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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The End of Break is Near

The holidays are over and you have finally put away all the decorations and eaten the last remaining holiday cookies in the house.  The kids have used up their gift cards and are already thinking about returning to college.  Do you feel that empty nest loneliness coming on?  If so, you're not alone!  Well, I am hear to tell you that now is not the time to pout about the upcoming transition.  This is not something you can control.  What you can do is make a plan and try to stick to it. 

Your plan should include at least three out of five ideas listed below:
  • Pick a time to give your son and daughter some of that parental wisdom of yours.  
          They have been home for a few weeks and you have probably noticed some bad habits, like not flossing everyday or washing their dark and white clothing items together in hot water, and you want to help them with some worthy advise.  Just be careful not to sound too "preachy" or go on too long. I like to start off the conversation with "remember to..." as if they really knew not to throw their cashmere sweater on the floor and just had a lapse in judgment.  Instead of saying, you need to get those thank you notes out......try saying, "Your Grandmother gets such a big kick out of your notes to her, let's get them done today, OK?"  No ones likes to be lectured to, but we all can use gentle reminders of how to be nice and considerate of others.

          In years past, I did not take the time to point out certain topics with my children before they left for school and I felt I hadn't given them all I should have.  And it's hard to give parental suggestions in a text message!

  • Pick another time to tell them how enjoyable it's been to see them.  Of course, in between the laptop, their cell phones, their friends, their jobs and their sleeping habits, the exact amount of time you actually SAW them might have been minimal, but admit enjoyed having them around the house.  Telling them makes everyone feel good.  

  • Plan when you will see each other next.
          For some families, this is the next this case, spring break.  In our household, every time is different.  Maybe you are thinking that they will be home for spring break, when in reality, they have plans to go to Mexico or Florida with their friends.  Knowing ahead of time will cause less stress and emotional upheaval for you in the future.

  • Make an Appointment to Review Finances with your Children.
          No matter what kind of arrangement you have with expenses and money set-up, it is always good to offer guidance in this area.  Be sure to set aside individual time with each child, because they all are different in their approach to money.  One of your kids will have blown all the money he has received from generous family members this past Christmas, while the other still has his unused gift cards from last Christmas!  I find it best to sit in front of the computer and use tools such as Microsoft Money and homemade Excel spreadsheets while talking.  The evidence is on the screen!  Let's face it, most adults in this country could use this simple advise.  Our nation maybe wouldn't be in such trouble if we all did a monthly sit down to discuss our financial situations!  

  • Finally, ask how you can help them or be of any assistance.
          I have always been surprised when I ask them this question.  Once, one of my kids said they wanted to know how to shine their shoes.  One wanted to know how I make "those omelets" .  This year, one has asked me to help her find an inexpensive place for her to visit for spring break.  You will have completely different questions from your children, so try not to anticipate what they will ask.  Just enjoy knowing that you have had effect on your kids in surprising ways.

Before you know it, they will be hugging you good-bye and saying, "see you soon".  This year, you will feel better knowing that you have prepared them adequately for what lies ahead.  And you can sleep easier in your empty nest home, knowing that you stuck to the plan!
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