If you have ever used a GPS, then you know what happens when you take a wrong turn. It lets you know you are going in the wrong direction–some GPSs are more annoying than others– and indicates that it is re-routing to help you find your way to your destination.
It’s a good thing that GPS programs are flexible and can re-route when drivers do not take the path that is laid out for them. I’m thinking that’s a skill that parents need to learn too.
Can you re-route?
Kids have a way of disrupting our “routes” all the time. Sometimes they do it by things that can’t be helped, like an accident, or illness. And sometimes they do it by making stupid choices or by being uncooperative. Admittedly, life often throws huge curve balls at us that take some major adjustment. But it’s the little, everyday stuff that I’m addressing today. The stuff that disrupts our schedule or interrupts our plans.
My 18-year-old daughter did it to me the other day. We had planned to spend the day with her in Orlando, and head for home at 3:30-4:00 so we’d be home early enough to still have some time to relax on our Sunday evening.
But due to circumstances beyond her control–we were waiting for a friend to return home so we could drop our daughter off at her house–we kept pushing out our departure time. I started getting antsy.
My husband, who does a great job at “re-routing,” suggested we go for dinner as we waited for the friend to return home. As we sat in the restaurant, I was able to settle down and I explained that I just needed to adjust my thinking and expectations and I would be okay.
That’s what re-routing is: adjusting expectations, learning to deal with new circumstances without freaking out, being flexible.
How well do you re-route?
How parents can practice the skill of re-routing
Re-routing is a skill that all parents needs to hone. It’s not easy, but with practice, it can be learned. Take these steps to get re-routed next time you are thrown off your “route.”
- Stop and think about what’s really important. When I paused to consider that spending more time with my daughter was more important than getting home on time, it helped me “re-route.”
- Ask yourself, what am I really concerned about here and what’s the worst than could happen? The worse that could have happened to us was that we’d be back later and maybe lose a little sleep. Now that sounds lame, doesn’t it? Facing that fact helped me “re-route.”
- Take a second and ponder, is this really going to matter in a week or a month or even a year? My guess is that most of the stuff that throws us off our route will probably be forgotten very quickly. Why then, should we expend so much energy fretting over it?
- Reflect on what you want your child to take away from the circumstance. What did I want my daughter to take away from our day spent with her? That Mom was in a hurry to get home so she could relax? Or that her parents enjoyed every moment they spent with her before she left on another trip?
We had one GPS that would object at a wrong turn by announcing loudly, “Thinking. Thinking.”
Not a bad idea. Next time your child throws you off your “route,” tell them to give you a minute. You need thinking time to re-route and adjust your plans. Then once you find your new route, you can finish the day much more smoothly.