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Month 4 of Taking Care of You: Pamper Yourself

Pamper YourselfThis is the fourth installment in the “Taking Care of Me” series. In month one we examined Habits, month two we looked at Loving Ourselves, and month three we examined Letting Go Of Something Toxic. This month is about Pampering Yourself.

This month, for the first time in years, I actually looked at my face. Sounds pretty crazy right? For years I have not taken the time to look in the mirror. With how busy of mom life is each morning, I would wash my face, brush my teeth and get on with reading for the day. The hustle and bustle of the increasing morning responsibilities with children chipped away at my make-up routine.

Eventually what little primping I did evaporated. Jewelry and accessorizing was a practice that went away along time ago. Morning life just became too busy to take the time to stare in the mirror outside of  a cursory glace as I ran out the door. (This was pretty much to make sure my hair wasn’t sticking up and I didn’t have baby food anywhere.)

Never having been a girly girl, I ;et go that at this point in life I just didn’t  have the time to paint my nails, put on lipstick regularly and select complementary accessories. Yes, I would stare in jealously at the women at work who always looked put together and ready for the day.

I vowed to myself someday I would take the time to take better care of myself. Finally I would use the trendy facial mask collecting dust on my vanity. Or at any rate I would at least fully dry my hair before I left the house. In reality those things never happened, I never made the time. Feeding the baby, throwing in a load of laundry, and packing lunches. Those things had to happen first.

So I let the primping and coloring go. I stopped caring about doing my hair and make-up. Hey, I was raising a family, lipstick had to take a backseat. So what if I felt disheveled and a bit embarrassed when I got to work? None of it really mattered when I thought about all I had done before leaving the house each morning.  Looking back I give myself and any working mom a pat on the back for managing to get to work at all.

Then one day I looked in the mirror. I REALLY looked in the mirror. Who was this person? My skin looked terrible. The big dark circles under my eyes make me look like I got double face punched. My eyebrows! They were an Italian girls nightmare. Suddenly the acne that had plagued me disappeared but in its place was this patchy dry, sagging dullness. My skin didn’t look like this before. My face looked tired…and old. In my hustle, bustle and self-neglect, I had aged.It was written all over my face.

The process of change began by the purchase of moisturizer. A product me and my formerly oily skin, stayed far away from. Then with the help of some Younique and Sephora samples I stared to experiment with other items like primers, creams and foundations. I never used a ton of make-up due to my acne. Everything I used would break me out so I kept it very basic and never experimented much.

After about 5 (or more) years of not taking the time to care for my skin and face, I was shocked and saddened by the changes that took place. This could not be me. I didn’t look like this. Who was this person? But I knew the answer was staring at me like that new tub of moisturizer.

This is the mom when stayed up with her restless daughter or sick son. The daughter who buried her father, and grandmother. She is the wife who tried to keep the house quite and let her husband sleep in because he worked all night. This is the caregivier who cooks a weeks worth of food in one day so her family will be well feed. This face is me. Maybe not the 20-year-old me, but it was me all the same. And it was time I took care of her.

This month I (literally) came face to face with my face. Deciding instead of pining for the skin I once had, to take the time to accentuate what I am now. Instead of noticing my new wrinkles and dull skin, I need to take a moment to pamper myself. Discover and apply some products that make me feel good about the person I have become. The tired mom… well she is still here but I no longer have a baby crying through the night and my red, bumpy, painful acne is a thing of the past.  I can embrace the face I have, with all the wonderful experiences that are etched into it.One year of taking care of me

For the first time in my life I am learning about make-up. Finding joy in the pigments and products. Exploring how proper skin care and application can transform a tired face into one of brightness. Honestly, I didn’t know how transformative proper skin care could be.

Learning all about the amazing array of products, what they do and how to apply them has been fun. Pampering myself was never a phrase in my vocabulary but venturing into this area has been so restorative, emotionally and physically. Overall I just feel better about myself when I use these new products and take the time to apply them regularly.

Although it has not been easy. Some mornings I have had to force myself to set aside time. Literally locking my husband and kids out of the room until I was done. I have even started night routine. Before I would just crash into bed from the exhaustion of the day. Now I am preparing myself for bed.  This month I learned a lesson in valuing myself and making my face a priority. It is not a great deal of time, but it is a enough to get back to the me I need to be. The one that I now see on a daily basis in the mirror.

This month is about Pampering Yourself. This could mean scheduling a spa treatment or massage. Finally getting the expensive purse you have been loving from far. Or just stopping to take a needed nap on a Saturday afternoon. This month make a special effort to treat yourself right and give to yourself without blame, guilt or regret because you are important and you matter.

 

A Lesson in Heart: Why the Relative Age Effect is Wrong

Contrary to what some writers and sports analyst think being the smallest and youngest does not guarantee failure in a persons athletic career. Lessons are learned by team sports which go far beyond physicality, follow a child through their entire life and set them up for success.

My son is super active and in constant motion. We figured sports would help put that energy to use. We really didn’t give that much thought to the myriad of lessons learned through team sports. As we approach the end of the season I am reflecting on the amazing change and growth that team sports has brought in my child.

My son actually began with T-Ball and had an instant love for the sport. He took to it easy and made friends quickly. However, he is literally the youngest…I mean the absolute youngest player in the entire league. Due to when the division cut offs fall and when his birthday is. Much like school, in sports he is the youngest one out there.

Age is nothing but a number

If you have ready Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers, ” then you might have thought, much like myself, that having the youngest smallest child in sports would be to set him up for failure in life.  According to NY Magazine, one of Mr. Gladwell’s points is “…an initial advantage attributable to age gets turned into a more profound advantage over time.” This theory has become known as the Relative Age Effect and in my view is  bull.

Me and my husband initially considered theory for a long time and actually thought about holding my son back in school to ensure he was bigger, stronger and more mature when he began. However, intellectually he was ready and decided we would be doing his a disservice by holding him back.

When we signed him up for T-Ball, this idea came back to haunt me. Would he be the smallest? What if he is picked on? What if he struggle? How it effect his emotionally and scar him for life? Ok I probably was a bit over dramatic. But aside from the scarring him for life part all of that has happened and it is not a bad thing.

Season one and two

My son was the smallest. In being smaller and younger he did not have the motor coordination, at first, that the other players did. I watched in agony as he would miss ball after ball. However, my agony was not his. He was having a blast. He loved his coaches and they loved him as well. My son was learning what it was like to be part of a team and how to support your teammates.

More importantly he was learning resiliency. How to keep trying even if you might not get the results you want the first time. Each practice he tried his best. Never gave up and enjoyed every minute. By the end of the first year he was actually hitting the ball!

Season three

The second year brought new challenges. The size different between my son and the other kids were much more apparent. Likewise the skill level difference between him and other kids varied greatly. He fell somewhere in the middle, with older, bigger kids having more skill and motor control then he had. To my surprise there were older kids that were similar in stature to him struggled throughout the season.

Also, due to the cut off he was no longer in T-Ball. He was moved up (too soon in my opinion) to Coach Pitch. My son was scared he wouldn’t be able to do it and almost choose not the play. However, after meeting the coaches and other kids he wanted to try.

Sometimes he went game after game without a hit. Without a play or so much as touching the ball. There were a few times I turned to mush as he cried that he wanted to give up. The difference is he didn’t. He asked me and his Dad to practice with him more. (which we did.) He started to pay better attention during practice. With hands on his knees he was “baseball ready,” instead of throwing his mitt around the outfield.

While it was heartbreaking to see him leave the batter’s box dejected and sad, there was a lesson in this as well. It was a lesson about playing with Heart. Heart, Will, Determination, Fortitude, Resilience, call it what you will. It is what winning teams are made from.

You can see it time and time again when the underdog, underestimated teams blowing away their opponents. The 1980 US Hockey team, the 2004 Red Sox, and most recently the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs.  In most cases it is not purely, skill, strength or physical prowess that does the job. It is Heart and that is what my son was learning.

His abilities to field, hit and pay attention long enough to get through an inning were finally starting to come on line. By the end of the season he was hitting pretty regularly and had a good grasp of the game. Plus, he understood what it felt like to overcome a struggle.

Season Four

This past season was yet another lesson. Most of his teammate were almost a full 2 years older then he is. Many were now in travel ball league. This meant they had skills far beyond my son. I mean these kids were turning double plays! He had just learned how to hit. However, what surprised me was the social struggle. It seemed like none of the kids knew where they fit with each other. The age and skills varied so greatly. The older kids were not very nice. With the idea they were better players they acted like jerks to the younger kids.

My son, who pretty much gets along with everyone,  had a really hard time with this. It was the first time he was encountering bigger kids who were being bullies. He doesn’t really find them in school because of the anti-bullying efforts, but here on the ball field they still exist. I had a big issue with this and was ready to pull him out of the league.

However my husband stopped me. He reminded me that he NEEDS to learn how to deal with them. IF he doesn’t learn these lessons now he will have a harder time in life when he encounters bullies in the real world.  Boy was it tough to watch these kids but I knew he was right. he had to learn to stick up for himself. If things got bad I could step in. But as painfully hard as it was I had to let him fight his own battle. Uggg!

He was right, my son did learn how to stand up for himself. The effort in overcoming his fear also brought with it a new confidence in his abilities. I watched in amazement as he no only became a solid hitter he actually began to hit it into the outfield. Along with this his fielding also improved. With the encouragement and knowledge of incredible coaches he has grown into a strong player and a respected teammate.

Lessons for life

Being part of a team sport has brought along its challenges but the lessons learned and triumphs have been so worth it. These lessons learned through sports are what will make him a success, not the month he was born and when his birthday falls.  So Mr. Gladwell you are dead wrong that the smaller, younger kids are set up to fail due to age disadvantages that follow them through life.

You didn’t take into account all of the people like coaches, players, friends and family who help to mold them. Mr. Gladwell you also did not consider the many athlete’s who were not the ideal physical specimen, who might not have natural talent but still achieve greatness through hard work, will and determination.

Yes, my son is still the youngest and his is still one of the smallest but like many underestimated people he has Heart and that is what you need to win in the game of life.

 

 

Why Are Adult Themes In Kids Shows?

Why Are Adult Themes In Kids Shows?TV as Teacher

I am not sure how to begin this post. I know the words I am about to write will probably be misinterpreted by some and judged harshly by others but it is the way I feel at this moment. My daughter is 9, my son is 6. Tonight while watching a cartoon they have watched several times before. The story line went in a different direction. The two young characters in the show began talking about how one of the character’s Dad’s were going to have a baby. I thought I misheard it but I hadn’t they said Dad’s, as in 2 fathers.

My daughter promptly changed the channel. My son, not understanding the reference, asked her why she turned the channel. She got upset and left the room. I inquired with my daughter if she understood what they meant by two Dad’s. She said “yes, it meant boy’s liking boy’s…they were gay.” She said the show made was strange. I asked her to explain and she added it wasn’t something that she could explain. Sensing her confusion, I sat her down and tried to probe her further.

When did she first hear about someone who was gay? She said it was in a book or a show somewhere. Since I was unclear how the idea was presented I explained to her gay people are not bad, it is just part of who they are. It is nothing to feel weird about. They are just another form of a family. She seemed to understand the concept of “gay” better when I put it this way.

I recognize for a child who has knowns little to nothing about sexuality yet, the concept of being homosexual can be confusing. Most kids her age are not mature enough to understand what being “gay” means.  That is why I wish TV had not been the vehicle to introduce it.

Sex and violence in a kids movie?

Although the TV show did bring up something I would have addressed with her at some point anyway. I had to wonder why adult themes seem to be seeping into children’s shows? This is not the first time references to sex, sexuality and violence were blatantly broadcast in something made for children. Over Halloween, we attempted to watch the movie “Frankinweenie” and the boy in the movie actually says “sex and violence” within the first 5 minutes.

I know a lot was made about the “gay moment” in Beauty and the Beast but my concern is (from what I hear) the adult themes spread all over the movie. Far more overt then the “gay moment,” there are sexual innuendo and heightened violent scenes. Now I am not saying the makers of the film need to change their movie. By why not change the rating? Movies have gone from PG to PG-13 for less.

Skewing the demographics

Why does Hollywood seem to be hell bent on teaching children about adult themes before they are ready? Over the past year TV and movies have been much more lenient with what is allowed in a PG rating. Children’s channels previously free from overt violence and sexuality, like the Disney channel, are putting out adult like content such as their new show, Andi Mack, in which a teen girl discovers her older sister is actually her mother.

Why is this on a channel watched primarily by 2 to 11 year olds? Wouldn’t a show like this be more appropriate on a channel like Freeform or even Disney XD, which is geared towards teens?

From what I have read the reason for these adult theme children’s shows is the idea that children today are growing up faster and are looking for more “grown-up” storylines.” Sorry, I don’t by it. I think there is a  pressure on kids to grow up too fast and a lot of it comes from Hollywood and the media. These themes are being introduced more frequently in areas previously thought to be “kid-friendly.”

Not ready for prime time

They are coming up in shows and movies well before these kids are full equip, mentally and emotionally to

When I saw this graphic I was shocked. Had no idea something so violent was rated for a 14 year old viewer.

understand concepts like extreme-violence, teen pregnancy and sexual orientation. How could a 5-year-old be asking for shows with more adult theme like teen pregnancy when they don’t understand (and shouldn’t yet) what sex is?

The other prevailing school of thought is, we are only exposing children to something they will learn about anyway? So eventually they will learn about concepts like sexual abuse, drug addiction and murder. Should we be showing those images to a 5-year-old as well?

Some reading this post will think I am being overprotective, restrictive and even a bit of a homophobic. But I have talked to gay and straight parents about this. Many agree it is not so much the topic as the timing it is being introduced. For a teen questioning their sexuality or a 15-year old who is exposed to teen pregnancy, these are appropriate themes for a more mature time of life.

According to Dr. Meg Meeker, pediatrician and author,  “Talking to a child about sex when he is too young can be traumatizing, so parents must use their instincts and best judgement to take the cues and know when to begin talking to their kids about sex, letting them take the lead in their own time.”

TV time became a habit

I will admit this exposure by TV is also something of my own making. Most moms have done what I have. Put on Dora the Explorer for an hour when they were toddlers, so you can take a shower. But that has translated into TV become a daily part of family life.

Although, I am not happy about the adult themes popping up in shows made for young children. Family time is not about watching TV. It is about spending time together. I gave the content control over when I did this and let TV be the teacher. TV’s reference to a gay couple should not have been what prompted a discussion into differing family units and lifestyles. It should have been a more positively framed talk at a more mature, appropriate time.

By sitting them in front of the TV while I was on the computer or doing dishes, I created a habit. My responsibility and duty to preserve their innocence was given to Disney Channels and Cartoon Network producers. Blindly trusting them to keep the content safe and age-appropriate.

It is my job, not TV’s

In truth, they own me nothing. They do not know my kids and what they are ready for. Their goal is to produce shows they think people will watch and advertisers will buy into. It is my job to make sure the content is right for my children.

Still I don’t understand what the big push is to turn children into mini adults.  I know at some point I will have to have “the talk,” with my kids. When we I don’t want them to feel like they can not share their feelings with me because of something they saw on TV.

So for now, I will let my kids stay innocent just a while longer.  Adult life will come soon enough, quicker if Hollywood has their way. And when they are ready, and have questions. My kids can look to me to explain things…instead of learning it from TV.

Baseball Wall and Boy’s Bedroom Makeover -Part 1

Baseball Wall and Boy's Bedroom Makeover -Part 1So I had this hair brained idea. One day while sitting in my son’s bedroom I started looking around and notice his room has changed little since he was born. Before his birth, my husband had painted our baby boys room a nice light blue. Being a Red Sox fan he also went out and purchase Red Sox Fathead vinyl wall decals. His baby furniture was  his sisters crib and changing table which was still in great condition. Later the table converted into a dresser and he got a  very basic “big boy” bed. As he grew we added a place for his books, an a few more pieces of décor like a shelf for his little league trophy’s.

He is not a baby anymore

However, as I sat in this baby blue room, I realized his room was mostly filled with items he has had since he was an infant. It was as if a 6-yer-old boys belongings were crammed into a toddlers space.   His Lego’s now take up all of the top surface of his dresser. His Star Wars and Ninja Turtle figures are overflowing out of the too small bins in his closet. The room did not really fit him anymore. His twin bed had no footboard or headboard and the changing table/ dresser was fat for this space.

Here came the mommy guilt when I realized in his 6 years of life his  sister had her room done over twice. (Once was because of a leak which caused us to have to replace her flooring.) How could I have been so unfair? He had never even  asked for his room to be redone like his sister had so it just never happened.

That is where my hair brained idea got its start.  I scoured Pinterest with my son by my side and grilled him on which pictures of boy rooms he liked. After a few days a patterned emerged. Thankfully, he was still drawn to a baseball theme, much to his Dad’s delight, so we could reuse the Red Sox images.

The Baseball Wall

I have never done a room redo on this blog and there is a reason. They are hard! Also, I am no design expert. but in perusing the internet I found my inspiration.  I would create a feature wall painted like the stitches of a baseball! My son was equally as excited by this idea.) It was similar to these here.

baseball wall

Image found on pinterest

baseball wall

Image found on pinterest

I was hoping to enlist my friend who has a whole lot more art talent them me, but we could never seem to get together a time.

After many months of putting it off I decided to get started. I painted 3 of the walls a nice leathery tan. Not wanting it to be too deep, since it is a very small room, I aimed for a color somewhere between infield dirt and a wood baseball bat. The painting went very smoothly for this part. However, after 6 years and a very active boy, the prep-work to repair holes and dings felt like it took ages.

It was up to me… with help from the Internet

Next came the hard part. How was I going to make this baseball wall happen? I mean, I am no artist. Could I really pull this off? I had already told my son I was going todo it. Him was excited so I had to at least try.

In my internet search I found a ton of pictures but surprisingly few tutorials about how to paint a baseball on a  wall. How do you get the shading of a roughed up ball? How to make the stitches even? There were some on how to create a template and paint the stitches. This one from gaining mommymentum   ,tippytoesandtantrums.com  and Simply Mom were the most helpful.

A change in direction

The job would be broken down into 3 parts; sketch out the stitches, faux paint the wall, paint the stitches. Sound pretty easy right? Boy was I wrong. Little did I know how in over my head I was Gaining Mommymentum had a great suggestion of using string and a pencil to sketch out the arch for the stiches in each corner. As I was about to get started I asked my son what he thought. Boy, did that go wrong. He stated he wanted the stiches from top to bottom not corner to corner. Like in this picture from the Creative Imperative, which incidentally became my inspiration picture. baseball wall

That literally changed the ball game. How was I got to accomplish that? The guy who did these was an artist and painted some amazing rooms.  I tried free handing it and made a huge pencil mess all over the wall which me and my son had to spend 15 minutes erasing. I tried to alter the string technique but the wall was just to big.

Goggle to the rescue. Searching “how to paint a curved line on a wall,” and found this tutorial from thehippiehomestead. I proceeded to measure out where my curve would start at the top of the wall, where the middle point would be, then where the bottom matching point was. Using thumb tack to mark each, I then stretched a piece of string around the points.

sorry about the ladder I had no where to move it

I could not get the long pieces of tape to curve the way he did, so I finally gave up and went with small pieces of tape to hold the string in place. Then traced the curve out in small increments between the tape pieces along the edge of my string. This worked ok since I wanted my line to be pretty thin anyway.

And we’re blending

Once I was happy with the curve and felt pretty good about myself, I started in on the paint.  Having already done a base white coat after prepping and sanding the wall, I thought this part might be decently easy.  At this point my kids really wanted to help. Since I didn’t really know what I was doing I might as well let them have at it. My plan was to mix 1 part brown paint, 1 part white paint and 2 parts glaze to create a light brownish.

The Creative Imperative post states she basically put it on the wall and blended. Granted she has an artists eye and I do not. But this method appealed to me as it required the least amount of tools and seemed easiest, so I went for it. I let my kids do the bottom and I did the top.

What happened to the wall?

We were all swishing and blending away having a great time. After a while I stepped back to observe. Here is were I get nervous. This was not looking like a roughed up baseball. It was looking like a brown disaster. What was I thinking? My kids were having a blast but I kept thinking about how I was going to fix this?

We stopped to take a break and ran back out to Home Depot and get some small roller brushes. The solution, I decided, would be to cover it with a white glaze mixture. Hopefully, that will knockdown the harsh brush strokes and way too dark brown streaks. By this point my husband popped his head in on his way out to work. I could see from the look on his face he was a bit worried about the brown streaky mess I had created on my son’s wall. He said goodbyes and didn’t mention anything about the paint job.(Which was for the best.)

Now to fix this mess

After our second run to Home Depot, a stop for some dinner ingredients and a short time outside playing catch. I got back to painting feeling much better about the prospect. The white glaze mixture worked out perfectly. It totally toned down the wall and mellowed out the streakiness. To my surprise it actually was looking more like a dirty baseball and less like a lunatic ran around with brown paint. painted wall I was so relieve. It was actually starting to look like the inspiration picture!

Now for the stitches

Then came the hardest part of the painting. The part that took a steady hand. (Which I do not have.) Painting the stitches. I tried to use a small form brush as mentioned in one of the tutorials. I guess I was a little nervous and pushed too hard making a big jagged red mark. The line was uneven, wonky and way too thick in several places. A crooked red streak on a white wall. But tippytoesandtantrums.com said she felt the same about her initial line. (Although I doubt hers was anywhere need as bad as mine.)

I  found a smaller brush with a firmer edge and decided it might work better. The second line was much thinner and less jagged. Although, I had to touch up several spots where I had accidentally gotten red in places, all in all the second curve came out much more to my liking. White paint was my friend and I made that first curve disappear and attempted it another time. Even though it was not perfect it was much better then the first time around.

Use what is around

As mentioned in one of the tutorials I created a template to paint on the “v” stitches.  I used a paint swatch card and cut a simple v into it. For a spacer I found a pack of gum my kids had finished off that was the perfect size.

Starting off lightly at first and it was slow going. Got to tell you this was tedious and I kept getting red paint on everything. But then the magic happened and you could see a baseball emerge from a plan wall. This was the cool part. Once all the laces were drawn in, I went back over them to neaten and darken them up a bit. Then I stood back and stared in amazement. There it was a baseball on my son’s wall…and I, the non-artist, had done it.  Pretty awesome!

Then I looked around the rest of his room littered with painters tape, string,  foam brushes, drop cloths, ninja turtle figures and wondered who was going to clean up this mess. Next month I will post part two of my son’s baseball bedroom makeover where I will talk about his furniture and reveal the finished room.

5 Things for Parents to Remember on the Sidelines of Youth Sports

5 things for parents to remember on the sidelines of youth sportsPlaying youth sports has so many benefits. It teaches teamwork, leadership, and perseverance among other things. These are skills a child will refer back to their entire life. Becoming involved in sports helps to shape children into amazing adults, productive human beings and incredible role models. Having my children involved in sports teams it is fascinating to watch as they learn new skills, develop leadership and overcome interpersonal challenges.

Once of the most heart warming of sights is seeing my son light up when his coach takes special time with him to congratulate or teach him a new skill. Coaches have such an important role in the life of these beginning athletes. They teach them valuable skills and connect with them in a different way then a parent. [ctt title=”Coaches are role models. They are an important influence in teaching kids how to become good, well-rounded human beings.” tweet=”Coaches are role models. They are an important influence in teaching kids how to become good, well-rounded human beings.” coverup=”EK09j”]

For this reason I have always felt an immediate respect for these types of coaches, especially those who are unpaid volunteers. They give so much of themselves and their time to help make children into a better people. While coaches and the team setting are important, there is one piece of this puzzle than I am leaving out. This is the person who can make or break the childhood sports experience. That is the parent.

I look back on fond memories shared with my dad as he yelled from the sidelines of my soccer game. It was one of the few occasions in our relationship where I felt he truly believed in me and will always be something I cherish . Unfortunately, this is not always be the behavior of parents on the sidelines or youth sports coaches.

Since the inception of youth teams there have always been “those ” parents. You know the one. The one with a secret dream of become an NFL star, or Major Leaguer but never got a chance. These are the ones that do not just believe their 5 year old can be the next Johnny Bench or Magic  Johnson. They are determined to make is happen.

They get a bit overzealous and turn the game from being light-hearted fun into pressure filled warfare. We can all have be this parent from time to time but most of us can pull ourselves back from the edge and leave the coaching to the coach. However, their are some adults who forget these are kids and this is just a game.

It has gotten so bad that most youth leagues now require parents sign a Code of Ethics pledge. The code of ethics is intended to remind parents to well…act like adults. Apparently, it has happened enough times and in enough instances that a signed document is necessary to keep parents in check.

I can say from personal experience I became totally disgusted when a parent coach in my sons little league violated this pledge. He was a coach/player parent/league administrator and for years has used his position to cherry pick his teams. Selecting only the best, most experienced and oldest players to dominate over all others grade schoolers and win the championship each season. He had to secure the coveted plastic, baseball batter atop a metallic blue stand. The underwhelming trophy telling everyone he is a “T-ball Championship Winner.”

These are 6 and 7- year-olds! The dejected look on my son’s face knowing this team was unbeatable, broke my heart. To hear his team members sadly state they were going to loss before the game ever started, was awful. All for what? What skills did this teach any of them. What challenge did it present to the other team? All so a pathetic, broken man could fulfill his dream of little league domination.

In another instance there are the parents who cart there kid all over creation because the have to be part of a “travel” team. They must attend completions and tournaments. Don’t get me wrong if the kid wants to do this it could be a genuine special memory between parent and child. The problem comes in when the need of the parent to relive their glory days outweigh the logic of the situation. Like having your 7-year-old spend summer weekend in another state competing when all they really want to do is be home playing with their friends.

As parents we only want the best for our children. That being said, we all have the potential to be those parents. We just lose sight of why our kids are playing sports in the first place. To have fun. Here are five ways to keep yourself in check as a parent of a young athlete.

Model good sportsmanship

Recognize your child will take their cues from your behavior. If you bad-mouth another team or player they will think this is acceptable behavior and follow suit.

Recognize the team in addition to your child

It is important to not fixate only on the actions of just our child. Recognizing the accomplishments other players in front of your child helps demonstrates leadership and teamwork. Encouraging your child to cheer on and congratulate others will also foster these skills.

Demonstrate Respect

Always speak to other parents, coaches, umpires and referees with respect even when you disagree. Little eyes are watching and little ears are listening. If you are feeling to emotional to restrain yourself. Walk away.

Make sure you are not pressuring your kids to live out your dreams

This is a tough one and it is easy to fall into without noticing. Everyone harbors secret dreams that their 7-year-old child will be the phenome player heading to the big leagues. But sometimes these secret hopes don’t remain secret. Some of the warning signs are being overly critical if you child misses a play or expecting them to play at a level well beyond their age and physicality. If you are buying your kid expensive equipment they never asked for it might be a good idea to examine what emotions you have invested in their sport.

Remember you are the parent, not the player

Be attentive to the needs and emotions as they grow in their sport. Also know when to step back, let them learn and find their own way. Allow them to be a kid who loves to play without the pressure of being the best. Look for chances to encourage and build self esteem. When they make a misstep help them learn to deal with losses and mistakes with grace and dignity. If parents can accept their supporting role, instead of coach or former player, then a lifetime of teachable moments, beautiful memories and valuable skills await.

 

hint with a kick of natural caffeine

Moderating Family Vacations

 

cruiseIf you are like me, you love the idea of family vacations. Then you realize all the work you have to do as the mom and primary planner/packer/ organizer of said vacation. As I am writing this, I’m getting ready to head off on vacation and have a mountain of laundry, packing and cleaning to do before we leave. However, I take comfort in knowing  this time,  I can actually get to relax and be on vacation!

The only vacation where Mom’s get pampered

This vacation we are going on a cruise!  I have found cruises to be truly restful and restorative. Unlike other vacations where meal planning, itinerary and accommodations are still mom’s domain. With a cruise, once you set foot on the ship, you are received of your typical mom duties. There is an entire staff of people who will cook, clean, and do your laundry. For a few days you are relieved of meal planning, activity itinerary, and chauffeur responsibilities. All you have to do is step out of your room and well…nothing, you are already there. Go get dinner, see a show or sit in the sun.

I you are like me and have difficulty getting a babysitter. The child care services for most cruises are available for no additional fee. Trust me, the kids don’t want to leave their “Kid’s Club.” Everything in these areas are designed to cater to and occupy your children, giving you some needed free time. Not in a guilty stealing five minutes to run to the store without the kids sort of way. You are free to do absolutely nothing.

Once this concept hits, you it is life changing. Yes, some cruises, like Disney, can be pricy. However, you are almost guaranteed a great, restful experience and some quality family time with limited distractions. To me these days are worth their weight in gold.wp-1451440231899.jpg

There are a few things to keep in mind when cruising to make your trip as enjoyable as possible.

Don’t be bothered by the motion of the ocean

If you are prone to motion sickness, (like I am when my husband drives) you will want to pack some medication like Dramamine or Bonine. I like Bonine, you only need a half or a quarter of a pill to work effectively and it doesn’t make you as drowsy as Dramamine. Most large ships have powerful stabilizers that will prevent severe rocking. Also your body adjusts after about a day, so you might only need medication for day 1 of your cruise.

Research shore excursions

Depending on your itinerary, there are several shore exclusions to choose from. In some travel destinations going it alone can leave you victim to locals looking to pray on tourists. The cruise approved trips might cost more but they are backed by the cruise line. This also relieves you from the responsibility of having to find a way to get back to the ship after the excursion, which may be a problem if you go it alone.

That being said there are some good options for non-cruise shore excursions. Based of reviews some of these are offered at a lower price and can offer more than those from a cruise line. However, I would caution you to thoroughly research these offerings before booking anything. Likewise, keep in mind the political and economic state of the location where the excursion is offered.

Participate in theme or formal night

I know this adds a lot of extra items to pack but how often do you get the opportunity to dress like a pirate?  If your cruise has a formal night this is a great opportunity to get professional formal pictures. Let’s be honest, who has time to get this done at home? Not only are you creating  a special memory but you get a chance to get all dolled up and maybe even visit the ship spa in preparation!

Disney cruises have a pirate-themed night, and other lines offer Black & White nights or Tropical theme nights. These will vary depending on length, itinerary and cruise line.  If your cruise has a theme night have fun with it. It might seem strange at first to dress up as an adult, but it is a great way to make memories and have some awesome pictures to boot. Take the chance to channel your inner pirate and have fun with it. You won’t be sorry.

Don’t have to stay stuck in your cabin

There are plenty of activities throughout the ship. Plus, you can use it as a learning opportunity for your children. Ask about scheduling a ship tour. Some cruises will offer “a meet the captain” or “tour the bridge” event. It is amazing experience to see what a coordinated effort it takes to make the ship run efficiently.

Don’t feel guilty about the Kids Club

On our first cruise we felt guilty about putting our daughter in the nursery so we can have one dinner as a couple. Don’t. You need a vacation too and on board their babysitter at your disposable. They are specifically trained to care for your children and even if you are at dinner or the spa you are never more then a few decks away. If you have older kids they are in for a treat. There are fun activities and events every hour to keep your kids have a blast. Just don’t be hurt when they ask to go back to the Kids Club the next night.

Remember you don’t have to do anything

This is the only vacation that I know of where you don’t have to do anything if you choose and no one will be disappointed in you. No driving to visit remote relatives, trying to work around other peoples schedule and getting the guilty phone call when you didn’t visit your cousin Jim your last visit.

Take the pressure off yourself, don’t worry about pleasing everyone or seeing everything and just chill. On one of our cruises after having our son I was in such a mommy mode that I kept doing everything for everyone. That was until the wait staff stepped in and cut food up FOR ME! That was my cue to relax and let them handle it.

 

 

 

Year of Taking Care of Me- Month 2: Love Myself

Month 2 Love MyselfIn keeping with the Valentines theme of love February was a month to focus on self love and self acceptance. This is not an easy thing for many of us. Many mom’s I know are the most incredible, giving, productive and loving people but to hear then tell it you would think they accomplish nothing. Most don’t acknowledge the amazing feats we accomplish daily. Oh yes we can totally see it in others, we can dole out praise for someone else but never ourselves.

I recently heard a mom of a 3 month old talk about how she has been struggling to get her baby to eat and is waking up hourly to feed him all night long. All this while she has a full-time job and another child to care for! She gets an average of 3 hours of sleep per night but talks about it as if it is something everyone does. No… no they don’t. She is an amazing mom!

Often we are hyper critical of ourselves and only see our flaws and failures. We downplay the amazing things we do as if everyone does them. That is what makes a month like this so difficult.  This 28 days we are challenged to like ourselves and toot our own horn. This month is also intended for us to accept ourselves and accept some of the praise others give us. Not just blow it off or pretend it is intended for someone else.

I struggle with this because, like most Mom’s, I always feel I am failing in some area. Even through we know it is an impossibility, we still strive to be everything to everyone. What we see in this endeavor is our contant unending failure. (You can check out last weeks post “Morning in the MommyHood for my own verision.)

It took a long time before I was even about to graciously accept a compliment without trying to negate it in some way. So this month is about trying to move past my gut instinct to see only failure and try to see the good I produce. There were a few tasks for this month included making a list of things we like about ourselves and another list of what people say they like about us. The intent is to see how we view ourselves and if we see ourselves as other see us. Finally this month we take note of how we have  accept ourselves. Ok here goes…

What do I like about myself?

What do I like? This is so hard because this month I have been under the weather and short tempered ect. Ok I know I know I am only seeing the negative again and that is not what this is about. Here goes 5 things I like about myself. (Boy this feels awkward.)

  • I am honest,
  • I am faithful to my friends and family
  • I am good at creating memories for my family
  • People know I am consistent and I keep my word.
  • I love to learn
  • OK there (this took me an entire day.)

What others like about me

Now on to list 2. Some of the things others have said about me.

  • I am a good mom (This mad me feel awesome!)
  • I am a good cook (Also made me feel awesome)
  • I am an encouraging friend (I hope so)
  • I am a hard worker
  • I am funny (this one from my kids)

Seeing these lists did make me feel pretty awesome. Especially when I hear what my children and my husband like about me. Making the list about myself was tough. It took a lot longer then I thought it would which tells me I have a bit of work to do concerning my confidence and belief in my abilities.

Now for the hardest part about this month. The accepting yourself. Over the weekend I had an unexpected incident with another adult. I innocently made an offer of help I believed to be with the intent to offer understanding and empathy. However to his ears it sounded like an insult. He came back at me with harsh words and I felt my dignity and self worth crawl into a little ball inside of me and blink out of existence.

I spent the majority of the weekend running the confrontation over again and again and wondering how he could have taken my words so wrong. I felt like a total jerk. In the end my husband tried to help me too understand. Because of my co-dependency issues when I see someone struggling I feel like I need to fix their problem. It is some weird responsibility to remedy every situation, even when it has nothing to do with me. My offer of help was not viewed as kindness because it was out of place. It was not asked for, not wanted and made the person feel like a screw-up.

Even if it was not my intent, my over zealous feelings of responsibility for everyone and everything, insulted this person. As if they were incompetent and in need of rescue. As if I was somehow better. It took a lot to see this side of my actions. It was really hard to accept that I made someone feel this way. You know that “road to hell” and all.

In the past I would have insisted he was the jerk. However, having learned about myself this way I can accept the same sensitivity that makes me good at empathizing and understanding others, can also contribute to my inappropriate feelings of responsibility for them. I think I finally understand I do not have to save everyone, or offer help that was never asked for. I  accept I am not selfish if I don’t take on everyone’s problems, especially when they never asked for my help.

This also could be the reason I saddle myself with so much to do and then complain about feeling overwhelmed. I take on problems that are none of my business. Before this month I never realized I did this. I never realized how it could make another person feel bad about themselves.

This month in an effort to love and care for myself better I am unburdening myself of all of the problems are not mine to solve. I am letting go of all the situations I may have unknowingly forced myself into because I felt like I needed to help, even if my help was never asked for. This will free up time to help the ones who really do need me like my children, my husband. In the end I think this will make me a better mom, friend and a more fulfilled person.

Did you make your lists this month? What did you discover about yourself? How did it make you feel? Would love to hear how you felt about this month. Please share in the comments

 

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