Working parents have two jobs the one away from home and the one at home. Depending on how old your kids were when you started working, they may or may not be adjusted to your absence. How you enter the house when everyone is home matters a great deal to your kids. They want to know you are glad to see them and are available to meet their immediate needs. Immediate means just that to most kids at all ages, but you probably feel like you need a break between your two jobs.
It’s a good idea before you step in the house to take a short walk or sit in your car just to adjust yourself to being at home. Then you won’t walk in to your home in a flurry feeling overwhelmed by whatever talk or mess you encounter. Find that ten to twenty minutes for yourself before anyone even knows you’ve arrived!
Tips on Greeting Your Kids
1. Give everyone hugs who want them and don’t try and start dinner or any clean ups. Just listen to them as they barrage you with what ever is on their minds. Staying calm and available is what they need the most in the first few minutes.
2. Then, prioritize who needs what when and create an evening schedule so everyone feels heard and included.
3. You may not even have a chance to take off your coat before someone needs a ride to the store or a friend’s house. Expecting this kind of immediate pressure helps you feel prepared, so you don’t come across in a negative stressed way. You want your kids to feel you are glad to see them.
4. After everyone feels heard or seen (some may be in their rooms and not even budge when you open the door), then if you make dinner, begin slowly not frantically because the kids will interrupt you anyway!
5. If you’ve been a working parent for a long time, you probably have a routine for meals and homework. If not, it’s never too late. On a quiet weekend take an hour with everyone to make such a plan, so no one feels overwhelmed when you first arrive home.
6. Dinner may be everyone sitting together or schedules may make it more helter skelter as kids go to activities after school and evenings. Either way is fine but make sure you get a dinner for yourself, too, so your energy is renewed.
7. Don’t forget your partner if you’re not a single parent. Include him or her in your first greetings making sure they feel wanted, too.
The reason to think ahead like this is because the key to balancing working away from home and then at home as well is building relationships with each family member. Depending on the size of your family, make sure you have a one on one conversation at least twice a week with each person, so you know what’s going on in their lives and in their minds. Once such enduring connections are permanent, then things flow even through crises and upsets.
Your most important job at home is to be a good listener even though it may feel like your job is more about scheduling and chores. Feeling heard is what every child and teen wants from you and, by the way, you need to be heard, too! Take the time to tell your kids about your work day; include them in your life that way and you’ll feel how tight your family unit becomes.
Laurie Hollman, Ph.D., is a psychoanalyst and author of the Gold Mom’s Choice Award book, Unlocking Parental Intelligence: Finding Meaning in Your Child’s Behavior found on Amazon and wherever books are sold. Visit her website for more guidance: http://lauriehollmanphd.com.