“Go play upstairs.”
Have you said any of these statements to your children? If we are really honest with ourselves, I bet we ALL have. If you are a working parent and you work all day (especially if it’s a physically intensive job), sometimes you really just want to be able to sit down and relax in peace and quiet when you get home. But again, if you are a parent “Peace and Quiet” can often elude you. Or at least it does for me with the exception of the late hours of the night or early hours of the morning, hence when I’m getting my writing and work done.
Granted, I get that sometimes those toys that Grandma gave them for presents are WAY too loud to have in the “common area” of the living room while the news is on, etc. But if those phrases have become the sound of a broken record at your home, it maybe you’re communicating, “get away from me.”
Wow. “Get away from me” sounds harsh doesn’t it? And you likely don’t mean it to sound that way, but if you’re continually telling your kids to “go” somewhere away from you, then how else would you interpret it? Think about it.
If your kids attend school in a public or private setting, then they are likely attending for a 7-hour school day. Out of those 7 hours, my kids get a 20-30 minute lunch break, and 20 minutes for recess. If the weather is cold, rainy or whatever, then they have “indoor” recess which consists of playing computer games or possibly something constructive like legos. While the kids may have a “brain-break”, it does NOT allow all of that pent up energy to get out.
Now compare that to your day. If you have a physical job, you are moving for the better part of the day. If you have an office job, you are still likely to be up and down walking to the copier, walking to a meeting, etc. You are also talking… on the phone, to your colleague, or to your client. You likely get TWO 15 minute breaks and either a 30 minute or a 1 hour lunch break. That is already MORE than my kids get at their school. And this isn’t even including the occasional chit-chat at the water cooler about last night’s game or episode of the latest popular TV Show.
While I commute home, I could be talking on my phone or listening and singing to music. If I carpooled, I would certainly be talking to my travel-mate. My kids have told me they can’t even talk on their afternoon bus ride!
So when you compare, kids who attend school outside the home are really limited in ways to “burn off steam”, to get physical exercise, to talk to their friends and just play. And that leaves them with LOTS of stuff to talk about in addition to ALL that energy to expend when they get home! So while they may ACT like someone just fed them a full cup of PURE sugar, it’s really just natural for them to want to talk, giggle, get loud, jump, play and wrestle…. and yes, sadly, NOT give you the peace and quiet you may feel you deserve after a day’s work.
I’ve been there. There are days when I come home that I just want to curl up in a corner all by myself. But if I retreat like that all of the time, I would be missing out on THEIR lives. And what kind of parenting is that? There’s no relationship there. If there’s no relationship, then there’s no communication. If there’s no communication, then there’s a very weak relationship if at all. You won’t know their dreams or their goals. You won’t know who their friends are at school or if they are being picked on by mean kids or bullied.
In today’s world, it’s important for parents to be involved. If you aren’t filling that role in their lives, they will find something or someone else to fill it. Find another way to find balance. Put your own needs second.
You DO need time for yourself. You DO need time to recharge your batteries, but you need to BALANCE that with their needs.
Let kids be kids for the first hour or two you are all home together. Let them expend that pent up energy and by dinner time, graduate them into a time of settling down to dinner around the dinner table. Get into a good bed-time routine: quieter time after dinner while everyone enjoys a TV show or game and then gets their baths/showers and then PJs, teeth-brushing and ready for bed. But above all, try not to make a habit of telling them to “go” elsewhere. Balance that with time in which you INVITE conversation. Trust me, conversations about MineCraft and Pokemon are a bit mind-numbing. But it IS what some are interested in. At least try to be interested, we ask them to TRY things all the time, so why not be an example and TRY listening about the things that interest them? And maybe next time, they’ll actually LISTEN to you?