Summer break has been going for a bit now and I have suffered some parental growing pains as my teenagers have stretched their wings of independence just a bit more. The summer began with me feeling excited that my children would get some rest from such a busy school year. I had ideas of all of the fun they would have and the things we would also do as a family. It all looked so beautiful in my head. But I forgot something pretty important. They also have minds of their own and plans of their own!
The first area that had to be addressed quite quickly was “rest”. Their social life and sleep schedule did not align very well with our (the parents) work-life and sleep schedule. It seems all of the fun stuff happens between 8 pm and midnight! I am someone who needs a good 8 hours of sleep so this new schedule was quickly causing some issues.
The second area that had to be addressed was a “schedule”. Our kids are athletes so there are some sports practices throughout the summer but other than that, consistency is not part of our weekly routine. At least in our home, summer jobs are not scheduled neatly into an 8-5, Monday-Friday time slot. With two teenage jobs, it becomes more of a puzzle of times. Dinner plans? Um… that went right out the window.
Family activities have also become much more of a challenge. I rarely work on Fridays and have saved that time to spend with my girls this summer. I had beautiful visions of days at the pool, walking through Old Town together and getting ice cream, perhaps a hike up to Horsetooth. It is July 8th and we have not been able to find a time that works for all of us to do any of the above-mentioned things.
So, here is where my parental growing pains come in. At the beginning of the summer. I was really trying to get us organized. I was working hard to make this family work like a well-oiled machine. I had all of these beautiful plans, and I was determined to somehow make it fit. When I realized that we just weren’t spending time together as a family, I sat down with my youngest teenager to apologize to her for working 4 days a week. Perhaps I needed to be more available for her. She chuckled at the apology and said, “Mom, you know I love you. But even if you were here, I wouldn’t be home. I have plans with my friends.”
I suddenly realized I was trying to “control” my family. I was trying to make us all fit into my expectations. I was not enjoying my summer and I was finding a feeling of disappointment more often than I would like to admit. At that moment, I got on my knees and gave my family back to God. I also got a great book called, “Losing Control & Liking It” by Tim Sanford.
Things have gotten a lot better at our house. We had a great family talk about late nights and how we all need rest. The late nights are more intermittent now. Although we haven’t had an entire day together, there have been pockets of time where we do happen to be home at the same time for dinner. Their friends come too and we have enjoyed getting to see our kids and their friends. We have some weekend getaways planned ahead of time and I know there will be larger pockets of time for us to spend together. We make church a priority for our family and with Saturday and Sunday options, we come together for that.
Once I let go of the control I was trying to have, everyone relaxed a bit more and we were able to find our new groove. My husband and I are intentional about knowing the kids’ work schedules and making sure we are around for a quick chat or check-in. We are planning for our daughter’s senior year and we are gradually preparing for college next fall. Sometimes it is difficult to relax and trust that everything will be ok. Sometimes, we just have to give it to God and trust that he will take care of things much better than we can.
If you find that you are trying to control your family and cannot seem to relax, perhaps its time to come in and see one of us. It can help to work through what is really bothering you when it comes to control.
We are here to help you sort it out.
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