, , , , ,

“Me Time” Indulgences

These days, I don’t get a lot of time to myself (unless I schedule it in) but when I do it’s kind of a big deal. As women and moms it’s imperative that we take care of ourselves. I had to learn that taking time for myself was a way that I could refill my love tank and give love to my family without feeling depleted or drained.

Here are some of my favorite indulgences that I like to do when I get a little time to myself.

EXERCISE!

I feel at my best when I have had an opportunity to get a good workout in. Working out gives me that natural high and energy boost I need to be the best version of myself for my kids and husband.

QUALITY TIME WITH FRIENDS!

Hanging with my girls fills my tank…and actually OVERFLOWS it! My friends have been my sounding board, my shoulder at times, and the best laughing buddy out there!

A RUN/WALK IN THE PARK!

I know I could tie this to exercise, but when I am in nature by myself (not my basement or gym), I am able to focus, pray and pour out to God the things going on in life.

READING!

It is rare that I have an opportunity to sit down and enjoy a good book. In fact, this is more of an item on my bucket list than an actual “Me Time” indulgence.

A HOT BUBBLE BATH!

Man can I feel stress leave my body after a hot…and I mean HOT bubble bath. This too is an opportunity for me to reflect on life, focus and pray.

DATE NIGHT!

My husband and I have committed to Date Night once a month. We pre-plan them months in advance so we don’t “forget” about nurturing our marriage relationship.

What are some of your “Me Time” indulgences?

, , , ,

Teaching my Child the Act of Kindness…NO MORE BULLYING!

I specifically remember being in the first grade and another child saying to me…

“Mary, You’re pretty!”

Which I replied…”THANK YOU!!!”

Then he said….

“PRETTY UGLY!”

Wowsers…I am now 35 years old and that seems like it was just YESTERDAY! Our words pierce…and they stick. That little bullying act affected me for YEARS until I realized it was simply a way for someone to just be mean. Kids are mean and unless we teach them what kindness truly is, how can we expect them to show it towards others? We teach kids math, reading, writing, science, etc. but sometimes expect that they will naturally know how to treat others.

My oldest has shown compassion for others since she was a baby. She wouldn’t hurt a fly and cries when others get hurt. It is her disposition. I didn’t teach her that, I didn’t model that for her, it came naturally. So it was quite the shock to me that when her little sister came along, she started getting a bit jealous and treating her “not so nice.” It started with slight pushing, stealing her sister’s toy, etc. until one day I heard her name calling.

I was FURIOUS and really yelled at her about how we treat others. MOM FAIL #I lost count! This whole time I could have been modeling how to treat those closest to us just as wonderfully as we treat friends. In fact, this is a work in progress as I type this. Having been a former teacher, I know how to tackle Bullying in the classroom and the plan I used back then is the plan I am going to implement in my own home.

It goes something like this…tweaked a bit from the classroom of course:

1. Model kind behavior.

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. If you tell your child to be kind, but you are modeling negative, unkind behavior – your words will have little impact on their behavior. Children do as they see – not as you tell them to do. Be a wonderful role model for your child.

Show your child respect when redirecting them or disciplining them. Speak to your spouse with kindness. Your children will learn from your example.

 

2. Highlight people’s emotions around you.

If your child has a hard time reading social cues, practice a game I like to call “Guess the Feeling.” Sit at a park or a mall and watch people. If you love people watching – this game shouldn’t be too hard.

Find someone showing an extreme emotion – such as excitement, sadness or anger. Ask your child, “What do you think they’re feeling?” Ask them to make up a story about what may be happening.

This helps children identify non-verbal clues as to how others feel and helps them put meaning behind emotions.

 

3. Reassess how you tease your children – is it demeaning, taunting or degrading?

Some families love to tease each other, but some children can’t take intense teasing. Some parents do not think their teasing is cruel – but if your child reacts by crying and storming off – chances are they are feeling degraded.

Would you want your child to make fun of peers the way you are making fun of them? Some parents might think they are just “toughening up” their children or being playful, but kids will often take it out on their peers.

Children learn how to be playful by the tone their family sets. If mean spirited taunting is acceptable at home – then children will think it is acceptable elsewhere.

 

4. Point out how their behavior affects those around them.

When your child’s behavior is affecting those around them – point it out. Let your child know how they are affecting others without shaming them.

 

5. Teach your children the joys of helping others.

Be an example for your children and help strangers, friends and family. Let them know that it feels good to help others – even if you get nothing back. Set up opportunities for you to help others as a family.

 

Teach your child that even small acts of kindness go along way. Express to your child why you are holding the door for another person, letting someone get in front of you in traffic or helping someone when their hands are full. Explain that it is nice to be helpful, even if the person doesn’t say thank you or appreciate it. You should give to give – not give to get.

, , ,

The Stress of the Birthday Party No More!

I don’t know about you, but when it comes to kids’ birthday parties, I start to get a little stressed out. I try not to compare myself to other mom’s out there KILLING IT with the AH-MAZ-ING birthday party themes, the party decorated immaculately, etc. I had a good friend once tell me, don’t raise the bar too high or you will have to match it or better every year. Good advice…Thanks Amanda!

I do try to make it “seem” like the extravagant party though and many of my ideas come from good ole Pinterest. We just recently celebrated my oldest daughter’s 5th birthday and I thought I would share the planning process and implementation with you.

#1: I made her a part of the planning process. I asked her what she wanted at her birthday party. What I found is that she didn’t come up with a theme or even elaborate decorations, she listed people…people she wanted there and the type of cake she wanted. So…that was my main focus. I didn’t go with a theme or go crazy with decor…that was ExCiTiNg!

#2: I didn’t do games. The party was just 2 hours long and didn’t require a lot of “extras” once you figured in the time to mingle for a bit, eat, do cake and ice cream, and then end with presents…2 hours FLIES by!

#3: I let her pick her cake out. In the past I have made her cakes. This year I could feel the stress of the party coming on so I took a step back and let her choose it. We went to Meijer (an awesome place to go to buy a cake…soooo many styles to choose from) and I let her pick from their selection. Since the cake was high on her list of what she wanted for her birthday, I didn’t concern myself with cost.

#4: Taco Bar!!! This is an easy and cost effective way to feed everyone on a dime. We did turkey and beef taco meat, refried beans, cheese, tomatoes, olives, sour cream, onion, and soft/hard taco shells. We had a fruit salad and homemade salsa and chips. BAM…DONE!

#5: We combined the family and friend party into one large party to cut down costs.

#6: We had it at a free location.

Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves…especially the birthday girl…so it was a success!

 

Preschool Friendship…How Cute!

img_2515

I was observing Annora interact with her friends the other day. It was fun to see them get imaginative, play dress-up, get the Barbies out, sing crazy funny songs, etc. It was nice to see her as a friend as well. She was kind, gentle, and patient with her sweet little guest. I noticed that a conflict arose between the two when one of them didn’t want to play what they were currently playing. Instead of jumping in to help resolve the disturbance, I watched it play out. Boy am I glad I did! The two girls got upset with each other, turned their backs, and then started playing together again within a matter of seconds. It made me curious and I began researching preschool friendships (I know…who has time for that right?!?).

I was amazed how much girl friendships start off magically. I knew it wasn’t just my child and her friends but it is actually a stage girls go through. Annora can go up to another child and start talking and when she has to leave, she is eager to tell me she met a new “best” friend. What I have noticed is the magic of friendship really starts when girls are drawn to each other through imaginative play and common interests. My question is why does that leave us as we age? Fear of rejection maybe?

img_2511

Annora (and most preschoolers) has an enormous capacity to bond with others and she thrives on doing so. She forms attachments that have a great deal of importance and meaning to her. Almost like she ‘falls in love at first sight.’ Everything becomes right when her friend walks in the door. You can easily hear a high pitched squeal as a friend enters a room.

I have also noticed that girls and boys often stop playing together in preschool. Maybe this is Daddy directed though-LOL. Annora has become more drawn to her girlfriends and how often she can get together and play with them than playing outside with her little boy friends. I read somewhere that the shift into gender-exclusive play begins between ages of three and five for many children. When given a choice, Annora tends to be drawn towards art, dolls, and fantasy games, while her little boy friends often go to play with blocks or want to play with trucks and cars. With boys, the activity seems to be the main focus, but with girls, even as young as Annora, the relationship has become primary.

img_2513

It amazes me the difference of a relationship between the ages of 3 and 5, how vastly they change and the importance they have in Annora’s life. For now, we continue to play dress up, dolls, perform on stage and squeal when our “best” friends walk through the door… and I dread when those days cease to exist.