Some Parents Might Need a “Time Out” This Summer
By Emily Boatner
We’ve been home with our children for a while now. It has been a blessing in so many ways. We made some precious memories, didn’t we? We did crafts, completed house projects, went on thousands of walks and bike rides. Good stuff. We all agree though that being with our children 100% of the time for extended periods of time is exhausting. Right? Now there’s summer ahead – a rather unusual summer, too – with no VBS or summer camps. We’re on our own, parents. If we find ourselves in a constant state of emotional turmoil with our children, we may need a “time-out.”
Being a parent isn’t all about rules and regulations; parents should contemplate reasons behind their lists of limitations. Is Mom saying “no” because she is tired and simply doesn’t feel like doing whatever her child is asking, or is she saying “no” for a specific reason?
Michael Pearl, author of Training Children to be Strong in Spirit, says it this way: “A tough trail can be endured for the reward that lies at the end of it. Children are more full of life than are we. They are romantic and expect great things. If we do not provide an obvious avenue to the fulfilling of their vision for the future, they will jump ship on us, leaving the home prematurely in anger.” Here are a few tips to aid parents during difficult days.
If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em. On those extremely hot or maybe rainy days, Mom and Dad can have fun by doing those activities children enjoy. Remove the couch cushions and use blankets to make a tent in the living room or underneath a table. Consider a camp-out in front of the fireplace. Another advantage of long hours indoors? The opportunity to pass down a love for reading, sewing, crafts, or puzzles. Take note that children will not likely remember how those cookies looked or if the seam was straight, or recall imperfections within her painting. Quality time with parents is what children crave, not the details Mom or Dad spend a lifetime stressing over.
Be a little fun and silly. Do something spontaneous, like turning on the timer while the kids jump on the bed. Yes, this is usually a “no-no,” but kids are only kids once, right? This brings to mind another activity that parents often find themselves dreading. Instead of avoiding the rain, put away those troublesome umbrellas to jump through a few puddles.
Put Away the Precious “Unbreakables.” What about during those fun-in-the-sun days outdoors? For generations, children have been tracking in mud and dirt coupled with bugs and germs. One day, when gray hair and wrinkles have come to stay, the thought of dirty handprints and muddy floors will tug at those aged heartstrings. If the area around your house in no way resembles a yard due to lack of grass, drag out the water hose and make use of that sad spot. Make it a happy place by creating a mud hole for the kids to spend hours in. And if your house is filled with priceless belongings that bring about nail-biting every time the children wander within ten feet of them, put them away.
Take it Outside. On the days moms and dads with older children need a break, visit the park. If you worry that the same hands now being used to eat ice cream have only seconds before held a few grasshoppers or touched a germy swing set, remember that our bodies were mindfully engineered to fight off infections. Instead of spending an otherwise enjoyable time fighting off a panic attack, put a touch of Germ-X on those Dennis-the-Menace hands and move along.
Children love to explore, build things, climb, and pretend. Don’t rob them of those innate desires to enjoy life. Learn from their positive attitudes. Obviously, rules are needed; however, a life full of limitations has the potential to do more harm than good. Consider reasons for saying “no” before putting that word into action.
Emily Boatner lives in Tupelo, MS, with her husband and two young sons. Emily spends her time homeschooling and participating in church and community activities.