My Kids Will Be Doing School Work Over the Summer and I’m Not Sorry

Start the name calling and pouty faces. I’m putting the school work in summer.

Yes, I know it’s going to be 80 plus degrees out and there are sand castles to be built and bikes to ride.

My girls will get to do all that and then some. But, they’re also going to be reading and brushing up on their skills. I’ve been browsing the internet and reading some debates about whether kids should be doing “homework” over the summer. For every yay there’s a nay.

See, I don’t really consider my little plan “homework”. It’s more like “Let’s stay smart so we don’t fall back in September.” I don’t think that makes me a mean mom. I think that makes me a mom who cares about her children’s success and is taking a hands on approach to help them get ahead. Why let them fall victim to the so-called “summer slide” and waste all the progress made over the school year? It just doesn’t make sense to me. I can’t understand why so many parents are still anti-school work over the summer.

What kind of horrid school work am I going to subject my children to this summer? For my soon-to-be Kindergartener, we’ll be practicing writing her letters and numbers as well as her name. Her new school actually sent home a packet of practice sheets to help with the process. While some parents scoffed at it during orientation, I wanted to give the packet a big old bear hug! At least now I don’t have to go looking for sheets to help her. We’ll also be practicing counting and shapes.

For my soon-to-be second grader, we’ll be reading books to keep her skills up to par. We’ll also start working on more reading comprehension so she knows what she’s actually reading. I’m also going to have her brush up on her math so she doesn’t forget the skills and tricks she’s learned over the year.

Before you think I’ll be chaining my kids to the kitchen table for hours on end over the summer, think again. We’ll do these little exercises ten to fifteen minutes a day or every other day. Reading will be done for at least another ten minutes a day. On average, my kids will spend 20 minutes a day doing dreaded school work. I’m going to try to bang it out in the morning so the rest of the day is free. That leaves 23 hours and forty minutes a day to do whatever else they want. I don’t think that’s too much to ask, do you?

Here’s the alternative. I can have them not do any kind of school work all summer. They can go back to school in September and not remember anything they learned. They’ll waste time re-learning things they knew so well. They may even run the risk of falling behind if everyone else is on the express train and they’re stuck making all the local stops. All for what? All in the name of summer fun?

There needs to be a balance. The earlier we teach our kids this coping skill, the better. They need to learn just as there’s time to play over the summer, there’s also time to learn. It’s just like fitting in play time during the school year. It all gets done.

No child ever suffered from reading or practicing some letters over the summer. So, yes, my kids will be doing school work over the summer and I’m not sorry.

 

10 Signs That It’s the End of the School Year

The end of the school year is here. You can hear kids and teachers rejoicing while many parents grunt and go hide in a corner. Besides the obvious calendar telling us what time of year it is, there are ten other things that happen to signal that the end of the school year has indeed arrived.

  1. The Thought of Buying Teacher Gifts Makes You Cringe. You know it’s the right thing to do, but you really don’t want to go shopping for teacher gifts. Although you should put some effort into the process and avoid buying another coffee mug, the temptation is too great. You could always go on Pinterest for some super creative ideas, but who has time for that? Coffee mug it is.
  2. Your Kids’ Homework is Wrong & You Don’t Care. So Billy added instead of subtracted his entire homework. At least he still did math, right? There comes a point in the school year when seven and six equals fourteen and you don’t care.
  3. Clothes Don’t Fit, Oh Well! Your children’s toes are rubbing against the edges of the sneakers you bought…in August. Who told them to keep growing anyway? Those yoga pants are looking more like capris. But, aren’t yoga capris in these days? The next time your child tells you that his shirt is getting too short just tell him to stop raising his hand in class. This way it won’t be so short. Problem solved.
  4. Bedtime & Wakeup is Getting Downright Dreadful. You can’t even convince yourself that it’s bedtime when it’s still light outside at 8 p.m. so how are your kids going to buy into it? Let’s not even talk about waking up for school. The whining is unreal! Maybe if they just went to bed when you told them,  the mornings wouldn’t be so bad. There are days I’d rather watch a Caillou marathon by myself then go through the whole bedtime/wakeup process.
  5. You’re Running Out of School Snacks. Your fruit snack and Goldfish cracker supply is dangerously low. Instead of replenishing you decide to get creative. Kids can bring cans of cream corn and baked beans for snack, right?
  6. You’re Sick of Packing Lunches. If you have to make another ham and cheese sandwich you’re going to throw it against the wall. Forget about thinking of different things to pack your child for lunch. Check back in September. At this point packing lunch means making sure they have enough money to buy whatever is being served in the cafeteria. What if they don’t like the menu? Maybe it’s time to try new things.
  7. You Can’t Find the Handle to Your Fridge Because of All the Artwork. The kids are bringing home all of their art projects. Yeah! You’re finally getting your Valentine, Easter, and “Holiday” card…all at the same time…in June. What could be better? Now, if you could just get into your fridge.
  8. Your Child’s Book Bag has Holes. “Mom, my book bag has a hole in it.” So. There’s no way that it’s going to get fixed. It’s just not happening. Anyway, don’t think of them as holes. They’re easy access pockets for when junior just needs to find a pencil or eraser right away.
  9. You Can’t Remember a Saturday Morning That Didn’t Involve a Coach or Referee. Sure, sports are great for kids. They have fun. You have fun watching them, but there comes a point when you dread Saturday mornings. The morning fights with the shin guards and cleats are no longer bearable. Trying to clone yourself to make it to all of your kids’ games gets exhausting. You want to trade them all in in for an endless cup of coffee and a Lifetime movie…or three.
  10. Your Child is Going on a Field Trip Every Other Day. You remember signing the permission slips, but weren’t these all supposed to be spaced out? Your child is going more places in two weeks than you’ve gone in two months. It’s all in the name of “learning”, I know. Let’s admit it, the real learning stopped after April vacation.

Before you can say sunscreen and shorts, the kids will back in school and we get to run the hamster wheel all over again! Here’s to some time off from glue sticks, flash cards, and school assemblies!

 

Stepping Out of Her Sister’s Shadow

It’s interesting to watch your kids grow up. Having two girls, the younger one has constantly mimicked her older sister. It’s monkey see, monkey do and “I can do it better than you” 24/7. The younger sibling constantly looks up to the older one.

Little sis has always wanted to play with the “big girls”. So, big sister’s friends became little sister’s friends “just because”.

But, then something started to happen.

Before you can say “share with your little sister”, little sister isn’t so little anymore. She starts becoming her own person. It’s both beautiful and sad in the same glance.

As my baby girl gets ready for Kindergarten in the fall, she’s beginning to spread her little wings. Gone are the days of having a death-grip on mommy’s leg because she doesn’t want to talk to the other kids. She’s starting to fly away without looking back. That’s a good thing, I know.

She’s also starting to make her own little friends and get invited to do things with her friends…without her sister. Everyday I can see her step out of her sister’s shadow a little bit more. While I couldn’t be happier that she’s becoming her own little person, part of me wants her to still play the role of co-pilot. As a mother, there’s something comforting in knowing that she’s always with her big sister, as much as big sister may not enjoy it.

While my younger daughter has always had a mind of her own, she also constantly wanted her sister’s approval. That’s also starting to disappear. Just this morning, my older daughter said she wanted pasta for dinner. In the “old” days, little sis would chime in with a “me too”. Instead, she told us she didn’t want pasta and that she was going to make herself a sandwich instead. After I finished laughing, I thought to myself, wow, you really are becoming your own little person.

Sigh.

Trust me, I know, this is just the beginning. Growing up seems to be so much easier for the kids to do. I wonder what their secret is! It’s a lot harder for us parents to watch!

 

 

The Real Meaning of Mother’s Day

While many mothers may actually look forward to the second Sunday in May, I can’t say I do.

It’s not that I hate it or anything. It just doesn’t make me want to back flips.

In case you didn’t know this Sunday is Mother’s Day.

It’s the one day of the year when you’re obligated to buy Mom an over-priced bouquet of flowers, a shiny new necklace, chocolates and a spa treatment.

Been there, done that.

Retailers love Mother’s Day if you couldn’t tell by the bombardment of ads that we see for all of the “perfect” Mother’s Day gifts. I think I read somewhere that Mother’s Day is one of the top “holidays” for retailers. I can’t say I’m surprised. But I can say that it makes me sad.

While it’s great to be recognized for all of the jobs that fall under the mommy umbrella, I don’t need my family to pay homage on one day. I know it’s just a gesture, but sometimes I hate when people do things because they are expected of them. It means so much more when it comes out of nowhere and for no real reason in particular.

The real meaning of Mother’s Day comes in everyday life. It comes in the “I love you’s” and hugs my kids give me everyday because they want to, not because they feel like it’s what they should be doing on Mother’s Day.

The real meaning of Mother’s Day is when your child says a big thank-you for chaperoning a class trip.

The real meaning of Mother’s Day is when your kids ask you to snuggle up on the couch with them to watch TV.

The real meaning of Mother’s Day is when your child isn’t feeling well and only wants mommy to comfort them.

The real meaning of Mother’s Day is when your kids do a household chore without you screaming at them to do it.

The real meaning of Mother’s Day is when your child colors you a picture of your family because they want to, not because their teacher told them it was time to make Mom a Mother’s Day card.

The real meaning of Mother’s Day is when your kids tell you that you look pretty when you’re not especially feeling that pretty at the moment.

The real meaning of Mother’s Day can’t be measured in flowers, chocolates, or facials. It’s measured in those special moments that you just want to bottle up and save forever.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mommas out there! May you find the real meaning of Mother’s Day.

 

 

The Question Every SAHM Hates to Hear

When you’re a stay-at-home mom people pretty much know you spend a lot of time with your kids. If you stay home when they’re babies there’s a lot of diaper changes, feedings and sleepless nights. If you stay home when they’re a little older there’s more play time and child rearing going on.

As they get older they start making little friends and having playdates. As they enter pre-school and other programs, you may step back a bit and let other people do some of the work. But, what happens when all of your children are in school full-time? If you’re like me you start hearing the question every stay-at-home mom hates to hear.

“What are you going to do now?”

In just a few months, my youngest will be off to full-time Kindergarten. As a result both of my kids will be in school full time. It must mean I can now run off to a tropical island. Maybe it means that she and her sister will get to school by themselves, make their own food, and find rides to afterschool activities. It must mean my mothering role will become obsolete because everyone keeps asking me what I’m going to do. It’s not like they’re going off to college. It’s elementary school. The mothering responsibilities will still be there come September. They’re just going to shift a bit. I’ll shift along with them. That doesn’t necessarily mean I have a power point presentation about my future all cued up and ready to go. Does anybody?

Being a SAHM doesn’t mean your kids are your only interest. It only means that you made a choice that worked for you and your family. You made a tough decision and you probably made a lot of sacrifices. It would be like assuming all working mothers are only interested in their jobs. Working moms also made a choice that worked best for them and their families. Many also made a tough decision and made sacrifices of their own. Yet, I don’t hear working moms being asked what they’re going to do with themselves once all their kids are in school full-time.

Many SAHMs had successful careers they decided to put on hold before making the leap. Maybe it’s time to go back? Others have developed new interests…interests don’t involve diapers and rattles. Maybe it’s time to give those some attention? Sometimes it feels as though people can’t imagine what you could want to do with yourself when your role as a SAHM isn’t the main event anymore.

So, when people ask what I’m going to do now (or when September rolls around) I answer back with a simple “I don’t know. I’ll figure it out.”

Why? Because I don’t and I will. Quite frankly I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Do you?

There’s something exciting, yet scary, when you know your life is about to take a huge right turn. Sometimes it’s better when that shift is unexpected. Knowing change is on the horizon can be intimidating. It doesn’t help when everyone wants to know how you’re going to deal with it all. But sometimes not having a plan is the best plan of all.

 

 

Can We Stop Raising Mean Girls?

Mean girls have been around for as long as I can remember.

Perhaps you’ve ran into a few when you were a kid.

Perhaps you were their target like I was.

Perhaps you were even one when you were growing up.

Perhaps your child has had the unfortunate experience of being the victim of one.

Perhaps your child is one.

Whatever the case, mean girls seem to hang on and exist despite anti-bullying programs and zero tolerance policies at school. I just can’t seem to figure out why. What joy can I child get out of hurting another child either mentally or physically? Maybe I’m just naïve, but I just don’t get it.

The only explanation I can come up with is that we are raising a society of mean girls. Truth be told we have been for what seems like forever. It’s not just in certain parts of the country. It’s not exclusive to certain schools or districts. It is everywhere. While I do think outside influences can play a part, I don’t think we can pass the blame. It starts at home.

What are we teaching at home? Are we teaching kindness? Are we teaching tolerance? Are we teaching our kids to be genuinely good people? Sadly, I don’t think enough of us are. If we were then mean girls would cease to exist. We as parents need to take responsibility for the types of people we are raising. We need to teach them to be kind. It would be unrealistic for us to teach them to be friends with everyone. That’s just not possible. What is possible is to teach them to treat everyone with respect and kindness. The golden rule never gets old. Treat others like you want to be treated. It’s as simple yet as complicated all in the same breath.

Do you think those mean girls would like it if they were treated like they treat others? Honestly, some of them have become so damaged that it may bounce right off of them and onto their next victim. Others may actually feel some of the pain they’ve inflicted on others.

If you think your kids need to reach middle school or high school to feel the wrath of mean girls, think again. It’s happening even younger than you may think. I’ve seen it in elementary schools and as early as first grade. It is heartbreaking. No parent should every have to explain mean girls to their crying child who just doesn’t understand what they could have done wrong when they know they’ve done nothing.

At those young ages where are these kids learning this type of behavior? Why do they think it is acceptable? The only answer that makes sense to me is that they are learning it from home. Perhaps it’s what they are not learning at home. They are not being taught basic values of being a decent human being. If this is the case then we are failing as parents. We are failing as a society.

Simply put, can we stop raising mean girls? Is it really too much to ask? I can guarantee that everyone will benefit if we can just figure it out.

 

 

 

 

5 Things to Say When You Hear “Mommy That Easter Bunny Isn’t Real”

As a parent we take on a lot of alter egos. Santa Claus. The Tooth Fairy. The Easter Bunny. It’s our job to keep the façade alive for as long as we can. But, as we know, all good things must come to an end. Sooner or later our roles as those alter egos are gone faster than we can say “of course they’re real”.

In my house, the tooth fairy hasn’t made an appearance, but we are eagerly awaiting her arrival. So we’re good there. Santa Claus is still alive and well although my older daughter is starting to use logic when it comes to that jolly old soul. The Easter Bunny is another story. I think his days are numbered.

After this year’s annual photo shoot with the dear old bunny, my 6-year-old abruptly turned to me and said, “Mommy that Easter Bunny isn’t real.”

Put a dagger in my heart! Are you crazy woman? If you’re going to debunk one of childhood’s greatest myths can you not do it in front of your 4-year-old sister who still believes this God forsaken bunny hops around to all the houses dropping baskets of Shopkins to everyone, including her?

So, what’s a momma to do? Here are 5 things to say when you hear those dreaded words, “Mommy that Easter Bunny isn’t real.”

  1. Deny it, but play it cool. Children are like dogs. They smell fear. They will sense that you are nervous about their latest discovery. Instead of wiping the sweat off your forehead and rocking back in forth in the corner, lie…it’s for their own good. I told my daughter, “What? Are you crazy? Of course the Easter Bunny is real. He’s just like Santa Claus and Santa Claus is real.” It seemed to work for me…at least for now.
  2. Play the helper card. Santa has helpers so why can’t the Easter Bunny? Think of all these mall and Easter hunt bunnies that pop up as the real Easter Bunny’s helpers. They’re kinda like elves…right? Wink, wink. The mall bunnies help out the real bunny. The Easter Bunny outsources. Deal with it.
  3. Confront the elephant or in this case bunny in the room. When my daughter made this revelation I asked her why she thought this blasphemy was true. I got a simple answer…”Because I could see a face through the top of his head.” Good answer. My answer: “Really? I didn’t see anything. You must be seeing things.” Silence.
  4. Defer to the other parent. When all else fails throw the other parent under the bus. If your child is acting like he or she is on “CSI” and won’t let up with the questioning, hand them over to your partner. That’s what I did. “The bunny is real, right Dad?” See what he comes up with, hopefully it’s better than the hand you’re holding.
  5. Ask the burning question. If the Easter Bunny didn’t handle all the baskets then who would do all that work on Easter? If your child answers “you would mommy” then you need to tell him or her “ain’t nobody got time for that.” If your child answers with an “I don’t know” then perhaps you have won this round of bunny madness.

I know I will probably cry myself to sleep when my kids realize I’ve been lying to them all these years. They’ll understand it was for their own good. If they don’t at least they will have appreciated all the loot they acquired over the years. Sigh.

 

What Does it Mean to Have it All?

What does it mean for a woman to “have it all”? I guess it all depends on who you ask and what you read. I can tell you from what I’ve read and what society tells me, I do not, in fact, “have it all”. So, what’s a momma to do? Cry over it? Scramble to make up for all of the supposed deficiencies in her life? Maybe for some, but not for this gal.

Over the years, “having it all” has come to imply a woman has a successful career and family life and has everything in balance.

But, I think “having it all” has different meanings for all of us. There is no right or wrong definition. We all come from different walks in life that lead us to the common path of motherhood. For some, that common path does not include motherhood. You know what? That’s okay. You can still have it all. If you are happy and fulfilled in your life, you have it all.

For those of us whose lives do take us on the journey of motherhood, “having it all” can become a more complex game.

If you are a working mother who is fortunate enough to find reliable and affordable childcare and have happy children who adore you, you have it all.

If you are a stay-at-home mother to five kids or just one and find fulfillment in raising your children, you have it all.

If you are a mother who works part-time and makes it to every concert and soccer game, you have it all.

If you are a single mother who works two or three jobs and still has the energy to enjoy her blessings, you have it all.

The point I’m trying to make is that we can all “have it all” if we find the right combination that makes us happy and works for us rather than the scenario that works for society.

I’ve spent and wasted a lot of time trying to “have it all” by society’s standards. Let me tell you, it’s downright exhausting and depressing. You always feel as though one cup is half full no matter how many times you go back and refill it.

Guess what? I stopped. Instead, I started using my time and energy to focus on what works for my family, not for a friend’s or anyone else’s. Sure that meant, and still means, getting questions and strange looks. Part of having it all is being content and confident with what you have, not what others think you should have. Let me tell you, that is easier said than done. It’s still a work in progress. But, it gets easier with time as you become more comfortable with your decisions and who you are.

What makes me believe I “have it all”?

I have two incredible kids who always tell me they love me to the moon and back. I’m fortunate enough to be the first face my kids see when they wake up and the last one before they go to bed. I have a husband who supports me in whatever I do. I have a fantastic network of family and friends who are always there when I need them.  I’m able to pursue my passions and explore creative endeavors even when they don’t always work out.  I’m a happy person…except for when I get woken up.

So, to society who constantly tells me I don’t have it all…I beg to differ. I may not always have it together at all times, but I do have it all.

Caillou Has Left the Building

It’s one of those days I’ve dreamed about for a good five years now. I honestly thought it would never come. But, it has. Oh yes, it has!

Caillou has left the building. As in the building, I am referring to my house. And I couldn’t be happier! If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you know I have a hate-hate relationship with the little ball-headed whiney child. From the day he entered our lives, I wanted him out. But, my girls loved him. Correction, they were obsessed with him. They loved him so much, we got the doll, the tree house, and a few puzzles. We watched Caillou every night before bed. Every. Single. Night.

You’re probably asking yourself why I didn’t shut it down from the beginning. As a parent, you know you pick your battles. Watching the show made them happy. Playing with the toys made them happy too. They really weren’t hurting anyone or anything, except for my sanity. So, I let it run its course. It is a course that has now ended.

I can’t remember the last time we actually sat down to watch a Caillou episode. They have no interest. They’ve moved on to Nickelodeon shows like “Henry Danger” and “The Thundermans”. I can honestly say I enjoy “The Thundermans”. I can take “Henry Danger” in small doses. It’s a little unbelievable that no one can in Henry’s family can figure out that he’s also Kid Danger. But, that’s another topic for another blog.

Getting back to Caillou…my girls have actually muttered the words “I don’t want to watch Caillou. I don’t like him anymore.” It is sweet music to momma’s ears!

As parents it can make us sad when kids grow out of certain phases. But, not this one. I no longer have to hear that whiney voice when no one wants to play with Caillou at “play school”. First of all, it’s pre-school or daycare. No one calls it “play school”. Second of all, I wouldn’t want to play with him either if I were a four-year-old kid. I no longer have to answer my girls when they ask me why Caillou never grows hair. I don’t know! Truthfully, does anyone? I no longer have to worry about Caillou’s parents never changing their outfits or Caillou crying when he has to give his favorite shirt to his sister Rosie.

The reign of this little monster is over!  Peace out Caillou! Take your olive muddle and bad dance moves with you. If your child is still infatuated with this little monster, I’m sorry. I’m sure your day is coming too. Until then, just remember, He’s just a boy who’s four. Each day he grows some more (although it doesn’t look like it). He likes to explore. His name is Caillou.

5 Life Hacks Every Mom Needs to Try

As a mom you’ve probably become the queen of multi-tasking. It just goes along with the job. You may have never thought you could brush your teeth while helping one child brush her’s and helping the other put on her socks. Nonetheless, you get it done and rather well. It really should be an Olympic sport. If it was you would definetly get a medal!

If you really want to go for the gold, check out these 5 lifehacks every mom needs to know:

  1. Read While You Wait- How many times a week do you find yourself waiting in your car for your child? Whether it’s a school pick-up or some kind of activity that’s running over, the mom taxi is in full effect and the meter is running. While it may be nice to have the quiet time to just think, you could use this car time more wisely. Use it to catch up on your reading. If you’re like me, you’ve been reading the same book for months because you never have time. When you do, you’re just too tired. That’s why I started bringing a book along with me all the time. Over the past few weeks, I’ve read more than half of a novel I’ve been dying to finish. It beats playing on my phone and using up all of  my data!
  2. Fluff & Fold While They’re Showering– My kids are at the age where they’re old enough to take a shower by themselves. But, they still need a little help. So, I can’t go too far. One night, a pair of pants in the laundry basket starting staring at me while I was on a standby shower help. When I asked the pair of purple butterfly leggings what she was staring at, she started telling me I should be putting her away. Truth be told, I probably should have put her away days ago. That’s when I got to thinking. This is a perfect time to get the laundry put away. I’m right near the bathroom so I can run in and help, but I’m also using my downtime wisely. Score one for mommy!
  3. Exercise & Prioritize– Call me a nerd, but I love a good list. While it may be a little stressful to see everything that needs to be done written down in black and white or on a phone screen, it’s a great feeling to cross those items off the list when you’re done. If you get a few minutes to sneak away and exercise, make your lists while on the treadmill. Use the notes feature on your phone to prioritize away. This way you’re shedding some pounds and organizing at the same time.
  4. Turn the Lonely Socks Club into a Theatre– Do you ever wonder what happens to socks between the washer and the dryer? One makes it up while the other escapes for greener pastures. In my house, there are so many socks who are in the lonely socks club. They usually sit at the bottom of my laundry basket waiting for their match to return from wherever they disappeared to. They don’t. Ever. So, I usually throw them away. Then, I got an idea. Why not turn those lonely socks into sock puppets for the kids? Grab some googly eyes and a glue gun and go nuts! It’s not only fun for the kids, but also gets gives those lonely socks a purpose in life, one that doesn’t involve your laundry basket or the garbage.
  5. Art Work Wallpaper- It seems like kids produce artwork just as much as they poop. That amounts to a lot of pieces of paper just lying around the house. Of course you can’t throw any of them away, because they’re all special…right? Okay, we all know we toss a few in the garbage, but there are still a lot left over. If you have a play area or maybe a little nook in your child’s room, turn their artwork into wallpaper. Make sure it’s a not a wall that you have a relationship with or that you especially love. Chances are it will get a little worn out. But when kids see the new “wallpaper”, they’ll feel special to see their masterpieces hung up…all over the place. Your OCD about too many papers around will lessen, even if it’s just for a little bit. It’s a win-win if you ask me.

Okay, so these are the lifehacks that I particularily enjoy. I know there are hundreds of others out there to choose from, but a lot of them are a little high maintenance to be considered a life hack if you ask me. The ones I listed here don’t require a lot of effort or a degree in Pinterest. They’re just simple, everyday hacks for your everyday momma. So, time to hack away!