Now that summer is finally upon us it’s a good time to take a break from the treadmill and breathe. While for many of us, although our work day is no different, there is undoubtedly a shift in the daily routine now that the school bus no longer beckons and homework is not an ever-present stressor.
By allowing for some distance from our daily stressors, we can begin to view the challenges we face with our children through a more patient, reflective lens. Here is an exercise you can do to help you become more in tune with your wants and concerns for your children.
- For each of your children, write a list of three or four situations that you want to be different regarding their behavior. Perhaps it has to do with the morning routine, or how they treat their sibling, how the way doing homework seems to be a battle each day. Don’t feel you need to write a comprehensive list of Just the big ones that pop into your head that represent the ones that create the most significant stress or frustration.
- Put this list away for a day or two, and then look it over to see if perhaps there are ones you want to add or eliminate. This will help you recognize if you were responding out of momentary feelings, or if the items are representative of genuine systemic challenges you or your children face.
- For each of the situations, write down a basic sentence of why this concerns you. Then, ask yourself why that is a concern. And then a third time. Each time you are going deeper into understanding what is the core concern.
- Now comes the moment of truth. Ask yourself what is the fear behind the why? What is truly making you nervous, anxious, sad, etc.?
- Now, take out a new sheet of paper and write down a new set of wants based on your reflections.
At this point, you may want to sit with these thoughts for a while. And when you are ready, see if you can use this deeper awareness to communicate your concerns to your children. Or, you may find that you want to let some of your concerns guide you in adjusting your parenting priorities, shifting what you are focusing on.
Sometimes, it can be constructive to stop, breathe, and reflect. Take in the scenery and put things in perspective. Parenting is a journey; we often learn as we go. As always, you are never alone – reach out if you want support, guidance, or tools.
Enjoy the moment.