Creative Child

Stay Sane and Create Much-Needed Boundaries with Your Child

by Deborah Song

Sheltering in place has added a deluge of roles for parents, which have blurred boundaries that once preserved sanity. Parents have suddenly been thrust into roles like teacher, therapist and social cohort. Meanwhile, parents still have their own list of responsibilities to fulfill.  So how on earth are we to get anything done?

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Truth is, we still need boundaries. Boundaries don’t have to mean rigid inflexibilities we can’t enforce. And while they certainly won’t have the clean definitions once provided to us by the bolstering walls of schools and the support of coaches, we still need structure in our day to help keep us moving. Here are some tips to help create much needed boundaries and preserve sanity.

1. Create a schedule. Formulating a schedule is a lot like interior designing: pick a focal point like a couch and design around it. A good place to start is by asking your child two to three things he’d like to do that day. Then share three things you want to do that day. Design a loose schedule that incorporates these things as best you can, with the understanding that what doesn’t get attended to will be paid attention to the following day.

Today, my daughters wanted to do a STEM candle project by Kiwico, go on a bike ride, and talk to their friends on Zoom.

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I, in turn, wanted to clean the living room and their playroom (something I would need their help with), work on taxes and exercise.

After they completed their schoolwork, the first thing we did was get some much-needed air and go for a bike ride. I decided to kill two birds with one stone and make the bike ride my exercise as well. I don’t have a bike, but I ran alongside my kids. It wasn’t exactly the peaceful idyllic jog I had in mind, but I was happy enough to get some exercise in.

Then I helped set up their candle STEM project. I did pull up my computer to do some work, but since this was their allotted time, I didn’t mind when they interrupted me to show me their progress or ask me questions. Having the expectation that this was their time, also helped me to be more patient with them. I also chose to focus on a task that didn’t require my full attention. 

Next up, was mommy’s time to work on taxes. The understanding here is that unless it’s an emergency, they need to leave me alone and do things for themselves as best they could, like get their own water. Whatever questions and needs they may have had, needed to wait until my hour was over. A spontaneous fight did break out but having this understanding has kept the incessant demand for mommy in check.

Dinner was followed by a quick Zoom chat, which was followed by an even shorter cleaning session with the help of my kids, which I write more about below.

As you can see, my day didn’t go according to my aspirational hopes. Not even close. My jog wasn’t peaceful. I was interrupted while working on my taxes to play referee. And only half the living room got cleaned with most of the clutter still strewn about. But we made small progress. The kids did their candle project and they got to chat with some friends. We all got exercise. And I made a slight dent in my taxes. Everyone got a piece of the pie. Nobody was left out. Not least of all mommy.

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