The longer your kids are at sleep-away camp – and with more time for yourself – are you developing a different perspective? Not having to orchestrate their daily activities or worry about their self esteem, you may be realizing that your protective instincts keep you on edge.
Time apart can help you re-evaluate your role as mother. And when the kids come home, you may be ready to start back on a different footing – perhaps expect them to be more responsible and do their chores without being told. After all, camp is a maturing experience. And although you want to treasure the growing up years, it’s never too early to help your kids build strengths and skills that will lead to independence.
This newfound freedom you’ve discovered, after years of non-stop mothering, may very well have given you a taste of what the empty nest can be. This article from the NBC website, LifeGoesStrong.com, offers tips for soon to be empty nesters – because you, too, need to prepare for greater selfhood.
There was a recent segment on the Today Show about how you can love your children and hate your life. Dr. Gail Saltz discusses how raising perfect children has become a competitive sport, complete with pressure to succeed and guilt about not doing enough. Watch this video. And then commit to nurturing yourself as well as your kids:
Enjoy your family. Bring humor into your daily life and laugh together. Discovering activities that are new to all of you allows each of you to enjoy the process without being critical or competitive. You can laugh at your errors as you learn together.
Use cooperation and compromise. Be flexible in resolving your family issues. Negative feelings are difficult to face head-on, but the rewards can be more honesty and a renewed sense of trust. Resist holding on to resentment – learn to forgive and to apologize for your own mistakes.
Give compliments freely. Sometimes it seems easier to criticize than to praise and acknowledge positive behavior. Adjust your antennae to be more attentive to the actions you want to reinforce. When you are thinking something positive, say it out loud to your partner and children.
Build basic trust and loyalty. If you are devoted to your children and to your marriage, your behavior will reflect this deep commitment. Knowing that you are dedicated to the needs of your family can give you the confidence to pursue your own personal goals out in the world.
Work to create balance. Once you have decided what you want for yourself, let your priorities determine what is realistic. And go for it! Know that you may vacillate between enthusiasm about your new plans and sadness about what you are leaving behind.
Sleep-away camp can be life changing for your children and for you. Embrace it. And as you welcome your children home from camp, be grateful for their wellbeing. July is National Make a Difference for Children Month. Why not celebrate your kids’ homecoming and set an example by giving back as a family to children in need. What could be better for everyone?