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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Decoding the Lingo

Jules here-

I have read some very interesting articles recently on parenting and child development lately-- many of them discuss the fact that parents are now "scared" to discipline their children.  Parents are allowing kids free-reign, and the world is seeing the results.  My kids are normal kids- I often have to yell at them, put them in time out, or even swat their tushies on occasion.  However, my kids do know how to mind, listen, and obey me- especially when we are in a public setting. They know that punishment will await them if they are belligerent, wild, or out-of-control.
When James finds my phone...

To me- that's normal parenting. Normal "training my kids" to behave.  But I must be in the minority now because I constantly have people complimenting me on my kids behavior- which I deem as perfectly normal. My kids act exactly as I acted as a child. They get into trouble, but they know how to behave.

The children jumping on the couch- I allow a bit of wildness in the winter time just to get out extra energy!
I have spoken about behavior in countless posts- and as a parent I know we constantly have to adjust, grow, and learn with each child.  I am always looking for more loving, efficient, and effective parenting strategies. I have friends who have challenging children who constantly strive to learn and figure out better ways to train their child. Some children need continual training and discipline due to their more resistant personalities.
A time out chair.... serious stuff.

In this post I am NOT talking about the following:
  •  Children with a disability who truly have difficulty with following social constraints.
  •  We've all had the times at the grocery store with the screaming kid amidst many eye rolls and rude comments. I am not talking about those rare, embarrassing moments when people drop a few snide remarks. 
  • Children under the age of 2- sometimes they are QUITE unpredictable. However, one should keep them at arms-length consistently. 
  • I am not talking about the apologetic parents who understand the burden of an unruly child, who sheepishly herd their children out of public areas. 
 On the contrary, I hear some acquaintances talk about discipline, but their children's behavior does NOT seem to reflect their supposed efforts.  Yet, many of the parents seem oblivious that their child is even a problem!   I am talking about when people consistently use the same terminology (friends, doctors, teachers, strangers, neighbors, grandparents, etc.) when addressing your child.  Since it is now faux pas to have other people discipline your children (unlike back in the good ol' days), one has to read between the lines when people address your children.

Good 'Ol Days- Children working in factories....
"Well, isn't he (or she) a little bundle of energy!"  Translation: Your child needs to be a little less-wild in this setting. Your child is being distracting to other people in the area with the rambunctiousness. **Note: At a park, hiking a mountain, playground, etc. this could be a compliment! In the correct setting,

"He (or she) certainly has a mind of his own!" Translation: Your child isn't respecting you. Your child should be more obedient to your instructions.

"He's certainly a stubborn one!" Translation: Your child REALLY needs to be taught to respect you more. Your discipline is probably not working.

"Maybe your child needs a break." Translation: We all need a break. I heard a librarian say this to a mom of a wild 4 year old during a story time and the mom said, "No, he's fine thanks!". Take a hint, your kid is being WAY too disruptive for everyone else.

"Do you think he/she needs some help?" Translation: Your child is doing something he/she shouldn't be doing. Don't let him/her climb on the shelf or take out all the toys, etc.... some mothers are more worry-warts than I am and will use this phrase at a playground when they think my child is in danger- personally, I like my kids to learn "the hard" way sometimes... BUT, if I hear this in an indoor, public setting, usually an adult is trying to kindly tell me to get my kid.

I have mentioned before that many people don't recognize the influence of peers and media on their children's behavior.  They only feed their children organic food, use non-toxic cleaners, but then allow them to watch PG-13 movies and teenage-television when they are under 7 years old... Protect their minds as much as their bodies!!

Final thoughts- it does take a village to raise a child.  Family, friends and teachers can offer great insight into discipline- don't be too prideful. Accept advice, suggestions, and help as needed- you might be surprised how much easier your life will become.  Here's a quote from one of my favorite child psychologists, Dr. Ray Guarendi, "Discipline without love is harsh. But love without discipline, that's child abuse."  Try to balance both!

Easy Rule #343234- Even if you aren't a perfect parent, nowadays your kids can look like rock stars compared to the parents who don't ever say no to their children....

Easy Rule #53234- Set the expectations high for your children. Demand respect. Life will only get easier and more fun for all of you!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Shielding from Stress

No reason for this picture, just hilarious.
Jules here-

For some reason, this past week has tested my patience, strength, and endurance.  From getting back into the daily grind of school to handling work, I have been a bit over-stretched.  Instead of waiting to react to the stressors, I decided to start facing them a little differently.  First- I had to address the moments when my resolve crumbles and I start to freak out- you must know what pushes your buttons!
Pancake breakfast silliness

Being crunched for time in the morning- My children are energetic, lively, happy kids- except when they are getting ready for school in the morning.  To get them dressed, fed, and organized for school takes negotiations, threats, and bribery....  My coping has been generally freaking out on the kids as we scramble to get to school in time....
Note: No actual morning pictures are taken due to already extreme lateness

New Preventative Solutions:
  • More nighttime prep: I already pack lunches at night, but now I am double-checking snow gear, homework pages, documents I need to drop off, etc.
  • Get up earlier: Earlier in the year, I was getting up well before the kids to get breakfast, but lately (well since the days have gotten so short), I have been waking up only minutes before the kids...  The days when I give myself more time to ready myself, go MUCH better.
  • Earlier bed time for kiddos Part of the reason I had been sleeping in, was that the kids were staying up later. All moms need a little "me" time at night, and I stayed up later to accommodate. Now, I am trying to get them to bed before 8 PM so I have some time to unwind.
 Letting little things make me lose my cool-  Some things can just drive you crazy. They can be little, seemingly harmless things, but they seem to push the exact right button. I can't stand putting gloves on children- seriously-- why can't they stick out their freakin' little thumbs in the thumb hole?!?!  I also hate getting "bopped" on the head on purpose or by accident.  I hate when my kids lose something five minutes before we leave the house (shoes, coat, etc.).  So what can you do for these little annoyances that can really escalate...
Ah.. the glove, so simple in design, yet unmanageable for under 6 year olds.....
New Preventative Solutions:

  • Deep breathing- Taking a moment to count to ten before I react DOES help. Saying a prayer in that time, helps even more.
  • Letting natural consequences happen- What happens when you can't find a glove for your kid before school? They miss recess. What happens when they can't find their homework five minutes before you leave? They get a "missed" homework.  It's hard for a mom to accept, but it'll teach them a lesson.
  • Give yourself time- Getting three kids dressed in snow gear takes time, making sure I allow myself the time to get it done alleviates some of the "I hate putting on gloves" angst...
Over-scheduling AND under-scheduling problems- I do function at a higher level of stress than most people- I like to be busy as I get more accomplished- however, sometimes I push the limit and say "Yes" too often.  Especially when I say "yes" to things I really don't want to do.... I sometimes dread doing something that I put it off until I stress last minute.

Spontaneous Game night!
New Preventative Solutions:
  • Learning to say "No" without an explanation- When I don't want to do a play date, I am just going to say "No thanks." I don't have to go into a litany of excuses. Birthday party? No thanks! I don't feel like standing around talking to parents and buying expensive gifts for a kid I barely know.... 
  • Saying "yes" to the right things. I had my house blessed last Thursday! I had to clean every room from top to bottom, but it was WORTH it.  Not only is my house more spiritually sound, I had a more relaxing weekend as my major chores were done!! Also, the playdate-turned blessing- turned into fun game night with friends!! Yes I ended up with 8 children and 7 adults for dinner, but I haven't had so much fun in awhile.
  • Checking my calendar, twice- Sometimes I say "yes" too soon, or I don't look at the whole picture of the week.  Oops. Making sure I triple check my calendar will help alleviate embarrassing, "I actually can't come now..." calls.
Hopefully my new preventative strategies to parenting peril will pay off!!

Easy Rule #23213- Stop and reevaluate why you are so stressed. Figuring out solutions ahead of time can help calm your whole family.

Easy Rule #35234- When winter gets you down, start baking. It warms the house as well as insulates the body :)

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Ode To Sisters

Jules here-

When I first delivered my second child, the gender had been a surprise.  After I saw she was a beautiful (well, kind of funny-looking), healthy little girl- I was thrilled. Most people (rudely) asked, "Oh, did you want a boy?"  And in reality- I didn't!! I was so happy that Grace would have a SISTER!!! Brothers are great (so no offense Greg) but sisters are amazing.
My lovely ladies
Here's the Top Ten Things that I love about having sisters:

10. They are truly honest with you. Does this make me look fat? Yes. Am I overreacting? No. Etc. Etc. They will always be honest (sometimes brutally so) but you know that you can trust their advice. I also know I can be honest with them- it's refreshing to be able to speak without guise or tact.

9. They get you the best presents. Since we talk all the time- sisters know what we need, want, or secretly desire- and our presents are usually right on target. From tiny kitchen gadgets to hand me down clothing- I love my sister's good taste!
Family favorite purchase :)

8. They will listen to your boring stories (not that I have any).  Who cares what I made my kids for dinner every night this week? Who cares about the great deal I got on cereal yesterday? My sisters do! Or at least they seem to!  I love having someone I can always talk about the mundane with.

7. They are truly loyal. Sisters will mock to your face but defend you to anyone who tries to do the same. No matter bad decisions from fashion to life choices- they will stand by you.

6. There may be spats- but we survive.  Do we always agree with each other? No. Sometimes we can get in arguments, disagreements, and even fights, but we somehow always manage to forgive and move on.  We are not exactly alike and our differences could alienate us, but instead we try to respect each other and not be too sensitive.

5.  Escapism as mothers. Moms, in particular Stay-at-home-Moms, need breaks from some of the monotony of daily life.  Having sisters to call helps break up the day with some grown up conversations, jokes, and encouragement.

4. My childhood was incredible. I always had someone to play with- from Ems and I's "Daring Dancing Duo" to Betsy and I's amazing imagination play- I was never bored. I was watching my girls sled in the backyard last week, and their laughter and giddiness as they careened into a bush reminded me so much of snow-play with my sisters!
Jules and Ems circa 1980

3. You can always ask them for favors. Need someone to watch your kids while you work? Call your sister! Need someone to help cook and clean for a party? Call your sister! Moving help, painting, laundry- whatever- no task is too menial or annoying to burden a sister with.

2. Same sense of humor.  My sisters and I are hilarious together- our conversations on the phone or text messaging could be on the radio-- well, at least WE would find them funny.... Being raised by the same parents with the same media influences, we have very similar 'funny bones' and often find each other cracking up hysterically.
Never trust a blogging sister with a camera
1. They just get it. As they know me very well, my sisters give the best advice, nagging, and support to me. They know when to encourage me to make a change and to support me even when I am not ready.  I can't wait to see how Felicity and Grace's sisterhood develops over the years!

Easy Rule #34234- When you can't afford to buy the gifts your sisters REALLY deserve for Christmas- write a blog post about them instead.

Easy Rule #3432- Never trust an older sister who choreographs dance moves that require standing on shoulders- Thanks Ems, my head will never be the same.