Parenting is hard, and fibro parenting is hard and tricky. As I continue to explore the topic of fibro parenting, here is an article from the October edition of The Fibromyalgia Magazine. This article is about why your kids’ friends need boundaries, and how to set those boundaries effectively.#FibroParenting: Why your kids' friends need boundaries and how to do it. #fibromyalgia Click To Tweet
Being The House for your kids’ friends
Our house is the house to be at for our kids’ friends. No matter the weather, each of our four kids usually has one friend over to play at any given time. With kids ranging from four and up, the levels of volume vary. This leaves me anxious, overwhelmed, and exhausted without doing much at all.
I love that kids like to in our home, and it speaks volumes to my husband and me. It means they feel comfortable and secure enough to play here. When the kids are playing within our proximity, we know what they are doing, how they are interacting, what they are listening to, and how they are speaking to one another.
And it’s not just about monitoring their behaviors. It’s a chance to interact with them and their friends. My husband and I play fun board games (like these 5 unique ones) with the boys, and serve as the audience for the girls’ choreographed routines (even if we do see the same dance number ten times). At least twice a month, a dinner for six grows to a dinner for eight or more. Our front door transforms into a revolving door, and the air is full of kid energy.Being the house for your kids' hangout can be stressful. Here's what to do. #FibroParenting Click To Tweet
Not always so quaint
However, it was not always so quaint. Having so many kids around usually resulted in me hiding in my closet or asking my husband to politely kick all the kids outside. It was too much for me. My nerves were shot, I was in a constant flare, and I quickly became irritated. The doorbell ringing made me cringe. Even before opening the door I’d be thinking of excuses to have a ‘no play inside’ day. If I opened the door. It got to the point of having no friends at our house for a while.
Did this make me feel better?
No. It stopped the anxious feelings, flares, and irritability, but those feelings were replaced with guilt, shame, and disappointment. Guilty that my kids couldn’t play where they liked playing. Ashamed of not making others feel welcomed. Disappointment for not being an adult, and addressing the situation better.
Was there a way to remedy those feelings?
Yes, and I wasn’t seeking an alternative. I’ve been living with fibromyalgia for years, and wasn’t experiencing these feelings of anxiousness or shutting down for the first time. There’s usually a few solutions, and I needed to find one.
How could I let my kids’ friends play in our home without being overwhelmed or shutting down?
Establish boundaries and treat them as I treat my kids. Just as I establish boundaries with adults and my kids, I needed to do the same with their friends. Treating other kids as my own kids with the same rules re-enforces those boundaries.
How do I establish those boundaries?
Lay down the rules of your home plain and clear. Simple do’s and don’ts that my kids already follow. The first time a new friend comes over to play, gently (but firmly) tell them the rules. Inform them of any consequences of not following the rules such as they will not be allowed over for a certain period of time.
The rules for ALL kids
The rules for kids playing inside are:
- Keep voice levels down to a quiet talk. I avoid ‘inside’ voice because my oldest daughter’s voice is like another child’s outdoor voice. And when there are eight kids using an ‘inside’ voice, the noise volume quickly rises. (read about sensory overload with fibromyalgia)
- No one is allowed in the kitchen except for water. Be sure the kids know which cups they are allowed to use.
- If you are not allowed to do it in your home, it is not allowed in our home. If there is any doubt of what the kids’ friends can/cannot do, I do not let them do it until I speak with their parents.
- Running and yelling is for outside, not inside.
- Kind words only. No foul language or name calling.
Yes, adults have rules, too
There are rules for adults, too. They are:
- Speak directly to your kids’ friends to get the best response. Talking to their friends through your kids (tell your kid to tell their friend), will be ineffective.
- Once boundaries are established, be sure to give gentle reminders when they visit. A greeting followed with a simple statement of ‘remember the house rules, please’ will suffice.
- Be clear of the consequences. And stick to it.
- Model the rules for the kids by setting the best example.
Following these guidelines will make a healthy and safe environment for the kids and you. Living with fibromyalgia means knowing your limits, and respecting those boundaries. It will lessen flares in symptoms, and keeping the role as parent as enjoyable as possible.
*Fibro Parenting is a term I coined as a way to say parenting with fibromyalgia. Read more here.