The Pressure of Mother’s Day

mothers-day

It may seem strange but Mother’s Day has been one of my least favorite holidays since my kids were born. Don’t get me wrong. I love being a Mom and I wouldn’t trade my kids for anything.

Before I had kids of my own it was great to bring my Mom flowers and have lunch with her. However, when I listen to her talk about Mother’s day as I was growing up I think she had the same opinion of Mother’s Day as I do.  She recounts tales of endless Mother’s Day outings to McDonald’s, her least favorite restaurant.  She ate the burgers that she detested for her children. Really? It was MOTHER’S Day! Right?

Fast forward 25 years and there’s a older version of me. Exhausted after having 3 children in 2 years and wanting some peace on Mother’s Day.  My husband tried to get everyone to cooperate but it ended with him trying too hard and everything exploding in chaos.

I decided to go shopping for the day. And every Mother’s Day after that for the next 10 years. From that day forward I decided that Mother’s Day was for me as I desperately needed that day to recharge.

Alone.

As I shopped I noticed families seeming to enjoy themselves, but meltdown after meltdown seemed to land square on Mom’s shoulders and I could tell that she needed a break too.

It seems that Mother’s Day puts so much pressure on one day. Shouldn’t mothers be appreciated every day.

This is what I want my kids to learn about appreciating mom’s everywhere.

  • Appreciate those around you every day.

  • Make mom feel celebrated each day by your actions and your generosity.

  • Stopping to open the door for a woman juggling two kids and a bag of groceries may just make their day.

  • Giving a smile of reassurance and a kind word to the mom whose child is having a meltdown.

  • Talking to the child in the cart in line at the store may just help that mom get five more minutes peace.

  • Respect when mom says she needs time to herself.

  • Hold Mom’s hand when she’s on the phone to let her know you need her attention instead of saying “Mom, Mom, Mom”

How was your day?

 

Children_about_to_board_the_school_bus_(Thibodaux,_Louisiana)

The front door closes and the kids start to go about their afternoon rituals. Snacks, talking to friends, homework and maybe an evening activity.

But have you taken the time to see how their day was? Not just “How was your day?”

There are many different ways to find out more about school and learn more about your child at the same time.

Ask questions that are open ended. Anytime you ask a yes or no question you have to be prepared to get only one word back.

Try one of these questions afterschool today:

  1. What is the new song that you are learning in choir/band right now? Which part is your favorite of the song?
  2. What was the best thing that happened at school today?
  3. Tell me something you learned about a friend today.
  4. What would you pick for school lunch if you could have anything you wanted?
  5. Are there any changes that you would want to make at your school?
  6. Who is your favorite teacher and what do you like about them?
  7. If you could be Principal for the day what is the first thing that you would do?
  8. Which rule was hardest to follow today?
  9. If one of your classmates could be the teacher for the day who would you choose? Why?
  10. On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your day? Why?

 

 

8 Ways to Keep the Family Connected During the Holiday Season

christmas-2-1435055-638x481

We pull them here. We take them there. We ask them to shake hands, make conversation and be on their best behavior.

For many kids, the holiday season is very stressful. Their routine is upset and it can turn a kid’s world upside down.  While we are taking them out and asking them to do their best they may be somersaulting internally.

So how can parents enjoy the holiday hoopla while keeping the kids content?

  1. Open a Book – Wrap a holiday or favorite book (old or new) for every day from December 1 – December 31. Each day a child chooses a book for the family to read together at a designated time. Traveling… bring the books with and keep the routine going.
  2. Let them wear comfortable clothes. Yes, the frilly dresses and ties look cute but it’s hard to feel at ease when you are in stiff clothes.
  3. Bring along some of their favorite snacks. Not every kid likes lutefisk and lefse and when you are hungry it is hard to be on your best behavior.
  4. Try to maintain a consistent bedtime. If you know it’s going to be a late night it might be a good time to call a babysitter.
  5. Keep it simple. Many kids are overwhelmed by all of the gifts and expectations of the holiday season.
  6.  Bake cookies together. Baking can be a great learning experience and a fun way to connect.
  7. Have a family movie night. For ideas of fun family movies check out this list.
  8. Try to remember the things you enjoyed as a kid about the holiday season and share them with your kids.

 

Staying Involved

staying involved

One of our jobs as parents is to raise independent, productive members of society.

When they are small they are totally dependent on you. As they get older, slowly, that dependency decreases. Does that mean our job is over?

No Way!

Another part of parenting is making sure our children have an appropriate education and attending Parent-Teacher conferences is a great way to make sure that is happening.

Parent-Teacher conferences can be such a joy to attend when kids are young.

You walk in to the welcoming classroom adorned by bright and creative artwork. You are approached by the teacher who comes with a smile on their face and an outstretched hand. They show you a folder of your child’s accomplishments and you leave with a feeling of pride. Even if they say your child moves around too much or talks too much, they can still find positive things to say.

Fast forward to the secondary years. You move from teacher to teacher in a crowded gymnasium (or hallway) to see how your child is doing. Are they missing assignments, can they handle the course load? You leave feeling overwhelmed but optimistic that things will improve now that you have been given the tools needed for your child to succeed.

Many parents decide that conferences are not as important once kids reach the secondary years. However, what that student needs to see is that they have a support system. They need to see that they have parents and teachers who care about their education.

As they get older they may not want to attend conferences with you. So why should you bring the sullen grumpy teen that would rather be with their friends or watching Netflix?

  • It’s so valuable to see how your child speaks to an adult on their own behalf.
  • A teacher gains a different perspective by watching the parent / student dynamic.

But most of all…

You are empowering them by standing by their side and letting them lead the conversation. You are creating an advocate in your child by letting them make decisions in their education.

Thank you for being an involved parent and making the extra time to attend conferences with you child. They may not thank you today but it will leave a lasting impact on them.

Partnerships are Key to Student Success

Roosevelt Middle School wins national award for partnership with parents, community

Roosevelt This week we highlight the accomplishments of the Partnership Team at Roosevelt Middle School in Blaine, MN.  Anoka-Hennepin Parent Involvement supports the great partnerships created to support student success. We thank Anoka-Hennepin’s communications department for this information.
Roosevelt Middle School in Blaine, MN is being recognized for its effective partnership program that gets families and the community involved in student achievement.

The 2015 Partnership Award from the National Network of Partnership Schools (NNPS) at Johns Hopkins University was given to Roosevelt’s Parent Partnership Team, which works with school staff and the community to further school goals.

Roosevelt is one of 12 schools in the country to receive the award.

“We’re excited. We’ve had incredible parents in leadership roles doing fantastic things for our students, our staff, our schools and our community,” said Roosevelt Principal Greg Blodgett. “They’re doing award-winning work.”

The school’s Parent Partnership team consists of five parents and three staff members who meet monthly and work together to create strategies to reach specific school goals. Dozens of volunteers help enact the team’s vision throughout year.

Those goals include improving student organizational skills, developing relationships with stakeholders, and increasing literacy. To help reach the literacy goal, for instance, students write letters to soldiers, and the school holds a book exchange right before summer break each year. Students who donate three used books get a ticket for a free book.

“The whole goal is getting more books in the hands of kids over the summer,” Blodgett said.

To help students improve organizational skills, the team created a scavenger hunt for sixth graders that requires them to work with their parents and a planner and rewards them with prizes.

The school was recognized by NNPS for making excellent progress in strengthening and sustaining its comprehensive program.

“Roosevelt Middle School is applying research-based approaches to strengthen its welcoming climate and to engage parents and community partners in ways that improve student achievement related to study skills and literacy,” said Dr. Joyce L. Epstein, director of NNPS.

NNPS is a research-based model out of Johns Hopkins University; Roosevelt has been participating in it for the better part of the last decade. Blodgett said when he first arrived, he was looking to increase parental involvement to the school beyond basic volunteering. At the time, two other schools in the district were part of NNPS.

“The core is that it’s not about anything related to fundraising. It’s about having a leadership team of parents and staff working together to support school goals,” he said. “I love this model. And this team should be recognized for greatness.”

More than just an IEP

school-bus-1441729

We made the transition to a new school this year.  The IEP from the old school followed, but that is just a document. It may tell you about educational goals and checkpoints for him but that is where much of it stops.

It doesn’t tell you that he worked so hard and learned to read in 5th grade.

It doesn’t tell you that he didn’t have a friend that came over to our house until he was 13. 

It doesn’t tell you that his battle with depression has been greatly affected by his workload at school. 

It doesn’t tell you that he lost his best friend, his Grandpa, last year.

It doesn’t tell you how hard he wants to fit in but is too nervous to approach his peers.

It doesn’t tell you how important my child is.

So please ask me questions. Ask his former teachers about more than just his learning obstacles but about him as a person.

And most of all… Take the time to really get to know my child. He’s more than just a document and numbers that are reported. He’s wonderful and I know you will think he’s as great as the rest of us do.

When the first day is the Worst Day

sad-boy-1564119-1279x1492

The first day of school brings many things. Hope, excitement and the opportunity to experience new things.

However, if your child is anxious, it can bring a family to a halt. The fears that come with the start of something new may seem unfounded to those outside of the family who have not experienced a child with anxiety.

“The bus number is different on the way to and from school!”

“What if I don’t remember my lunch number?”

“What if I don’t have any friends in my class?”

“Where will I sit at lunch?”

Many kids can muddle through worries like these and wouldn’t know that for others it is breaking their day, breaking their spirit and turning them away from school.

As a parent we want our kids to feel happy and safe at school.

Let your child know that their worries are common. It is crucial that you do not let them stay home from school due to these worries as that can only reinforce their fears in the the long run.

What can you do to help?

Role-play and come up with plans with them. 

Draw their attention to the positives.

Encourage them to share their fears with you.

Listen to them and let them know you care.

And most importantly… be there for them.

If you would like to read more about anxiety in children visit Worrywisekids

Sports Parenting in 10 Sentences

With the warm weather comes summer sports. With over 70% of kids quitting sports before age 13 how can we encourage, but not put too much pressure on them.

JAG GYM Blog

shutterstock_131258765

1 word: Hi.  Greet your child when they get in the car with “Hi” before you ask about practice, the score of the game or homework.  

2 words: Have fun.  In all likelihood you’ve heard this statistic: 70% of kids quit sports before they turn 13 for the primary reason that they are not having fun.    Encourage and remind your kids to have fun.

3 words: Tell me more.  Before forming an opinion or dispensing advice, ask for more information from your child.  This will force them to tell more of the story and give you more information as to what is actually happening.  

4 words: Good job. Keep working.  Doc Rivers, head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers and parent of a NBA player suggests these four words.  Rivers notes that as parents we are often tempted to say…

View original post 276 more words

The Missed Opportunity

carnationMothers Day came and went this year. It started like a usual day. I woke everyone and made sure everyone had what they needed to get their day going.

I left early with a sleepy teen to coach her morning soccer game. At the end of the game I reminded each of the girls on the team to take good care of their mom’s that day and everyday.

That’s when the first of my children realized they forgot Mother’s Day.

We moved from the first game to watch the oldest teen play another soccer game (this is a tournament weekend, of course). It should have been ideal. Sitting with my younger two teens and watching the oldest. Husband with all of us. A friend leaned over and asked if we had big plans for Mother’s day. She said her family had taken good care of her that morning with breakfast and a lovely gift.

That’s when the next child realized he forgot Mother’s Day.

After an exciting game we were on our way home when the first child told the oldest that it was Mother’s Day.

And that’s when the last child realized he forgot Mother’s Day.

I’d like to think I am a good Mom. I make sure that they are well taken care of. I am strict much of the time but that doesn’t stop us from having great, honest, loving conversations. They know they have a Mom that loves them because they see and feel it everyday.

I’d like to think that in their middle teenage years they can take the initiative to plan Mother’s Day. In the past I have given them money for Father’s Day and told them to buy a gift or plan something themselves. It’s been nice to see what they came up with. Last year they ordered Dad’s favorite pizza and had it delivered. It was nice to see them want to do for someone else.

A card, a coupon book (like they gave me when they were little), a cup of coffee, something to show they care. I am not a materialistic person at all and find my kids are very similar in that regard.

I’d like to think that I’ve taught them that sometimes an action means more than any gift they can give and is often the gift itself.

So I’ll wallow in self pity. And see that this was an opportunity lost and hope my kids see it as the same.

Next year maybe I’ll rent a hotel room for myself and get away.

To My Favorite Teacher

Teacher Appreciation

To you, the teacher that made a difference in my life, I thank you today during Teacher Appreciation week.

You were there for me and my classmates as our beloved school closed and we moved to a new school outside of our neighborhood. You chose to loop with our class and taught third grade at one school and fourth at the next.

You didn’t know that the years that you were my teacher my parents had separated and you were my constant.

I loved coming into your classroom.

You taught me more than reading, math and science. You taught me that there are people out there beyond my family who truly care for me.

Always there for a hug with a smile on your face. You taught me that that place I wanted to be was making a difference in the lives of kids. You instilled in me a lifelong love of learning.

Never underestimate the impact one person can have on the world.