It’s October: Papers are strewn in lockers and backpacks. Pencils, once tall and sharp, are now short and stubby from long math problems. Club meetings and fall sports practices are in full swing. And your kiddo looks … tired.
In fact, you’re tired — tired of running around and trying to figure out how to have a family meal together (and actually use all the pages you’ve wishfully dog-eared in the latest issue of Real Simple).
Our kids have greater expectations on them than you or I did in the age of rotary dial: Activities are full-time. Homework is, too. And then there are tests — and their social lives — to keep up with, too.
What can we do to help them?
Create moments of quiet
I’m a firm believer in space. In fact, as an introvert, I probably require more than the most (and certainly more than anyone in my family). I get my energy from spots of quiet in my day. I find that walking my dog for 15 minutes by the lake, or even time in my car with no one in it can really lift the “pressure of doing” for me.
I still have things to get done, and it doesn’t lessen the load. But a break allows my brain some time to think freely and it reminds me that my life isn’t totally dictated by the daily grind.
Both of my kids are very social and while my overload alarm rings a lot more easily than theirs, I’ve learned I have to watch them carefully for signs of burnout and over-commitment, too.
The thing is, it’s hard to say no. Friends want to hang out, there’s a fun opportunity after a game or there’s an extra practice called.
In and of themselves, these are good things. But what if one of these good things comes up and it’s a week when you can see the contradictory combination of weariness and those Oh, please, can I? looks on their faces? What do you do?
Walking the walk
We parents have to model balance. And it doesn’t come easily. Life’s pressures have a way of pulling at all of us.
But I believe the best way for our kids to learn is by watching us find balance in the midst of all the daily struggles.
In an eye-opening discussion with Judy Bandy, a local registered nurse and life coach for families of kids with ADHD, I was reminded that not only is balance modeled, but parents also must come back to the priorities we’ve set for our kids: Is it the end result, the A (grade, team or school) or is it how they’re growing as people — their whole selves?
It was a fantastic reminder for me: What do I really care about as I struggle to help manage all the things going on in our lives? And parenting goals: Do I have them? What are they?
One thing I am sure of: It won’t be the same week to week, year to year. We’ll have to take it as it comes. We’ll have to recalibrate.
But it’s worth it to me, to find moments for all of us with space and breath so that, as a family, we can learn the importance of simplicity and rest — and for it to inhabit our daily existence.