Parenting Preparation – Joss Segedin
In 2010 I flew from London to NZ for a holiday with my two year old and my six-month old, without Tim.
I was pretty terrified, before I set off, that all manner of things could go wrong, but I was as prepared as could be. I had talked heaps to Emma (2) about how long the trip would be, exactly what would happen and what she would be able to do. I had heaps of food and activities… and probably most importantly… I was mentally ready. I knew that the more stressed I was, the more worked up the kids would be so I told myself that it didn’t matter. I was determined that even if they both screamed for the whole 37 hours of travel that I wouldn’t get upset. I would never see my fellow travellers again and on the other side I had heaps of family waiting to take the kids off my hands and give me a break. It worked.
The trip turned out to be a fabulous, the girls were angels. It was perhaps the pinnacle of my parenting life.
I think that the success was all about the preparation; the setting of expectations and the clarity over what would happen, but mostly my predetermination to not let tiredness or embarrassment or exasperation determine my reaction.
As we went into lockdown, I looked at these four (or maybe more) weeks like a really long transatlantic flight and I tried to set it up well again. We sat the girls down and talked about what it might be like for the next four weeks, how they would have to get on with one another because we were going to be together for the duration. We talked about what to do if they got irritated or needed some time out. We loosely planned a routine so that they knew what to expect and made a list of things to do if they got bored.
Most importantly I made a decision not to overreact because if (when) I do, it will make things worse not better.
I have to admit my resolution hasn’t always worked and I have gotten very frustrated with Year 9 math (I thought I was smarter than I am) and having to share my office with my husband who keeps commandeering it for video calls. It has sometimes helped to pretend that there is actually someone sitting one row over to see if I breathe deeply before I react. Mostly though I am managing to give out way more positive reinforcement than negative, the kids are doing great and I have needed only the occasional time out.