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How to Balance It All (Yes, It’s Possible!)

balance scalesSupposing all priorities were created equal, your day may look something like this:

  • 4 hours at work,
  • 4 hours with kids,
  • 4 hours for hubs,
  • 4 hours blogging,
  • 4 hours for me; and
  • 4 hours for sleep.

But guess what? All priorities are not equal. Plus,

Mama Drama: Distressed About Death

Dear Mama Drama:

My 3 1/2 daughter has become very anxious about death. Long story short, we got fish and 2 of them died. I nearly didn’t tell her and just replaced the fish, but decided it might be a good life lesson.

Now she is worried about me dying and I haven’t found a way to make her feel better about the situation. She doesn’t seem too traumatized about the fish anymore, but is worried about the people in her life

Do you have any ideas or book suggestions that I can use to address her anxiety? I need it too…it is very disconcerting when she looks at me and says “you’re going to die at some point, Mommy.”

~Distressed Mama

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Dear Distressed:
I am glad you told her the truth about the fish. It’s a good place to start the conversation about death with preschool age children. The fact that she says that you are also going to die someday, even though it’s hard to hear, means she really understands on some level. Next comes working with her (and yourself) to not be afraid of that fact.

Our children often tell us they don’t ever want us to die. It is a natural instinct to tell them we’ll never leave them or avoid the conversation altogether. But death is a part of life and, as your fish demonstrated, will show up when you least expect it. Having conversations about death before there is a huge emotional issue attached to it can help both of you feel more accepting and less anxious about death.

Be honest. When your daughter says, “you’re going to die at some point, Mommy,” respond honestly. “You’re right. We will all die sometime, but we hope it will be later than sooner.”  Use it as an opportunity to talk about enjoying the time we do have together instead of worrying about when we won’t. It is also a good reinforcer for being thoughtful about how we treat each other everyday.

If she hasn’t already, your daughter will eventually ask what happens after you die. Think about how you want to respond ahead of time. If you are prepared for the conversation, you’ll feel more comfortable when she does ask. Tell her about your own beliefs as simply as you can. I also encourage parents to share beliefs of people in different cultures and religions. This helps children to honor and value the beliefs of all people and to have options for understanding death.

Books are a wonderful way to address the topic of death. The Fall of Freddy the Leaf is a lovely metaphor describing the cycle of a leaf’s life through the seasons. Gentle Willow demonstrates the issues of aging and illness. The Goodbye Boat is a beautiful picture book and Everett Anderson’s Goodbye helps to understand the emotions associated with the grief cycle. While it isn’t a book ,the circle of life scene from The Lion King is also a good lesson.

Trust your gut as you talk with your daughter, be honest, and don’t be afraid to say you that don’t know. Let her know you do the best you can to take care of yourself and be safe, but yes, everyone will die and none of us know when it is our time. Having a plan for who will care for you kids if something happens to you before they are grown can also help you both feel more comfortable.

For more information specifically related to telling a child about a family member who is dying, please read the Mama Drama post Discussing Death and Dying.

Please share your thoughts or resources about death and dying.

Motherhood is an amazing journey that can have its share of Mama Drama. The Mama Drama column runs on Fridays 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 our 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.

How Crafty Are You? Take The Quiz

In the 1970s, moms were macrame and Mod Podge maniacs. In the 80s, papier-mâché made them proud. Today, there is no crafty medium moms aren’t drooling to try. The more picture-worthy, the better. Every minor holiday, movie opening, and observance is suddenly elevated to Christmas Feast status by moms hungry to impart meaning, beauty, and to keep little hands from becoming idle—and her own. Craftiness is next to Godliness—or, it at least gives us the ultimate compliment: Pin-worthiness. But how can you tell if you are a little too devoted to your hot glue gun and sewing machine? Here’s a quiz that will tell you where you land on the scale.

1. Your fingernails are usually:

a. Hand-model worthy.
b. Short, stumpy, sensible, and safe.

How to parent your kids without regret

In an era of ads and promotions directed at kids – from toys to Disneyland – many parents wonder what kids need most.

We asked Dr. Harley Rotbart, Professor and Vice Chair of Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital Colorado, and the author of No Regrets Parenting – Turning Long Days and Short Years into Cherished Moments for Your Kids, for advice on identifying kids’ needs and providing for them.

Q: What do kids really need from their parents?

A: Years of research in child development have identified eight essential requirements for kids to become happy, successful adults. None of them involve high-tech gadgets, video games, or fancy clothes. Your kids need:

• Security—Kids must feel safe and sound. This means providing them with basic survival needs: shelter, food, clothing, medical care and protection from harm.
• Stability—Stability comes from family and community. Ideally, a family remains together in a stable household. But when that ideal breaks down, your child’s life must be as little disrupted as possible. Kids and families should also be part of larger units to give them a sense of belonging and cultural continuity.

Mama Drama: Chilling a Chatterbox

Dear Mama Drama:

My five year old daughter is very bright, very verbal, and very passionate. She is a delight to be around most of the time and has tons of ideas and information to share, but she often struggles to let others have a turn talking in social situations. She gets so excited about what she wants to say that she interrupts or talks over others and then does not understand when they are frustrated with her. Her teachers have also noted this and indicate that it is beginning to have a negative effect on her friendships.

How can I help her learn to be more patient and honor what others have to say?

~Chattered Over Mama

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Dear Chattered Over:

It is wonderful that you recognize the positives of your daughter’s intellect and enthusiasm. Helping her find the balance between  talking and listening will be an important life skill and will probably be a life long practice for her.

The first step is to raise her awareness about the behavior. A great place to start is a delightful book called My Mouth is a Volcano by Julia Cook. The story describes a little boy, very similar to your daughter, who feels like he is erupting with words and must let them out. Your daughter will hopefully identify with the little boy and begin to recognize how her erupting words impact her relationships. The book also demonstrates ideas to begin quelling the volcano.

Next, help her to notice when she is more prone to the behavior. As you recognize the situations that frequently lead to the overzealous talking, you can pre-plan with her to think about how she can handle these situations differently.

One strategy is to come up with a signal that will cue her to stop talking. When she starts to talk over someone or goes on too long, you give the signal – it can be a gesture, random word or phrase, or a song you start to hum. When the signal is given it is her job to finish her sentence and stop talking. It’s sort of like the music starting to play when the Oscar winners get a bit too long winded. Sharing this strategy with her teacher or other caregivers will also help her to be more successful.

Practice at home. You can practice during dinner conversation, when she’s with her siblings or friends, or do role plays of different scenarios.  During this practice help her notice the body language and facial expressions of those around her when she is listening, talking appropriately, and over talking.  Eventually, these social cues will replace your cues and help her to manage this independently.

Finally, give her time to talk.  Find a time each day when you can really sit and listen to your daughter as she shares the things she is enthusiastic and passionate about. Let her go on and on without interrupting. You can also set a time limit to help her begin to prioritize the things she most wants to tell you.

Motherhood is an amazing journey that can have its share of Mama Drama. The Mama Drama column runs on Fridays 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 next week’s 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.

Mama Drama: Mama Mama Dental Drama!

Dear Mama Drama:

I have always hated going to the dentist and had lots of cavities and other problems growing up. I don’t want my kids to have the same fear and avoidance of dental care that I do. How can I help them have a positive experience with dental care and develop good brushing habits?

~ Traumatized Mama

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Dear Traumatized:

Our own childhood experiences can lead us to avoid things with our children or to make them different than we experienced. You can make things different for your kids by being proactive.

Set a good example by brushing and flossing regularly in front of your kids. Show them that dental hygiene is an important and integral part of your personal health care. Research shows that a parent’s dental health can have a significant impact on children’s dental health through the sharing of cavity creating bacteria (or not with good dental hygiene) and by the example set.

Take your kids to the dentist early to help allay any fears and get them used to the office. Toddler office visits usually include exploring the office, brushing with the hygienist, and practicing opening up wide while the dentist counts their teeth and looks quickly for any early cavities. Starting with a pediatric dentist helps to keep it playful and developmentally appropriate.

Supervise their brushing or do it together. Create a systematic way to make sure all their teeth get brushed and work on their technique following your dentist’s recommendations. Use songs or rhymes to help them remember. Once they are old enough to brush more independently, continue to check periodically to make sure they are doing a good job.

Teach them the benefits and consequences related to oral hygiene. Talk about avoiding cavities by brushing and flossing regularly and moderating intake of sugary liquids and sticky sweet foods. Let them know that teeth with cavities and infected gums can be painful. Preventing them through regular brushing and flossing is an easy way to avoid that pain.

Take care of your own teeth and go to the dentist regularly. If you are going to the dentist twice a year for check ups and talking with your kids about it, they will be more willing to go. Since you feel traumatized from your childhood experiences, this may be a challenge. Interview dentists and find one you feel you can trust and who is compassionate about your feelings and experiences.

February is National Dental Health Month, so get brushing!

Share you dental hygiene challenges and successes!

Motherhood is an amazing journey that can have its share of Mama Drama. The Mama Drama column runs on Fridays 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 next week’s 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.

Mama Drama: Toddler Naptime Dilemma – To Nap or Not to Nap?

Dear Mama Drama:

When do kids stop napping? My two and a half year old son has been resisting falling asleep for about a week now but if he does fall asleep, he’s out for 1-2 hours. How do I know if he needs it still? He’s a nightmare around 5 if he doesn’t nap. Suggestions??

~Stumped Mama

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Dear Stumped:

Napping is a

Is Your Volunteering Truly Benefiting Your Child?

When I was growing up, my mom was always involved in our elementary school. She was active in the PTA, served as president and worked as a teacher’s aide in my later years. I enjoyed having my mom be a part of my education and visible in the school.

This left such an impact on me that I am now involved in my daughters’ school.

Like my mom, I am active, but work to give my children space to be themselves and find their own place without their mother hovering. Unlike my mom, I work outside the home. Also unlike my mom, I do not participate in the PTA directly, but help out in other capacities.

I help in the classroom, fill Friday folders, act as room parent, organize the science fair and sit on the school improvement committee. I also ran a science club last fall.

After that list, I’m wondering if I am giving them space, or enough of my undivided attention.

Saturday mornings: from cartoons to crosswords to cardio

Saturday mornings seem to go through a life cycle. As the decades roll by, my Saturday mornings have evolved in the following ways:

At age 10: Waking up early for cartoons. Land of the Lost and Schoolhouse Rock.

At age 20: Recovering from the night before. Drinking a lot of water and trying to quell the headache.

At age 30:

Mama Drama: Stop Refereeing and Turn Your Kids into Solution Finders

Dear Mama Drama:

I have two boys ages 4 and 7. They struggle to solve problems between themselves when they are playing and my husband and I often feel like referees. I’d like them to be able to handle play situations better, but am not sure where to start. Help!

~Stumped Mama