Do you find yourself loosing energy trying to create/find a good rhythm in your homeschool or family life? Do you feel annoyed when you finally find one, only to have it thwarted by a move, a visit from the grandparents, or even your spouse?
Let’s face it, rhythms can be tricky to find yet they are the ingredient that keeps the chaos at bay and the glue that holds us and our kids together.
If you have an ADHD kid, you probably know how vital a good rhythm is. You have probably also experienced the fragility of said routine, seeing it dissolve with a well intentioned yet disruptive visit from the Grandparents.
This week, my in-laws are delighting us with their company in our space. Actually, we are in their house (we’ve been here all summer) and will be transitioning out soon as they transition in—more change and uncertainty!—but that’s a story for another time.
Regardless of your circumstances, here are my best tips for keeping sane and (somewhat) grounded when the grandparents delight you with their presence.
How to keep your homeschool rhythm (or just your sanity) when grandparents come to visit
Set your expectations
What is the purpose of the visit? Are you taking a break to hang out and visit or is it “business as usual?”
Some of the biggest breakdowns over the years have happened when I wasn’t clear and figured we could just be flexible—doing social activities when they came up and simply squeeze in the “school” work during the down time. In reality, what happens is, the grandparents constantly interrupt those moments of “squeezing stuff in” (no fault of theirs) and my son gets wound up with the lack of clarity and rhythm, bouncing off the walls and getting annoyed when I ask for his help because, “nothing else is the same” so why should he have to do any of our usual expectations.
Discuss your expectation ahead of time
Make sure you discuss your expectations ahead of time, not only with the visitors, but also your spouse or partner, if they are involved. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve ended up in situations where my husband and I are arguing and WE are the ones making the visit difficult because of misaligned expectations.
Also, if the visit is “business as usual” and not a complete break, make sure you clearly communicate with the grandparents when you will and won’t be available and whether they can be a part of your rhythm or whether the time with the happens outside of certain hours.
Discuss The Expectations With Your Kid(s)
If needed, let your kids know what to expect. With my ADHD son, it’s super important that I prepare him for the upcoming visit. I remind him that things might be a little different with the grandparents in the house and he will still need to listen to and acknowledge me and the regular expectations stills apply. We talk about being flexible without becoming too silly or out of control.
Understand it may take a few days
If the grandparent’s are staying for a week or more (or you’re visiting them), understand that it may take a few days (or more) to reclaim your rhythm. In this recent visit, my son spent the long weekend with the grandparents with no set rhythm. It was hard and he was at full, high-speed energy the entire time. By Tuesday, when I sat him down, I could tell he was ready for more structure, that he was almost craving our “normal” rhythm. There seems to be more times this week when he is pushing back on things but as soon as I remind him that “this is what we are doing now”, he settles down.
Having a few days to get the excitement and change of routine out of his system is often necessary for him. If I don’t give him this time, we inevitably spend more time arguing and living in chaos and embarrassment during the visit.
Don’t be afraid to stand up for your values
It seems to me that, without fail, my son becomes almost a different person in larger groups or with visitors around. He becomes meaner, sometimes snapping at me (or others), or refuses to acknowledge my presence. This of course leaves me with a hard choice. Do I let it go (especially if the rudeness is directed solely at me) or, do I pull him aside to discipline him, no matter how embarrassing it may be with others around?
My conclusion: Be willing to let a few things slide so you aren’t that mom but also hold your ground when it comes to family values and rules. Don’t let your kids establish the rules, ignore you, become mean and rude, or not have to do their regular expectations due to your discomfort in front of others.
It’s often tough for me to keep my ground and step up, especially when others say “it doesn’t matter” and “he’s fine and not bothering us”. But, in the long run, it’s tougher letting a week of “I don’t have to listen to you, you can’t make me” go by. With each visit, I’m learning how to speak up when needed—when my son needs a firm reality check or when my values are being questioned and “threatened” by visiting adults.
Remember, it’s not permanent (unless it is)
When all else fails and the rhythm is so far gone you find it hard to keep your head on straight, take a deep breath and remember: It’s not permanent!
Unless you are entering a co-living situation, rest assured, your old routine will submerge once the visit ends. And, if you ARE entering a period of co-living, rest assured, given about 2 weeks, you will find a new rhythm that works well enough for this new season of life.
From one mom to another, I wish you all the best and hope you have a wonderful time with your family, should you be fortunate enough for your paths to cross this holiday season.
What has been your biggest challenge/stressor when family comes to visit? How have you minimized the stress over the years? Drop me a comment below. I’d love to learn new tips and tricks!