This One Is for The Parents

It is that time of the year again, BACK-TO-SCHOOL!

Fresh off of a 2 or 3 month summer break with the kids - full of swimming pools, cookouts, sports, fireworks, and maybe a vacation - now it’s time for a transition. The kids will be transitioning from the laid back (sometimes) nature of summer to the more regimented, planned out schedule of the school year. All of this is happening and you, as the parent, must adjust as well.

Not only are you coming out of summer mode, but adding in your working schedule AND getting your kiddos off to school every day can be a lot. Wake up calls, breakfast, planning lunches, re-loading backpacks and getting out the door for drop-offs. Not to mention, coordinating schedules with your spouse/friends/sitter on who needs to be where and when to pickup the munchkin’s after school and get them to their next destination..... I’m starting not to like puzzles so much, you?!? If your kids are older and they have after school activities, once again you’ll be doing all that coordinating to get them from those activities to home, fed, and in bed at a reasonable hour so the next morning your house is not mistaken for Grand Central Station!

Amid the day-to-day, you desire to have a great life filled with ease with your family and to be present with your children and your partner. Spending quality time, cultivating the amazing relationships and life you desire. Oh, and don’t forget about yourself!

Where does all this fit in? Is this time you desire with your family only available during the summer? I would suggest to you, no, it is not. You can be a Rockstar parent every day, all year round. Going to work, providing for your family, coordinating and planning the sometimes-crazy schedule of your kids, being present with your person, your kids, AND yourself - it’s all possible. I am not going to sit here and tell you that it is easy, but it can be simple. 

There are 3 simple things that you can do to start to change the quality of your relationships with your kids, partner, and self. 

Before we talk about those, let’s look at one of the unique challenges parents face today. In today’s world the presence of social media brings about of number of challenges. One of those challenges, in my opinion, is the added stress on parents to be “good parents.” It is not the fact that most have social media accounts in some fashion, but the thought process having them can create. This thought and feeling of “parent shaming.” Often, this is something that you put on yourself...when an Instagram post shows the neighbors kid’s first day of school and they have on the latest, greatest outfits with their bookbags on, and the perfect smiles for the camera. What are some thoughts that might go through your mind? “Our first day didn’t look anything like that.” “I didn’t post a picture of my kids first day back to school. Should I have done that?” “I didn’t dress my kids good enough.” Or “If they only knew the tantrum my kid expressed just to put their clothes on today”. There may be some validity to those thoughts, but what that one photo on Instagram didn’t show you was what might have happened BEFORE that singular moment in time. The neighbor might have had a tough morning with the kids. The s#%* might have hit the fan that morning, but for a split second the kids calmed down enough for a picture! There is always more to the story, more to the post than the post leads us to believe.

So, the first simple step to take is to try your best not to compare your life to those you see on social media. That comparison does nothing good for you or your kids. More than likely those comparisons and your thoughts around them are taking you “away” from your children in the moment. Again, not easy. Simple.

Second, set aside certain time in your day to be with your family, fully. Not watching TV while the kids play around you. Everyone’s attention and presence is with one another in whatever it is you choose to do. 30-60 minutes of focused presence with your family will go MUCH farther than 2-3 hours of being around, but not “with” them.

Lastly, do the same for yourself. If you are going to show up for your family BIG, you’ve got to do the same for yourself. Schedule it in your calendar if you must! I invite you to try and find a way to do this daily. Whether it is exercise, reading, meditation, find a way to be fully present with yourself and do it! You need it!

The stress of back-to-school is real. That being said, you don’t have to succumb to that stress and the thoughts that life has to be complex. It is often the consistent, simple actions that make the biggest difference.

You are AWESOME.
You are an AMAZING parent.
You are doing your BEST and that is always enough.

Dr. Zach