Family · Love · Parenting · Perspective

To do or not to do?

I called my mom for reassurance. I’m a 35 year old woman who needed to hear my mom say “I think that’s a good idea for your family.”

The conversation has been mulling around in my brain for days. Do we or don’t we enroll in fall dance classes? Maybe we should try tumbling instead? Do we or don’t we encourage our son to sign up for fall flag football?

Leaning hard to the “No.” side of things, this was definitely a conversation that needed my spouse’s input. Although I am the chief get-kids-to-their-destination driver, everything we sign up for impacts all of us. Dinner schedules, my level of stress, when I need to leave work, can I work late?… All the pieces revolve around what we are committed to..

The pressure to sign up for extra kid’s activities is immense. It’s a weight I never giphy8anticipated carrying. The cost isn’t great either. Art classes, sports, dance, tumbling, volunteer opportunities, library activities…

Is my child going to be left out if she/he doesn’t sign up? Will they be athletically or academically behind?

Honestly… the answer is no.

No- all the way – no. Last time I checked, my 8 year old wasn’t trying out to be on the farm team (aka the minor leagues) for major league baseball. My daughter isn’t going to be in the Rockettes at age 6. Nor will taking the fall semester off from extra classes stunt their abilities.

Drawing this line in the sand will hopefully allow my family and friends time to be together. Let’s grill out on the patio for dinner! How about a nice bike ride on a Tuesday night after school? Invite a friend over to play for a couple of hours? Sure. I don’t need to schedule around this class or that class.

This basically sounds like utopia after the frenzied summer we’ve had. Although I swore we weren’t going to be THAT overscheduled family, we absolutely were. To say no… it’s a bold choice in our current culture. Being busy, scheduled, and enrolled in everything imaginable to enrich ourselves has left us all drained.

Our conversation about this was short and sweet. My husband agreed completely. Now, to finish convincing myself that I’m not blighting my children’s interests and aspirations I called my mother. She listened without judgement as I presented my case for NOT being involved and replied “I think that’s a good idea for your family.”

Isn’t it sad that the pressure to please others is so great that I needed to hear my mother reassure me that I was making the correct choice for MY family? Thank goodness for amazing beautiful souls like hers.

Don’t we all want to have the freedom in our schedule to do things like this?

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After a fall semester off from the extras, it’s possible that we will be ready and eager to do winter activities like basketball or dance. Perhaps we’ll discover that we enjoy less time running around. Either way, we’ll roll with it when it comes.

Creativity · Family · Fitness · Perspective

Begins with “S”

Six Miles – That’s how many glorious, relaxing miles I got in last night while my kids were at Vacation Bible School. How many times is it 6miles_LIonly 63 degrees for a July evening run in the Midwest – USA?! I’m officially one minute per mile slower than when I was getting consistent runs done.

Six miles of feeling my feet hit the road while listening to the music on my iPod. Freeing. Sanity breathing. Mind clearing. I’ve registered for a 10K in September. After last night’s run, my confidence at running it comfortably has increased. I doubt it will be a 10K PR, but I suspect I can cut time if I get in a uniform schedule.

SullivanSullivan – Our new, very large cat (Maine Coon) has decided his favorite place to lay is in a bathroom sink. I guess that’s fine…. “You do you, Sully.” Today is the 5th day since we adopted him. After having an affable feline friend for over a decade until his passing in December, the enjoyment of my husband and kids to this new guy is evident. Honestly, I’m still warming up to having an indoor pet again.

School – Dare I say it? We are edging up on less than 20 days until it starts! After we returned from Colorado and knocked out a few days at the fair, everyone seems considerably happier about school starting. The kids look forward to consistent time with friends and living a normal schedule. I swore I wouldn’t mention it until August starts…. but we had school supplies on super sale at our local store – 20 pencils for $0.99 and notebooks for $0.19 each. It would have been silly to miss that discount when those items were on the list.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Other “s” encounters this week included a snake, storms, and my son’s prize winning sunflower at the fair. Have a snazzy, superb week!

Family · Parenting · Perspective

Rockstar

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Some days you’re a rockstar and knock out everything on the list by noon… some days you find jello on your bathroom wall and send your child to the bus crying because it’s 40 degrees and you required she wear a sweatshirt….

Which day are you having? Where did that jello come from?!

Family · Parenting · Perspective

Flexible Thinking

After “officially ruining” my 7yr old’s day by requesting he get dressed for school this morning – which I might add we had a 5 day break for Parent Teacher conferences, President’s Day and then a 2hr late start due to an ice storm! – I’ve apparently decided to binge eat myself thru my morning at work with a healthy chicken noodle soup, less healthy croissants, and unhealthy Girl Scout Thin Mints.

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It’s been a banner eight hours since I got out of bed. It’s only 1:25pm.

Mixed into the muddle of this morning, I had the most uplifting text conversation with my dear friend Sarah at Horizon Mental Health. She is an amazing person, friend, college roommate, mother, wife, therapist… I could go on and on. The past few days, she’s been helping me sort out how I can better communicate with, guide, and connect with my 7yr old son.

My son has been thriving at school. He excels with his friends, peers, and in almost every activity he tries. When a friend was unhappy at school because he had to miss recess and read to finish an assignment, he stayed in with him and read his book at the next desk over. He is respectful with his teachers and coaches at school, youth group, and in community sports. Responsible, kind, loving, friendly, willing to work with others – all personality traits he possesses.

But whoa! We are not clicking at home the past few months. The last three months are also our busiest at work, craziest with family holidays, and then we all had various cases of influenza A, B, stomach flu, and some other weird respiratory virus. We are all out of whack!

What I’ve learned since November is that as his mother, I AM WRONG ALL. THE. TIME.

Me: “There’s 13 grades in school if you count Kindergarten.” Him: “There is NO SUCH THING as a 12th grade! You are WRONG!” Me: “Yes buddy, I taught 12th graders. They are called seniors. It’s the last year of school before you go to college or a trade school or get a full-time job.” Him: “You are WRONG!” Then I walked away from the debate because this wasn’t a war I wanted to fight. I love him too much to argue about absolutely everything.

Argument after argument. He gets angry and tells me I am wrong or he just isn’t going to do it (like wear pants or walk to his bedroom at bedtime – completely normal daily things). We are “bossing” him around.

My amazing friend directed me to a thought process call “flexible thinking.” I started researching it upon our initial conversation. My son is a “rigid thinker.” Very bright, likes structure, and gets his world rocked when there is unexpected change. Sometimes he is able to go with the flow. Other times, he is a mule with his hooves cemented in the ground.

As his mother and the main parent at home on the weekends and after school (my husband’s work schedule puts this in my wheelhouse), I am the one who typically is introducing the change or requiring him to be flexible.

Frankly, we need to dial back the frustration and find our workable space again.

A few things we will be trying to implement in our house after learning about “flexible thinking”:

  • A better framework for a schedule before and after school
  • A better framework for the weekend schedule
  • A process for him to adjust when it is out of his control WITHOUT arguing.
    • Breathe. Accept that some things are out of his control. Decide how he wants to proceed. Carry out his plan.
    • An example: T-man, in 5 minutes we are heading home. Five minutes later, it is now time to go home from the office.–“Breathe. Accept that even though you want to do x, y, and z before we leave, it is time to go now.” Then he will need to make his own plan for how to handle this and carry it out. This plan will likely look like him picking up his backpack, grabbing his snack and heading to the car. But if I suggest this, I guarantee it will be met with resistance.

Last week, I told a friend that I realized that I didn’t really have any life goals right now except keeping the wheels on this bus. The bus symbolizes my family. I have to keep us going.  I guess with every flat tire or change oil light, I’ll learn a new skill and be ready for the next challenge.

We don’t have to stay on the beaten path. Let’s be adventurers! It would be fantastic if we could ride the bus with minimal breakdowns, without the wheels coming off, and maybe enjoy the ride.

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Family · Health · Parenting · Perspective

Inhale-Exhale-Influenza

I swear… literally… if one more person says anything about “this oil would have prevented the flu” or “flu shot vs non-flu shot” superiority…

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Let’s have a bit more tact than that while we are in the throes of the influenza underworld, shall we???

My daughter’s class was missing HALF its students the last two days. That includes my child. My son’s class was down by 1/3. One of our local pharmacies had to close due to them all being ill!

Essential oils, fancy foods, vitamins and choice to get or not the flu shot- all great preventative things. However, when a sick child goes to school and coughs, breathes and shares the virus, I’m not convinced anything will protect your student or you. I can tell you that a cough-driven saliva shot straight to the eye has 100% chance of blooming into an ugly illness.

The moral of this story is: parents please keep your sick child home. Please. If you send them to school sick, they perpetuate the illness and will be sent home via the nurse shortly anyway. For the love and health of your babies and mine, please keep them home!

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With love from the trenches with my new best flu-induced friend- an inhaler– Jen

**hopefully we are close to healthy and I’ll be able to write about other happier things soon!**

 

Family · Parenting · Perspective

extra

I’m sitting here on my couch reviewing the past week and looking ahead to the next. My daughter is trying on clothes from the cousin hand-me-down bag (which is amazing).

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We are on Day 2 of fall break. Day 1 was parent-teacher conferences, an hour in the office at work, Cosmic Kids Space Club, and dance class.

Space club is a group of my son’s buddies that were invited to check out Saturn on one of the boy’s grandpa’s telescope.

We just finished soybean harvest. The guys are drilling on the last few dozen acres of wheat. For a blessed day, we are still a few points too damp for milo harvest.

As I sit here, I realize that the role of mother, wife and working mom isn’t what wears me out. It’s all the extras.

It’s the Ear Nose and Throat specialist we will visit in Monday for 3 rounds of strep throat in 60 days. The additional meeting I need to attend.

It makes me wonder how necessary some of those commitments are. The ENT is a must. What about the others?

At kids’ youth group Wednesday night, another volunteer from the generation before mine asked me if my parents scrambled around as much as my generation is to make it all happen. After a few days of thought, I’m convinced they did. However, I don’t think it started this young.

Is it really going to put my kids at a disadvantage if they don’t do that next extra activity?

I speculate that having a mom who isn’t scurrying, rushing and occasionally loosing her sh*t  patience is likely better for everyone.

Family · Love · Parenting

Morning Glimpse

It isn’t a great picture. I was trying to be covert.

Aside from the obvious imperfections in my photography skills, I love this picture. It illustrates the love between a little girl and her father. Hugs are given each morning before she or he leaves for school or work.

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The bond between father and daughter is truly a special quality.