Parents Just Hold On
Memorial Day weekend has come and gone and I must say that on my end - it’s one of the best we’ve had. The weather was picture perfect, flowers were planted, mulch was spread, gutters were cleaned and the deck was stained. The Tito’s was flowing, a little Murph action at the gym, good food, good friends, smiles all around. Was the ideal kick-off weekend to the summer.
And in homes everywhere, college kids are coming home, seniors are graduating and our littlest gooses are getting ready to shut down their books and their noggins and enjoy the lazy hazy days of summer. The orderly routines that we relish come September will be replaced by sleep-in mornings, later nights and an overall laid back approach to life. What’s not totally fab about all of that!
It also means laundry. And lots of it. More food. And lots of it. More voices being heard about what to watch on tv, more I need the car today, more hassle and running around. And less money in the wallet. Less organization around the house. Less order and more chaos. Yeah. Woo. Hoo.
I’m living it peepers. I’ve got one back and a few more that will be straggling in in the upcoming weeks. Five adults (almost at 16 ½) working different hours, headed to the gym at different times, three dogs, four cars, five drivers. To say it’s going to be a juggling act is putting it mildly.
So my summer gift to all you parents out there dipping their toe into the pool of chaos, I have some tips and hints that might make that transition a little easier. And for all the goslings reading, I’ve got some ideas that might make the transition a bit easier on y’all as well. Not a perfect science but anything that keeps mom from losing her cool and dad from turning green - worth a few seconds of your time.
10 Tips For Parents
Like I said - I’m living it. I’ve to two of the three home plus one and let’s just say that I have embraced the chaos. I do have some tips for parents that might help to make the adjustment a bit easier.
This one for me is essential and whereas I can be a little more laid back when it’s just Rob and I, with three additional eaters in the house, I cannot. I plan out my meals a week in advance and try to do the grocery shopping for the week in one fell swoop. I let everyone pick a meal and then throw in the standard burgers and grilled chicken and write it on the dry erase board on the fridge. Means there’s no surprises.
Get a job.
All my brats have to get a job. Period. I don’t pay their bills in the summer and in fact, my soon to be 20 year old now has to pay all of her bills. They are expected to pay their car insurance, their gas, buy their clothes for the school year, provide their own spending money. I don’t care if it’s working around the house or working at Dunkin Donuts, work is an important step into becoming an adult and appreciating the value of a dollar.
I come downstairs to dishes everywhere. Glasses on the end tables, in the sink, on the counter. And there my dishwasher sits…empty. I’m letting the dust settle temporarily and then once number three comes in like a wrecking ball, we will have a family chat about dishes going in the dishwasher. Or we can start taking turns washing them by hand. We meaning them, not me.
With everyone on a different schedule, it can be nearly impossible to all be eating at the same time. One’s still working, one’s at the gym, etc. I strive to make Sunday dinner a family dinner. It doesn’t always work out but more often than not, it’s the only day of the week we are all here. As silly as it sounds, that family dinner gives you the opportunity to reconnect and be a family. Catch up on everyone’s life.
Another ‘tip’ I haven’t instituted yet but will once number three comes home. Give me a half hour at night where phones are off. Me included. Again, that face time allows us to connect and just be without all the distractions of Insta pics and snapchat stories. I’m not saying the whole night and a half hour isn’t a lot to ask. Sulk in silence if you must but do so without staring at your screen.
Chores are a must.
Adding extra people back into the house creates more work. More laundry. More cleaning. More of everything. Set the expectation of chipping in. Not only does it keep us from being overwhelmed but it is a reminder to them that they are a cog in the family wheel. Vacuuming, wiping down the bathroom, emptying the dishwasher - whatever it is, assign them some sort of task around the house that helps you out.
Give them space.
This one is hard for me but I hope that I’m getting better. When my kids are home it is my tendency to be all in their face. I ask A LOT of questions. And it’s annoying I’m sure. I know for a fact it’s annoying. Give them some space. It is challenging on their end to come back into the family fold of rules and responsibility and there has to be some transitional time for them to get back in the groove of being home.
Now that they’re home, make sure you’re present in their presence as best you can be. The summer will fly by and before you know it they will be packing up to head back to school. Be present and make sure that you are making the most of the time together.
If you’ve set up consequences for certain actions and those actions take place, follow through. Period. From my own experience, once you ‘feel bad’ and back down from the follow through then you start to lose their respect. Your house, your rules. Actions and consequence. Lay it out now and be prepared to follow through.
Let them be little.
At the end of the day, no matter how big or how old they are, they are still little. Still our children. And home should be their safe place to land, that one place on earth where they can just be. Good, bad and ugly and everything in between. I know my own kids spend so much time being ‘on’ when they are away - academics, athletics, social situations. I try to let go the little nuances, the shoes piled at the back door, the heap of clothes on my bathroom floor, drinking milk directly from the carton.
Because those are my bright beautiful daughter’s flip flops in a tangled mess and can you believe we wear the same size shoe. And that 6’2” man guzzling milk directly from the carton is my son that still has the same laugh that he did when was five. And that heap of clothes on my bathroom floor? Those belong to my 16 ½ year old that still calls me Momma and is the very image of his dad. So yeah, I’m going to let them be little as long as I can.
10 Tips For Students
You didn’t think you were going to get away unscathed, my little cherubs, did you? You are a key piece to the puzzle and yes, there are some things that you can do to keep everyone smiling as you transition home to mom and pops.
Universe. Center. You. No.
At school, you are the center of your own universe. You are entering a different solar system when you come home and now you’re just a planet amongst other planets. Remember that there are other people who have opinions and input that matters and that your opinion and input is not the end all be all.
Two words. Say them. Often. A lot.
Buy the milk.
If you’re out and about and you know when you left the house there was a smidge of milk left, pick up a gallon on your way home. Or better yet, go to the grocery store and let mom know you’re there and is there anything you can pick up for her. It’s a small thing that pays off huge in appreciation from Mama Bear.
I assure you that your parents miss you for the most part when you’re gone. Give them some of your time. Forced family fun typically ends up being fun. And memory making. You don’t get that time back with your family and some day, those memories are what you will cling to, what will be stories that you tell your children. So pencil in some time for mom and dad.
This kind of goes hand in hand with the milk. If you see dishes in the sink, put them in the dishwasher. If you see that the dishwasher needs to be emptied, empty it. Trash full? Take it out. And do so without needing thanks or fanfare.
Respect your parents. A condescending eye roll, talking over them, disregarding their input or opinion not only sends a parent from 0 - 100 in seconds flat (me anyways) but it is incredibly rude and disrespectful. You aren’t going to like everything that comes out of their mouth but you most certainly should show them the respect that they are due.
Give them. A lot. To mom especially. There is no such thing as too many hugs.
Get a job.
And don’t complain about said job. Because they don’t call it work because it’s fun. And you are in all likelihood going to be working for the next several decades. Be grateful you have a job, work as much as you possibly can and come home full of gratitude for the paycheck. No one wants to hear about how much you don’t like a job, don’t like your coworkers, blah blah blah. That’s called life. And we are all living it.
When in doubt - ask.
Mom and Dad know a lot. I mean you turned out okay, right? If you don’t know something, if you’re unsure of something, if something feels amiss or wrong…ask. Say the words. Text the question. Make the phone call. There is no one that has your back more or wants what’s best for you more than your parents.
Come home and be you. Not the cool, know-it-all that you became with another year of knowledge under your belt and 983 followers. But the you that likes the crust cut off your sandwiches. The you that plays ugly basketball in the driveway with your dad, cheating the entire time. The you that loves to pick all the blueberries out of the fruit salad because who would eat blueberries. The you that leaves your shoes right at the bottom of the stairs, the dirty socks under the coffee table, your contacts on your nightstand. Come home and regroup and let home be your safety net. Because that’s the greatest ‘thank you’ you could ever give us.
Country Roads Take Me Home
As I said, my littles are trickling in and the last one will be here on Friday. Oldest gosling male type still has prom and graduation next week and I actually just typed all of that WITHOUT crying. Daughter goose is busy making bank and we are finding our new summer normal. Hallelujah!
I have worked really hard at setting expectations - both for them and for myself. I am trying to be less rigid and let go what I can let go of…the pile of shoes at the bottom of the stairs, the clothes on our bathroom floor, the dribble of milk left in the fridge and the dishes everywhere. And I am holding onto what matters to me at the end of the day - the signs of maturity and growth, the laughter and lightheartedness, seeing my Rob’s face light up as he talks GOT or hockey with his daughter or shows his sons something new - how to use a belt sander, wax and polish a car.
As parents we work so hard to get them ready for the next chapter, spend 18 years giving them tools for their toolbox. And how little we prepare ourselves for that chapter, for our empty toolbox that now belongs to them. For how little they no longer are.
Enjoy this time. Set up the boundaries ahead of time, make sure the expectation. Implement family dinner and face time and be present with one another. Chip in when needed and without being asked and for heaven’s sake, hug your Momma every chance you get. Come home and just be beautiful you with a job.