Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Over Scheduled Kids, Stressed Out Parents. Who is Winning?

"So, today Joshie has soccer and piano, Amelia has dance and chorus, and Winston has Karate and T-Ball". Then she sighs. BIG.

This familiar rant is heard all around the car lines, the bus stops, and the play dates. The tone of voice and the exasperated looks are always the same as the day's schedule is announced.

Parents today spend so much time shuffling their kids from place to place they lose sight of their own needs and in the process, lose themselves, their sanity and their family structure. They complain, they whine, and they are just plain tired. (I will say this. There is a special heaven for Hockey Moms.)

It starts off innocently enough. After you have your first baby and get into somewhat of a groove, you start to venture out to "activities" for your little cherub. First, it's story hour at the library, then it's "Gymboree", and before he's one, you fear he's lagging behind so you enroll him in Mandarin Chinese language lessons. Then there are swim lessons, soccer, T-ball and karate, all before he's learned how to wipe. And for the girls, there is ballet, pageants (another blog), and Princess lessons.

We're so concerned that our child(ren) will not be able to "keep up" with the other children, we fall into the trap, thinking this insane rat race is normal.

Here's a little secret. It's not.

From my own Mom experience, I have learned that kids need to play; freely, by themselves, and with others. They love to explore, imagine, and create, all within their own space. How do I know this? Because I have 2 boys who fight over toilet paper holders and tape because they are too busy creating antennas, binoculars, robots, and microphones. They really don't need a lot to make them happy. Yesterday, they fought over a string and I had to set the timer to give each equal time playing with the string. I am not lying, people.

Parents complain about not having enough time but they do have a choice. In our house we have a 1 activity rule. Only one sport/activity allowed at a time. After it's over, you can move on to something different. Often times the parents are competing with each other to see who can do more. And in the end, does little Suzy end up in the New York Ballet? Does little Joshie get a full hockey scholarship? Chances are, no.

If you are a parent who is stressed from over scheduling, just ask yourself the following questions:
1. Does my child enjoy this activity? Ask the kid, s/he might surprise you.
2. Does taking my child to this activity place too many demands on the parent and family structure?
3. Is it too expensive? Are you sacrificing in other ways just to keep this activity going?
4. Are there alternatives to this activity?
5. How else would/could you spend your time if you weren't "sacrificing" for the child? (When do mommy & daddy get some play time is what I mean!!)
6. Is the child's school work suffering?
7. Is the child getting enough sleep and time to "be a kid"?
8. Do you think you missed out on something as a kid and are now trying to overcompensate?

Just some things to think about when finding the right balance in your family life. Personally, I was involved in softball, bowling, volleyball, Pep Squad, archery and school government. (I was the most uncoordinated participant out there, but I had fun). Most of my activities were "Intramural", free, and right after school. They did not seem to create any undue stress on my parents but at the same time, enriched my life, introduced me to new friends, and kept me out of trouble.

I hope this blog does not sound "preachy". My hope is that parents might take a step back and consider all factors. Childhood is already too short coupled with the fact that the life of a grownup is a constant treadmill. It sounds like a recipe for slowing down, doesn't it?

Just because everyone else is stressed and over scheduled doesn't mean you have to be too!

Would love to hear your feedback here on this blog. Please feel free to post your opinions here.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Lessons from Irene

1. There are people who drink and eat during the storm while there are people who will blow their leaves and mow, during the storm.

2. There are people who embrace the darkness, the lack of technology, and the dinners by candlelight with friends. And there are people who call a.m radio b*tching about not having electricity while their generators are humming.

3. If you know a hurricane is coming, just eat all the ice cream and get it over with.

4. You will continue to walk into a room even after seven days with no power, and still try to turn on the lights.

5. Your children will not even notice that there is no operating television

6. You will hear a.m radio caller say something like this: "I'm not calling to gripe like everyone else is about the electricity. I got my generator. I got my pool. What I'm worried about is, what exactly do they plan on doing about the hornet problem in my yard?"

7. You and your peeps will be huddled around a.m radio by candlelight. This will be your sole source of entertainment and you all make a pact to make it a weekly ritual, even long after the power returns.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Texting Up a Storm

The recent tropical storm, Irene, caused us all to think really hard about what is important. Like, how do we text during the storm so that our friends will understand what kind of crisis we are in? Well, Becky is here to save the day with some new texting abbreviations, should another catastrophe of this kind strike. Please share this with your friends so that we will all be on the same page next time!

1. SNP: Still No Power

2. FFKICBIM: Force Feeding Kids Ice Cream Before It Melts

3. TOLA: Tripped Over Legos Again

4. DDCF: Dropped Deuce Can't Flush

5. BTW: Buying the Wood

6. LAMRL: Listening to A.M. Radio Losers

7. ITMB?: Is This Milk Bad?

8. CSDTOT: Can't Shower, Doing The One Two

9. NDBAJL: No D Batteries At Job Lot

And my personal favorite, donated by the Mr:

10. FML: Fix My Lights!!!!

(Or, Find My Lantern)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Parents with Power

So, Hurricane Irene didn't do much damage in my hood but it did knock out our electricity for 6 days now (and counting). On Day One, we awoke to no power, a little earlier than we anticipated. I was hoping I'd squeeze in at least one last load of laundry, but oh well....

Who thought it would last this long? We hunkered down for the 1st 2 days of darkness with neighbors; cooking, drinking, eating, more cooking, laughing, and (finally) sleeping to the hum of nearby generators. Then we learned it would be days before getting the lights back so we packed the kids up and headed to my parents' house. (I honestly don't mind "roughing" it but I have my limits. If I can't do my laundry at least every other day, I start twitching. For more history on this click here. ) Plus, I am a big fan of fresh, cold food, something that is hard to keep when your fridge has been emptied and ice is nowhere to be found.

So, it was off to Manny & Ginger's house. ("Manny" is really "Kenny" but I nicknamed him Manny cuz he loves to read manuals to EVERYTHING, and "Ginger" is "Ginny", more on that in another blog.)

Thank goodness for parents, especially ones who don't mind a family of four invading their space. These 2 would really move the Sun and Earth for you....generous, kind, and beyond crazy.

Just a few tidbits of my last week with Manny & Ginger:

  • No matter what time of day, my father is eating. Standing at the kitchen counter. Eating. One night at 11pm, he was eating chopped onions and tomatoes with fresh basil. Still standing. Never sitting. Jars of pickled mussels, jalapeno peppers, Cheerios, topped with blueberries, milk and wait for it....crumbled blue cheese on top. I gently advised him that he shouldn't eat so late at night and his response was, "How is it eating late if I don't go to sleep until 2 a.m?"

  • Ginger: " Who the hell eats tomatoes and onions at night? Beck, what time does Dr. Drew come on? Is it after Nancy Grace and before Joy Behar?" Yes, mom. We'll watch in your bed and then Billy will come in to talk about Chaz Bono.

  • Cut to a commercial with the K girls. Ginger: "Ooh, I'm so sick of those Kardashian girls. They look like whoas."

  • My mother's obsession for sweet corn is worse than I thought. She cooks it at every meal and when she eats it, a lone kernel rests on her chin, waiting to be snacked on later.

  • My father writes down his doctor's appointment times on the sides of Kleenex boxes and then can't remember when he has to go. Until he sneezes.

  • Every conversation with my mother includes the words "RiteAid" and "Lottery Number"

  • My parents never use a door to exit the house.

  • Rubber bands are used on everything; from bagged salad and pasta boxes to bottles of pills.

  • And lastly, now I understand why Becky is the way she is.

Thank you to my wonderful parents! You guys are the best.