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For some, holidays can be wonderful occasions to connect, relax and have some family adventures, and for others it can bring a sense of dread, or frustration with the intervals of sibling rivalry. The constant strain of conflict can easily bring us undone, and can take the fun out of parenting. This was true of me, I defaulted to the rant, rave, and rescue cycle, only to discover that I felt powerless to bring about effective, lasting change.
As parents, it is so easy to give and give, even to the point of being depleted, and when we encounter the undesirable behaviour of our cherubs fighting, it can seem difficult to feel prepared, equipped and empowered to pilot healthy responses. It’s when we take care of our personal needs and allow healthy downtime and rest for our soul that we then have the mental and emotional energy to enjoy our children and demonstrate a healthy approach whilst holding our kids firmly accountable.
Our kids also need downtime from us and each other and from the treadmill of continually being on the go. Children need to learn how to deal with being bored, and allow themselves to travel through the still moments, to discover new ideas, creativity or just enjoying being with themselves.
As I was travelling through the arguments and fights with my kids, I realised that I was dealing with the issue as if it was my problem, this approach only led to more frustration. I discovered a way of how to make it their problem and this freed me of the tension and worry of how I was going to finally resolve the issue.
A few stories from my journey,
Friday is known as treat day to my kids, whereby, I have something special in the pantry for the kids to bring to school. I am happy for the children to manage the treat until it becomes a problem. This particular morning a packet of BBQ chips was causing big problems and my 2 kids were fighting over who was sharing it out. I went brain dead, and verbalised “Oh this is so sad” and took the chips away and said I will be happy to try this when it doesn’t cause me a problem. They blamed each other and were not impressed, and I reiterated what did I say, and I love you too much to argue. Needless to say, the following week when a little tension was exhibited I asked, would you like me to manage this or are you OK to manage this? Immediately they said we are just discussing the process, we can manage it. With a big smile and a chuckle, I noticed movement towards responsibility and compromise.
Both my kids enjoy sitting in the front passenger seat. I am happy for them to sit there until it becomes a problem. This particular morning, they were both fighting in the front seat with the door open, delaying our departure for school. I expressed my sadness and said sorry guys this is draining my energy levels, I am happy for both of you to sit in the back until I am comfortable that there are no problems. If you would like any ideas on how to do that, I can share them with you. For a week, I had very pleasant kids sitting in the back, and both of them making great choices. The following week I had fun, responsible kids sharing the front seat.
Over these school holidays what experiments could you try to help you to put the fun back into your parenting? Feel free to send me your questions, thoughts or stories.