HERE.
If you need any help doing this, please call me. Happy to help.
PS. Are you part of the Your Parenting Partner Tribe? If not, you can Sign up here.
PPS. If you are on FB, check out my Parent Coaching Group called Parenting In The Thick Of It. You can join for FREE. Would love to see you there!