By Lisa Smith, The Peaceful Parent
Are you already feeling the anxiety of no school, and too much free time on your kids’ hands? Is the lack of structure creating tension in your home?
I wanted to share with you another message I received from one of my clients last summer. I think you will find it helpful and full of ideas during this uncertain time.
From my client:
“Lisa, I’m at my wits end…and it’s only the 3rd day of summer. I really don’t know what to do at this point. It’s as if all hell has broken loose in my home now that my kids are out of school and it feels overwhelming. I’m already yelling at my kids constantly as I get repeatedly peppered with questions and requests. I work from home and don’t know what to do. To top things off, I was sick all weekend and it genuinely seems as if my kids could care less. They care that they don’t get to do the things they want to do, but they don’t care that I am in physical pain. I love my kids, but it feels like they are being real jerks and I’m about to throw them out of the house and lock the door!
I feel like a failure as a parent because my kids seem to have no compassion or understanding whatsoever for other people. They really don’t have any concept of how good they have it. I just about snapped today when my daughter was complaining that she didn’t have anything to do and was bored. We live in a brand new home with kids all around us. They have board games, art supplies, books to read, bikes, scooters, skateboards, parks nearby…essentially what 99% of the kids in the world would love to have, and my kids don’t appreciate any of it.”
My response: It seems to me like your kids struggle when they don’t have any structure to tell them what to do.
Why don’t you sit down with them and schedule out their entire day?
8:00 – 9:00am – TV time
9:00 – 10:00am – Read a book and write 3 sentences about what you read
10:00 – 11:00am – Do an art project
11:00 – Noon – Play outside
Noon – Lunchtime
Allow them to have input on what and when they want to do things, and get them to agree to the schedule.
With respect to being sick and how they have responded, it seems like they literally do not know what to do, so it’s up to you to coach/teach them on what is appropriate. I suggest you sit with them and explain to them how it feels for you when you’re sick and give them specific examples of what you would like for them to do. For example, ask, “Daddy, are you feeling better? Is there anything I can do to help out since you aren’t feeling well?”. Take the time to actually teach them how to behave in these situations because they don’t know how to be empathetic. It is our responsibility as parents to teach them.