Many of the consultants who work at Options have children, ranging from late teens to young adults. In recent months, we have shared the experience of having these kids at home with us for extended stays. We’ve experienced some joys and a few challenges, so we thought we would share the parenting lessons we have learned during this time.
New focus on the family
Katharine: I have loved having everyone at home, with no one rushing off for activities, friends, or work. We have all sat together at the dinner table each night, which has rarely happened over the past few years as practices, work, and school always kept family members away.
Amanda: Having dinner with my whole family of five every night and playing cards or games afterwards was like being away on a holiday. I cherished that time.
Monika: Playing games together after dinner has been a real highlight of each day. This is such an important tradition for us that our kids made us personalized games: ‘Mom’s Trivial Pursuit’ and ‘Dapples to Dapples’ for Mother’s and Father’s Days.
Get involved in what matters to them
Melinda: I think it’s important to join in your child’s hobbies. Since quarantining, I have become an excellent ping pong player, backyard golf chipper, second opinion on whether the sale item is really worth it, and NASCAR driver expert. Join in what your children like to do (don’t just expect them to watch your tv shows), and there are unlimited new skills you can acquire.
Monika: I am attempting to learn a game called Key Forge and happily watching Avatar, as these are things my kids enjoy.
Michelle: An abundance of food and wine, a great cable/internet package, online shopping, and the willingness to try new things have made this period a lot of fun!
Create new traditions
Melinda: We have a new tradition of having a to-go meal on Saturday night. We start the discussion about where to go during breakfast Saturday morning. This has become a fun way to support our local restaurants and entrepreneurs and something we look forward to each week. We also challenge ourselves that this is our only meal-out each week, so we have done more meal planning, sharing of kitchen duties, and improvising in the kitchen (breakfast for dinner, anyone?).
Katharine: Baking! My children tried homemade pasta, bread and pizza plus all sorts of baked goods. COVID-19 is replacing the Freshman 15!
Parenting lesson #1: All that time on computers has its benefits
Amanda: Teens are way more tech-savvy than we give them credit. My UVic daughter had it all dialed in on her virtual platforms for school without any help from anyone.
Melinda: I was surprised how productively my 19-year-old used YouTube. He would find project videos (making a golf hole for the pool or dip-dying cheap runners from Amazon) and follow along. He’s had some successes and some failures, but I, too, have started to use YouTube for creative inspiration.
Parenting lesson #2: patience is priceless
Michelle: Living with a large group of 20-somethings required transitioning from the traditional parent role to that of a good housemate. My way is not the only way. Everyone is doing the best they can and some days are better than others. Overnight our home became a post-secondary institution, board room, home office, nursery, and a 24-hour all-you-can-eat buffet. Having patience and a sense of humor is key.
Monika: If someone has a habit that bothers you, it may be easier to find a work-around than it would be to change their essential character. For example, if someone is a bit splashy when they wash the dishes, give thanks that they want to help and spend $17 on a new floor mat.
Amanda: They are who they are. When my two adult boys (25 and 27) moved home, I realized that not much had changed in the years since they were in high school. One boy always needs quiet space, and so he set up an office in his bedroom, with the door closed. The other—who drove me nuts in high school because he’d never turn off the distractions while studying—still works that way. As he sat at the dining room table surrounded by barking dogs and family members making coffee or taking phone calls, the general chaos seemed to suit him just fine.
It’s true that life in the past few months has looked different, but amid all the difficulties and inconveniences, we have experienced some really bright moments, too. What have your parenting experiences been like recently?