The talk all over town this week…they’re back! Those children that we sent away to college last fall are the aliens that are now returning to us. But we are not alone. Those with youngsters still in their formative years will soon be at home for the summer as well. What’s a mom/stepmom to do?
If you are like me there is a definite adjustment to the kids returning home. For me, the greatest obstacle is that our home becomes overwhelmed with laundry and clutter that once had a place outside of the home. I also find myself debating what to make for dinner to accommodate all of the mouths at the table. Maybe you find yourself thinking up activities to keep them busy or researching summer camps to send them on their merry way again! Whatever the case, the time has arrived to take charge and make summer a peaceful time for all.
So, a few words of advice…
1. Rules, rules, rules. To integrate the lifestyles of all of those in the house, yes, there must be rules. Rules allow things to move along more smoothly. They create an expectation of behavior that sets the standard in the home. Nothing wrong with rules!
2. If your kids are old enough, perhaps a family meeting is necessary.Sometimes a rule is not enough. Kids need to know why? I heard the complaints of one mom this week who told her 19-year-old son that he needed to be home by 11:00 p.m. on weeknights. Of course, he balked at the notion that his adult self would be told that he had a curfew. Being the level-headed mom that she is, she explained that she still has to get up for work and it helps preserve her sleep if he returns home and she doesn’t have to worry about him making it home safely. While he may have been dismayed by the rule itself, he understood the reasoning. Perfect reason for a family meeting. It allows for a well-reasoned discussion.
3. Reward good behavior. Maybe you don’t reward with money or “things.” But if your child is consistently playing by the rules and doing a good job, tell them. They need the praise.
4. Kids will steal all of your time if you let them. Don’t. As experts will attest, the most important relationship in the home is the marriage. Keep the love alive this summer. Make a date night. Get up early for a cup of coffee before the kids rise. Stay up late and watch a movie after the kids have turned in. Whatever you choose to do, do it. Don’t put it off. Make it a priority.
5. Lower your expectations. Really. This may be one of the few times in life that this phrase applies. However, don’t expect perfection. Don’t expect that all the rules will be followed all of the time or that there will not be bumps along the way. Schedules will conflict, arguments will ensue. It’s all natural.
What’s most important is that you enjoy the time you have with your children in the home with as little conflict as possible. Give in to the ice cream cone after dinner. Don’t fret about that laundry on the bathroom floor. After all, the relationship you have with your children/stepchildren is more important than playing by the rules all of the time.