We Have to Stick Together

Parenting

I’ve read a lot about parenting.

I’ve been a mom for fourteen years- Cameron was born in January 2005. (Yikes.)

There’s a lot of moms out there that try their hardest to demonstrate that parenting is easy.

I don’t know what planet they live on, but this is not easy.

Unless you are lucky enough to have nannies or other in-home help, you’re not sleeping much for a while after you have a baby. They aren’t the greatest sleepers. Some babies gracefully sleep all night at an early age and at that point, you may want to build a shrine to the parenting gods.

I almost did when Lily slept through the night before I went to work after her birth. Her brothers wouldn’t have thought about this.

The toddler and preschool years?

You love your kid, but are also ready to list them for sale on Etsy about three minutes after they terrify the cat.

This is the time where they learn so much and repeat things they probably shouldn’t. Break out the phones for those moments.

When kindergarten hits, be ready for tears.

Elementary school is full of fun and adventure… Just wait for the middle school. I’m currently there and, wow, is it full of things I never saw.

Pets, Stinky Feet and Sancti-Mommies

We’ve had a few pets along the way. Tiger was with us for a few months and sadly, we had to say goodbye after a tumor ruptured on his leg.

It was bad enough to make that decision, but it was worse to have to tell the kids. I couldn’t fix Tiger’s leg and keep him with us.

Tails and Miss Purr, along with the turtles, Biggie Smalls and Lightning, complete our house. We love them- they are family members.

Tails

Stinky feet are everywhere at my house. These kids are gross. They shower all the time.

The preteen and teenage stage…

Double yikes.

There’s so many things to explain- drugs, alcohol, mean girls and boys, sex, and the list goes on. As Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast.

He wasn’t kidding.

Then, there’s the moms that think their way is the best and that they are better than everyone else.

Whew….

They have tons to learn.

First of all, should they have a child with any kind of special needs, they are entirely screwed. Your mindset changes and throwing shade at other moms isn’t going to give you the support you are going to need.

Once these moms become known for their less-than-polite ways, who really wants to be within a mile of that?

I don’t.

As Ariana Grande says, thank you, next.

I’m all for research and opinions, but there are ways to express these respectfully. It’s possible to be nice and say what you think.

Parenting is the roughest job that many of us will ever have, unless you’re a first responder, logger, or something equally tough.

We need to stick together and remember all of us are doing the best we can. This goes for moms of newborns, elementary school-aged kids, even adults. It’s tough out there.

If you know a mom (or dad) who is struggling, try to help them out. It might be the best thing anyone does for them in a while.

Until next week, hang in there and try to laugh off your kid’s latest adventure.

Pics courtesy of pixels and pinterest

The Path to Middle and High School: Is Your Child Prepared?

As of the date of this post, August 1, there are 13 days left before my kids go back to school.

I could not be more thrilled.

No, really. I am. I love these kids, but they’ve got to GO.

We have had a lot of fun over the summer and it’s probably my last as a stay at home mom because our family schedule finally allows me to go back to work. This is good.

Are my kids prepared to go to middle and high school?

Let’s discuss.

Cameron is going into his freshman year of high school. We will skip the fact that he is attending the same high school that Matthew and I attended, met and graduated from in 2001 (do the math, it hurts my brain to do it for you). Julian is going into the 8th grade, which means he can start going to his IEP meetings if he is so inclined. Lily is starting 6th grade.

That’s a lot.

Step

Lots of Changes for a Kid Brain

Middle and high school are a bit different from when we were there, depending on where and how old you are while reading this. Even if you are in your early 30’s, it’s still a different planet. The boys and I discussed drugs over the summer, and for some reason, I was not entirely shocked to know that Cameron could find marijuana if he was in search of it. (He isn’t, but if he were, it’s not hard to find.) Maybe it’s because of my previous work, the fact we do live in the suburbs of a large city, or possibly both. I’m not sure.

Let’s just say we had another chat about the dangers of drugs, alcohol, and in Cameron’s case, energy drinks. Thanks to his heart condition, he can’t drink those and/or much of anything with caffeine in it. None of us are in the mood for him to end up in the ER.

Both boys are on medications that don’t interact well with these substances, so it wasn’t a hard chat. Thanks to my past issues with drinking, I don’t think they’re a fan. I’m not really sure if I should be happy about that or not. Combine this with my past work as an addiction counselor and I’m basically a walking, talking DARE teacher.

Does anyone remember the DARE program? If you don’t, find an older sibling, friend or cousin and I’m sure they can tell you about it.

Cameron was a bit of a slacker during his middle school years- it irritated me because he is a very bright kid. All of my kids are. I told him multiple times that in high school, there’s less room for that because colleges (if he goes that route) will be looking at those grades for admission and scholarships will be hard to get if he just coasts through the next four years.

“Calm down, Mom.”

His classic line that will probably cause my first heart attack or second stroke.

Lily, on the other hand, may surprise me. I’m a little concerned because she emotionally functions a bit behind her peers, probably at like a 9-10 year old level. She tends to hang out with kids that are a little younger than her.

I have no issues with this, but I worry that she may get bullied. She has friends coming into the same school with her, but there are mean girls in every school, starting on the first day.

She’s super bubbly, helpful and a really sweet kid. I think that she will be fine- she made better grades than her brothers did, so I have no worries there. Once she finds a few clubs to join and finds her place, she will be fine. I may be worried about nothing. We have talked about bullying, school work, and other topics, so I’m hoping things go well.

Eighth grade is basically a no-brainer for Julian. He is not worried at all about going back to school. His IEP is ready to go. His thoughts on going to school with Lily? “I don’t know her.” They won’t see each other except on the bus and that’s fine with him.

Classroom

Is Your Child Ready?

Starting a new phase of school can be scary. It can also be fun. This depends on your child’s personality.

A few tips for discussion with your child:

  • What are you looking forward to the most?
  • What worries you the most?
  • What can I do to help?
  • Do you know anyone going to your school?
  • Do you think this school year will be hard, easy, etc?
  • How do you feel about any changes at your school?
  • How do you feel about your sibling going to school with you? (something they can’t change, but it’s nice to let them talk about it)

Most middle and high schools offer orientation for incoming students. Mine are going to theirs. I think it helps ease the anxiety of some fears about the first day- knowing where to go, lockers, etc. Registration is usually afterward, which makes things easier on parents.

We can’t make things magically better for our kids all the time, but we can help them feel a bit more confident as they go into a new stage in their lives.

On the first day, it can help a lot if you give them an encouraging note, chat or even pat on the shoulder/hug if they will let you. That can create a great memory.

The path to middle and/or high school can be a rough one for kids and parents. The first day is the toughest, the second starts to get a little better.

Parents who have sent a child to middle and/or high school before, how was the first day? Feel free to leave a comment!

For further reading:

My Kids and College

Pics courtesy of Unsplash

Taking A Step Towards Fearlessness

There was a time in which I was afraid.

I was afraid of being myself.

I was afraid of love- because I had a bruise on my heart.

I was afraid that I couldn’t handle what was in front of me.

I wasn’t able to see that in the background, (or maybe not so far in the background) there was a man trying to change me and my life. I brushed him off without even knowing it. I barely knew who he was. I was in my own world and didn’t want to add to my pain. Who does?

That man, for some reason, didn’t give up. He just went home, talked to his brother because he knew me better and kept trying.

I don’t know how or why, but finally, I took the first step into fearlessness. I’m forever glad that I did. It entirely changed me and my life. I hope that if you are reading this and want to become fearless, your story ends a lot better than mine.

A few tips:

  • Don’t be reckless. I took a few interesting changes and looked over my shoulder more than once, but there’s a line between fearless and stupidity. Also, don’t do anything that will put you and/or others in danger. Don’t break laws either. I can’t promote that.
  • Stay true to yourself. Being fearless does allow for growth and changes, but in the end, you have to stay true to who you are. Learn as you go along.
  • Don’t expect perfection. On the path to being fearless, I messed up quite a bit. I’m still scared of some things- like letting my kids do things on their own. People tend to think that fearlessness means automatically letting go of everything. I don’t exactly agree with this, but everyone has differing opinions.
  • Enjoy the good moments. It can be nice to not have so many fears and worries about what others think. Doing something that scares you can be a boost in so many ways. (I absolutely do not promote cheating, but…)
  • Have an open mind.

I’m a huge Swiftie- Taylor has basically written my life since about 2013. This isn’t a song lyric but a quote (thanks, Pinterest)

Do you feel that you are living your life fearlessly?

Teens and Privacy: Where Do You Draw The Line?

The Challenges of Social Media

Teens are a challenge and a half. I’m just wandering into the pool of those challenges- most of them weren’t even on my radar until recently.

Everyone needs privacy. We need our space from others, physically and emotionally. We need our own space to grow and express thoughts. Teens need this for many reasons, one of the biggest reasons being that they are trying to figure themselves out. Remember how hard that was? Yikes.

Resist the urge to hover- this may lead to your child hiding things from you and/or lying. This can lead to worse things that you anticipated.

What Our Parents Didn’t Worry About

In the age of technology, privacy can get a bit worrisome. Parents have a lot more to worry about now than our parents did. We have to worry about Instagram and other social site pictures being too revealing and suggestive.

We have to worry about our kids being bullied because that ends tragically far too often. We worry about our kids being targeted while they play video games. These are just a few things that our parents never had to think about.

Black and white computer pic

Talking to Your Children

Opening up a conversation about privacy can be a bit awkward. It’s hard to start the conversation without being weird- you may have to look for an opening.

Do you already have an open relationship with your child? If you do, this may be a bit easier. If not, you may have to do a little more work to ease into it.

Go to my Freebie Page and find some helpful tips for talking to your kids. They require careful steps but in the end, everyone will be glad for the talk. The teenage years can get pretty awkward and a bit scary. Kids need to know they can talk to their parents about anything, including things that go on in the electronic world.

What if my child won’t talk or let me see what I ask for?

This is a rough one. Some kids aren’t talkers. I’ve got a couple. I’m not saying just let the quieter kids be- because they still need to know the importance of opening up and respecting this request. Losing their privilege can be a huge incentive to give you the information you want.

Assure your child that they can come to you if they are scared. That may be all they need.

There are some great apps for keeping an eye on what your kids do online- I use Net Nanny and it is super simple. It’s free and sends me a weekly summary of anything blocked or warned due to something the kids shouldn’t have looked up or sites they don’t need to be on. They also know about this and that they will lose all privileges if I get anything from this page.

As of this post, nothing has ever popped up in the whole time I have had this installed. We share a YouTube account and I can see everything they look up on Google. Some parents I know require their kids to charge devices together in one room after a certain time, access to devices (including phones) at any time they request it, or a little bit of both.

As of now, one of my kids has a phone, and it’s highly monitored. The tablets haven’t been much of a challenge so far.

I’m not a fan of breaking and entering into your child’s room. I don’t recommend this at all, except in one condition. That condition is if you are certain your child is in imminent danger and/or there is illegal activity involved. By all means, break down the door and go for it. This also applies for self-harm and other mental health reasons.

I’m hoping that I never have to sneak in my kids’ room and go through their things. I hope we are able to talk through things and come to a solution first.

What are your thoughts?


What Meditation Can do for Your Mental Health

fea57484e69fcaf7d41d81031a350230.jpg

Meditation is an interesting concept.

Reaching a calm spot in your mind can be hard, especially if life is busy. Your mind is racing with thoughts and slowing down can seem almost impossible.

There are meditation apps on both Apple and Android platforms, even on YouTube. It’s up to you. I prefer an app, Insight Timer. I like the selections- some are led by a person, some use music. I prefer the person.

I started meditating as part of running a group at a former job. I got really into the quiet time to gather my thoughts and just relax. Everyone knew that was my group. The patients also loved it- the group was usually packed.

I’ve gotten out of the habit and need to restart.

Less than five minutes can change your whole day.

Feeling Good All Over

Meditation can help your mind get into a better place, which can help the rest of your body.

How can you get to that place?

  • Find a comfortable space. I prefer sitting on my bed or couch, but this is entirely up to you. Some like sitting on a yoga mat on the floor as part of a yoga practice. It’s all about what makes you comfortable.
  • Quiet is a must. It is hard to meditate if there is a lot of noise in the room you are in, so try to find a good time/place to try this. It can be an almost impossibility with children, pets and/or other people, events, etc, but it’s possible.
  • Do you need a timer? Some do, some don’t. I’ve tried untimed and timed, and I prefer timed. Otherwise, my mind tends to wander off and it defeats the purpose.
  • It’s okay if your mind wanders. If you’ve never tried meditating before or you are coming back to it, your mind will tend to wander. It’s natural. It’s hard at first to let your mind just be. If you’re listening to meditation with words, it can be hard to listen to and connect to the meditation. This is why I suggest short ones at first. As you get deeper into practice, you can work up to longer ones, if you decide it is for you. Everyone has different needs and preferences.
  • Don’t force it. Meditation isn’t for everyone. If it isn’t for you, you will realize it.

Calm sky

Meditation can help you in the following ways:

  • concentration
  • relaxation- as you meditate, your breathing slows and deepens, helping you relax. Also, your mind clears. This is helpful in many situations.
  • pain management- keeping your mind off severe pain, even if for a short while
  • anger management- thinking through things before adverse actions, using relaxing breaths
  • stressful situations/anxiety
  • can help children and adults
  • sleep

Self-care is vitally important. I’ve covered this topic many times on this blog. It’s not just a passing fad or something to do when we’re bored or just when we have time, but something we should find time to do every day, even if it’s just five minutes. I entirely need to get better on the meditation- I love it. It helps me center my thoughts for the day. Restarting an old habit can be a pain sometimes. How do you do it?

For further reading:

Self-Care Isn’t Just Bubble Baths

Alone Time Is A Wonderful Thing

Is It Time for A (Mental Health) Break?