We are rounding the bend toward the end of the year, a time for gratitude, reflection, family, parties, small talk, and… stress. The happy holidays can quickly be derailed by trying to do too much, or spend too much, or see too many people.
The silver lining? If you fall into this trap, it’s a very predictable tradition. It happens every year.
In a world where there is a constant battle for our time and attention, we need proper (digital and interpersonal) boundaries to support our health.
Like a lot of parenting, the solution can often be misconstrued. Especially by teenagers. Setting boundaries is not about being overly strict or mean, it’s about knowing yourself, and knowing your kids, and being aware enough to know what is good for your family and what ultimately might be self-destructive.
TL;DR: To control your life, control what you pay attention to. Your attention determines the experiences you have, and the experiences you have determine the life you live.
We are at an interesting point in the homework journey. No, this isn’t about new math. Cecilia has run that gauntlet and we are back on the safer footing of long division and I’m hoping the second time through it makes more sense with Allison. I’m referring to how to help them find answers. Ally is still at the point where if she hits a roadblock we just need to tell her. There’s no easy way for her to discover how to spell ‘vegetarian’ short of asking me or Alexa.
Cecilia is on the opposite end of that spectrum. When she hits a roadblock we’ve been working on asking the right questions and then helping her find the answer. This often leads to slumping, sighing and eye rolls. I’m trying to teach her to love the process. To really get excited about it. Learning new things is something I love almost as much as carbs and reading. I want to pass that on.
In this on-demand society learning things the slow way is…an adjustment for a ten year old but I’m hoping it eventually leads to her helping herself figure things out. I really do love learning new things but I can’t go through trigonometry again.
It’s on. I flipped the switch at lunchtime on Friday. Time for some holiday parenting. A little less stern Dad and more friendly Uncle. A little more relaxed. A little less math review, a little less structure.
We won’t be abandoning all structure. Things tend to go smoother when Dad has at least a pencil sketch of a plan. So, they’ll still need to sleep occasionally and brush their teeth after their 37th cookie. There will be some organization and expectations. I won’t be throwing out the rules completely, but…it’s supposed to be happy holidays and I can’t drink wine and scotch from sunrise to sunset without at least a three hour nap in the middle of the day and that’s not really fair to Michelle.
Hopefully this will all lead to a little less stress and a little more happiness.
Worst case, it leads to Michelle and I eating more Christmas cookies with red wine at lunch.
One measuring stick for today’s parent for the success or failure of almost any venture is the amount of times the kids ask for, think about, glance at, or try to sneak in tablet time.
Amount of times this happened in the last week on PEI? Zero. That feels like money well spent right there.
Prince Edward Island exceeded our expectations in just about every way. And given Michelle’s almost religious fanaticism in the last year about the place I think that’s saying something.
It’s hard to pin down exactly what it was about PEI that made such an impression. They make odd bedfellows, but it reminded us how we’ve felt visiting Hawaii. The confluence of beautiful scenery, swaths of undeveloped landscape, and unhurried pace make it almost impossible not to step out of the flow, unplug and truly relax.
The weather cooperated magnificently. The girls got along. The hand pies were outstanding. The beaches sang. The sea glass sparkled. Green Gables did not disappoint. Many pounds of mussels were consumed. It was a great week.
It all came to end on Saturday and, fittingly, with it came the rain, a drenching downpour that chased us off the island, but first we had to pack. And get more hand pies for the road…