As parents, the majority of our focus is on our children and their well-being. Or is it? Is this what we convince ourselves as we allow ourselves wine for dealing with our children? Or is this what we say as we rationalize allowing our kids screen time past what we know is the appropriate amount? Is it possible that despite our worries for our children, despite the choices we make to give them a good life (i.e. buy them what they want, send them to the best camps and after school enrichment programs), and family vacations to the best spots in the world that we aren’t actually giving them what they need?
Remember that time in March 2020 when we were forced into isolation with our children? Remember when we were forced to be face-to-face with the products we have created? Remember that time when life slowed down and we were left to our own devices, literally. It has been very eye opening.
For one, my kids have been WAY over-scheduled. I knew it was happening. I didn’t like that I was doing it because my days had turned into a shlep-fest and my pocket book was looking very lean from all the expenses. Yet, I still allowed it to happen. When forced to turn down all the extra noise of our lives, we all (us adults included) retreated to our devices for our reprieve from life. In a time where we should be joining together and lifting each other up, our natural inclination was to find our own separate places. How else am I going to catch up on all the shows everyone on Facebook is talking about?!
After the first couple weeks of quarantine, I came to the startling realization that the direction our family was going in was not productive for anyone – least of all my children. I’ve convinced myself that everything I do, I do for my kids. Is that a lie I’ve been telling myself? Am I scheduling them after school to avoid them being on their screens or to make it easier for me to do work? Am I taking them on elaborate vacations because we need the family time or because I’m not creating that family time in our normal life setting?
Because I never really make anything easy on myself, we had a team meeting and re-established guidelines for our current status. This is including essential family time in our daily routines. It wasn’t received well because we have all grown accustomed to our screen time and independence. Once we reset the baseline, it has elevated our days. Yes, sometimes it includes a show where we all huddle together and laugh about a masked singer’s performance. But sometimes it includes a stuffed animal party or a giant game of hide and seek. And you know what? It’s been fun! What in my normal life was preventing me from enjoying these times with my kids at this amazing age they are at? Why have I convinced myself that we can’t have this important memory building time unless we are at an all-inclusive in Mexico?
For several weeks now, I’ve been rethinking my life. How can I make life as we know it more simple even when we go back to the real world? How can I shift my focus? I always thought everything I did was for them but was it? If we experience something, bad or good, and we don’t learn from it – we have really suffered a tragedy. How can I take these lessons and bring them to life moving forward, especially when old habits are so hard to break. When we re-enter our old lives, can we bring these new lessons with us?