What I wish I knew as a young mom

Posted September 6, 2012 by Susan
Categories: act don't yak, big picture, family dinner, family traditions, firm and friendly, kind and firm, parenting classes

Tags: ,
What I wish I knew as a young mother- spend more time, less worry. love them, set limits and love with logic. Limits set kindly and firmly are the most important. I had NO IDEA how much parenting support groups would help me be a better mother

This is three families at a cottage off the coast of Maine. My family is in the front two rows. Our friend Bruce is on the second row in the plaid shirt and Colin is wearing the baseball cap.

There’s so much to know to be a good mother that young moms can’t know it all. They can learn it from their kids and from other moms. Here’s ten things I wish I knew, or I discovered along the way.

1. Time is short, even though it feels long when they’re young. Cherish their childhood. It will be gone faster than you can believe. I know everyone says this and the days are long.  Go the extra mile even when it’s hard.

2. Motherhood means sacrifice. You will eventually have more time for you. See #1. Learn to give as much as humanly possible. They’ll always want more anyways!

3. Take care of yourself. It took me a few years to learn this one. Self-care makes you a better mother. Spend some time and money on YOU. Then you have more to give.

4. Don’t fool with regret and guilt. Do your best. There is no perfect mother out there. As long as you get it right at least half the time, you’re good. Get help! See #5.

5. Other mothers and experienced mothers can help. Parenting support groups saved me and showed me how to have a respectful and healthy relationship with my kids, without yelling, threatening, spanking, bribing and punishment. It was an investment of time and effort that paid off.

6. HAVE FUN. Your kids will cherish the good times and hopefully forgive and forget the not-so-good. Kids thrive on fun. Laugh, play games, tell stories, play Charades together.

7. Kids don’t have to have it all. Learn to say “no” in a kind and firm way. Encourage them to earn money to buy more stuff. Show them how to have fun without spending a dime.

8. Kids are wonderful teachers. They are patient and kind. They will reflect back who and what we are. Sometimes the reflection is painful. They are flexible and can learn from us, especially through our actions. My kids let me make the same mistake over and over again until I figured out a different way.

9. Having family meetings and having kids do chores and family dinners are like putting money in the bank, an investment in everything you want your kids to become in the future.

10. Don’t sweat the small stuff. When my two young sons discovered a mud bath and got really dirty, my choice was to reprimand them or surrender and get out the camera, quickly, and laugh.

Advertisements

Family dinners are the mother lode

Posted August 28, 2012 by Susan
Categories: empowerment, Encouragement, Food and children, give choices, self esteem, self-confidence

Tags: , , ,

I’ve just finished going over the manuscript for “Raising Able: How chores empower families” for about the 25th time to prepare to publish it on Amazon’s Create Space, where it’s available on Kindle and print-on-demand.

It has caused me to re-read the book, published more than two years ago. There are some great stories and examples to prove that family chores, family dinner and family meetings provide a solid foundation for your crew, for life.

YES it takes time to plan dinner and make it. Get them involved. See this blog post for ideas on how to make it easier. This photo of my gang on the blog along with ideas to make family dinner easier, especially as school starts and schedules start to collide.

Family dinner is one of the most important and powerful traditions. Here's the author of

The lure of family dinner never wears off. This was taken at our daughter’s apartment where she had cooked us dinner.

My tips to make family dinner easier:

1. Plan dinner in the morning or the night before if you work outside of the home. Make use of a crock pot, time bake and kids at home after school to put on the potatoes and make pizza dough.

2. Involve tots-to-teens in every step of planning, preparation and cleanup. Use family meetings to plan menus and volunteer to cook and cleanup.

3. Eat family-friendly meals and encourage and expect them to try new foods, within reason.

4. Encourage them to start cooking independently as soon as possible. Buy ingredients they need, experiment and have fun. Don’t complain about the mess! Compliment the chef. Eat their food with gusto. You’ll be developing confidence and a lifetime skill and avocation.

5. Learn to stock your pantry, freezer and fridge so you can cook from what’s on hand. Learning to cook from what’s on hand is an art, too.

Bon appetite!

A good Samaritan saves the day

Posted August 6, 2012 by Susan
Categories: big picture, empowerment, Encouragement

Tags: ,
learning to swim is a good safety precaution for all children, teens, tweens and adults. Make sure your kids know how to swim.

Ian Tordella-Williams points to the shoals where he rescued four swimmers in distress June 4 in N.C.

My husband Reliable Bob and I love the great outdoors. We’ve taken our kids on many excursions to canoe, ski, hike, camp and explore since they were young. We’ve faced danger because of abrupt changes in weather and water and bad parental judgment.

A close call in the ocean one day taught my son Ian to be more alert and aware around water.

While on vacation in Puerto Rico a decade ago, several of our older teens along with Noah’s girlfriend Kendra got caught offshore in swells and couldn’t get to shore. Kendra, the weakest swimmer, started to tire and panic. On the beach, Ian noticed the swimmers, wondered if something was wrong, but did nothing. He could have easily helped by going out with his surfboard. After everyone made it back safely and shared the harrowing tale, Ian, then 17,  made a pledge to be more aware in the future. That pledge ultimately saved four lives.

We made our kids learned to swim, and participated on a swim team, which is an excellent way to develop swimming strength. Ian, now 27, is an avid kite-boarder, surfer and former lifeguard.

Ian and his girlfriend went to a “Howl at the Moon” party June 4 on Bald Head Island, N.C. He noticed a commotion on the beach and left the party to investigate. That’s the first important thing he did — put down his beer to find out what was happening. This takes altruism, a difficult character trait to nurture.

Ian found four ‘tweens were floundering about 200  yards offshore. Unbeknownst to Ian, a 43-year-old man had already gone in after them, disappeared and drowned. Amid the confusion, panic and commotion, Ian grabbed a small cheap raft from the beach and headed out into the rough surf.

The last thing that happens before drowning is the victim swallows water and vomits it. That’s the point the first victim had reached.  She said to Ian, “Thank God you’re here. I thought I was going to drown.”

Ian ignored her panic and said, “Grab hold of the raft and start to kick.” They headed towards the other three swimmers 100 yards further out to sea, who were in the same condition, tiring and starting to swallow water. Everyone held onto the flimsy raft until the Coast Guard arrived 25 minutes later.

When Ian told me about the dramatic rescue, I was grateful he was safe and impressed he left the party and risked his life.  Some people asked me, “Are you proud?” As readers know, I’m opposed to parental pride, however, this is an exception. Ian did a good deed.  He showed good independent judgment, the objective of good parenting. Ian saved four lives. Wow. That makes me happy at the man Ian has become, and even a bit proud.

What can parents learn from this?

1. Teach your children to swim. Water-proof them as best you can as soon as you can.

2. Beware around water. Wear life jackets at all times even thought it seems like a useless precaution. A raft or noodle can save the day.

3. Exercise caution around strong tides, big surf and changing weather conditions when outdoors with young people. The four victims had walked out onto shallow shoals, quickly swamped by the tide without warning.

4 . Share this story and talk about it at a family dinner or a family meeting. What could the swimmers have done differently? What skills did the rescuer need? Ian said, “If not for the raft, there would have been only one life saved.”

5. Don’t let danger stop you from enjoying the outdoors with your family. Being outside is invigorating, enjoyable and good for you. Use caution and good judgment and be aware of the conditions.

What’s your biggest parenting problem?

Posted July 23, 2012 by Susan
Categories: mother-daughter, positive parenting, preschoolers, teenagers, teens, telling the truth, toddlers, tweens

Tags:
do your kids use computers, video games , TV, texting and cell phones too much? Do you as parents have trouble regulating your children's and teen's and tweens use of electronics such as video games, online gaming, sexting, texting and cell phones?

Do your kids spend too much time online and using electronics? Do you often argue with your kids about how often they are hooked up to computer and video games?

Readers —

What’s going on in your families today? I’m interested in your most difficult problem as a parent right now that you wish you could solve by waving a magic wand. Include the ages of your children with the comment.

You can share the hardest problems you’ve faced in the past year, the past five years and/or since your child was born. LIMIT of three big problems per comment.

Be general and concise when describing the problem.  “Discipline” is too general. “Not listening” would be more specific.

Here are examples gleaned from my own parenting challenges.

  • Power struggle between me and my daughter, until she left home.
  • Sibling rivalry — kids fighting, all ages.
  • Telling the truth, lying and trust issues, teens.
  • Morning and bedtime routines.
  • Food and mealtime issues.
  • Toilet training.
  • Excessive screen time — computers, cell phones, gaming, television.

I realize that parenting problems are a moving target. Give a snapshot of Vancouver MLS where you are now, and/or a really big problem you faced since you had your kids. I’m looking forward to your responses.

How to nurture your kids confidence this summer

Posted July 16, 2012 by Susan
Categories: attitude, don't interfere, positive parenting, You can do it

Tags: , , ,
summer is a great time to experiment in the kitchen with kids. let then make a mess. let loose, have some fun. children in summertime can learn skills and boost confidence through experimentation

Making scones is fun and sometimes messy.

Kids are messy.  Cleaning up after them is part of part of being a mother. 

That wisdom came from my mother, who had nine children and cleaned up many different kinds of messes.

When things get messy, they get interesting. Creativity starts flowing, interest heightens, you get lost in the project. Discovery occurs. Problems get encountered and solved. Confidence and self-esteem build through the experience.

None of this happens if you have to worry about “Mom getting mad about a messy kitchen,” or “Dad getting upset that his tools didn’t get put away.”

It takes time to clean up and teach them how to put away the tools where they belong in the workshop and kitchen. It’s about the process, the moments spent together experimenting and getting flour on the floor and a pile of pans dirty.

One of my kids’ favorite traditions was making homemade applesauce. We’d fill every big pot on the house with apples, simmer them and put them through the food mill. Every counter would be full of sticky bowls and utensils. Your feet would stick to the floor. It took a good half hour to clean up.

Hot fresh applesauce is SO delicious. I can still smell it and taste the sweetness. We froze it and enjoyed applesauce for months. It’s a sweet memory that showed my kids to be adventuresome in the kitchen, and perhaps, in life. We worked together and took turns.

Self-esteem and self-confidence can’t be bought at Target. Self-esteem and self-confidence have to be developed and nurtured through trial and error, encouragement. trying again, and celebrating success.

Summer offers the luxury of extra time to explore and get messy. Indulge them and yourself. You’ll be surprised at the results.

What are some of your summertime memories where you got to slow down, try something new or make a mess?

Free kids from technology this summer

Posted July 9, 2012 by Susan
Categories: boredom, set boundaries, summer vacation, teenagers

Tags: , , , ,
Kids can learn to go without technology during summer and any time. Give them opportunities to think , read and daydream

A group art project from http://www.beamcamp.com/ where the slogan is, “Kids making things happen.”

 

“We have a rule when our grandsons visit. No technology,” said my friend Carolyn about when the boys, ages 7 and 9, visit their grandmothers’ pond-side home. “They put the video games away for the week and find other things to do.”

The boys’ older sister and a friend came also came to visit the two grandmothers, Carolyn and her wife Carole. The teens were allowed to communicate by cell phone with friends back home, 200 miles away.

“The cell phone is such a big part of teenagers’ social connections,” said Carole. That’s a decent compromise, especially because the teens agreed to visit to grandmas’ house.

All four kids enjoyed old-fashioned pass times, like playing hide-and-go-seek with kids in the neighborhood, playing board games and splashing around in the pond.

The boys are normally glued to gaming consoles.

Some camps have a similar ban on video games, cell phones and portable devices. Technology is prohibited at  Beam Summer Camp in Strafford, NH, just east of Concord. The remote location and lack of plugs make technology use nearly impossible.

“I couldn’t get cell phone reception,” said my daughter Kristen, 24, who led two afternoon “domains” at the camp where students choose what project to work on every afternoon. Beam Summer Camp oozes creativity — without technology.

Some families have technology-free Sundays. What would happen at your home if everyone — parents included — took a break from technology for a set time each week?

How do you manage technology use in your family? Have you brought up the issue at family meetings and asked for input? Are TVs and computers in common areas of the home and not sequestered in bedrooms? Do your kids self-monitor agreements made or are you judge, jury and police officer?

When you shut down technology, be prepared to allow boredom, from which creativity emerges. Daydreaming, reading, and staring at a spider’s web calm the soul.

Kids have more time for chores in summer

Posted July 2, 2012 by Susan
Categories: do it yourself, Encouragement, self-confidence, self-discipline, summer vacation, toddlers, vacation

Tags: , , , ,
Kids and chore are important, especially during summer when they have more time for chores. Get children and teens to choose their own chores at home during a family meeting to help out. Use encouragement, not praise.

Borrowed this wonderful photo from http://fabandfru.com/2009/10/kids-chores/.

Kids like structure. Kids like to feel connected and competent. Summer disrupts those opportunities at school, so parents have to work a bit harder to compensate.

Summer is a great time to teach kids good habits and life skills by involving them in what you’re doing — laundry, yard work, cooking, dishes, fixing things, or anything else around the house. The earlier you start including them in chores, the more natural it will seem. The younger they are, the more they love to help out. Ironically, the older they get and more skilled, the less likely they are to contribute.

We raised our four kids frugally — probably to a fault. However, they learned how to manage  money and avoid the debt epidemic. We didn’t hang-dry laundry when they were growing up. It’s an excellent kid-chore because the youngest kids can do it.

I created a hang-dry system near our washing machine to give up the dryer. It took some time to install and some help from Reliable Bob.  I saw instant savings in my electric bills since we’ve started hang-drying most laundry. I like coarse air-dried towels — they’re like a spa, and soften up after a few uses. Sheets dried outside have a wonderful smell. Usually I’m too lazy to go further than our little dry furnace room right next to the washing machine to dry sheets.

Here I am creating a new energy saving system that the kids got used to to hang dry laundry and save money. it's an excellent chore for kids to hang up laundry, be frugal and save the planet. Using less energy is what we all need to do.

I’m attaching a thick cable to the wall to install a strong indoor clothesline.

Take some time to set up energy-efficient systems this summer.  A work ethic, frugality and knowing how to fix things can take your kids a long way in life. Take the time this summer to set up green systems. Let your kids take apart some old appliances and electronics to see how they work and challenge them to put them back together.  See if they can fix things. Find appliance parts at PartSelect if needed.

Let them make a mess. Encourage them to experience trial and error by taking apart appliances, tinkering with old computers, cooking, growing seeds, sewing or whatever interests them. Investing in messes and chores plant seeds that will grow for a lifetime.