The Pressure of Mother’s Day

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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”

Who’s Watching Minecraft?

Who's Watching

My kids are basically techie kids. They are all at different levels and each really love their technology.  Nine years ago my oldest asked my to help him purchase a beta game from the Netherlands called Minecraft.  I hadn’t heard of it but after some research it looked like something to invest $15 in. It reminded me of the very basic computer games that I played in school when we got our first computers. It was no Oregon Trail but I thought we’d give it a try.

From that day on Minecraft became the go to game. It was like the favorite pair of footie pajamas passed down from sibling to sibling. When one felt they were getting too old to play a younger sibling would take over.

The kids have gotten older and over the past months there’s a growing trend that I have noticed. The kids aren’t at the computer playing the game anymore. They are gathered around their devices watching Minecraft videos on YouTube.

As a parent there are major differences that I see in this transition between game play and watching game play. Kids tend to have their favorite YouTubers. Some of these people are intentionally creating family friendly content and others are teens/young adults just having fun and playing the game. I try to listen when my kids are watching the videos and live streams. There are times when I have heard language that I don’t approve of and have the kids switch to a different YouTuber.  I encourage parents to monitor their child’s YouTube usage.

Here’s a blog that describes some of the Minecraft YouTubers that are recommended for children.  http://learningworksforkids.com/2015/03/minecraft-videos-watch/

I love listening to the kids all laugh along with their YouTubers. They seem to have formed a community around Minecraft. They have their own language and cultural norms. They know when their favorite YouTuber’s birthday is and where they live.

It’s such a different generation of kids that are tuned into technology in a way I never expected.

I have a lot to learn.

Just Average

Just Average

When I was in high school I remember a lot of kids who were “A” honor roll students. I also remember many who got B’s. But a large majority of the kids were pretty average and got a lot of C’s.

These kids weren’t in danger of failing out.

They were the majority of the kids in the school.

They were your average high school student – “C” students.

Fast forward to now. When a student is getting C’s people start to worry about them.

“Surely they can do better.”

But maybe not.

When I was a senior in high school in 1991 I took Algebra 2. Now, there are 8th graders taking these classes. The 8th graders in 1991 were content working on their pre-algebra. Pre-algebra has now shifted to elementary schools. Those same 8th graders are now taking Pre-ACT tests. That was not even on my radar at that age.

So what has changed?

I’d like to think that kids now are much smarter than I was. However, I don’t think that’s the case.

Should a “C” student feel shamed when they are doing their best work. Students are like babies. Some are more advanced and do things earlier while others make their way along slower.

Will we go back to how it was? I doubt it. I just hope that as kids are encouraged to succeed at a younger and younger age that there are people out there who remember that not everyone can be that “A” student and even “C” students can end up doing fabulous things and being successful people.

As parents it our jobs to advocate for our kids when they can’t and teach them to advocate for themselves. Regardless of their achievement level they all need someone in their corner.

 

The Power of the Meal

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Dinner. At my house it may not taste good but it’s important that you are there.

Dinner at my house growing up consisted of our family and Pat Sajak. We tried to solve the puzzles each day on the 6″ tv that was in our kitchen.

Were we connecting as a family?  My first thought is no, however, we were all interacting with the same program towards the same cause of solving the puzzle.

Fast forward 30 years and there isn’t a tv on during dinnertime in my kitchen.  We have always played word games with the kids at the table. Something as simple as “Things that start with the letter B”. Even my youngest child could participate.

While the words may be nonsensical, the laughter that ensues carries us through. The laughter and time spent at that round table connect us.

As the kids have gotten older the games at the table have changed. We may not eat together each night but we still make sure that we are all there three to four nights a week. Ipods and phones are not allowed at the table either. Their friends can wait 30 minutes.  Having teens makes me realize that I don’t have them there for very much longer and I want to make sure I take advantage of every opportunity I have to be with them.

They won’t remember what they ate but hopefully they will remember time spent at the small round table in our kitchen.

Why sometimes its best to go slow

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I was so excited to present my family with a gift… a kitten.  They were so excited to have the new little puffball enter our lives. Well, almost all of them.

But what about when one family member doesn’t agree with how the others in the family live. Yes, we already have a cat and a dog – I can see where this does seem like excess to you. You live very minimally and do not put much value into material items. You see the holiday season how many outside the U.S. see our holiday season. A season of excess.

As a fellow minimalist, I can see how having more than one of something seem like too much.

Is a kitten a material thing? I guess that’s the question. You have always been the kid with so much caring and love for your family.  I’ve been so proud that you are an individual and don’t feel the need to follow the crowd. You see things very differently than others your age and many times have an older, wiser perspective.

So, we will introduce you to the new little kitty slowly and I know that the caring and sensitive person you are will end up loving that little ball of fur more than you do your computer games.

 

The Chore Chart


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Most kids want money. I think it’s important to teach them the value of a dollar and how important it is to work for your money.

However, time and again, the debate of whether or not to tie allowance to chores comes up in our circle of friends.

For the past few years our family has followed in the footsteps of a friend who gave me the Chore Chart that she had used with her kids. It has worked well for our family.

CHORE CHART

Each kid has many things that they need to do daily/weekly simply because they are members of our family and household. Just as I have to do laundry they need to do things like set the dinner table, take out the garbage and feed our pets.

It’s when tasks go above and beyond that the kids have the opportunity to earn money. Once they complete five extra chores in a week, from the list on the chart, they earn a set amount. At our house that amount is $10 a week for those over 13 and $5 a week for those younger than 13. One stipulation is that they can’t do more than two chores on the chart in a day. This stops them from thinking that they need money and rushing to get it all done in one day.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could work for one day and get paid for a week? Ahhh… reality sets in.

We’ve found that it’s nice that the kids have direct control over whether or not they earn anything.

Hopefully this serves them well as they get older and see that to earn money there are things in daily life that need to be done. Beyond those daily living things you can earn money for work that you do.

We can generally tell when they are saving for something special. The Chore Chart can sit blank for months or get used everyday. You never know.   Either way the chart is there as an opportunity for them.

Keeping Your Sanity or Keeping Up with the Joneses

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I just love to buy things and give to my kids. That being said I struggle with Christmas.

Growing up I remember piles upon piles of gifts for my sister and I under the tree each year. When I was an adult I found out that my parents spent money they didn’t have each year to give us everything we wanted.

I want to give my kids everything. I want them to have the latest technology like all of their friends. I want them to wear the $200 boots and feel like they fit in.

Even if i could afford it I’ve learned that they shouldn’t have it all.

WHAT! Shouldn’t I want everything for my kids?

Yes. But I would rather they appreciate the few gifts they receive each year.

The last couple of year we instituted a new gift giving practice at our house:

1 thing the WANT

1 thing they NEED

1 thing to WEAR

1 thing to READ

This has helped me hone in on what is important to my kids. They value the gifts they receive more. Yes, I could still buy them that new technology but they would know not to expect much else.

They may not wake up Christmas morning with piles upon piles of gifts under the tree but I am not going into debt every Christmas for tons of gifts they will discard within six months.

And hopefully, whether they realize it or not, they are learning to appreciate the things around them more.

A Beginning

To blog or not to blog that was the question.

The answer “Why Not!”

So here I am and I hope that you will be able to get some good info from my blog as well as a few smiles.  Life can be crazy and I know it. Balancing home and work. Dealing with the kids, school, sports and all of the obligations that pull us in every way can be such a challenge.

I hope to give you information that you can use in supporting your kids at school, as well as home, while sharing some of my life’s quirky day to day goings on.

Sit back, but don’t forget to check that backpack…. you never know what you’ll miss.