So, I was told to send my four-year-old to bed an hour early. Simple but great advice! Why didn’t I think of that? Well, that is why I am sharing. I probably didn’t think of that because I am running on autopilot and didn’t step outside of the situation to take a closer look.
I am not sure if anyone is in the same predicament as me but with two jobs and grad school, it has become quite hard to spend as much time with my children as I would like. I spoke with my pastor about this and she had some really great advice. My main issue was that I needed to spend more time with my teenage daughter and as anyone knows teenagers can turn their backs on parents and shut them out; mine hasn’t done this and instead has been trying to connect with me more often. My son is a handful and usually takes up most of my time when I am at home and not grading papers or writing papers.
So, I was told to send my four-year-old to bed an hour early. Simple but great advice! Why didn’t I think of that? Well, that is why I am sharing. I probably didn’t think of that because I am running on autopilot and didn’t step outside of the situation to take a closer look. Within that hour my daughter gets 30 minutes to herself to relax without having to help with her little brother and the last 30 minutes are for us to share and do whatever it is that SHE wants to do.
When I told her about the idea she was excited. She even helps me get her little brother in the bed earlier for his storytime and kiss goodnight. So far we have played monopoly (her favorite game) and 8 ball (a game that uses our cell phones). We even answered questions from our “Coke or Pepsi” book (great book to get for girls middle school and up). She loves our time together and so do I.
Well, I have moved back to my old neighborhood and I am glad because the kids are happy, their schools are closer, and it’s beautiful here. Along with this move came a reconnection to their dad. Our past is somewhat intense. We met in high school and knew then that we wanted to be together “forever” but as we all know, when kids get involved and only one parent matures, it makes for some heavy situations. Fast forward 14 years and we are both a lot more mature and it is time to act as such.
I have come to the realization that it is important for our daughter to finally see her parents interact in a positive way and our 3.5 year old son to have his dad around on a consistent basis (also in a positive way). So, I extended the olive branch and offered for him to spend time with the kids and then when they went to bed we could watch the first game of the NBA finals. Both of us are going for Golden State!
Anyways, he was surprised because I never wanted to watch sports with him when we were together in the past nor did I really want him watching sports alone. I’d rather have him watch a good Lifetime Movie with me. So, he accepted the offer and was pleasantly surprised when he saw that I had brought two different types of wings, chips and dip, and beer and wine for the game.
We watched it and celebrated the ups and downs of the game. As we sat there glued to the screen and the food, it suddenly hit me that there was a clear power struggle between him and me. I didn’t want to give up control and he didn’t either. We also weren’t keeping the kids and each other partner first. We were young and selfish. All he wanted was my presence sharing an experience that he enjoyed. Crazily I used to be so mad at him for other actions that I tied it to anything that he wanted to do and “didn’t do it”.
Needless to say it was a great experience sharing a positive night with their dad and since then he has come over more often to spend time with the kids, talk about our daughters grades and our sons progress in a new preschool, and just relax.
What I want to end with is the fact that there shouldn’t be a power struggle because those types of struggles don’t account for the children. We need to focus on healthy relationships, which sometimes mean sacrifice, for our kids.
I have been “snowed-in” for the past few days and have completed a lot of homework for my new graduate degree that I’m working on. I have also pinned a lot on Pinterest. In keeping this post short, I was able to sit down with my daughter and go through these pictures and ask her thoughts on what she saw. This was a very enlightening moment as she realized that the world was actually as big as she was being told. Kids are so visual and no matter how many reports they have to write on globalization and multiculturalism, it always hits home when they get to “see” it. The best is when they can experience. I wanted to share with you what I shared with her from a site called distractify.com.
I had to write this post as I am nearing the end of the best movie this season thus far. Every winter, around the holidays, I watch all of the Christmas movies that I can find on Lifetime, ABC Family, Hallmark, and Hallmark Movie Channel. The kids and I love to watch these movies together because they get us into the holiday spirit and come are inspirational. Another channel which is new and I have not had a chance to pay as much attention to is UP, which I am sure has great programming too.
Anyway, a dream of mine would be to write a story that would be adapted into a movie for one of these channels. Each year, they outdo themselves. My cousin in New York and I call and compare notes on the best movie or what we are currently watching. As I type this post, I am watching “The Christmas Secret” on the Hallmark Movie Channel. It is a moving story of a single mother with two children who moves to a town to reconnect with lost family. Her humble and determined nature sets her up for fortune that she could never have imagined. Check out the trailer below, courtesy of Hallmark Movies & Mysteries.
I believe it is the hardest thing to be sick as a single parent with a small child at home. You don’t want to pass your germs on to your bambino but you are the only one in charge of taking care of them. I am lucky enough to have my thirteen year-old daughter who was so responsible and made me tea, a pot-pie (in the microwave) and entertained her little bro. Trust me this is not an easy feat as he is super active. I was able to rest when I got home from work so that I can go in tomorrow. This week, I have back to school night and I need to prepare both my classroom and my presentation for my new parents. I just can’t afford to take off now as it isn’t even winter yet, which is when I really get sick.
I sometimes wonder how some other single parents handle a situation like this? Sometimes, I know that I get overwhelmed and I need to take a step back and fill my bucket with some sort of positivity and inspiration. But, I also know that I may not always have the time to do that. One thing that brings me peace is knowing that I am not alone in this journey. I know that there are other single parents out there dealing with the same issues, some even more pressing and they and their children are coming out on top. Wow! That gave me inspiration for some other posts. I chat with you later. Stay strong!
When I think of my mother, I think of a strong woman whom worked hard all of her life until she retired on disability. This is the same woman who had two children early in life and then was surprised by another (myself) in her late thirties. Needless to say there was a lot of adjusting that needed to take place. With an 18 year gap between myself and my sister and a 20 year gap between myself and my brother, my mother and I have always struggled to bond as she wasn’t used to children any longer.
Now don’t get me wrong, she was the best mother she could be but, she, herself had grown up with a mother whom did not show love in the emotional sense, but through her ability to provide for and take care of her kids. The emotional piece had been missing for generations. I’m sure the fact that my grandmother growing up in the south and experiencing racism to an extent that I never had probably contributed to the hard demeanor that she presented. I am also sure that that was passed on to my own mother.
Now, as a parent myself I find it easy to show affection to my children while they are young but not so much as they get older; please do not beat me up for saying this. I currently have a 13 year old whom is going through her own hormonal changes and in need of emotional support of which I am not familiar except by the examples set forth in the family sitcoms I watched growing up.
I am thankful that I noticed my waning emotional support immediately (thanks to being a teacher and experiencing it firsthand with my students and their parents) because I was able to dig deep and surface the source and then research ways to remedy it.
I am happy to say that it is possible to break generational strongholds. I believe in purposeful parenting because you can never get back the years lost with your children but you can make a significant change for the better at any stage that will positively impact their lives. I am constantly searching for opportunities and creating opportunities to provide that emotional support to my daughter. I can’t say that I am an expert or that I am doing it correctly, but I am trying.
Purchased Groupons to brunch in the city for just her and I
We read a good book together or talk about whatever she wants to freely
We have created traditions that are unique to us and will be different for myself and her brother once he gets older
I purchased a devotional geared towards mothers and daughters to read with her every night
I do not allow electronics at the breakfast/dinner table to allow for conversation between her and myself
I have recently looked up more volunteer opportunities that we can do together
I am constantly looking for ways to create the emotional support that she needs as it is vital to her self-esteem and self-awareness. Recently, I read a book called How Full is Your Bucket by Tom Rath and my goal is to fill her bucket daily with positivity. I recommend reading this book and also StrengthsFinder 2.0. Just because something has been a certain way in your family for generations doesn’t mean that it can’t stop with you (and I am referring to something negative). You must proclaim that it will be different for you and yours. Purposefully parent!
Well, I have made it to another year and I truly feel blessed. I’ve had my challenges and my triumphs. But, I can honestly say that this was a year of learning life lessons, digging deep to truly understanding myself and my interactions with others (which is what I think your 30’s are all about anyway). It is a journey, this thing called life/wisdom, and I am glad that I get to travel this road. It is mine and I own it with all of its beauty and faults. As a single parent of two I find that my bad days always turn into good days when one of my children does something silly or smiles or whatever. They truly make a difference in my life in a positive way. For so long I chased after the dream of a traditional family and held onto a relationship with their father for far too long but, while he was in and out, they were always there. I am not sure how my life would have been if I did not have them, I can only assume–and remember what they say about assuming. I know that I am a better person that they are here; they have kept me focused and grounded. Children force you to really self-reflect and they peel through all of the layers. So, although it is my birthday, I want to celebrate them. They are my motivation, strength, blood, sweat, and tears. They are my heart and I am rocking this thing called “Single Parenthood”!
We have all heard of the infamous “Summer Slide” and if you haven’t, it is the loss of knowledge that occurs during the summer months. Children are usually outside playing, babysitting siblings, or inside playing video games or on social media–all of which are not promoting learning throughout the summer. So, in turn, they lose what they have learned throughout the school year and the brain becomes lazy. As a teacher, it is always interesting to hear a student say “Mr. or Mrs. So and So didn’t teach us that last year. This is mostly 90% incorrect. They were in fact taught the concepts but failed to retain them throughout the summer and the brain placed the information into the deep recesses of their mind. They just don’t remember. This leads to a reteaching of concepts that have already been taught and a waste of classroom time that could be spent on “going deeper” with those same concepts.
Every summer, I have my daughter read a book and tell me about it. If it is a book that I haven’t read myself, I pull a copy of the chapter by chapter summary from online (to make sure she is not bluffing). Most times, she has a summer reading assignment for her teacher for the upcoming year but, I also give her assignments myself. The web is a great tool. I can create crossword puzzles to test her knowledge of the book. There may even be some already created. My new passion is Prezi, so this summer, I am having her use this platform to summarize the story (plot events), conflict, theme, and main characters. She is currently reading ” The Fault in Our Stars”.
Another tool I use is my local bookstore. There is an entire teacher/education section where I pick up material for her to study math concepts (this is her hardest subject). It is important, especially with subjects that children find challenging, to keep them immersed in the material all year-long. Finally, the local library usually runs a summer reading contest or club catering to the different age groups. There are so many resources out there and if you need any other ideas, feel free to drop me a line. I have also added my Pinterest board “No More Summer Slide,” that provides a wealth of resources and I will continue to add to it as I come across great links. Remember, you are not stealing the fun away from your child. They can still go out and play. But, what you are doing is preparing them to be successful academically and later on in life.
I wanted to write this post last month before school went into winter break but, things got so hectic and I fell way behind schedule. Last month, my daughter and I had a breakthrough moment when I was trying to figure out why she had been behaving differently besides the countless recent changes (baby brother, new county, new school, puberty). Every time I asked her why her behavior had changed so drastically and not for the positive, she would go into shut down mode. Then an epiphany hit me; I would use my teacher/mentor skills. Since we were in my classroom and it was the end of the day, I had her close the door and retrieve a dry erase marker. I told her to write on the board all of the things that I expect from her that are unreasonable ( her main complaint was that I didn’t care and I was unfair). At first she hesitated but, then she started writing. I didn’t say anything during this process even if I disagreed with some of the things that she wrote down. I let her voice (scribe) her opinion and when she was done, she stopped, closed the cap on the marker, and faced me. I then let her know that we were going to discuss each one and explain ourselves. This process ended up with her crossing some off the list because she realized that they may not have been accurate depictions of the situation. The one’s that were left on the board, I promised to work on to keep our bond strong and the lines of communication open. At the tail end of the conversation, the breakthrough came which led to tears and a big hug from my tween who had been stand-offish prior to for some months. The overarching theme is that she felt that I thought her opinions and feelings didn’t matter. She thought I felt that she was unimportant and the only thing that mattered was what I wanted and how I felt. I realized that my actions probably led her to believe this. The part that hurt me the most, is that is exactly what I felt about my mother and still do to this day. It devalues you as an individual. How can I support a strong sense of self-esteem in my young lady if I am devaluing her, whether it be purposefully or not? I let her know that it was never my intention to make her feel that way and I have been working on myself so that does not come across as often until I can stop it altogether. This exercise helped both of us see the reality and brought us closer together. The pure act of taking the time to hear her out, was in fact healing. My behaviors towards my daughter are part my own and part learned from my own mother. But, when we become parents and especially if you are a single parent with no other parent for your child to turn to, it is imperative to extend the olive branch, open the lines of communication, express humility, and start mending what may be broken. I am not saying that I have this parenting thing down pat, but I am on a constant road to healing and learning, and growing. Hears to your breakthrough moment!
In time for the holiday season and soon the beginning of a new year, I thought it may be a great idea for me to review my family mantra. I created it at the beginning of 2012 and tried to purposefully stay on course with what I deem important for me and my family. It is a great idea for you to create one for your family and start 2014 year off all on the same path. As a single parent sometimes we don’t even think along these lines but raising our kids and living our daily lives, in our daily routines, should be purposeful. We should never go through days, weeks, months and even years just living day by day and letting “things” happen to us. We should be strategic in our mission to create a family that we can be proud of and that will give back to society in a positive way. There are things that happen to us that are beyond our control but one thing that we can control is how we allow for our kids to interact with us and the world (to some degree) and how we interact with them.
I can’t remember where I got the idea for a family mantra, but I am sure that it came from some blog, book, or sermon that read or heard. The important thing it is that I found it useful and enlightening. It forced me to think about the footprint I want to leave on this earth and the way I that I can do this is through my children, my family. You can even involve your children in the process and once it is created, have a dialogue explaining the reasons why you have certain things on the list. This dialogue opens up a discussion that can prove to be most meaningful. When children have a purpose, they feel a little more in control and focused on a clear destination. This creates a sense of security and builds confidence. You can think of this as taking your vision boards (mentioned in an earlier post) to the next level.
Below I have included my own family mantra and the great thing is as your family grows and outlooks change, you can change your mantra and continue to dialogue with your family as to why things have been added or taken away.
My Family Mantra:
To participate in educational activities together as a family whether that be discussions, museum trips, educational games, or creating things together.
Nurture each others creativity and individual talents.
Resurrect God in the household.
Live healthier than the year before.
Foster financial stability.
Build and maintain self-esteem, morals, and ethics.
You can type one up, add images, print it out, get it embroidered on cloth but whatever you do make it visible to those in your household and those who enter your household so there is never a question about what you deem important. I wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving. Be safe and be thankful.