I agree with this mother and columnist for the Washington Post.
Toy guns can be a healthy and hopefully harmless part of childhood.
I hate to promote Fiat, however, this is pretty funny and true.
Happy Holidays. Remember, this too, shall pass. They are SO EXCITED and so primed for the most wonderful day of the year. Cut them a break in the next few days because the stress and excitement is almost too much to bear.
If work keeps you away from your kids for long days and overnight too, have a look at this post on Eight Ways to Stay Connected to your Kids.
Whether you’re on a trip for business or pleasure, these are good ideas in general to keep a lifeline between you.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
I realize that parenting problems are a moving target. Give a snapshot of where you are now, and/or a really big problem you faced since you had your kids. I’m looking forward to your responses.