Don’t call me the fun police, but I’m putting a cap on the number of post-lockdown get-togethers

Like parents across the country, I am excited that my children will be able to go back to school next month. And now that her grandparents and extended family are getting vaccinated, we can start making plans to spend time with our loved ones again.

But with conversations about summer get-togethers and family barbecues, I’m already worried about how quickly our kids will adapt.

Personally, I can’t wait to sip a glass of Prosecco in someone else’s garden, but my sons, William and James, are seven and five, and are prime candidates for becoming overtired and overwhelmed very quickly.

I know I sound like a total party mum, but I want to limit the number of family gatherings we’re expected to attend once we’ve gotten used to doing nothing but taking long walks and arguing about screen time.

dr Angharad Rudkin, clinical psychologist and author of Find Your Girl Squad, says it’s up to parents to set the boundaries: “We definitely need to be gatekeepers to our children as we go back to a more normal life. We’ve all softened up a bit during lockdown and it will take time to build up our resilience and energy. We have to keep our expectations and our plans small for the time being.”

My sons—like the rest of the country’s children—have had limited exposure to sports, play dates, and after-school fun, so throwing them back into a social maelstrom feels like a recipe for tears and tantrums.

The most exciting thing we’ve done lately was visit the National Trust and order a pizza.

Before your fall calendar is filled with birthday parties, meet-ups and reunions, according to Dr. Rudkin is a good place to start limiting expectations of others: “Being the gatekeeper means deflecting any questions or demands of your children from others in a compassionate and clear way.

“Let family members know that there is no hierarchy of love, but there are some precautions your child will find easier to start with than others.”

Last March, my then four-year-old struggled with how quickly his life and routine came to a halt when his kindergarten year was cut short. For a month there were tears every day.

Now, with a year of school under his belt, he’s a happy little boy and I don’t want to overwhelm him or exhaust him when the time comes – hopefully in June – to start mixing again.

I can’t be the only mom concerned about this, after all it’s parents who have to deal with the consequences of having emotional children when a large gathering becomes too much.

according to dr Rudkin, it’s not just kids who are at risk of feeling tired and emotional: “I don’t think it’s just the kids who get tired initially when they’re socializing. For the benefit of everyone involved, we have to keep the plans conservative.

“Start with short meetings with one or two others, and then build from there. We all experience more anxiety in unfamiliar environments, so try to keep things predictable, such as: B. Meeting in a place your child is familiar with.”

With their recent experiences reaching no further than the end of the garden, children could struggle to come to terms with the grandparents they haven’t actually seen in a year once restrictions are lifted. Normally I’d jump at the chance of the kids staying at Grandma’s, but since we’ve barely been apart since last March, do we have to deal with some separation anxiety – on both sides?

dr Rudkin says a night apart after such a long time will feel very strange – for both parent and child: “We’ve all become so accustomed to our restricted little world that anything else will feel outside of our comfort zone.

“Be sensitive and keep visits short. If there is a sleepover, empower your child with lots of courageous conversation (say, ‘I know it will feel different not sleeping in your own bed, but I know how brave you are’), give Give them a transitional item and make sure you keep your pickup time.”

There are also discussions about life after June. After being cooped up in our homes for so long, does it make sense to restart a relentless schedule of sports, dance, music and theater for our children?

dr Rudkin agrees this is an opportunity for parents to review how many hobbies and clubs we are enrolling with our children.

“Many families I spoke to feel more connected to their children. Rather than going straight back to pre-lockdown life, talk to your child and family members about what they really want to go back to and what they would like to leave. Maybe set aside 2-3 evenings a week for family meals and live less hectic.”

With any luck, we’ll be on our way back to a life that leaves plenty of time for parties and playdates. Rather than blasting it full force before the whole family is really ready, why not enjoy getting back into society bit by bit. Don’t call me the fun police, but I’m putting a cap on the number of post-lockdown get-togethers

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