Flexibility goes hand-in-hand with parenting. You need to bend so you don’t break. I am “the flexible parent”, meaning that I am the main troubleshooter and schedule wrangler for our family. When all the balls are in the air, I’m usually the one anticipating Plan B if everything hits the floor at once. This fits my personality and my desire to be very hands-on with my children. My husband takes care of a lot of things for our family, but it’s not the same role.
Chances are you are either more or less flexible than the other parent in your family. Both of you made do some give-and-take with the schedule, cooking, and other important tasks around the house. But one of you is probably more comfortable with that role than the other.
No matter who does more flexing, it can be challenging task. You have to be willing to let go of your agenda a moments notice and switch things up. You may take changes in stride for a while, even feel competant as a first-responder. But if you feel tired, hungry, or have critical things to accomplish, even the most easy-going parent can feel like pulling their hair out.
A few tips for you when you need to perform that schedule miracle, produce a meal out of thin air, or a zero-in on a sick child:
- Make sure you keep your blood sugar steady. Be aware of your general eating patterns and try to keep some sustanence around you. You mind can start tilting sideways before you know it, and a well-placed snack bar can keep your head level for a little longer.
- If you can anticipate times of greater flexibility, try to keep up with your sleep. When you are exhausted, your tolerance for frustration can shrink and you’re more likely to make an emotional issue out of problems.
- If you are not usually the flexible one, you may have to talk yourself up to it in advance. Try to prepare yourself for the adjustment so you have the right attitude from the start. Even a seasoned flex parent (like myself) has to do that at times.
- Here’s a biggie – make limits and delegate if you need to. Yes, I just said you were being flexible, but that does not mean you have to carry the whole world on your shoulders. Can an older child stay home with a younger one for a while? Can one of the kids cook supper tonight? Can the other parent help with the homework questions for the first half hour and then you can take over after basketball practice? Being flexible doesn’t mean being an endless font of energy and knowledge. You have to know where your limits are. Find those and declare them as necessary.
Sometimes it’s fun to be flexible – it kind of feels like you’re in an action movie, slaying lost homework assignments and schedule mishaps along the way. When it’s time, take on the Elasti-Girl or Elasti-Guy persona and have a little fun with it.