Ahhhh…summer is finally here. No more waking up at the crack of dawn to catch the school bus – if you’re so lucky as to not have to be at work that early. No more homework in the afternoons. No more intense scurrying to make sure the kids are in bed on time. A more relaxed atmosphere all around! Right? I certainly tend to think so, but it’s a fine line in my house. If I allow too much lackadaisicalness, not only do I suffer, but my children do too.
My husband and I recently had a Saturday night and Sunday all to ourselves as the children went to spend time at their aunt’s house. This included all the goodies my in-laws shower upon the children (a.k.a. not a whole lot of rules and structure and generally a whole lot of sweets) plus a trip to the Atlanta Zoo. The next day, Monday, happened to be the normal day they go to their grandmother’s house during the summer. So, there you have it, 2 full days with a whole lot of fun and not much structure.
As you might guess, the girls came back in disarray. It is what happens when any of us have too much freedom and not enough structure. We begin to feel miserable and we begin to crave order and the peace that comes with hard work and responsibility.
I could have taken this little package dropped at my door in many different ways. I could have been angry at my in-laws for not adhering to the rules. I could have been angry at my husband for not being more forceful with his family about holding to our rules. I could have wallowed in self-pity and shut down (all of which I’ve done before).
Thanks to ScreamFree I have found a new way. I have been practicing the ScreamFree principles long enough now that my response was natural and instantaneous. It was clear as a bell ringing in my mind that my girls were thirsty for structure. They were thirsty for me to help them restore the balance between structure and freedom. It was a joyful night for me because I got to practice, one more time, being calm while giving my children both space (freedom) and place (rules and consequences). They got to decide whether to follow the rules or face the consequences without my anger or frustration or self-pity interfering. They “recovered” from their disarray much more quickly than they usually do. It ended that night rather than the normal two days later.
Incidentally, this kind of calm has opened the door for a better relationship with my in-laws. I’m actually grateful for the opportunities they provide me to live a life of integrity. I can blame others for my problems or I can take complete responsibility for my feelings, thoughts, and actions. I can enjoy the time I have when my children are with them without worrying about what’s coming home to me.
All families have a certain structure in their homes. The two extreme ends of the continuum are rigid structure and lackadaisical structure. Where are you on the continuum? Where do you want it to be? Where do your children need it to be? The path to becoming the ScreamFree parent you’ve always wanted to be starts with one small shift that you can make today. You become consistent by sticking with that one small shift each day afterward. You will grow from there, one step at a time.