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Screen Shot 2020-03-25 at 1.59.25 PMI’m not sure how it started this morning, but as I came into the kitchen, our two teenage daughters were screaming at one another at the top of their lungs. “You took more than your fair share!”, shouted one with clenched jaw and angered face. “Yea?! Well…why can’t you just MIND YOUR OWN business for once?!”, responded the other who then stomped out of the room in a huff. What were they arguing about??? How much scrambled eggs one had put on her plate and whether or not there was enough left for the rest of the family.

So, tell me…how is your family doing?

A week ago, when our eldest daughter suddenly returned home from college, our house went more topsy turvy than normal. We still have a teen daughter living at home…so we’re still used to drifting from one drama to another…but I digress. Our eldest, in her defense, has been on her own for nearly two years, living in college dorms on the west coast of America, and has, more-or-less, been running her life like the emerging adult that she is. Then, last week, her life was completely upended thanks to Coronavira.

Like so many other college students, not only is she having to get used to classes being cancelled or taught online, she’s been quarantined from friends and, almost more importantly, she cannot see her boyfriend. To add insult to injury she, like most others, is being told she can’t go outside unless she’s social distancing, she should keep her bedroom clean and can’t leave stuff all over the house, she should create a schedules for herself and, oh yes, she needs to workout.

Settled into Dorm

Here’s our eldest the day we settled her into her college dorm in America.

If you have a college student who never left home, maybe he or she is used to living with “courtesy” rules, as I like to call them, but I wager a bet that things aren’t going smoothly in your home either. You’re probably finding your young adult is spending way more time then you think is healthy on Netflix or Playstation, staying up late into the evening or sleeping half the day away. Maybe they’ve got pizza boxes up in their bedroom?! My friend, we’re going to have to face the facts, none of us with teens/young adults in our home are going to get through Coronavirus unscathed.

Only five days at home, my oldest daughter was asking if she could p-l-e-a-s-e move out. “I can’t live with you guys…you’re making me crazy!”, she’d say in her more frustrated moments. Said daughter and a group of equally frustrated friends were hoping we parents would all get together and rent them an apartment!!!

My husband, ever the peace keeper, considered, for a split second, that the idea might be a good one. I, on the other hand, just couldn’t see my way past the “entitlement” such a decision would profer. The truth is that many of today’s teens and young adults, have lived a life without much discomfort and this Covid-19 crisis is the first assault to the comfort and freedom.

It took me 24-hours to cool my jets after our eldest daughter lambasted me for trying to set up “house rules”. But, in that 24-hours, I had time to reflect. God didn’t create the universe in a day and we’re not going to teach our teens/young adults that 1) struggles are real and 2) you don’t give up or quit when times are tough. Instead, we find inner reserve, change the things we can change, accept the things we cannot change, and we pivot towards what will work for the greater good.

So, what can we do to help our young adults with the current new normal?

After a day or so, I sat down with our eldest daughter and calmly talked about what was happening for her, us, and the world right now. I asked her to outline what the ideal situation at home would look like. I took notes and we negotiated what feels like a workable solution for her and us. It was good to listen…really listen..to what she had to say. Mostly, she expressed anxiety and asked for compromise. And, in the days since our blowup and chat, things have been better for all of us.

Screen Shot 2020-03-25 at 3.12.24 PM

I’m no expert in parenting nor do I pretend to know how to navigate the return of college-age kids, but here’s some things that are working for us:

  1. Outline the current house rules. Young adults who’ve been away from home or who are more or less used to running their own lives need to know/be reminded how the house operates. In our home, for example, we talked about our need for public spaces to be kept tidy and our daughter talked about her need for us to let her bedroom be whatever it is {messy!!}. The compromise was that both could happen WITHIN REASON. We’d give in to our need for the kitchen, sitting room and dining room to look like something out of an interior magazine…so long as she picked up after herself within an hour or two of being in said spaces. And, we will stop expecting her to make her bed or hang up her clothes every day, BUT she is not allowed to leave food on the carpet {I know…I know!} or have dirty dishes/cups/water bottles in her bedroom for days on end.
  2. Listen to their fears, anxieties, concerns and validate their feelings. As I like to say, “Shrek always says better our than in”. Young adults, like little kids, need to talk…get their feelings out. We need to let our older teens know that it’s ok to talk and cry. We need to acknowledge that “yes” their lives are uncertain right now, but things will get better in time. All kids lack life experience to understand this just yet.
  3. Carve out places for them to study. If the kitchen, for example, is a communal space for eating and conversation, find someplace else in the home that can be used as a quiet study space. A conservatory, unused hallway or guest bedroom, for example, will work in a pinch. If possible, set up a desk (Ikea) and let them have the space they need to study.
  4. In addition to game time, shared workouts, and tv/movie watching together, involve our young adults in watching the news with us. Why? Because if our older kids sit and watch the news with us, it gives them a chance to be informed of the latest happenings in this global pandemic. Knowledge is power. If they hear the same messages we are hearing, they are more likely to understand why “we’re all acting so crazy” {our younger daughter’s comment!}.
  5. Encourage them to use this “gift of time” to do things they’ve talked about/wanted to do or help them find ways to safely help others in the community. I’ve talked with my daughters about doing more cooking and baking, knitting {we’re making prayer shawls}, picking up musical instruments we’ve allowed to gather dust, online scrapbooking, and learning new languages. Hey! You’ve got to find the silver lining in all this…am I right?!
  6. Not get involved in disagreements. My kids argue. They always have. Period. They’re what we call in Ireland “chalk and cheese”. What’s important to them is that we stay out of those arguments…and we don’t pick sides. The compromise for me was that if they start to get loud…I get to say “Girls…take it down a notch.” And that’s what i practiced this morning when the screaming match started about the scrambled eggs. It wasn’t easy but it was kind of nice not to “parent” them through the disagreement. In the end, I was pleased to hear they’d texted one another to apologise.

So, what are you doing in your home to make the transition easier for you and yours? I’d love to know. This is a scary and unknown time. None of us are holding it together all the time. But, you know what, we’re stronger when we work together. Hit me up…let me know what you’re doing that works. Or, if you need to let off some steam, please feel free to do so here. We mums and dads need safe places too.

I’m sending love and prayers for good health and strength to all of you. If you have some free time, drop me a note on this blog or on my Instagram: Inanirishhome.

~ XK

 

 

 

 

 

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