I couldn’t resist using the word of 2020 for this caption. We have all been bracing ourselves for more changes and it’s nearly impossible to keep up. Disappointment is about the only thing I can expect right now. If I could write the next version of Alanis Morrissette’s song Ironic , I lived it yesterday. Like the candy paid for that hung in the metal clip of the vending machine even after lots of banging, yesterday was not adding up in my favor.

The rain and cold didn’t lift. Wilson reminisced the moment of poor parenting and near hypothermia trying to swim to the big rock a few years back. Despite the signs saying wildlife was in the area, we never spotted them after three hours of driving. We didn’t make the hike to our family spot on Jenny Lake for our family photo. The day felt heavy as the clouds hung suspended over us.

We made a fast decision to hit the road for warmer weather and get into a new space. On the way out of Jackson Hole, I ran the rental into a concrete post. Unlucky in every way. Some days it just feels like the universe is against us. Or if I’m being truly honest, I’m not paying attention to the right things.

The effects of Covid-19 certainly hasn’t been any kinder or made our lives much easier. If anything, I know it’s exacerbating my emotions. I ache for my kids who have to rewrite weekly their expectations for summer, fall and winter. There is still so much uncertainty as it relates to connecting to friends, if and when school will start, or how athletics will be impacted. It’s easy to feel the rug is being pulled out from under us or that we are being stripped from some of the simple pleasures we’ve always enjoyed.

I was on a call with our school early on when schools moved online before the school year ended. The questions centered around managing screen time and I recall the advice from our administrator …it was to flip the script. Instead of managing the screens in a way that causes frustration and discord, determine what your family goals are for the day or the week and manage those desired outcomes. It feels far more freeing to me to operate with this mindset. It’s a daily mantra now for me to put in the right energy to get out the right energy. That’s where the balance can be found and the colors come to life.

It’s far easier to me to set small goals of time to connect…over dinner, watching a movie, taking a hike, playing a game, or having an important conversation. It may mean one family member gets more of me than the other on any given stretch. There is a ten years spread between the oldest and youngest so there are different needs on different days. The point is to make the time matter, however short it might be.

I’ve often said I don’t want to parent out of control, but out of conversation. I think ultimately it helps my kids become thinkers and doers for themselves. I’m a believer in natural consequences. You binge watch a show all night, you are going to be tired the next day. You eat too much of anything, you will have an upset stomach. I don’t have to say it for it to be true. They are finding a lot of things out on their own, whether I want them to or not.

If I purposely set this time as sacred, I can go to bed knowing I’ve had meaningful time with my family even if only in short bursts. I’ve found that it creates the space for my kids to crave the next trip and make up their own type of fun.

I’ve always said the time on the road has been the key to our family connecting in better ways than we do in our normal routines at home. We can be more spontaneous but we are also more intentional about what we are doing. The hard decisions, the distractions, the disappointments…they will always be there.

I want them to know I will be there too.

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