Tag Archives: parents

Back to school feelings?

I really enjoy the school that my daughters attend, I like the teachers, the location, the curriculum, the families, the activities, almost everything. I enjoy fall – the weather, the leaves, the festivities near us, and the memories that it brings.

But I must confess, each and every fall I still get a feeling in my gut and in my head about ‘back to school’ – I sometimes wish that my girls weren’t going back and that summer would continue. I think some of those feelings are from the days of my youth. Due to some consolidations when I was young, I transferred schools a few times before I was 8. Then, I moved to another city. I went to a few more schools before settling down in high school. Most of the choices and moves were made by my parents but I understand why.  I think that I changed schools about 8 times. I was a shy kid and the moves made it harder. I had to start over again with friends and teachers. I can feel that gut feeling now. It is kinda of an empty, alone feeling.

As I try to communicate in my blogs, what can we do about situations like this and what can we learn?

First, it is all about our interpretation and feelings, isn’t it? My parents moved me to better places for the right reasons. I did make friends and I did do well in school. I had a good education and received the benefits I needed and wanted. I also benefited from the moves in such a way that I am now ready and able to take on new projects, situations, groups, presentations because I am now used to the change, the newness of change.  I have skills and experiences that others do not. I have used these for my own success and happiness.

Second, we can’t change the fact that summer is ending, fall is coming and school is starting. Why worry about things that you can’t change? So unless we’re going to move to a different climate and/or home school the kids, my wife and I need to move on with our feelings, right? How often in our daily lives do we worry or waste time on things that we can’t change?

Also, that empty, alone feeling – it is just my perception. I still had the same number of friends, family and supporters when I went into a new school. If anything I gained new friends and teachers that cared. To this day I still recall special teachers that made my life more enjoyable and better. I look back at the first few weeks of school for me during those times. There was a period when I’d dread school, the change, talking to new people, and all the new things. Then at some point later, often just a couple weeks, I was into the groove, enjoying life. Things really didn’t change that much but how I interpreted them did change.

Similarly now with my daughters, they’re excited to go, I’ll still see them a lot – and now see them in school activities. I get to see other parents, many of these fine people I am proud to call my friends. My wife and I will make new friends. We have a great, supportive and fun network of friends at the kids’ school.  Also in a similar manner, I get that empty feeling for a few weeks as my girls go back to school. Part of it comes from the fact that they are growing and time marches on. Part of it is from my own experiences.

All of it is from my own interpretation and perception – because, again, there is suddenly that point in time a few weeks from now when I’ll be happily into the groove and I will suddenly be aware that my interpretation somehow changed.

Isn’t this the case with so many things in our lives? It is what we look at, what we ponder on, what we choose to feel. My wife and I both could focus on the fact that the kids are growing, that they’ll be away from home more, etc. etc. Or we can focus on the excitement, progress, great teaches, great friends, activities. Right now my girls still laugh at my jokes, still hold my hand, still ‘like’ me, so I’m trying to milk that as much as I can.

At work, we can focus on how our boss doesn’t do this or that, that there are things wrong with our job, and that we want more. Or we can focus on what our boss does in fact do right, what’s good with our job – and the simple fact that we have one, and focus on what we have. I’m not a saint and I struggle with this whole thing as much as anyone.

One secret that helped me is simple – when I start to ponder on what isn’t working, what I don’t want, and the empty feelings, I pause, take out any paper close to me, and begin writing.

I write down things that ARE working, things that I DO want, things that make me feel GOOD, etc. If there is a person involved with my negativity, I write down at least two things that they do well or two things that work for me. I write down at least two things that are ‘working’ in this situation. Instead of writing, “I don’t want _____ .” I write down, “I want ___ “ and I work on ways to accomplish it. I write down good feelings – when ___ happens I feel good, I feel good about my kids, wife, etc.

It is, in many ways, an exercise of gratitude and focus. It is also a bit about acceptance; we need to accept the situation to deal with it. We’re not surrendering but acceptance leads to progress. This exercise can be done on a napkin in 3 minutes but can make a big difference.

I’m wishing you and your children a happy, safe, educational school year. I wish you, the parent, peace and gratitude. There is so much excitement, fun, friendship, and possibilities out there, we all need to just step forward and live it. Thanks for going through this experience with me.

10 things to do with your kids

Summer is almost over for most kids.

I know that I will miss the extra free time with my family once school arrives.

Here are 10 things to do with your kids in these last few moments.

(from http://www.sparkplugging.com/the-man-page/10-things-to-do-with-your-kids-this-summer/)

1. Attend a Baseball Game

2. Go Fishing

3. Take Them To The Zoo

4. Go Hiking

5. Ride Bikes To The Ice Cream Shop

6. Have A Treasure Hunt

7. Go Camping

8. Fly A Kite

9. Gather Your Kids And Their Friends And Play A Game

10. Perform A Random Act Of Kindness

(full article below)

1. Attend a Baseball Game

Baseball Game
Photo credit: joeshlabotnik

Whether you take the kids to a professional game, minor league game, or even a local high school game really doesn’t matter – as just being at the ballpark with your kids is a great bonding opportunity for dads and the kids.

Nothing beats a hot dog at the ballpark or teaching your kids how to crack open a peanut with their teeth and spit out the shell.

2. Go Fishing

Photo credit: binkley27

Grab the fishing poles and a handful of earth worms – although we always used hot dogs for bait when I was a kid – and head down to a nearby pond or river.

While it is fun to get out in a boat, you can have just as much fun standing on the shore casting out into the water.

It helps to have a tackle box with a few essentials, such as pliers, lures, etc. but don’t let the lack of these items prevent you from getting out there. If you plan to fish yourself, be careful as you may require a fishing license for your area and don’t want to get fined for breaking the law.

3. Take Them To The Zoo

Photo credit: brookenovak

Visiting the zoo can be a lot of fun. Not only will you get a little bit of exercise walking around the zoo, you will have the opportunity to learn about animals with your children.

As you work your way through the zoo, ask your kids about their favorite animals and why they like that animal the best. You might just be surprised at what your kids find interesting about the animals and their rationale for why they like a particular animal the best.

As an added bonus, all the walking at the zoo will likely leave your kids exhausted and provide an opportunity for quiet evening with your spouse when the kids crash early!

4. Go Hiking

Photo credit: respres

Just in case the walking around the zoo is not enough activity for you, take the kids hiking.

Many of your local forest preserves likely have walking trails that can test your level of fitness on and have hte opportunity to enjoy nature.

To this day, one of our family’s favorite vacations was visiting the Smoky Mountains where we spent almost the entire trip hiking the trails within the park. We got great exercise and had fun exploring the unknown.

5. Ride Bikes To The Ice Cream Shop

Ice Cream
Photo credit: abbynormy

Getting out with your kids for a bike ride is a lot of fun. Seeing their eyes light up when they realize that the destination is the ice cream shop is priceless.

The exercise from riding to and from the ice cream shop is enough to offset the ice cream – well, maybe not but that is what I keep telling myself. Prepare for some great conversations as you sit with your kids on a hot summer afternoon with ice cream dripping down their face.

6. Have A Treasure Hunt

Treasure Hunt
Photo credit: crobj

Whether you break out the metal detector to look for buried treasure or just make up a treasure list like when you were a kid at a sleep over, you will have fun exploring.

Part of the excitement with a treasure hunt is just imagining the possibilities. Maybe you will find some long-lost artifact that would make Indiana Jones proud – or maybe you will just find a dime that has been buried for years. Most kids will be just as happy either way.

7. Go Camping

Photo credit: baronbrian

Camping is a lot of fun and can provide an opportunity to do a lot of the other activities on this list at the same time.

Sitting around the camp fire at night, roasting marshmallows and telling ghost stories is a classic family activity.

If you’re nervous about heading out into the woods, don’t be afraid to set up the tent in your backyard and pretend like you are out in the wild. Our kids even get a kick out of setting up the tent in the family room and watching movies from inside the tent.

8. Fly A Kite

Flying Kite
Photo credit: tocs

When you think of summer activities, flying a kite is probably somewhere on that list. However, you don’t see many kids flying kites anymore.

Head down to the local hobby shop to pick up a kite and some string, or you can be adventurous and try to build your own.

Once you are out at the park, have a competition with your kids to see who can get the kite up the highest. Just prepare yourself for disappointment, as flying a kite as an adult seems much harder than what I remember as a child.

9. Gather Your Kids And Their Friends And Play A Game

Photo credit: davidgrant

Tell your kids to gather up a group of their friends and play a game with them.

Play basketball. Play dodgeball. Play tag.

You against all of the kids.

Your kids’ friends will think you are the coolest dad ever and your kids will likely be feeling the same way. As the kids get older, you can get more competitive and try harder – until the day that you are trying your hardest and they are whooping your butt!

10. Perform A Random Act Of Kindness

Act of Kindness
Photo credit: glennf

Doing something nice for someone without expecting anything in return will teach your children a very valuable life lesson. It is shocking to see how many people only think about themselves, which is quickly picked up on by children.

Take your kids out to pick up trash in the parks. Take them down to the neighbor who has been working late and cut their lawn. Build a birdhouse and take it to a nearby senior center and share it with someone. Get creative about the activity, just be sure to demonstrate to your kids how rewarding it is to do something nice for someone else.

Get Out There

As you can see with most of these activities, it isn’t so much the particular activity that is important but the fact that you are out there spending time with your kids. Take advantage of the summer weather and enjoy some special time with your kids.

Speaking of kids, the crowd we have at our house right now is calling for more hot dogs on the grill. While I head out to feed the hungry monsters kids, share your suggestions for additional activities in the comments.

9 Things You Should Never Tell Your Kids

Here are some good reminders for us parents…most are obvious or should be. Some seem obvious but many can benefit.

Good to refresh though…

FROM: 9 Things You Should Never Tell Your Kids By Woman’s Day

I know you can try harder. Frustrated by a daughter who you know is capable of much more in school, sports, music, etc.? Any comment that makes it seem as though you’re not satisfied with her efforts can not only be discouraging to your child, but can also do the opposite of motivating her to try harder, says Amy McCready, founder of Positive Parenting Solutions and author of If I Have to Tell You One More Time… If your “try harder” has to do with tasks or chores, then be clear about what you expect: “When you have your room cleaned up, then you can go out and play.”

You always… or You never… “At the heart of these statements are labels that can stick for life,” says Jenn Berman, Ph.D. and author of The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy, Confident Kids. “Telling your child that he ‘always’ forgets to call makes him more likely to be the kid who, you guessed it, never calls.” Instead, ask your child how you can help him or her change: “I notice you seem to have trouble remembering to bring home your textbooks. What can we do to try to help?

Because I said so! This phrase puts all the control in your hands, and dismisses your child’s growing sense of autonomy and ability to figure things out, says Berman. It also leaves out a potential teaching moment. Let’s say your kids don’t want to visit their aging great-aunt on a sunny day when they’d rather play. Instead of “Because I said so” try, “I know you’d rather ride your bike, but Aunt Clara really loves seeing you, and we try our best to honor our family.”

I told you waiting until the last minute was a mistake! You’ve repeatedly told your son that if he played video games all afternoon, then he’d have less time to study for the math test. And guess what? Unprepared, he didn’t do well on the exam. But saying “I told you so” tells your child that you’re always right and that, by contrast, he’s wrong, says McCready. Instead, point out positive outcomes when he follows through, says McCready. If he cleans his room when asked, say, “Isn’t it easier to find all your stuff when your room’s tidy?” This puts the control and the credit with him.

You’re the best at soccer! “Say you always tell your child how smart she is. She may, over time, become scared of trying new things or more challenging work, for fear she won’t be ‘smart’ anymore if she gets a B instead of an A,” says McCready. It can also backfire if your child is struggling with work and you say, “But you’re so smart!” She may only feel worse for not living up to the label you’ve given her. Focus instead on her hard work: “You show up to every practice and try your best” or “What a fantastic job you did on this science project!”

Don’t worry—the first day of school will be fine. What’s wrong with trying to soothe an anxious kid out of worry? “If you tell your child not to worry, then you’re dismissing her feelings,” says Berman. “So now she’s still worried about the first day of school, and she’s worried that she’s worried, or that you’re upset over her worry.” Same goes for “Don’t cry” and “Don’t be angry.” Instead, say, “I can see you’re worried. Can you tell me what you’re most concerned about, so we can talk about it?”

I wish you didn’t hang out with Jack; I don’t like that kid. Yeah, a lot of parents don’t like “that kid,” for whatever reason, but “the moment you tell your child that ‘that kid’ is not your favorite, he becomes more appealing,” says Berman. Keep the lines of communication open between you two to hopefully spark discussion about values, right and wrong, and so on. “Ask your child some open-ended questions,” says Berman. “Such as, ‘What do you like about hanging out with Jack?’ ‘What do you guys do?'”

That’s not how you do it! Here, let me. You asked your child to help you with a task—but then she does a not-so-great job. It can be tough to hold yourself back from just jumping in and taking the task back, “but that’s a mistake, because then she never learns how, and is less likely to try anything else you ask down the line,” says Berman. If you must, then you can step in—but in a collaborative rather than dismissive way: “Here, let me show you a neat trick my mom taught me about folding towels!” Let the child do it!

Why can’t you be more like your sister/brother? Siblings and rivalry go hand in hand—and anything you say that sets up comparisons only fuels that natural flame, says McCready. “Comparisons slot siblings into categories—the smart one, the athlete—and discourage kids from trying the thing their sibling is ‘good’ at.” Try instead to encourage each child in whatever pursuits are “his” or “hers,” while avoiding comparisons.

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