Jun 162013
 

There will be so many times that I will say something or do something and my teenage daughter will refer to those things as “Mom Powers”.  She does not understand how I know things.  How I know which way her sheets should go on her bed, how I know how to open the package we just bought, how I know that a little of an ingredient in a dish is just enough or how too much of another ingredient will be too much, etc.  There are so many things that I do and say that prompt my daughter to call them “Mom Powers”.

sxc.hu, stock.xchng, PixelCake, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1331542

sxc.hu, stock.xchng, PixelCake, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1331542

When I think back to being her age, I actually remember thinking something similar about my mom.  It seemed like she knew so much about so many different things.  I really thought she was one of the smartest people I had ever known.

It is really the same thing – it is not special powers, although I certainly wish it was!  It is so simply experience.  Life experience.  I know that when my daughter is my age, she will know things too and maybe her kids will feel the same way.

When my daughter brings this up I try to tell her it is just life experience.  You go through life, you learn a lot, you gain knowledge.  There is nothing special about it, you do not try to do it, it just simply happens.

She knows this – she does not really think I have special powers!  But, she says it as a joke and we both laugh.  She will say “there are those Mom Powers again!”  It really is kind of funny when you think of it.  You do not realize the things you learn that you did not set out to learn.  They just come – with life, with age, with experience.

Mom Powers – it sounds so much cooler!

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May 182013
 

We all have some sort of routine in our lives.  We may have routines that take us through the morning, the whole day or even longer.  We all get set in those particular routines and it can be hard to veer off that path.  However, I learned from my daughter that it’s okay to steer a different direction once in a while.  It can actually be a good, healthy, fun thing to do.

I have a pretty set routine during the week.  I work 8am – 5pm, Monday through Friday.  After work I come home, relax for just a bit by doing a little writing.  I then make dinner, watch some TV, and then head off to bed by 10pm so I can rise early and do it all again.  Quite a routine, isn’t it?  Sound familiar?

Alarm Clock Photo By Sandy Stachowiak

Alarm Clock Photo By Sandy Stachowiak

My teenage daughter likes to keep busy and do things.  She likes it best when we are constantly moving rather than sitting around.  I tell her it is because she has a lot more energy than me and because she does not know what it is like to work 40+ hours per week.  I do not like to go out anywhere after I get home from work.  But lately she has been trying more and more to get me out of this routine.

Although I do enjoy relaxing and trying to recoup after a day’s work; I have to admit I am now veering off my routine a bit to do things with my daughter.  Going out to dinner during the work week, doing some shopping after work, or just being out after dark on a Tuesday are all breaks from the routine.  And you know what?  It’s not so tough, it’s not so bad – it’s actually nice and it’s actually relaxing too!

She tries the same thing with me on the weekends and I cannot blame her for trying.  Spending weekends doing chores or yard work is not exactly fun.  So, I now try to use one day to work around the house or yard and the other day to get out and do something fun.  I feel it is a good compromise and it works for us.

So, the moral of my story is that my daughter has taught me it is okay to break from the routine.  It’s actually better than okay – it’s fun!

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May 052013
 

I never realized until I dealt with a stressful situation in my current job just how much my mood affects our household.  Have you ever thought about it?  I didn’t until recently. I was sucked into letting my job affect me so much that my stress level was through the roof.  I came home angry because I was stressed out completely at 5pm every day.  My boyfriend who has lived with my daughter and I for 6 years works at the same company that I do.  So, when the pressure came down on him as well – well, I don’t have to tell you what it was like at 5pm at our house.  We were both in such horrible moods that it would take hours to just relax and be able to settle into a nice evening – and by that time, it was bed time! Neither my boyfriend nor I realized the affect that this was having on my daughter, our dog, ourselves, or our quality of life.

Image by: sxc.hu, stock.xchng, vivekchugh, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1156006

Image by: sxc.hu, stock.xchng, vivekchugh, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1156006

Upon realizing this, it was like a revelation to me.  I could not believe how miserable our household was becoming or how miserable that I was becoming, as a person.  I was letting it all get to me WAY too much!  It was to the point that when we came home from work, my daughter along with our dog, would retreat to my daughter’s room until dinner. Then most times after dinner, they or she, would go right back there!  I was spending NO time with my daughter in the evenings.

In between all of this, when we would happen across each other in the kitchen or living room at the same time, it was always just so tense.  I could not figure out why at the time.

Well, I’m sure you can imagine after telling you all of this just how bad I felt.  We had definitely fallen into not only a pattern but a trap of misery!  I just really, really had no idea how badly our moods were affecting our household.

One day, and I’m honest about this, it just hit me.  It really, really hit me…like a brick wall on wheels!  The dynamic in our home was so affected by the moods we were in that it was pulling us apart, making us all cranky and causing undo stress on everyone – including the dog! Once I realized this, things changed immediately and have not been the same since.  I do not ever, ever again want my daughter to run to her room or our dog to run to her bed every time we walk in the door!  Not ever again! I have taken steps to make sure it does not happen again.  I have:

Image by: sxc.hu, stock.xchng, marafet, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1322185

Image by: sxc.hu, stock.xchng, marafet, www.sxc.hu/photo/1322185

  1. Made sure that I leave my job where it belongs – in the office
  2. Made an effort to put on a happy face when I get home – afterall, seeing my daughter is usually the brightest part of my day, so why not act like it!
  3. Made my own life better by leaving the stress behind AND not letting the stress get to me like it did!
  4. Made sure that I only check my work email when there is a big event happening, not every time the phone beeps.  I actually turned off email notifications for my work email account on my phone.

I made these changes about 6 months ago and have noticed a huge improvement in our home.  We are all much happier and enjoy our time together – and actually spend time together!  We do not grump and mope, we are not cranky and angry.  We treat each other better and we show it.

Life is better – life is good!

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Mar 302013
 

For my almost 16 years of being a mother I have tried to find a way to deal with the milestone birthdays of my daughter.  The most important ones so far have been her 5th birthday because she was starting school and her 13th birthday because she hit the teen years.  We are now getting ready next week to celebrate her Sweet 16.  These can be very difficult times for some parents.

We are seeing our children growing up, we are yearning for the previous years when they were “little”, we are counting down the days we have left with them before they leave for college, we are also being reminded of how old WE are becoming.  Oh yes, when our children have those milestone birthdays, it can cause a flood of thoughts and emotions.

Image by: sxc.hu, stock.xchng, ba1969, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1200968

Image by: sxc.hu, stock.xchng, ba1969, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1200968

So as parents how do we deal with these big birthdays?

Personally, I believe we need to be sure that we make these dates as special for our children as we can.  Although every birthday should be special; those birthdays that come with the tag of being a milestone – a more meaningful birthday in the scheme of life – should be celebrated as such.  And we, as parents, need to remember these birthdays are not and should not be reflections of our own lives.

We have our own birthdays to remind us of how old we are becoming (ew!).  We should not use our children’s birthdays to remind us of that as well.

So whether our kids are turning 5, 13, 16 or 21 – we need to celebrate that and celebrate them!  These are huge moments in their lives.  These are moments that our children WILL remember.  Do something special, buy them something special, spend that day with them doing something special.  Whatever you choose, whatever you are able to do, make that day so very special – for them.

Try to think about how wonderful they are, how much they have accomplished, how good they have been raised, and what special people they are becoming.  And if you need to cry a little bit later, then go ahead – after they have had their special day and gone to bed. :-)

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Mar 112013
 

When your children talk about aches or pains, do you really listen and take it seriously?  You should.

As parents we know that there are times when our children exaggerate.  It mostly happens when they are little it seems.  They would talk about that gigantic spider in their room or that enormous animal in the yard – both of which were “this big!”  But, when our children grow into teens, do we carry over that habit of thinking they might be exaggerating?  I think it is natural, if we do.

sxc.hu, stock.xchng, 13dede, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1222929

Photo by: sxc.hu, stock.xchng, 13dede, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1222929

I learned that listening to my daughter really is important.  A few years ago at the age of 13, she told me that she always leaned a certain way when she was sitting at her desk and that she thought it was caused from Scoliosis.  She actually talked about this more than once.  I did not think she even knew what Scoliosis was; much less believe that she had it.  Well, guess what?  She was right!

I took my daughter in for her school physical and the doctor confirmed her suspicions with an exam and X-ray.  (I wrote a complete article on this for Yahoo Voices! if you are interested in our Scoliosis experience specifically.)  What I want to touch on here; however, is that listening to our kids is important.  Taking their concerns into consideration is important.  Paying attention to what aches they have is important.  It is all important.

Sure, what they are feeling may turn out to be nothing.  But at the same time what they are feeling could turn out to be something.  Listen to your kids.

 

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Mar 032013
 

No one likes chores.  It does not matter if it is indoor cleaning, yard work or running errands; I do not know anyone who likes doing chores.  However, there really are ways to do them where you can have some quality time with your kids and even have a good time.  Yes – even have a good time!  Here is what my daughter and I have learned from each other about making chores fun…

Sweeping the floor

Sweeping the floor

Indoor Chores
I taught my daughter that music is key – especially with a teenager, but it works with little ones too because I did this when my daughter was younger.  Put on some music you all like and clean to it. Vacuum to it.  Sweep to it.  Dust to it.  Soon you will find that you are all dancing and singing while cleaning.

Running Errands
My daughter taught me that if you have several stops to make, try to work in lunch or dinner afterwards.  It will give you all something to look forward to when the errands are done.  Turn up the radio in the car (yes, music again) and sing along to something you all enjoy while travelling between stops.  If you have a lot of driving to do, work in some car games like “My Father Owns a Grocery Store”.  Grocery or household goods shopping can also be fun by simply looking at fun things – try on some silly sunglasses, look at new decorations for the kids’ rooms, pick out some different snacks or visit the bakery for a special treat, or if you are able to spend a few extra dollars try the “dollar aisle” if the store has one.  Depending on where you have to go and what you have to do, there are ways to make the journey as fun as the destination!

Cutting the lawn

Mowing the lawn

Yard Work
This one is the little tougher, but there are ways to make it easier on everyone.  My daughter has a goal of paying off her cell phone with each grass cut, so she is anxious to mow the lawn to pay off that debt!  She is also at an age where getting a bit of sun on her skin is an interest, so she puts on some suntan lotion while doing work outside in hopes of improving her tan.  When we lived in the Midwest and she was younger, raking leaves into piles and letting her jump into them when her part was done also made it fun.  Depending on the part of the country that you live in and the season it is, there are ways to make outdoor chores less icky.

You might have some suggestions on things your family does to make chores a little more fun as well.  Feel free to share!

 

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Jan 302013
 

I know there are days when I feel like I have to do everything.  Go to work, take care of the home and family, make dinner, and still try to find time for writing.  Then I need to make time for myself and my relationships; friends, family, etc.  (Yes I know, finding time for ‘myself’- what’s that?)  It can be so hard to keep with everyone and everything all the time!  I think that I actually feel like this MOST days not just SOME days.  It can make me feel like I need to be a superhero to even make it all happen, much less master it all.  But, there is something that I realized recently and working moms have to realize and that is that we do NOT have to do it all.

sxc.hu, stock.xchng, julosstock, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1159083

sxc.hu, stock.xchng, julosstock, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1159083

Tell yourself, “I’m not alone here.  I have a family.  I have help.  I don’t have to be Supermom!”

Now, the trick to admitting that you do not have to do it all yourself is actually accepting it.  THAT is where I get stuck.  I have a really hard time asking for help.  I sort of expect other people in the house to just offer up help and I find myself saying, “I shouldn’t have to ask!”  Well, that does not always work and if you have tried it then you know.

So, this year I am trying a different approach.  I am going to actually ask for help and have already started!  If someone pops in while I am preparing dinner and asks to help I say, “yes” and give them a job.  If I am cleaning and someone asks what they can do I say “here you go” and give them a job.  If someone else offers to play chauffeur for the night and drive my daughter somewhere I say “sure” and let them go on their merry way.  If no one offers help then I say “hey” and ask them for help.

At first doing this made me feel sort of selfish and I really am still getting used to doing it.  But I also thought about this; when they are doing something and I offer to help they say “yes”.  When I am not around and they need my help they yell for me.  It is a two-way street!

No matter how you look at it, a family is a team.  There is nothing wrong with everyone pitching in to help.  It is honestly good for the family and the individuals both.

So if you have as much trouble accepting help as me, give this idea a try too.  Do not be afraid to accept or ask for help.

Now if you want to be supermom then I say “go for it”!  But me?  I would rather be part of a team than the Lone Ranger. ;)

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Oct 262012
 

As parents and real people we go through a lot of experiences – some that we share our knowledge of with our kids and some that we do not.  That is normal as well as smart.  When it comes to respect:  we teach our children to respect others, to respect us as parents, to respect their elders, to respect their teachers, etc.  But, do we teach them to respect the person that they are in a close relationship with?

It is our job to educate our children in the things that they will use in life.  I believe that this includes respect of others when they are old enough to be in closer, romantic-type relationships as this will be a crucial part of their lives.

sxc.hu, stock.xchng, quynhyen, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1314523

sxc.hu, stock.xchng, quynhyen, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1314523

Respecting the feelings and thoughts of the person you have chosen to be with at that time is not necessarily something I remember being taught.  Maybe it came with my upbringing, I’m not sure.  But I do meet too many people and see too many times that within relationships these days; respect is not as widely used as it should be.

With the divorce rates higher now than when I was a kid in the 70’s and 80’s I am beginning to see that the need for this is more and more – and has been for a long time!  Not respecting the person you are with or demanding that respect back can cause more problems than one realizes.  I don’t know that waiting until our children are actually in these relationships is the right time to educate them on this.  Shouldn’t it really start much earlier?  Now I am not saying to start when they are 5 years old, but once they get into their teens I feel that it is appropriate at least by then.  If you cannot show them through your own relationships in the home, then teach them instead.  You may live in a house where there is not a close relationship for them to learn from, but that does not mean that they shouldn’t know how to treat their significant other and vice versa when the time comes.

I think that it is important for our kids to know how they should be treated by and treat their significant other.  Teaching them, telling them that they should expect to be respected is beyond important.  At the same time, the opposite is true in that they should know how to love and respect their partner as well.

This can have a huge impact on their adult life!  Therefore it is our job to teach them….sooner than later.  Are we missing the mark if we don’t?  If so, who suffers then?

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Oct 142012
 

I really had no idea to what extent quality time with my teen meant until it happened by chance.  I have not forgotten it and hope you all can take something from it.

I work at a job that spews stress.  Coming home at 5pm every day, stressed out, exhausted – it takes its toll.  The toll is taken on the whole house, not just me.  I noticed that when I came home, my daughter would take off to her bedroom.  I thought it was just her; but soon realized it was also because of me.

Over the course of several months I had some physical problems that in the end caused me to need neck surgery.  This surgery would keep me out of the office for at least 4 weeks.  After that, I worked part-time from home and gradually built up strength to work more until I was able to return to the office.  But, what I noticed while I spent so much time at home is what really hit me.

sxc.hu, stock.xchng, marczini, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1386612

sxc.hu, stock.xchng, marczini, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1386612

My daughter would come home from high school each day, especially in the beginning after my surgery, asking if I needed anything, while I lay in bed.  That was the first thing she would do upon returning home each day.  After she changed clothes and put away her school stuff, she would come back to my room.  She would just sit and talk with me.  Sometimes she would bring her computer and we would look at shopping sites.  We would discuss purses and shoes, make-up and skin care, or her day and her friends.  She would stay with me for a couple of hours, at times even falling asleep by just watching TV with me.

I never realized until this happened just how much that time with my daughter was so important.  I did not realize that the stress I brought home from work affected our relationship so negatively.

My daughter and I reconnected completely.  It was almost like we found each other again.  These are things we should have been doing all along.  But, life just got in the way.

Since this time I have gone back into the office four days per week.  But, that one day that I am working from home I make sure to take time with my daughter when she arrives home from school.  I ask her about her day, her friends, boys, grades, and classes – pretty much anything that I know she deals with each day too.  AND, more importantly I have learned to come home from work on the other days and NOT be completely stressed out.  I take the time to talk with her.   I spend time asking her about HER day when I walk in the door.  And, when I walk in that door I try hard to leave work behind.

Spending time with your teen is more important that you realize.  My surgery was a blessing in disguise – it brought my daughter and I much closer.  It happened at the right time as well.  Being close to your child during their teenage years is essential.  I am thankful that I realized this and became close to my daughter again.

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