How are the family dynamics working in your house now the college kids are home?
March 5, I went to California to give a workshop in LA, and we all touched elbows in greeting and left the workshop giving hugs. Next, I went to Sonoma for a five-day leadership retreat where we all hugged hello and weren't that worried about passing Covid 19 around. Things changed dramatically while I was isolated on a secluded ranch in Sonoma! My flight was canceled and rescheduled to fly through Philadelphia instead of LA, and I was on a plane large enough we all had our own row to sit in. I called my 22-year-old daughter to ask if she would pick me up in Boston, which she very willingly did, but informed me I was taking her away from her plans of drinking and playing pool at a local bar. In my head, I was screaming "why would you go to a bar and expose yourself like that" I actually said great and thanks!
Day one home and I went to Market Basket to load up on groceries, (Yes I know I just got back from California and needed to self-isolate, but I wore a ski mask and gloves.) At home, I wiped down all surfaces, and things we touch a lot in the kitchen, bathrooms, and hallways. Light switches and cabinet drawer pulls etc. My son told me I will have to do that every day to make it effective. It then occurred to me I had seriously stepped back in time and was once again serving the family.
Day two home, my college son learns school is closed for the remainder of the semester and has to co-ordinate picking up the rest of his stuff and needs the larger family car. Not a big deal, just a pain because he was just there to pick up his stuff for an extended week at home, and now has to expose himself again! My 22-year-old daughter claims the mushrooms in the fridge are hers and I cannot touch them! Woah! I was ready to snap at her and instead said that makes me feel defensive and I know you didn't mean to offend me. She agrees and later that day she admits that the new family dynamic in the house with five is upsetting her, and it makes me realize we need to sit down and have a family meeting.
The family dynamic is different when your adult kids are living in the space than it was before they left for college. It hard to enforce rules. This is a great time to have a family conversation and design some basic guidelines for how to all live together.
First, think about what you need from them so you don't revert into the caretaker of all. I need them to clean up after they have made a meal, including dishes in the dishwasher, drainboard empty, and counters wiped down. I need shoes in the front hall put away. I need the trash to be put out when it's full and the dishwasher emptied when it's clean. You get it... Now think of what you are willing to do for your family. I am willing to go to the grocery store, I am not willing to cook for them unless they join me for dinner at the dining table. I am willing to overlook the state they keep their rooms as long as their mess does not extend beyond their bedroom door.
Next, get your partner, if you have one, to do the same. Now have the family meeting and tell the kids what you need from them, and ask them what they need from you and each other to all live together and get along. I imagine my daughter would say, don't eat my mushrooms. My response would be to ask permission before eating them and promise to replace them.
It's important to remember you are speaking to young adults. To help me keep this in mind I refer to Transactional Analysis (follow the link to learn more)
My bimonthly Parent 2.0 social had to be canceled, and I have rescheduled it to be on Zoom at 5 pm today. This has opened up a new possibility for me to host a larger group, and I will reach out to those of you who can join online from wherever you are in the world!
Stay healthy and sane in these trying times, and reach out to me if you need more coaching around parenting your twenty something kids!
Peace, love, and magic -Avery