A letter to my family:
I see the eye rolls. I hear the whispers. I know what you are all thinking. You think I suck the fun out of everything and that I'm not the fun parent.
Here's the thing. I actually want you to have fun. I want you to enjoy life and I want you to have happy memories from your childhood. I really don't try to suck the fun out of everything.
When we were all at the museum and I said it was almost time to go, it wasn't because I wanted you to stop having fun. It's because I can see a meltdown coming a mile away and I try to avoid them. I know you don't like the feeling of a meltdown just as much as I don't like it when you are that tired, hungry and done with whatever we're doing.
When I said it was an electronics free zone, it's not because I don't want you to enjoy your apps, books and games on your device, it's because I want to see your face, not just the top of your head. It's because I want you involved in the time with the family and because I enjoy your company.
When you said you were full after 4 bites and I pushed you for more, it's not because I don't believe you. It's because I know you haven't even had a snack in 3 hours and you've been running up and down the stairs getting more toys and games to play and there's no way you're not hungry. I also know you saw the dessert on the table and you may be looking forward to that more than you are dinner. I want you to eat the dessert, I just want your dinner to be balanced.
When I've created a general plan for the day, it's not because I want to control everything, it's because I know there's a lot that everyone wants to get done and there's only so much time in the day. I'm very happy to give this role up to anyone who wants to take it. I'll gladly give the list of things that absolutely need to get done (like baths, making dinner, making lunches for the next day and all the fun things) and let someone else figure it out.
I actually want to get all the fun times in which is why you find me unable to fall asleep while I mentally run through the remaining list and try to figure out ways to get the rest done.
Because I do want us to have fun, we may never have all the clothes washed, folded and put away again. We may never have a crumb-free carpet or floor. We may never have all the dishes done, but we will have memories.
I just hope the memories are of the happy times....
Karen Becker is a Family Coach who has spent years working with couples, one-on-one and in groups, as they transition from parenting together in a relationship to co-parenting. Her own experiences as a co-parent have helped build curriculum, communication techniques and worksheets that help clients take the negative emotion out of their relationship and put the focus on the children. She has helped many rebuild their lives after a divorce or separation whether children were involved or not. She has a Master's Degree in Counseling and applies these skills when coaching clients.