Remember how hard it was, when they were little, to get them out of the bathtub and into their pajamas? Or how hard it was to get a child that *loved* preschool to get into the car to go to preschool? Transitions are so often difficult - and when we look back in hindsight we realize that the whining, stalling, outbursts, and meltdowns were all protesting the transition from one experience to another, and not the experience itself. It’s why kids (and adults, frankly) respond so well to routines and predictability.
This week, all the kids are transitioning again - from the routine of the school year, in whatever form that took, and into the unpredictability of summer. And one thing that will make it a whole lot more manageable is a schedule.
Sure, a schedule is easy enough for kids who don’t have their own lives yet … you get them up, serve them breakfast, put them in the car, head to camp or pool or errands, the whole time coaching them along. “Finish your toast and then we can brush teeth and head to camp! Yayyy!” First this, then that, then finally this. Easy peasy mac and cheesy.
But add in a few iPhones, a healthy dose of teenage opinions, and their need to control everything in their uncontrollable worlds, and you can see where the trouble starts. They definitely do not want to get up at any specific time and no matter how tired they are, they will not go to bed at any specific time. In between they may eat all day or not at all, and then be both tired and hungry by 4 pm, which is a recipe for disaster. Oh, and also, their friends also have parents that work and no one can schlep them all over town all day long. Oh and also it’s raining. Oh and also there’s nothing to eat in this house. And also they have no idea what to do with themselves with all this unstructured time.
Yeah, summer is here and it’s a good time to remind ourselves that they need routine and predictability, and from within those parameters, they can absolutely find spontaneity and joyful surprises. Here’s what I’m starting with:
Sleep as late as you want or as late as your schedule allows, but then immediately have breakfast. Clean up after that breakfast. Try to find some fruit at some point during the day. Let me know where you are headed and when you’ll be back. Keep your phone charged. Wear sunscreen.
And good luck to us all.