It is May, the sun is shining and you have finally settled into your spring groove, with a consistent calendar. Your sleep and workout schedule has been set for months, and even though it may have been a demanding schedule with afterschool pick-ups and sports, you made it through. You also may have older children who were away at college giving you and your ex some newfound freedom from the joint custody conversations.
Summertime should be a time for fun in the sun and not a time of distress. Preparing a plan and staying organized, and preparing your home for graduating seniors or returning college kids can help both their and your mental health and well-being. Below are five tips for keeping calm during your children’s summer BREAK.
Takeaway Tip #1: Block Off Time To Reconnect – Memorial Day and graduation season are fast approaching, and your schedule may be filled with travel and celebrations. Before all the festivities begin, take the time to plan some special alone time with your young adult to decompress and tell them how proud you are of their accomplishments. Plan a breakfast, lunch or dinner with your returning college student if they have just returned home. Making time to talk to your teens or to simply enjoy downtime with your younger children before they begin camp and other summer rituals will help everyone remain connected. It will also help you to identify any issues that need to be addressed. If there are academic or mental health issues that do need to be addressed, plan a meeting with their teachers before the end of the school year. Schedule appointments with the appropriate professionals to determine what you can do in the off-season, such as tutoring.
Takeaway Tip #2: Review The “House Rules” – This is important for all ages, but especially important for young adults returning from college. The transition year for many college freshmen can be filled with conflict and challenges. They may chafe at the “restrictions” of living in your home after experiencing the “freedom” of dorm life. They may have picked up some bad habits that were not allowed in your home, such as drinking or smoking. They may be in new relationships that flourished away from your prying eyes while they were at college. It is crucial that you have a re-calibrating conversation to reset the ground rules for summer life at home. If they have internships or jobs, and are commuting or driving, and you need them to help with chaperoning or transporting younger siblings to activities, having that conversation as early as possible will help to set the expectations for the contributions they need to make while home.
Takeaway Tip #3: Expect Disruption – Lack of sleep can occur during this May/June period when daily schedules are disrupted. Those sleepless nights worrying about your high school senior may also return when your college-aged kid is hanging out with friends until the wee hours of the morning. It is important that they respect your time and life. Set a curfew during the weekdays and strive for flexibility on the weekends. The extra laundry, grocery shopping, and other chores may create more demands on your time. Review household chores and make sure everyone is making a contribution. You can find helpful ideas online, such as chore charts courtesy of Care.com. If you find yourself struggling with child-care or summer academic camp pick up, remember that teachers at your children’s school may be looking to earn extra income, and they can be a great resource during the summer.
Takeaway Tip #4: Adjust To The Noise – While your returning college student(s) and graduating high school senior(s) may look all grown up, it is important to remember that they are still navigating adulthood. They may have experienced a lot of stress and need to decompress from finals. As they begin new jobs and internships they may have fears of inadequacy that they are not always sharing with you in conversation. Their desire to assert their independence may instead be expressed in bursts of arguments or ignoring your rules altogether. They may decide to spend more time at your ex’s home for various reasons. It is important that you stay calm and do not take the bait. Remember that you are still the parent, and while they may not act like it, they need you to be the stable and grounded one while they navigate the uncertainty and challenges of the transition into adulthood.
Takeaway Tip #5: Keep Your Original Rituals – Talk with your ex early about the summer plan and parenting time. You or they may need to handle certain aspects of the camp payment, preparation, and travel, so the sooner you communicate about and agree upon the responsibilities the better you can plan your calendar. If you are in conflict, try to engage a third party such as a parenting coordinator or therapist as soon as possible. Prepare by scheduling doctor appointments for camp forms now before things get hectic. For returning college students, late May is a great time to schedule their annual physical, and eye and dental exams. It is also important that you continue to ground yourself in your self-care routines. Try to keep a weekly meal or family time ritual even if you go on vacation. If you have a consistent exercise time, try your best to maintain that, as eating out can wreck havoc on all of your hard work. Plan early so that you can successfully create a pleasant summer experience for you and your family!
If you are contemplating divorce, or struggling with a high-conflict divorce procedure, let Tamara Harris, CEO of Tamara Harris LLC, be your partner as you navigate through each stage of your journey. As an impartial, experienced professional, Tamara will work directly with you to give you the best tools and strategies to manage the specific challenges and uncertainties of divorce. Serving as your Divorce Coach and advocate, she will help you see clearly during this time where emotions can often impede and derail your divorce procedure. While each member of your high-conflict divorce team – lawyers, accountants, financial advisors, and other experts – will be advising you, Tamara will help you to synthesize this information, think strategically about the options you have with clarity and purpose, and get your divorce across the finish line. Visit tamaraharris.com for more information, or contact Tamara Harris to discuss becoming a client. All inquires will be held in confidence.