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What I wish someone would have told me before the emergency room

Let me first say that I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV, but if someone would have told me some of these things, it may have saved us some dough and my kids some trauma.

`Tis a Flesh Wound

My son was jumping on the trampoline at my brother’€™s house. Bless their hearts, they made the effort to put the safety net around their trampoline. But, it was the metal stairs that lead up to the trampoline that my son cut his head on during a mad, three-kid-scramble to climb out. I was at work, my husband was at school, my sister-in-law did the right thing by calling us. Of course, we hurried over to their house to attend to our son. Although the cut wasn’t deep, it was bleeding a lot.

We took our five-year-old to the emergency room. By the time we arrived, the bleeding had stopped. We weren’€™t concerned about a concussion because my son was lucid and his pupils were their normal size, but we thought that stitches might be in order. When we finally saw the doctor, he informed us that head wounds tend to bleed a lot because there are a lot of capillaries near the surface. He said that the cut wasn’€™t deep or large enough to merit stitches. The doctor asked the nurse to put Neosporin on my kid’s head and sent us on our way. That was the most expensive tube of Neosporin ever!

Don’t Leave Home without your Pharmacy

Our other son tripped a couple weeks ago in the backyard and broke his arm.

How are you weeding your garden? Self-care for mom!

I was weeding my garden last weekend and I realized that it used to be a job that brought me satisfaction. I love the smell of the earth and the dirt in my hands. I find joy in the reward of plants growing!

But as life’s demands keeping DEMANDING my time and attention, I find myself in the garden less and therefore weeding less. Even if you’re not a gardener you know what that means – more weeds. And not just more weeds, but stronger, more deeply rooted weeds. A task that used to be satisfying is now dreaded because I know the long and tiring time ahead of me will be difficult and more lengthy than necessary.

Gardening has been exhausted as an analogy about life lessons and my observation is not designed to rock your world, but simply to get you thinking: how are you weeding your own proverbial life garden? The longer you wait to assess and take action, the more difficult and lengthy the process will be.

As mothers, it’s easy to get caught up in our responsibilities and forget that we also need to care for ourselves. Wait too long to care for yourself and… you guessed it… the weeds grow-up. {And your children do too!} The weeds of unhealthy friendships, poor eating habits, lack of self care, and isolation from activities we once enjoyed begin to grow around our feet and work their way up our legs and soon choke out the ability to live and thrive.

It’s time to do some weeding. Walk through the garden of your life regularly and assess the soil. Make this a pattern in your life so that you can grow up into the person you were made to be! And be an example to your children and others that it’s important to care for yourself so that you are capable of caring for others (because that my friend, I would like to humbly assert, is where we will find our greatest joy).

Life is full of choices. Ask yourself this: am I choosing to grow worthwhile things in the garden of my life (joy in friendships, hobbies, leaving a legacy of goodness & faithfulness for your children)? Here’s another way to ask this question: Am I spending my time on the things that matter most?

Once you’ve established the answer to that question and pin-pointed a few things that are worthwhile (and hopefully identifying some things that need to be repositioned {or sent to the garbage pile} to make room for what matters most) consider how you’re going to rework your garden to maximize it’s fruits!

Only you know the answers to these questions. I realize that this is so easy to write about and much more frustrating (and sometimes downright painful) to execute. But when it comes to your life, NO ONE is more invested than you are – you have control over your choices.

Jenna lives in Littleton and is a gardener is progress. She is in love with her raspberry bush that is finally bearing fruit, but is sure she won’t see a single tomato this year.

I’m Scared of My Kids

I recently read an article online called “5 Reasons Modern-Day Parenting Is in Crises, According to a British Nanny” because, as a modern-day parent, I immediately agreed with the title.

I do think parenting, and the day-to-day well-being of our children, is in crises.

I Didn’t Have My Children to Make the Polar Bears Weep

Once upon a time when my husband and I announced our fifth child was on the way, a friend asked if we knew what caused that. (We now have nine kids).

I told him I suspected it had something to do with my practice of washing my underwear with my husband’s.

I regretted the snarky comeback immediately, but I know why I unleashed my frustration.

The misconceptions, prejudices, and near-constant scrutiny of our choice to have a large family is tiresome and often grounded in ignorance. Only slack-jawed rubes from the sticks, religious zealots, or those taking advantage of the government and natural resources have large families, right? Sometimes, people who see our family assume all of the above. I’m thinking we should start carrying banjos and moonshine jugs around, just to complete the effect.

The questions are relentless:

Mama Drama: Building Independent Self-Care Skills

Dear Mama Drama:

I am trying to get my five-year-old son to be more independent in bathing and dressing himself. I have been working with him for the past two weeks on this and he still cannot do anything on his own. I am frustrated and he starts crying every time I tell him to do it on his own. I don’t understand why this is so hard or how to help him.

~Confused Mama

Dear Confused:

Building independent self-care skills for bathing, dressing, etc., is very important for five-year-olds. While as adults we view these skills as fairly basic, we have also been doing them for many, many years. Tasks that seem like one step for us, i.e. washing our hair, are really multiple steps. For your son to try to master all of these things in a short amount of time is probably quite overwhelming.

Rather than working on all independent self-help skills at once, I suggested stepping back and deciding what will be the easiest skill for him to master. Start with that skill so he can experience success quickly and build from there.

Break down the skill step by step and teach him in manageable chunks. For example, if you are teaching him to wash his hair the steps are 1) wet your hair, 2) get the shampoo bottle, 3) pour shampoo on your hand, 4) put the bottle down, 5) rub your hands together, 6) rub the shampoo all over your head/hair (this in and of itself requires lots of practice), 7) rinse the shampoo out of your hair.

Talk through the steps as you do them for him for a few days. Then talk through the steps as he does them himself. Use simple, concise language to describe each step. When he gets stuck or distracted, ask him, “What’s next?”

Making up a song or rhyme to describe the routine can make things more fun and easier to remember. Be sure to give your lots of positive recognition for his efforts throughout the process of learning. Focus on what he has done well and gently re-teach when he struggles.

Once he has master washing his hair move on to the next skill while continuing to encourage and reinforce the skill he has mastered. If he uses hair conditioner that is a perfect second skill because he already knows the steps with the shampoo!

Clear and simple directions will make a big difference for your son as he works master these self-help tasks. Using visual schedules to show the steps can be very helpful and allows you to support him without always telling him what to do. As you fade your verbal cues, you can have him use the visual schedule to see what comes next. Visual schedules can be used to describe a broad daily routine as well as to break down the steps of tasks within that routine.

Motherhood is an amazing journey that can have its share of Mama Drama. The Mama Drama column runs on Thursdays with everyday mothering questions from readers and answers providing strategies to tackle these daily challenges. Send your questions and challenges to Lisa@milehighmamas.com, and your Mama Drama could be in the next column! Lisa is also available for private consultations. All emails and identifying information will remain confidential. Read more of Lisa’s parenting perspective at her Laughing Yoga Mama blog.

(photo credit)

A (Funny) Lesson on Attachment-detachment Parenting

My kids and I are having a fabulous summer. If we’re not swimming, we’re hiking, playing with friends or traveling. I fully realize these years are fleeting and I’m making the most of my time with them.

The only snafu is this thing called work I’m supposed to be doing. And by the end of the summer, you’d better believe I’ll be in dire need of some alone time to finally be productive. As much as I enjoy having my kids around 24-7, school is a much-needed respite for all of us.

I realize not everyone shares my opinion. Several years ago when my daughter was about to enter preschool, our community had a big ol’ garage sale. My husband Jamie and I stopped at a house a few blocks away and struck up a casual conversation with the home owners. It took only a few seconds for me to realize I was talking to The Urban Legend of our neighborhood. Err…or I guess that would be Suburban Legend.

Rumors have circulated for a few years that this woman sent her child off to college and decided whilst in her 40s to start from scratch and get pregnant…20 years after the first. And she was rewarded with not one but twin girls my daughter’s exact same age.

Well, I was ecstatic to meet The Legend! We immediately hit it off and talked of future playdates. My husband Jamie asked if she was sending them to our local elementary school and she responded affirmatively. I then asked if they were going to preschool.

“Yes, they’re going to ________.”

“Oh great! That is where my daughter is going in the fall!”

“Well, admittedly I am pretty reluctant to send them. I just don’t think I can bear to be without them. You know what I’m talking about?”

I thought of my “How Many Days Until Hadley is in Preschool Countdown Chart.”

Blogger’s Block and the Evolution of Motherhood

When I started writing my blog back in 2011 my kids were 5 months and 3 years old. It was an isolating time and I wanted to reach out to all the other parents of tiny children who were most likely feeling alone too. I was striving to connect for my own sanity but also in the hopes I could reach someone like me who was scouring the internet in between feedings or grasping at random hints of the outside world in an effort to pry sleep deprived eyes open. I fell in love with blogging because it provided that connection when I needed it most. It also kept me motivated to try new things so I could share them with anyone who was interested.

During that time my daughter was old enough to have dropped her naps and my son was napping all the live long day. My daughter was also young enough to need me to entertain her so I was checking Pinterest every night for ideas because if I didn’t have a bag full of tricks ready in the morning, I ran the risk of being ordered around all day by my precocious, persistent 3 year old. Needless to say, I felt I had plenty to vent about, share and confide during that exhausting, precarious time.

I can’t say my parenting life is now free of stress but these days I have a much more difficult time thinking of stuff to write about. It didn’t happen overnight of course, but when I compare the parent I am now to the one I was 3 years ago I see completely different people. Gone are the days of feeling so alone and bored I thought the clock might actually be moving backwards. Now, our lives are full and busy of friends and activities. I hardly find time to catch my breath. If ever I feel guilty about failing to store up activity ideas, I quickly remind myself we don’t have time for all that anyway. Now that the kids are older, they are capable of playing together and with friends all day long without needing much more than food from me.

Don’t get me wrong, I still spend a lot of time breaking up arguments and my 3 year old brings me to my knees quite often but it doesn’t eat at me the way it used to. Downtime at home now is reserved for letting loose and doing whatever comes naturally to them. In other words, I try and keep my nose out so they can create the kinds of memories I cherish most from my childhood…the ones I made myself.

So, where does that leave me as a writer?  I’m not sure yet but I’m not worried. With each new stage comes new challenges and although things don’t seem as heavy as they did when I was chained to my apartment, the adventure and wonder continue. Maybe it’s just about embracing the beauty in simplicity.

Sarah Stith lives in Boulder with her husband and 2 children (3 and 6).  Before moving to Colorado, the family lived in Brooklyn, NY where Sarah worked as a dresser at The Lion King on Broadway.  She now works from home and manages to find time between breaking up arguments to build her organization, “Raising Little Heroes” (http://raisinglittleheroes.wordpress.com/), a group devoted to finding volunteer opportunities for families with young children. She also writes about her life on her blog, “A Day in the Life of My Little Brood.” 

 

 

 

When staying at home is not an option: A working mom’s frustration

Have you ever been so tired, had too much on your mind and so much work to do that you wonder how you’ll muster up the energy to get through the day?

That was how I felt recently and to make matters worse, I overheard our receptionist talking with a client in the lobby. They were talking about kids.

Client: “How is Kendra doing? How is her baby?”

Receptionist: “She is doing great! Her little one is 13 months old already and his first birthday was a hit.”

Client: “Do you have kids?”

Receptionist: “Yes, I have three. They are all grown now but I was able to stay home with them throughout their younger years.”

Client: “Oh, that’s nice.”

Receptionist: “Yeah, I just didn’t want a babysitter or anyone else raising my kids for me. I wanted to be the one to do it.”

Really?!?!? I’m in earshot, lady.

To The Friend I Never Called

Dear Friend,

I’m not even sure you remember that time a few months ago when we ran into each other at the store. Had it been six months, two years, five years since we had seen each other?

We hugged. We chatted. We shared stories about how our kids are growing up too fast. Our mouths gaped when we realized the kids were so much older than we remembered them. It was a lovely ten minutes of my day. I’m quite sure you felt the same.

Our parting words went something like this, “It was so great to see you! What a fun surprise! I’ll call you and we can go out for coffee or go to the park with the kids!”

I don’t know who promised the phone call. It was probably me. And I didn’t call.

On the other hand, maybe it was you who flippantly suggested a phone call follow-up to our incidental meeting. And you didn’t call.

I’m sorry. I’d love to see you again for ten minutes or longer just about any day! But you know what? Our lives just aren’t connected like they used to be and we don’t need to feel badly about that!

Let’s enjoy those times when we serendipitously get to chat in the parking lot at the grocery store or find one another at the same friend’s anniversary party! Some day our paths may travel side-by-side again and we’ll have a blast together.  But for now, let’s not get caught up in making plans that we know we can’t keep.

I love you and I’ll be seeing you.

Your Friend

 Jenna lives in Littleton and loves connecting with friends old and new in parking lots and at parties… anywhere will do! When she’s not hanging out with family and friends she’s probably just “busy.” Lame.

P.S. Have you seen this video that has gone viral? A mom creates a hilarious video to apologize to parents without kids.

Mama Drama: Summer Break Blues

Dear Mama Drama:

My kids are getting out for the summer and I’m dreading the constant running them here and there and that I’m never able to get anything done. If I don’t schlep them to play dates or other activities they complain that they’re bored. I feel exhausted after these crazy days and then end up staying up late to get the things I need done completed.

(photo credit)

I’d like a different summer experience this year. Any help you can offer would be great!

~Dreading Mama

Dear Dreading:

A change of pace sounds like it is definitely in order for your family this summer. Finding a balance between activities and down time is critical to create an enjoyable experience for all – including you!

Are you doing too much? Start by looking at the activities you have the kids signed up for. Is it a reasonable amount or is there something you/they can let go of? Organize a carpool to sports practices or other daily/weekly activities so you and the other moms aren’t all driving around town to the same places.

Create Mom time. Develop play date schedules that builds in time for you. Arrange for all the kids to be with friends at the same time once a week. Even if it is just a couple of hours, you can relax or run a few of those errands that are quick on your own and take forever when you’ve got a carload of kids. Offer to provide the same opportunity for other moms, so everyone gets a little time off.

Institute F.O.B. When I went to camp as a kid F.O.B. time stood for Flat On Back. This meant we were all in our bunks reading, writing letters, or taking a snooze. We always thought the adults were treating us like babies by making us rest. We didn’t understand it was for them to have some quiet time so they could continue to be patient with us the rest of the day!

Another alternative is D.E.A.R. time. Many schools use Drop Everything And Read as a time to help kids settle down and have the opportunity to read. Your kids’ teachers will love this as it helps keep their literacy skills sharp.

You can also be creative and come up with another version of down time that fits your family. If you do, share it with us!

Let them get bored. Boredom is a great opportunity to be creative and silly.  Here are a few ideas for tackling the boredom beast that I’ve gathered over the years.  Pull out the recycling bin, tape, and glue and let them create building, boats, or anything else they can think of. They can float or race them in the kiddie pool, too, if you’d like. (A similar idea is to pull out the art supplies and see what develops). Gather all of the sports and outdoor play equipment and have them create an obstacle course – Melissa @ Imagination Soup wrote a great post about this a while back. And a favorite from an OT we worked with is to have a safari. The kids pull out all of their stuffed animals and then go into one room while you hide the animals all over the house. While they hunt, you get to sit and drink a cup of tea or read the paper. It’s lovely and they’ll want to do it over an over. Last but not least, if they don’t like any of your ideas, offer the opportunity to do chores. This has an amazing effect on their creativity and they are suddenly able to think of something extremely interesting to do… and if not, your floors are swept and the dishes are washed.

Finally, if you are all going stir crazy and really do need to get out of the house, JoAnn and Amber compiled a phenomenal list of 100+ things to do around Denver. Whatever the weather and the interests of your kids, you are sure to find something here.

Remember that you don’t have to entertain your kids. Summer is an opportunity for less structure and more creativity. Let them use their imaginations and invent their own fun – within reason of course. 🙂

Please share your ideas for navigating the summer break blues.

Motherhood is an amazing journey that can have its share of Mama Drama. The Mama Drama column runs on Thursdays with everyday mothering questions from readers and answers providing strategies to tackle these daily challenges. Send your questions and challenges to Lisa@milehighmamas.com, and your Mama Drama could be in the next column! Lisa is also available for private consultations. All emails and identifying information will remain confidential. Read more of Lisa’s parenting perspective at her Laughing Yoga Mama blog.