I live for these moments…
Question to the Moms: Is it just me or do you sometimes feel nervous when you leave the kids ALONE with Dad? I can’t be the only one….I’m guilty of subconsciously (and sometimes consciously) thinking that my intelligent, capable, lovable and attentive husband can’t fully take care of his own kids when I’m not around. WHY? There are several answers, some of which I will share, but for now I’m just trying to let go and let Dad!
I will admit. I’m a control freak. Like any mother, I know how I want our kids to dress, behave, eat (well) and not lose any limbs. Dad on the other hand will let the kids leave the house wearing plaids and polka dots (yes, at the same time) and clothes two sizes too small. Let’s not get started on my daughters’ hair. Oh Lord! If I know I’m leaving for a few days in a row, its imperative that I make sure the hair thing is on lock before I’m on my way.
There’s a lot to be said about his style of seeing after the kids as it compares to mine. For instance, when my husband decides to take the kids to the park, he puts them in the car and drives away. What’s wrong with that you ask? Nothing, except for the fact that there are no healthy snacks packed, no bottled waters and no change of clothes. It’s just him and the kids. While I find this remarkable, as they drive away, I’m thinking, “He needs this….and what if the kids need that….” Well, guess what? They won’t go without and I’m sure they have whatever it is they need and probably want. I honestly just don’t see how he does it. Yet, when they return, the kids have eaten, they are tired (and dirty) and are extremely happy.
Dad’s approach to being a caretaker is so much different from mine. Yes, I get that I’m a nurturer by nature. I am a mother hen, a mother bear at times always protecting her cubs. He, on the other hand, has the same intentions, but shows it in a completely different way. The good thing is whatever Dad does, he must be doing it well, because the kids love their “Daddy time”! I believe there may be some frozen yogurt bribery involved, but nonetheless, my cherubs return home safe and sound, needing no more than an occasional dab of Neosporin and a Band-Aid.
No, he doesn’t keep hand sanitizer in his pocket, nor does he always have any wipes, but this doesn’t mean that he loves them any less or that they’ll catch a cold or a virus because Mommy wasn’t there. It just means that the man that has repeatedly shown how much he loves and cares for his children, needs a little slack and some occasional praise. So, when you see dad with two little girls with fuzzy hair and clothes that are too small, just smile and wave and know that Mom must be out of town, but “Dad’s got it”!
P.S. Big shout to all of the Dads who do “it” better than Mom. He cooks, he cleans and does a mean two strand twist with matching barrettes! I know you’re out there and I salute you!
Do you secretly have control issues when Dad’s alone with the kids?
Photo credit: webmd.com
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. This is a time for all of us to recognize to that we each have a job to do – and that’s paying extra special attention to the social and emotional well-being of our children. They are blessings…not burdens.
To you this may not even mean anything, because it’s just not an issue for you and your family. Unfortunately, this is a reality for tons of helpless, innocent children who cannot defend themselves. The truth is, children are suffering from this hidden epidemic of child abuse, as well as neglect. Every year 3.3 million reports of child abuse are made in the United States involving nearly 6 million children (a report can include multiple children). Here in the U.S., we have the worst record in the industrialized nation – losing five children every day due to abuse-related deaths.
Alarming statistics like these are the reasons that awareness needs to be brought to the forefront. Thankfully in 1983, April was proclaimed the first National Child Abuse Prevention Month. As a result, child abuse and neglect awareness activities are promoted across the country during April of each year. The Office on Child Abuse and Neglect (OCAN) within the Children’s Bureau coordinates Child Abuse Prevention Month activities at the Federal level, providing information and releasing updated national statistics about child abuse and neglect.
Child Discipline vs. Child Abuse
This is a gray area for some parents because of our different perceptions of parenting. Do you use the “time out” approach? Do you spank? Do you ground your children? People discipline children in various ways, we know this, but child abuse is just what the words imply. . .abusing a child, and that consists of ANYTHING that endangers or impairs a child’s physical or emotional well being and development. Some people, sadly mistake abuse for discipline. In contrast, child discipline should be looked at as simply training. God has given us parents a duty to train and teach our children appropriate behaviors and actions. Therefore, consequences are necessary.
Bottom line is, our precious children did not ask to be here. Nor are they born knowing how to behave or what is acceptable and expected. This is taught. As parents we must invest time, energy and most of all patience when it comes tour children. displaying lots of love and modeling exemplary behaviors for their children to mirror. Nobody ever said being a parent would be easy, but when done the right way, is very rewarding!
Do you have any advice to share on how to prevent child abuse?
As I looked through some of the photos from our recent Spring Break vacation, I began to hear the proverbial thousands upon thousands of words that came from them. This one particularly echoed the word, “Cherish.”
Each of my children are growing at lightning speed and I wish at times the hands of the clock would sometimes just sloooowwww dooowwwnnnn…I read a poem that is so fitting when I’m feeling sentimental. Yes, the house can sometimes be a mess. Yes, I want to pull my hair out at times, but I wouldn’t trade these gifts from God for anything the world has to offer!
I hope you enjoy this sweet poem as much as I did. If you have children, I’m sure you will.
Handprints on the Wall
One day as I was picking
the toys up off the floor,
I noticed a small hand print
on the wall beside the door.
I knew that it was something
that I’d seen most every day,
but this time when I saw it there
I wanted it to stay.
Then tears welled up inside my eyes,
I knew it wouldn’t last
for every mother knows
her children grow up way too fast.
Just then I put my chores aside
and held my children tight.
I sang to them sweet lullabies
and rocked into the night.
Sometimes we take for granted,
all those things that seem so small.
Like one of God’s great treasures…
A small hand print on the wall.
Not long ago, I was in a car accident. During the time that my SUV was being repaired, they didn’t have a comparable SUV loaner. The only thing they had (you already know) was a mini-van. I was little hesitant at first, but said, “Hey it’s only temporary…No biggie!” My kids FLIPPED when I drove it home. They were super excited. I mean “bouncy house” excited. They were running back and forth in the aisle of the thing and playing with the seats. I stood there paralyzed in disbelief, because clearly they need to get out more.
Time has passed and these kids are still asking when can WE get a mini-van. Well, let’s set the record straight. This mama WILL NOT be getting a mini-van. Not that there’s anything wrong them. I totally get it. Cool sliding doors, better gas mileage, roomy interior..I get it. I just can’t do it. Here are 6 reasons why I am NEVER getting a mini-van.
1. When I think of mini-vans, I think of stick people stickers that you see on the rear windows. You know those stickers that show the family members, their hobbies and even the dog! Well, in my head, mini-vans and stick figure people go hand in hand and I just can’t. Nope. Can’t do it.
2. Mini-vans scream Soccer Mom. I am a mom. My kid has even played soccer at some point. So, for all practical purposes. I AM a soccer mom, BUT do I want to scream to the world, like politician with a bullhorn, “LOOK OUT WORLD…SOCCER MAMA COMING THROUGH!!!”? Ummm….no! I’ll pass.
3. There’s just NO NEED. I have an optional 3rd row in my SUV. Eight people fit comfortably in my vehicle. Do I really need my seats to swivel and have tables come from the floor? Is it really that deep? I remember as a kid, playing Uno with my cousin in the back seat of a Malibu. “Just use your hands (and your feet), kids and keep those cards from sliding!”
4. My doors automatically open. Wanna know how? My kids open them. That’s what they’re there for…to open the doors! My kids thought it was the coolest thing to hit the button on the remote and have the side doors just slide back. “Well….whether the doors go in and out…or from front to back, they still open. Now get in!”
5. Let’s face it. You and I both know that mini-van drivers have a cool factor of about….ZERO! Call it ego-tripping or whatever you’d like to call it. Even if you’re NOT cool, don’t succumb to the expectations of our society: “Welp! You got all those kids. You gotta get a mini-van!” Ok, let’s be honest: Yukon/Escalade? or Town & Country/Odyssey? Yeah…uh huh…I thought so.
6. Kids need suffrage. It builds character. That’s what wrong with kids these days. Yes, when I leave Sam’s Wholesale Club I am stacking commercial sized laundry detergent and ketchup all on top of my kids in the back seat. So, what? I just took them on an awesome sample fest letting them taste test whatever they wanted until they got full. “So, what’s all the fuss about?!?! We’ll be home in 10 minutes.”
Again, there is absolutely nothing wrong with driving a mini-van…if that’s your thing. Someone has to drive them. As for me? I will continue to cart my kids around in my SUV getting 13 to 14 MPG, making them open their OWN doors until my 18 month old graduates from high school and then I’m downsizing….to an imported coupe.
Are you a proud mini-van driver?
As long as there are siblings, there will be some type of rivalry. Children are people too, and will not always agree. They fight over toys, as well as your love and attention and will always find a way to annoy each other, but as parents we have to make sure that the banter is harmless and in no way reflects any type of verbal abuse. While the bickering is harmless, it’s just enough to work any parents’ nerves. While, I claim to be no expert, here are few things that seem to work in our home.
1. Take advantage of the age differences.
If the older sibling has a significant age advantage over the younger, make sure that they are allowed to “feel older” and be older. Saying things like, “I need you to look out for your little sister.” Or to the younger, “Be a good listener to your older brother. It really helps me out.” Making these defining statements and re-iterations help them with their roles, because they know what is expected.
2. Teamwork is vital.
When is this NOT the case? Teamwork is so important, that’s with any family matter. When it comes to the battling siblings, practice sometimes makes perfect. Create scenarios and situations that force them to work together or else the result is failure. Think of baking a cake together, or cleaning the kitchen. Give them specific instructions and delegate with clear understanding that teamwork is essential. A lot of times, kids are spending way too many isolated moments on their electronics, or if they’re older, with their respective friends, and they just don’t work [well] with their brother/sister.
3. Use technology.
I was at my wit’s end one day and I decided to make my kids interview one with the iPad/iPhone. The idea behind this was actually seeing and hearing themselves, may actually help. I had them tell each other five things that their sister/brother do to make them feel loved. I ask them periodically through the week if they’ve done any of those five things for their sibling. This keeps the needs of their siblings fresh on each others’ minds. I also feel like it shows the human side of one another.
4. Treat them like individuals.
Much like secret number one, we learn early on that as parents we don’t use the “cookie cutter approach”, because not all children are the same, nor should they be treated that way. Even twins, or children close in age should be praised for their individual strengths and we should be sensitive to their weaknesses. Being open about bringing out the best in your kids, will hopefully help them to do the same with and towards each other.
5. Praise them in public.
As a piggyback to secret number four, I’ve found it very beneficial for sibling relations not to chastise them in front of one another, but to save those public moments for “praising” them. Sometimes chastising our children in front of their siblings make it easy for their siblings to feel like they can do the same. I will admit that this is a hard one, because we sometimes parent emotionally and it’s especially hard if you have a knee-jerk reaction to the inevitable craziness – which is our kids. When I am being diligent about this, I see results.
As a family, we have morning prayer. Our goal is to come together as a family, before God, and to also share our spiritual needs openly. We can see the changes in our kids, as they ask during dinner about each other’s days. It’s a beautiful thing to see your children showing compassion towards one another!
While it is a completely expected and normal occurrence for siblings to argue, making sure that they know the importance of respecting and loving one another is extremely important. When you think about it, this is just rehearsal for them learning to be team players and resolving conflict in the real world. Again, these are things that have worked for us and I’m hoping that if this issue is plaguing your lovely little lambs, that they will work for you, too!
Do you have any secrets to successfully keeping the sibling banter at bay?
It’s the New Year and I’m sure you’ve made all kinds of resolutions and set your goals for 2013. Well, I challenge to do something that you just may actually do AFTER the month of January comes to a close. I’m definitely excited about it, so here goes! Why not start a “Jar of Awesome”? I was surfing through the blogs of some fabulous blogger friends and was inspired by Uncommon Chick, who is also start her very own “Jar of Awesome”. Here’s how it works:
This January, start out with an empty jar and fill it with notes about all of the awesome things that happened to you throughout 2013. Then on New Year’s Eve next year, open it up and reflect on all of the awesome things that happened to you. This is great for singles, couples, as well as families, give it a try, we are!
I thought this was a pretty neat idea and I’m so glad I found it. I’m also excited because I get to involve my entire family and help the kids understand perspective and reflection. I don’t know about you, but I know I will need about 2 or 3 of these jars, because I’m claiming 2013 to be über-awesome! So, are you in? Drop me line to let me know if you’re up for it…And I wish you and yours a very Happy New Year!
Keeping it Smart & Sassy (KISS),
At this time of year, I always try to make sure that the kids are participating in some type of charity, so that they truly reflect on the reason for the season. The good thing is, they enjoy it! This year’s Christmas charity was Samaritan’s Purse ~ Operation Christmas Child. Samaritan’s Purse provides international relief and at Christmas, they provide shoe boxes (to be filled by you) and given to needy families, so that they too can have Christmas!
Here’s what we did:
Both of the kids got a shoe box. The goal was to fill them up with gifts (that they would like to receive), as well as a few toiletries. So, we headed to the store to pick out some goodies to fill them up! The kids got to choose the gender and ages of their shoe box recipients. Of course, they chose their own gender and their own age ranges, which made things a lot easier.
The kids had a blast picking out shoe box goodies. The Princess chose candy, a watch, jewelry, hair accessories, Disney Princess bowls and flatware, toothbrush and some random toys. My Favorite Son chose ear buds, a comb, soap, wash cloths, a calculator, socks, pens, and candy.
I told the kids, it would be nice to drop their recipient a nice line or two. I love my son’s peer appropriate letter and even more, the way it starts out: “Hey, what’s up, Bro?”
Her note was straight and to the point. “Merry Christmas. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas.” (Too sweet!)
So, they each packed their boxes…
…and sang Christmas carols in the process.
…and with $7 each for processing, the boxes were sent!
Everyone deserves Christmas. I believe that when you are blessed, you HAVE to bless others….It’s only right. I find it to be such a wonderful thing, knowing that you’re doing a great job with your kids. With this project, they really made me proud with their enthusiasm and it wasn’t because they were doing something for themselves. They found joy in doing for others.
What is your favorite [Christmas] charity? Are the kids involved?
Keeping it Smart & Sassy (KISS),
I don’t know about you, but I love sending my husband and kids out, only to have them bring back some of the best candy EVER! Don’t get me wrong, I really am combing through the kids’ candy for safety, but I’m also secretly stockpiling Take 5′s, Almond Joy’s, Twix and Kit Kat. OK, OK!! Let the truth be known, that was the OLD me….The thirty pounds heavier me!! Now, I’m mentally ready to look at and pass along most (not all) of my favorite chocolate treasures.
How do I do it? I’ve come too far. I’m proud of my weight loss and how far I’ve come. If I start to feel weak, I can began to play mind games with myself. “Psst, Don’t you still want to fit in that dress?” “How many minutes on the treadmill would it take for this mini Snickers bar?” Those types of things seem to work for me. So, if you think you’re gonna feel a little weak with all that candy in the house, let me help you with a few tips:
1. Eat before you go trick or treating. You know the experts tell you not to go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. Well this is the same concept. A full tummy will help you from digging in your little Princess’s stash along the way.
2. Walk it out. Walk with your kids while they’re trick or treating instead of driving them. Burn calories along the way…Makes sense, right?
3. Donate you candy. Yes, you read this correctly! There is a Halloween Candy Buy Back program that helps the troops. They call it Operation Gratitude. Over 1,000 dentists are participating nationwide. The dentists partner with local companies and give you coupons and discounts for services and goods in return. To see if you have a participating dentist in your area, use the zip code look up on the page.
4. Use your candy as personal leverage. Are you currently dieting or improving your eating habits? Save your candy for your “cheat day” or a time that you truly deserve it for being so good!
5. Set limits for the kids and lead by example. We do NO MORE than 4 pieces of candy a day. Let your conscience do the work. Don’t tell them that and you’re tearing open candy wrappers all day at work (home)!
Thanks to our friends at fitsugar.com, this is what 100 calories of your favorite candy looks like:
I hope this helps you and that you and your family have a fun, safe and healthy Halloween!
Keeping it Smart & Sassy (KISS),
I thought once I left the South, I would only be braving the snow, but as Hurricane Sandy’s impending doom is anticipated along the entire Eastern seaboard, I am getting my family prepared for the worst. I found a few tips on ready.gov and I want to share them with you. Please be smart and safe! Stock up and stay in!
Here are what the experts are saying to do BEFORE the hurricane:
- Build an emergency kit (any basic necessities your family will need i.e. water, batteries, first aid kids, medicine)
- Identify levees and dams in your area and determine whether they pose a hazard to you.
- Make plans to secure your property:
- Cover all of your home’s windows.
- Be sure trees and shrubs around your home are well trimmed so they are more wind resistant.
- Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
- Plan to bring in all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and anything else that is not tied down.
DURING the hurricane, you should:
- Listen to the radio or TV for information.
- Secure your home, close storm shutters and secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors.
- Turn off utilities if instructed to do so. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed. Things are good if you keep the door closed for 4 hours.
- Turn off propane tanks
- Avoid using the phone, except for serious emergencies. Save that battery!
- Stay indoors during the hurricane and away from windows and glass doors.
- Close all interior doors – secure and brace external doors.
- Keep curtains and blinds closed. Do not be fooled if there is a lull; it could be the eye of the storm – winds will pick up again.
- Take refuge in a small interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest level.
- Lie on the floor under a table or another sturdy object.
Here’s what you may need to do AFTER the hurricane:
- Continue listening to a NOAA Weather Radio or the local news for the latest updates.
- Stay alert for extended rainfall and subsequent flooding even after the hurricane or tropical storm has ended.
- If you have become separated from your family, use your family communications plan or contact FEMA or the American Red Cross.
- FEMA has established the National Emergency Family Registry and Locator System (NEFRLS), which has been developed to help reunite families who are separated during a disaster. The NEFRLS system will enable displaced individuals the ability to enter personal information into a website database so that they can be located by others during a disaster.
- The American Red Cross also maintains a database to help you find family. Contact the local American Red Cross chapter where you are staying for information. Do not contact the chapter in the disaster area.
- If you evacuated, return home only when officials say it is safe.
- If you cannot return home and have immediate housing needs. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345
- Drive only if necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed¬ out bridges. Stay off the streets. If you must go out watch for fallen objects; downed electrical wires; and weakened walls, bridges, roads, and sidewalks.
- Keep away from loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the power company.
- Walk carefully around the outside your home and check for loose power lines, gas leaks and structural damage before entering.
- Stay out of any building if you smell gas, floodwaters remain around the building or your home was damaged by fire and the authorities have not declared it safe.
- Inspect your home for damage. Take pictures of damage, both of the building and its contents, for insurance purposes. If you have any doubts about safety, have your residence inspected by a qualified building inspector or structural engineer before entering.
- Use battery-powered flashlights in the dark. Do NOT use candles. Note: The flashlight should be turned on outside before entering – the battery may produce a spark that could ignite leaking gas, if present.
- Watch your pets closely and keep them under your direct control. Watch out for wild animals, especially poisonous snakes. Use a stick to poke through debris.
- Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until you are sure it’s not contaminated.
- Check refrigerated food for spoilage. If in doubt…throw it out!
I’m praying that you and your family will get through this without harm, and that we use this opportunity to have some quality family and bonding time if nothing else. Be safe!
Keeping Safe and Sassy (KISS),