I’m wired to cry. So naturally I sobbed hysterically after dropping my 18-month-old daughter at preschool. (Hey, I got better by the second week!) And I bawled as I dropped her off at college. And when her little brother left for college six years later, the waterworks gushed again. Kids beginning a new chapter in life can do that to parents. It can also make us feel incredibly proud, especially if they (and we) worked hard to reach that point.
As graduation parties wind down and you begin thinking about the next round of challenges coming up in the fall, here are some tips to help you through this transition:
- Let them have their summer: Kids need to relax and so do we. Yes things must get done before the new term, but unless your child won’t calm down until all school supplies and clothes are purchased, then save it for August and let them enjoy a balance of structured and unstructured time.
- Step back so they can step up: From September to May kids use the “I’ve got homework” excuse to avoid lending a hand around the house. Tell them that pass has expired. Besides, summer is a great time to help kids to develop responsibility. They’ll need it because each new grade level requires kids to take more responsibility for their education. They’ll only meet upcoming challenges when we require more of them as members of Team Family. Be specific with your summer expectations and hold the kids accountable. NOTE: Do not load them down with home and garden projects all day every day. Remember, it’s summer! (See tip #1)
- Create new goals for yourself: Our kids are moving toward independence – just as Nature intended. We’re moving in that direction too and eventually we’ll work our way out of this full-time parenting gig. That’s part of your job description. (Check the fine print on your kid’s birth certificate.) Even if your child is just starting first grade in the fall, the clock is running down on the “under the same roof” phase of parenting. Summer is a great time to remember that before you were a parent you were a person with unique interests and talents. What would you do with at least one extra hour a week just for yourself? Set a goal for yourself this summer and get started. Let your kids in on the goal and on your progress, too. (That’s great modeling!) If you chose well, working on your goal will sustain you on many levels when your child (eventually) leaves the nest.
Now go have some summer fun and pass me a tissue on the way out.