I know I expect my kids to help me take down these Christmas decorations before they go back to school. I also know they have their own plans for these remaining days off.
Have you ever had a boss who always managed to come to you with a huge project when you were right in the middle of something and would want it done “RIGHT NOW?” The worst one for me was a boss who seemed to have no respect for my time or work style. As soon as she’d walk away, I’d grumble, “She didn’t even ask what I already had on my plate or care whether I even have bandwidth for this!”
If she would’ve asked in advance, I would’ve planned differently, re-prioritized my tasks, and (most importantly) been in a positive headspace to produce my best work.
I sat the kids down last night and asked them to help me schedule when we’ll take down the decorations. I told them I’ll do my best to work around what they hope to accomplish during the break.
My oldest son (15) explained that he wants to finish his “Watchmen” book and his friends want to meet up on Sunday afternoon. My youngest son (11) wants us all to play his new board game and go to Target to spend his gift cards. Both want to see Star Wars. I explained my work schedule and that I have tickets to see “The Color Purple” onstage at the local theater.
We moved things around on the shared Google calendar and decided as a team that we’d take down the Christmas wall art, trinkets, Nativity scenes today. We’ll take down the garland, tree, and lights on Sunday night. We’ll put it all up into the attic on January 5th when they get back from Dad’s house.
The “undecorating” is officially on the books, and because I didn’t spring it on them and have their buy-in, I expect that the grumbling will be minimal and the work will be swift. I look forward to another chance to thank them for how much they contribute to this family. I’ll also feel much happier about carting them around to complete THEIR errands.
When leading my kids, my goal is to equip them to take ownership of how they schedule their days and manage their responsibilities and leisure time. I want them to understand that this family is a team and that if we work together, the team/family runs smoothly and we ALL get to do more of what we want to do.
When our kids/teens finally DO take ownership of their schedules, if we don’t also make the shift to respecting their plans and their time, we can inadvertently take ownership back. This perceived lack of respect is very disengaging, damages our connection, and can essentially reverse their progress toward independence.