That being said, I do need to meet my work responsibilities, and my kids are old enough to understand and respect my need to work with fewer interruptions. It’s reasonable to ask them to show more restraint during morning office hours. So, the solution to this hot spot should involve compromise — more connection from me, and more restraint from them.
Step 3 to Moving Beyond Just Surviving Summer: Tweak the Routine
I’ve been buying men’s sneakers since I was a teenager. My large feet make it impossible to find decent women’s shoes without custom ordering, so when I find a pair of men’s sneakers that fit well and aren’t overly masculine, I’ll buy more than one pair at a time. But even though the pairs are virtually identical, it’s common for some shoes to rub in places others don’t.
My point is, don’t underestimate the power of small differences. If you’re feeling hot spots in your summer routine, that doesn’t mean your whole schedule has to change. Try a minor course correction. Experiment for a few days, and don’t be afraid to keep pivoting.
This is something I’m trying to do better. I’m generally an all-or-nothing person, so it’s easier to throw out a plan and start from scratch than try to make small changes. But this week I’ve taken my own advice, and it’s already helping SO MUCH.
Here are two small ways I’ve tweaked our routine.
Have a morning check-in.
My kids have been getting up at different times, mostly after I’ve begun working. Because they’re all independent enough to get breakfast and read their chore list (moms of littles, this will be a thing one day, I promise), it’s easy for our first real interaction of the day to be me emerging from my office to break up a sibling squabble. Not great for connection.
This week I’ve tried taking a short break when each of them wakes up. I say good morning, chat for a couple [of] minutes, and remind them that I’ll be working until 11 and need to concentrate. I’m tackling small activities in that first hour of work and saving deeper projects for later, knowing I’ll need to step away several times during the kids’ wake-up time. It’s not ideal for productivity, but those few moments of connection seem to be helping all of us.
Look them in the eye.
Inevitably, I will be interrupted. Hopefully less than before, but it will happen. This is part of being a mom. I don’t want it to be something I resent, nor do I want my kids to feel unseen or unwelcome.
When they come into my office, I’m trying to give them my full attention. Fingers off the keyboard, my eyes on their eyes, ears open to what they need or want. This doesn’t mean I’m inviting them to hang out and chat to their hearts’ content. I’m still frequently reminding them that I need to get back to work. But I’m listening first and responding to them instead of dismissing them.
Am I still getting frustrated? Of course, sometimes. But not as much, partly because looking for the root of the hot spot acted as a heart check, and partly because my kids are interrupting me less. They’re also squabbling less and focusing on constructive pursuits more. It’s amazing what a little intentional connection can do.
If you and your kids are experiencing hot spots this summer, I hope this exercise helps you identify some practical steps you can take to soothe the friction. I would absolutely love to hear what that looks like for you.
Where are your hot spots? What are you discovering about their roots? And how are you tweaking your routine to lessen the friction?
This article originally appeared here, published with permission.