I used to actually think that when my kids were older, life wouldn’t be so crazy – that life would be easier and might actually slow down…oh, silly rabbit.
Life is going by at warp speed. If our family isn’t incredibly intentional about scheduling time together, we are the ships passing in the night. How easy it is to lose sight of one another. How easy it is to drift.
Paige and I are still joined at the hip. Brynne is in middle school but is slowly weaning herself from my clutches (sob.)
But high school? It’s a whole new world – that often doesn’t include you. With all the wonderful activities, sports, clubs, student government, classes, musicals, and friend time, it’s more like a weekly wave. Weekends, especially Sundays, are sacred, but during the week, more often than not, I’m getting the younger girls to bed when the teens come home. We say hello, how was your day, sorry about the drama, do your homework, see you tomorrow.
In some ways it feels like high school is the beginning of the end – you send them off and just hope and pray you’ve taught them how to behave, keep their pants on, and be kind to others.
This is how I usually see Cope – bye, Mom!
But you see, stuff has to get done. Like work applications, scholarships, scouting merit badges, emails sent, college visits, and on and on. And you, as the parent, can’t or shouldn’t do the job. What to do? Remind? Nag? Talk about it incessantly until you see action? It’s exhausting for all parties, and tremendously annoying.
Let’s just say that none of these tactics were helping our relationship.
Note: the time to remind the kids about something isn’t while they’re exiting the vehicle (um, me.)
“Don’t forget to…”
“Yep, Mom, I got it.”
But, hmm. Do they?
But ho – here’s a strategy that’s working REALLY WELL! (an idea from the fabulous Happier podcast featuring Gretchen Rubin and Elizabeth Craft.)
A weekly one-hour appointment with the teens. It’s obvious, right? Well, it’s also genius.
At first, the idea was met with skepticism. Cope said, “Uh, honestly mom? I don’t think I have an hour a week for you.” Good thing she laughed after she said it. But she was right – we were having a hard time finding an hour to even have a conversation.
But she penciled me in, and that week we refined some essays, responded to college emails, and got those scholarships sent off. Done. So much relief! And you know what? It was FUN. I also got juicy tidbits of high school life (buzzword: “bralette.”) WIN.
Experimenting with the boy was harder because what we really needed to work on were merit badges and HE DOES NOT WANT TO DO THEM. Me neither.
“Are you ready for our scouting date?” I said in my overly cheerful annoying voice. However, I know the way to the boy’s heart: MEAT.
It’s the habit of pairing. If boy associates meat and yummy food and positive attention from mom, he’s more likely to cooperate. Total success. We only went half an hour and we got the job done.
On my calendar I now have a weekly note to self: schedule Cope and Nelson hour.
The great thing is they aren’t resisting it. (shhh…I think they might secretly enjoy spending time with me 🙂 )
- Schedule a weekly meeting.
- Try to be consistent with time and day, but even if it changes, set the appointment before you adjourn so it’s not one and done.
- Try REALLY HARD not to nag about scheduled matters during the week. Save it for your date.
Your meeting doesn’t even need to be for things you HAVE TO DO. It could be a walk together or a pedicure, but as time is teaching me: these final moments with our kids under the same roof is Precious Time.
My boy and I didn’t get our hour in this weekend because I was sick and he had homework, but right before we said good-bye this morning he said, “I think we can do our hour tonight.” Oh good, I said, happily surprised. “Maybe you could defrost some meat?”
Check. Hey, whatever it takes, buddy, ’cause I sure do love you.
(Marriage? It also works wonders!)
Let me know how this goes, dear readers. Successes? Failures? Already doing it? I’d love to hear.