It’s that time again…back to school time. Back to being on a set schedule; hurrying children in the morning to eat, dress and get to school; worrying about after school childcare; feeling the pressure of homework assignments, which includes understanding this year’s new math; fitting in all the after school activities; cooking a healthy dinner, refereeing TV and computer time; and finally ending the day by enforcing the early bedtime. Exhausting?
If this daily description makes your chest tighten up then you my friend have a special gift…you are the glue that holds your family together. The “sticky secret” that makes every day move along without a hitch. If you are feeling the weight of these parental responsibilities, but are not sure of what success actually looks like, you are not alone. As parents we set the standards high for raising happy, healthy children. Feeling confident at the end of the day that we succeeded can feel uncertain, and at times extremely overwhelming.
We parents are wired internally to be the problem solver, the peace maker, a counselor of all things drama, EMT’s at a moment’s notice, and while wearing all of these sticky hats, we still must be able to wave the magic wand to create a clean house, provide fabulous meals that don’t include a drive thru and the phrase, “Do you want fries with that?” And end each day on a harmonious note.
Life’s events whirl around us so quickly that everything becomes a blur making it harder and harder to stick together as a family and not get overwhelmed. There are so many distractions for families along with increased pressure to perform and succeed, not leaving much time to just enjoy being a family. And when things get blurry, we make bad parenting decisions and at times we become reactive when handling stressful situations.
When I look back to when my kids were young and still in grade school, I believe that we were guilty of putting intense pressure on them and ourselves to be involved in anything and everything in our small town. Let me ask the real questions: Do they really have to be in every sport, every dance class and every after school activity? Or is it more important to scale back on some of these extra things and refocus on what our kids really want and need at the end of a hectic day of performing at school?
As our children age and mature, it is so hard for us parents to back off and allow them to experience a slight crumble from their glued together world. We try to fix everything and keep it all together when allowing them to feel a little bit of instability can be somewhat healthy at times. The reality is that we sometimes over parent which makes us enablers and is not healthy in our plan to create strong, confident adults.
Here is my Sweet Southern Advice on how to strengthen your family to face those times when things begin to crumble and your glue is just not strong enough.
Create a strong family identity. Your presence matters. It’s a sign of care and connectedness. I believe that families should eat meals together at a table and not eat out of a sack, riding in the car; families should play and laugh together; and I believe that a family should pray together building faith and strength to greet the good and bad times.
Accept each day as it comes to you. Do not waste your time and energy wishing for a different set of circumstances each day, instead take a breath and think about how you will deal with your day. Teaching your kids that each day brings with it joy as well as challenges will teach them to handle the all kinds of circumstances with a joyful heart.
Empower your kids to problem solve. There is no doubt that we hold things together day in and day out, problem solving and coddling our children. However, there are teaching moments where you can empower your kids to also problem solve and greet difficult things that come their way.
Remove unnecessary life noise. This is a tough one. Because we spend the majority of our week in a whirlwind, life is noisy. We react quickly to situations that need more quiet time and deep thought causing us to make bad decisions. Don’t make reactive parenting decisions. Instead, back away from the situation and quiet your mind and heart before reacting. The outcome will be so much more positive for you and your child.
Share this with someone you love. They will thank you for it…later.