(updated October 2023 to fix formatting issues and broken links) I wonder what this summer is looking like for you?
Usually ours involves lots of travel - as an expat family we have plenty of relatives to meet up with in different corners of the UK. And this year we even had a safari planned! Oh well, hopefully next year?
Instead, we are lucky to be able to use a house my parents own in Normandy, with a HUGE garden, and a treehouse that is a permanent source of construction fun (yes, you guessed, it's my husband's project "for the kids!")
Mostly, I'm going to be hanging out with the kids, while my other half knuckles down with some remote working (aided by half a car boot of IT equipment!)
Over the years we've learnt to put in place guidelines when our situation changes. Most recently we did it at the start of June, as the kids eased back into school at school, rather than #shelteringinplace
So we switched daily family meetings back to weekly ones, and our family chore time (loving the house) went down to 3 times a week (yes, the kids would all like it to go away entirely!)
So we'll definitely be having another conversation in our first week about guidelines. We sit round the table and talk about what we each need in order for us ALL to have a good time. We also talk about what we want (to do, to eat, etc) and plan outing days and lazy days. Before we figured this out, holidays would look a lot like Mum and Dad doing all the work, while the kids played and demanded food/complained when they were told it was bedtime!
The other thing about the first week of the holidays is that they are HARD! We come with the exhaustion and stress of our busy lives. And this time we'll be carrying our COVID19 baggage with us as well. When we arrive at our destination, we all have different expectations. I want to unpack and make everything nice, magically, within 10 minutes! The kids want to be outside exploring. And I don't like doing all the unpacking and sorting myself - I find myself wishing they'd want the same things I do. That's been a really important lesson for me - to remember that my kids don't have the same priorities as me. Once I remember that, then we can begin to find a solution that works for all of us (in Normandy, it will probably involve making a cup of tea, dealing with the dead mice and flies on day 1 (gruesome but true, there's been no-one inside the house for 4 months), and leaving most of the unpacking until the next day, or even the day after. We'll set up new routines and patterns (a lot like we did at the beginning of lockdown) which should help us work together as a family.
Of course, with three kids around all the time, and no school work to keep them busy, I'm expecting some challenges around sibling rivalry. Positive Discipline has lots of tools to help with that, so if that's a tough one in our house too, look out for my next post (hopefully by mid-July) with tips for bringing harmony back into your home.
I'm expecting to spend a lot of the holidays helping my kids process their emotions. For some of us, lockdown was really difficult. For others, in a way it was easy to be told what to do all the time, and the responsibility that comes with having more choices is proving harder. What about you - what's been the most difficult for you in the last 3 months?
If parenting your kids this summer is filling you with dread, then please reach out to me - I offer free exploratory calls so you can see how coaching can turn your family around.