Raising your children this past year and a half has had it’s share of ups and downs, to put it mildly. Both of your worlds were flipped when schooling became home-bound, and you became the teacher. This process alone can be a huge transition for anybody, let alone when the decision is made quickly and not by you or your child. All this happening in addition to a national pandemic and limited interactions with friends and family made this a troubling time for many. With most school districts opening again for Fall 2021, this is the chance for many children to return to normalcy. But what about their balance of school and relationships? How can we help them find a better balance this year while keeping them safe and focused on the bigger picture?
Many kids have had limited contact with their friends and fellow students for a while now, and they may be eager to spend more time with them this school year than homework. It’s completely understandable that most children are going to be reluctant and maybe a little petulant about doing additional schoolwork or even their regular work load of studies. They may have felt a lot of pressure last year in schooling at home or are feeling more isolated during the pandemic. And through this, they may not be very interested in their studies and want to spend more time with friends and relax. And while it’s good for them to get back into more social situations and activities, you also don’t want them to lose focus on their schoolwork and learning. It may be time to set a new guideline for their Internet and device usage, and remember that it may require adjusting throughout the school year.
Give & Get
You will want to ensure that your children are being heard throughout the entire school year on how much is too much, and when to set boundaries on certain activities. It’s up to each individual parent to determine how much extra time their kids can interact with friends, whether it’s in-person or through their devices. It may be beneficial for both of you to extend the time initially, in order for your children to feel more grounded and connected with each other. That being said, they may try extending and deliberately going over their allotted time at first. Although you may want to ease up on them at first, simply making sure your basic guidelines are fair will do the trick. If you give them an extra hour one day, they will keep asking and trying to get that every day. But if you already set fair parameters the first time around, it will be easier denying them that extra hour at first, and any time in the future. Having regular conversations with your kids about how they’re adjusting and learning can also help you. If it seems like they may be getting stressed or feeling lonely, it may be time to reassess the allotted “fun” time they have and make sure there is that balance.
Looking Into the Future
One day, the curfews and timeframes for activities won’t matter, as your children grow and create these boundaries themselves. It’s important that as they age, you talk with them and help them understand the Why behind the rules, and how they can continue setting limits on their own. Easing up here and there on time limits can help, as well as deciding when your kids can start taking the responsibilities upon themselves. This can help them see how their own decisions have consequences and how they can blend their schedules seamlessly.