smiling-womenIt’s almost that time of year.

Summer.

Visions of s’mores, fireflies, and pajama parties dance through my head as I recall, with great fondness, a time when my kids were younger and our lives were filled with order and routine (for the most part). Breakfast. Play. Lunch. Play. Dinner. Play. Bath. Bed. Lights out by 9pm. I set the rhythm… the smooth easy cadence that kept us sane in the midst of the unpredictable chaos that comes with children who are in the midst of growing, discovering and testing.  We would have been lost, disoriented and distressed without those easily defined boundaries, which centered around our physical rhythms of eating and sleeping.

People often say, “it goes too fast,” and it’s true. Those lazy days of summer seem like a lifetime ago. Especially now that next week, my oldest daughter, just completing her sophomore year at college, will be home again, ready to settle back into the nest that brought her this far, so that she can re-charge and renew herself for life ahead.

While days of slip and slides and her little voice yelling, “Mommy, the ice cream truck is here,” are a distant memory, I am thrilled at the chance of having her home again, for what could be her last stay back in the nest. I’m already imaging what it will be like – we will fall into our old routines: ordering pizza and making chocolate chip cookies together; sharing funny stories, nail polish, and clothes; having movie nights when we’ll snuggle together on the couch until we will collapse, in laughter, into a deep slumber.

Oh, wait. Wrong story. That is the fictional version.

Here is the real version:

She will come home, give everyone a hug, dump everything from her dorm room all over the house, call her high school friends and meet up with them – probably within four hours of her arrival. At around 2am, she will roll in, throw a frozen pizza in the oven, and leave her dishes on the counter, along with the pizza box and chunks of tomatoes and hardened cheese, for someone else to clean. She will then come upstairs, turn on all the lights, play her music loudly and stay up for another hour or so texting, snap chatting and whatever the heck else she does. Morning time will roll around. Lunch time will roll around. And, maybe, just maybe, she will appear in the kitchen around 1:00 in the afternoon and ask me what there is to eat.

This will go on for about 72 hours until, at which time, I lose my shit. We start arguing and she and I both start counting down the days until she goes back to college.

What happened to the good old days of snow cones and swim lessons?

If you’re like many parents, experiencing the eye-rolling, back-talking, newly-independent child who is trying to make his/her own way in the world syndrome, you know it’s not always easy – or fun.

But, what if there was a way to cohabitate–and collaberate –with your precious little offspring so that everyone can enjoy the time together?

There is.

Although sometimes seemingly unimaginable, it is possible to adjust to the changes summer (and life) brings around.

Whether you have a semi-adult coming home from college, a socialite from middle school who wants to make yours “the hang-out destination” or a teenager who wants to sleep until 3 o’clock in the afternoon, you’re going to need some help to protect you.

If you struggle with how to set boundaries with your kids (or anyone else in your life), join me in my upcoming workshop, The Boundary Brigade.

This summer you can have your cake and eat it too. I’ll show you how to do it with icing on top – without the backlash of extra calories; the kind that you regret, and takes forever to undo.

Author: Lisa Panos