Thursday, August 20, 2015

My article on The Mighty

Hi friends! Here's a link to my featured article on The Mighty! I love this resource and community of people. Thanks for reading!

When a little girl asked why my son can't talk like her

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Summer update

While I was a working mom, I dreamt of what it would be like to be a SAHM, especially during the summers. I'm sure many working moms can identify with this. You can probably identify with the guilt I felt dropping them off at daycare, whether or not I had to work. Even working part-time, I had to pay for full-time daycare because of my irregular shift-work schedule. I felt especially guilty in the summers, thinking that we should be out having family adventures and lots of fun.

Well, now I'm a SAHM and I can tell you two things: it is both WONDERFUL and CHALLENGING. And I found something odd has happened. My mommy guilt has used to be that I felt guilty about NOT being home...and now I feel guilty that I'm not GOOD enough for them at home. 

Does anyone else feel this way? Some days I feel like I did it right. I limited their screen time, got everyone some exercise, had some healthy food, did some art projects, practiced some speech with my son and reading with my daughter and gave each kid some individual attention, cleaned the house and did all the laundry. But, that certainly doesn't all happen every day. I have to moderate my guilt with the realization that I can't do it all.

But there have been some big benefits to staying home with my kids:
I can design their activities however I want....and skip a swim lesson or dance class whenever we feel like it.
I have the flexibility to just be present with my kids.
We have the time to work on that Summer Wish List I wrote about before. (here)
I am relaxed enough to have some chasing a rainbow or visiting grandma's house or hunting for the perfect snow cone.
I have time for the holidays/birthdays/BBQs/etc. that I used to miss when working.

The main challenges:
Not having enough time to fill my own bucket. (I would love more time to myself, more time to exercise, and to find some kind of career outlet.)
Dealing with sibling fighting.
Balancing the right amount of activities with boredom (I feel like they need to sit with boredom in order to figure out how to self-soothe, use imagination, and get comfortable with down time.)
Limiting screen time!

Overall, it's been a fun and active summer, but I think we are all ready for a regular school schedule.
I hope you all enjoy the last few weeks of summer 2015!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

You matter

I was recently given an assignment in my fitness class. I was asked to write a love letter to myself. (Obviously this class is much more than just a fitness class!)

This was the prompt:

"Dear Self,
You are ____."

I had to think about this for a few days. It was hard to know where to start! Writing a letter to myself felt very awkward, since I had never done it before.

Once I got started, I wondered how to write it. Should it be funny? Serious? Detailed? Superficial? Deep? (Keeping in mind that I had to read this letter to other people.)

After a few drafts I figured out what felt best: honest, brief, serious.

I have been pondering some questions since doing this exercise. Why was it so hard to speak kindly to myself? Why did it feel so awkward to be positive? Wouldn't I be kind, positive and encouraging to my friends? So why can't I be those things to myself?

Why is it so easy to be negative?

Why is our default self talk so negative?

Perhaps your inner self talk is naturally positive. How great! But do a simple Google search about negative self talk and you see plenty of results. I think many of us (mainly women) have some negative chatter in our head.

I read that this negative self talk can come from our childhood. Perhaps we were told we weren't good enough by a parent, teacher, or friend. I don't recall, personally, having this done to me. So where did it come from? I think we are all "pre-set" for a certain amount of anxiety. I would consider myself to be on the higher end of the anxiety scale. That anxiety and self-criticism usually serves as motivation to move forward, to make needed changes. But many times, the critic is just there, without any specific purpose. Why does the phrase "I'm so stupid" keep popping into my head, even though I know I am not stupid? Is it based on past failures? Fear of the future? Has it been ingrained because being self-deprecating is a "relatable" characteristic? 

I guess I don't know for sure why the self-criticism is there. But since having to write that love letter, I want to make sure I reduce the criticism and boost the positivity. Here's a good article on some steps YOU can take to do the same. Thinking positive

Not only do I want to help myself, but I want to do whatever I can to help my kids. Would I ever want them to think poorly of themselves, feel stupid, unnoticed, or unlovable? Another article on the Huff Post mentioned that we, as parents, become our kids' inner voice. That statement is huge. How I talk to my kids now, becomes their own inner voice for the rest of their lives. I can influence whether it is a positive one or a harsh one, simply by choosing my words carefully. It is such an important reminder to teach/show children kindness, resilience and determination. Link is here.

What would you include in your letter? Is it easy to write? Try to silence the inner critic with positivity and see what happens. Can you change that voice over time? I'll check back with you on this in a future post!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Summer's here!

It's summer time! I enjoy the warmer days and sunny skies. I look forward to the big and little trips we have planned. (Using the term "vacation" is a stretch...I think a real vacation would be child-less...) I love watching the kids splash in the pool-they have such joy in the water! I enjoy lazy mornings without the usual 'rush-out-the-door-to-school' routine.

BUT the summer can be challenging for those of us with spirited/active/high-needs kids, or kids with sensory problems, or kids who just thrive on a regular schedule. Our family definitely falls into this category. This means some intense fun, but also, some intense anger and exhaustion. Perhaps you parents out there can sympathize here?

We all need a little un-structured time to rest our brains and bodies after a busy school year. There is no doubt of that. But I am working on finding some kind of structure to our days so we don't all drive each other bonkers. There will be an inevitable amount of craziness, boredom, exhaustion, fighting, screaming, etc. But I am trying not to dwell on these parts because of their inevitability. The one thing I can control (somewhat) is the schedule.

This is what I've come up with so far:
Swimming lessons. My daughter is emerging in her swim skills and my son has zero skills (but loves the water). My 3-year-old has never had lessons before and so far, he is really engaged.

Reading. We have some trips to the library planned and read a little bit every day. I would rather spend money on books than toys that will just accumulate in our house and rarely get used!

Exercise. How important for little ones as well as adults! My daughter is enrolled in cheer and tumbling classes. We have been hiking around our house and riding bikes/scooters. I find that the kids usually complain if I say we are going outside for exercise, but they usually take to it as soon as we get started. Surprisingly, they enjoy a kids yoga dvd I found so we can do that on those hotter days to stay indoors.

Art. I bought supplies at our local arts and crafts store to do some kind of project each day. Stamps, finger paint, water colors, card-making, play doh, air-dry clay, chalkboards, mask design-just to name a few.

Academics. Kind of a funny term to use during the summer I guess! We have collected many puzzles, letter and number activities for my pre-schooler. I have to find ways to fit in speech and language development for him without making it seem like work! For my new 1st grader, we are going to work on math skills (in a fun way), word games (bananagrams or scrabble anyone?), and keeping a journal of our summer activities.

To top it all off, we have a Summer Wish List. It is a collective list that the whole family adds to.
Here are some things on our list:
Make an ice cream sundae bar
Watch a movie outdoors
Paint pottery
Try ice-skating
Rent a boat on the lake
Watch fireworks
Make lots of s'mores
Go to a water park

Do you have a summer wish list? It's fun to keep a running list of things the family wants to do. My daughter suggested we write down each idea on a small piece of paper and put them all in a jar. Then, one day we pull out an idea and it's our surprise activity for the day. I am not certain if I can deal with that kind of spontaneity but I will work on it!

On a final note: we are returning to one of our favorite spots later this summer (San Diego) and can't wait! Here are some pics from a few years ago.

Seaworld with Emily (3)

Ben (10 months) on the beach with grandma