Preschool Lessons: Numero Uno – Tantrums

Tantrum When I first started working at a preschool, I was twenty-two years old, but I’d been working with children, ranging from the ages of seven to fourteen, at a sleep-away camp for over five years. During my time at the camp, I’d dealt with numerous tantrums, and they all had a particular reason behind them, such as bad sportsmanship, homesickness, self-consciousness, hunger, and not wanting to shower. Over the years, I’ve found that the best way to deal with tantrums is to get down to that bottom line. Why are you upset? How can I help fix this problem? Except when I worked at the preschool, I ran into a tantrum that seemed to stem from nowhere.

Our class was outside playing in the snow at the end of the day. One of the girls, standing in the snow, had the zipper of her jacket undone. I went over to her and began zippering her jacket up. She started growing more and more upset and crying. I said, “What’s wrong, Carli?” (That’s not her real name).

She cried out to the clouds, “I DON’T KNOW!!”

It’s true; sometimes not even your child will know why they’re throwing a tantrum. I would like to propose that just because the tantrum may at the surface appear to have no obvious reason, and just because even your child might not know why they’re throwing a tantrum, no tantrum is baseless. Now, that’s not to say that base isn’t something stupid and/or selfish (I once had a kid who threw a tantrum because he wanted to watch his towel dry).

I think, looking back, that Carli was just cold, or she couldn’t handle socializing around all the kids playing in the snow. Her gloves were messed up, and she had snot dripping from her nose, which also must’ve contributed to her tantrum (without a tissue, I bit the bullet and wiped her nose with my sleeve, no big deal, and gained a far more valuable lesson: if you work at a preschool, always keep tissues in your pocket). Then again, Carli was always a volatile case, so maybe something else was running through her head, something from home. Whatever the issue was, Carli’s young mind was unable to put it into words.

At its foundation, that’s how I’d define a tantrum: when a child (or teen, or adult) uses their emotions inordinately to their dialogue because they don’t know how to communicate their problem in a better way. What’s important is to teach them the skills necessary to communicate their problems better in the future.

Asking mothers how they deal with tantrums, my top two answers were ignoring them and sending them to their room. Last summer, one of the mothers of my campers said that when her son throws a tantrum, she locks herself in her own room while he bangs on the door and screams. She asked me for advice on how to get him to stop when he gets home. I said, “Unlock your door.”

At the preschool, teachers do not ignore tantrums or let them continue, nor do we send them to a separate room. By elementary school, they can be sent to the guidance counselor, where they will talk and communicate as well. When a tantrum occurs in class, or a tantrum occurs at my camp, I do what most teachers do. I get down to their level and hold their hands softly (after first getting them to stay put in one place if it happen to be a stomping tantrum). I tell them to look at me, which is something you do when speaking to troublemakers also, to take their attention. With troublemakers, tone should be serious and stern, but with a tantrum, tone should be cool and soothing.

To get Carli to calm down I said, “I understand,” even though I didn’t. I said, “It’s going to be all right.” Try these similar phrases, even if your child is trantrumming for a selfish reason, like wanting a toy. Every tantrum is situational, so what you talk about and what you say to calm them down will always be different. It is true that locking your door will also solve a tantrum (after perhaps an hour or so), but in the end, the problem won’t be addressed, and I have no doubt more tantrums will follow.

-Adam Berg

 

Photo Credit: via photopin (license)

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Letter to My Younger Self – It’s Not Perfect

medium_4698434786Hi, it’s me. Just thought I should check in. I know you’re busy right now. College classes, shows, activities, friends – you’re having a blast, aren’t you?

I know you’re thinking ahead – thinking about the “adult world” and having a family. Looks like a great plan, doesn’t it? Finish college. Get a job. Find the perfect husband. Have the perfect wedding. Buy the perfect house, and have 3 kids running around all while you keep your career, do your hair every morning, and all before you’re 30.

It won’t be perfect.
I’m not trying to shatter your dreams, because it’s not necessarily a bad thing. I just want to warn you – It isn’t perfect. You can’t control who you fall in love with. The first house ends up being a lot more work than it seemed like it would. And you won’t get pregnant right when you want. In fact, it will end up being such an ordeal that you will almost be at the point of giving up. But don’t – it will happen. And when it finally happens, you’ll be a lot older than you hoped, but you’ll be ecstatic. You’ll treasure each moment so much more. You’ll be in complete awe of everything miraculous. Everything you will ever need in life will be wrapped in that little, tiny blanket in the hospital that day. But it still won’t be “perfect.”

You’ll be tired.
So. Very. Tired.
You’ll have feelings of extreme inadequacy. There will be many days that you won’t do your hair. Some days, you won’t even shower. It took so long to get the 1 kid, that the thought of 3 will go right out the window.

You are going to do a good job.
You’re a great mom and you find your way, but you will have moments of extreme Mommy guilt. You’ll feel like no matter how much time you spend with her, it won’t be enough. You’ll feel like this precious preschool time is just slipping away from you before you even get to experience it and you’ll want to hold on to each moment as tightly as you possibly can. You’ll try desperately to do anything you can to slow things down, to do it all right. You’ll make mistakes – you’re human – but you’ll do a lot of things right too. And you and her will have an incredible bond that will pull on your heart every time you look at her.

You won’t have the career you thought you would – at least not yet. You’ll feel torn by that one for a while – on one hand, you want to be home with her as much as possible to take full advantage of these precious first few years. On the other hand, you want to show her that women can do anything they set their minds to. They can be a great mom and still have a passion outside the home they can follow successfully. After a while struggling with it, you’ll realize that you’ll still have plenty of time to follow your outside passion later. For now, you’ll follow your heart’s passion and find a way to make it all about her.

You’ll be content knowing that you are doing all you can, but you will still feel like you’re making mistakes. Just remember that you’re doing a great job. Everyone can see what a fantastic kid she is. She’s so smart and playful. Imaginative, inquisitive, creative, strong, funny, and kind. And that’s because of you – she learned that from you! She doesn’t know that you’re making mistakes. She just knows that you’re mom – Super Mom in her eyes. You can see it every time she looks at you. And she’s happy and so full of love. Your heart will melt every time your eyes meet, and your soul will fly every time you hear her laugh.

No, it will not be perfect.

But the thing is, when you look at her,
It Is.

 

Photo Credit: Www.CourtneyCarmody.com/ via photopin cc

Tips for Dads with Daughters

Saw this post on Life to Her Years the other day and absolutely loved it.  It is so right on!!
So in honor of the upcoming Father’s Day, I am posting it here for all the dads out there with little girls. And also for all the girls out there who love their dads!

Happy Father’s Day!

dad and baby

 

50 Rules for Dads With Daughters

1. Love her mom. Treat her mother with respect, honor, and a big heaping spoonful of public displays of affection. When she grows up, the odds are good she’ll fall in love with and marry someone who treats her much like you treated her mother. Good or bad, that’s just the way it is. I’d prefer good.

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2. Always be there. Quality time doesn’t happen without quantity time. Hang out together for no other reason than just to be in each other’s presence. Be genuinely interested in the things that interest her. She needs her dad to be involved in her life at every stage. Don’t just sit idly by while she adds years to her life… add life to her years.

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3. Save the day. She’ll grow up looking for a hero. It might as well be you. She’ll need you to come through for her over and over again throughout her life. Rise to the occasion. Red cape and blue tights optional.

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4. Savor every moment you have together. Today she’s crawling around the house in diapers, tomorrow you’re handing her the keys to the car, and before you know it, you’re walking her down the aisle. Some day soon, hanging out with her old man won’t be the bees knees anymore. Life happens pretty fast. You better cherish it while you can.

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5. Pray for her. Regularly. Passionately. Continually.

 

Finish reading (and see the great pictures that go along with it!) at: http://lifetoheryears.com/50rules
One of the best posts I’ve seen in a long time and well worth the read!

 

Photo Credit: Solis Invicti via photopin cc

I Am a Mom

i am a mom

I am a Mom
I am tired – All. The. Time.

I am a Mom
I have traded regular salon sessions for a ponytail, manicures for a pair of clippers, a perfectly clean house for a large playroom
I cook, I clean, I do laundry
Lots of laundry

I am a Mom
Regular date nights are a thing of the past
“Dinner out” is usually pizza in
When making dinner, I focus on 30 minutes or less recipes – No time for experimenting these days!
The DVR is full
The hamper is still full
The dishwasher never stops

I am a Mom
My day starts at 6am whether I want it to or not
I hear screeches of “Mommmmmmy” in my sleep (the couple of hours I do get)
My main job seems to consist of herding the clan for breakfast, attempting to push everyone out the door before it’s too late – lunch in hand, work, clean, laundry, dinner, bath, bed, clean, hopefully a shower, then passing out

I am a Mom
And the best sound in the world is my kid laughing

I am a Mom
And I look forward to coloring, the annoying kid songs I can’t get out of my head, and the months old bits of cereal I find in the couch

I am a Mom
And my kids’ hugs are everything to me
Their smiles light up my life
Their voices fill my soul
Their laughter is my whole reason for being
They are my miracles
They are my destiny
My world revolves around them, and that is okay

I am a Mom
I am here to guide, teach, sooth, love, and inspire
I am the washing machine, the snot rag, the kissing healer of all boo-boos, the storyteller, the “tucker-iner”, the chef, the discipliner, the listener, the wife, the Mom

I am a Mom
And I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Daycare Decisions

daycare pros1Every mother I know dreads the moment when she is forced to decide if she should put her kid into daycare or not. Sometimes you have no other choice and the decision is taken out of your hands, but sometimes, you have more than one option, and then it becomes a mind game as to what the best choice may be.

I worked in the daycare world in various capacities for many years, so I was able to get a good feel for the pros and cons of the daycare (and yes, there are both). Here are a few of the things I learned that may help with your decision:

PROSocialization – There is no denying it, kids in daycare tend to be far above other kids in terms of socialization. Whether if they have siblings or not, they quickly learn the basics of how to get along with others; not being able to have alone time whenever they want it; learning to share; learning how to play, talk, and get along with others. They learn to overcome shyness and quickly develop bonds and a group of friends.

CON – And this is the biggie con: Sick. Often. – Especially if you need to start them in daycare young, their little immune systems just are not completely developed yet. And the fact that they are stuck in 1 room with 10+ other kids all day – regardless of how clean the teachers manage to keep it – they will get sick. And chances are, so will you. “Daycare Diseases” as I call them are not the same as what you experience day-to-day in the adult work world. There will be some things your little one will get that you won’t, but be prepared for the whole family to get sick as well. The other big con aspect for this one is that since your child will often get sick, you’ll often have to take sick days to stay home with him/her unless you can make other arrangements. It’s center policy as well as state requirement that your child can not attend school with anything more than a cold. Watching your child constantly get sick is one of the hardest things a parent can do, but that said, your child will get sick regardless of being in daycare or not. If it doesn’t happen now, it will happen when they go to school unless you are able to expose them slowly to things in controlled situations.

PROProjects – If you pick the right center, your child will be exposed to lots of activities and projects. Not only will they help developmentally, but they will also look so cute on the refrigerator!

PROExposure to other adults – This exposure to a variety of adults will help your child open up and learn how to accept and socialize with adults and authority figures too.

CONBad habits – Obviously, not everyone is going to raise their kids the way you do, so your child will likely pick up some bad habits to go along with the good things they learn. Be prepared to have to stay on top of your kid to try to nip some of these new habits in the bud!

CONMore laundry – As if that laundry pile wasn’t big enough, be prepared to get more. There’s something about daycare that means extra dirty clothes!

CONTurnover – While many centers try to keep your child’s environment as stable as possible, be prepared to see lots of change with the teachers. Early childhood teachers are grossly underpaid and work in a fairly stressful environment, so there is often a high turnover rate among daycare teachers. And although there are state regs as to the requirements a teacher needs to work in a daycare, they are likely going to be lower than your requirements. If you want a teacher with credits out the wazoo, you better start looking into private school.

PRO/CONState Regs – Daycare centers have a list of regulations they need to adhere to (some states more than others). This is a good thing because you can be sure that there are safety precautions in place (as long as the center consistently complies). This can also sometimes be a con if there are certain regulations (or paperwork) that you don’t want to deal with. The center has to follow these regulations or they risk closure, so their hands are tied.

PROSchool Life – Your child will already be used to “school life”, so the transition into kindergarten and elementary school will be much easier.

PRO“I’m a big kid now!” – Being able to say, “I’m in school” enhances the “big kid” status. Having the confidence of being a “big kid” helps the child have confidence to do other big kid things like potty training, etc.

PRO/CONPotty training – If your kid starts daycare while still in diapers, potty training at school can be both a good and bad thing. Sometimes the extra help and reinforcement from other adults is nice. But sometimes it can confuse matters if the school is not able to use the same methods you prefer to use, and/or if your child only goes to daycare part-time. Be prepared that in some cases, the potty training process may take a little longer.

CONOverstimulation – If your child needs to go for a full day, it can sometimes lead to overstimulation. As you can imagine, one room with 10 toddlers can get to be a bit much. Even when everyone is calm and things are good to go, there’s just always something going on. There is always some kind of noise, something to see, do, etc. It can be a long day. Expect your child to sometimes be “buzzing” when they get home. Be prepared to create a calm atmosphere to come home to if possible so they can have a chance to try to unwind a bit before bedtime. And on the days not at daycare, try to provide calmer, quieter things for your child to do so their already-stimulated-just-from-development senses have a chance to take a little break so their brains can focus on different things. It will also give their brains a chance to learn to focus on just one thing at a time instead of always having multiple things going on at once.

PROAbility to observe older kids – This is especially great if you only have the one child at home. Younger children often like to watch their older siblings and tend to develop quicker because of it. But if your child is the oldest (or only), they do not get that chance at home. Daycare allows them to see what other kids are doing as an example of what they can strive for.

CONRules – The guidance and/or limitations at school may be different from what is expected at home. Be prepared to try to meld the two world together for your child and help them understand the different rules for both at home and at school.

PROLearning that Mommy/Daddy always come back – As hard as it is to let go of our kids, going to school offers the very good benefit of teaching your kids that they can always trust you to come back. They learn that it’s ok to be away from Mom/Dad and to explore and have fun because they will always come back. As much as it kills us parents, it’s a good developmental milestone.

CONThe Arts – Depending on your school, your kid might not be exposed to enough of “Arts” activities. If music and dance, etc. are important to you while your child is little, be sure to check into what the various centers in your area offer. If they do not offer enough Arts curriculum, you may need to consider enrolling your kid in a weekend Mommy & Me kind of class to fulfill that requirement.

PRO/CONPrice – Daycare is very expensive. You also need to factor in additional money for extra doctor visits, medications, and time off of work. If price is a concern, and you have the ability to stay home with your child, then daycare may not be the right route for you. However, it also tends to be cheaper than a private nanny, so if you have to leave your child with someone, then daycare will be a cheaper option than private care.

As with anything, there are obviously many pros/cons to consider. When making your decision, you’ll need to weigh out what is more important for your family’s needs. And if you don’t really have options, then don’t despair. There are ways to combat many of these cons on this list. If you’re aware of them ahead of time, then you can be prepared to do what you need to in order to make this a good experience for everyone all around. There are also many pros to daycare, so try to focus on these – that’s what your child will remember in the long run anyway!

Photo Credit: Pink Sherbet Photography via photopin cc

In a Nation of Fear, United We Stand

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me,
‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’
To this day, especially in times of  ’disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing
that there are still so many helpers –
so many caring people in the world.”
-Fred Rogers

Flagedit

I purposely try to stay away from the news lately. It seems like it is worse and worse each day and quite frankly, I just don’t want to hear it. I know that’s not a very responsible, adult thing to say or do, but it’s true. I don’t feel the need to constantly subject myself to all the other ever-increasing craziness in the world when I have more than enough of my own right now. Not to mention that when there is a huge tragedy, the media sensationalism gets me almost as upset as the event itself.

Yesterday’s tragedy at the Boston Marathon made my heart jump into my throat yet again this year. A swirl of emotions and reactions went through my body as this latest disaster unfolded before my eyes. First, I experienced the shock of hearing the news and the tears of sympathy for all the people affected. I feared for my family and friends that live there. Then I got mad.

Why?
Why do these crazy tragedies continue to happen at a more and more frequent pace now? 

CONTINUE READING

See The Rainbows?

rainbow

“See the Rainbows, Mama? Seeee??”

What is it that children have that always allows them to see the magic in the most seemingly ordinary things? Do they have special eyes that we slowly lose over time? Or is it merely that they have not yet become jaded as adults do, and are therefore just able to see things more clearly, more purely than we can?

My daughter constantly reminds me to “see the rainbows.” We have some beveled glass in our front door, and when the morning sun hits it just right, it casts prisms across our front hallway. I’ll never forget the day my daughter first really discovered this. She walked out front, squealed, pointed, drew in her breath, then yelled out, “See the Rainbows? See?” She came running into the kitchen, grabbed me by the hand and pulled me out. “See the Rainbows, Mama? See?” The joy and wonder on her face tugged on my heart. She continued to pull us out there all morning long. She would point to them, touch them, stick her toes in, try to sit on them, and sometimes just stand there holding my hand in wonder, saying, “See? See?” It was a perfect moment. A perfect, ordinary, normal, magical moment. A moment that I come back to again and again because it taught me something – It reminded me to always look for the magic in things. To let my daughter lead me in remembering what it’s like to have pure joy, hope, innocence, and magic. To be truly present in just one moment and to not let anything else cloud that.

Easter is often viewed by Christians as a time of rebirth and new hope. Even if you are not religious, Easter is synonymous with Spring, and Spring is most certainly a time of new life. We begin to see the plants peek their heads out through the seemingly dead ground. The birds appear once again. Sunshine feels like a long-lost friend, warm upon our face. Hope is in the air. It’s easier to be positive in the Spring. The extra light and signs of new life prove to us that summer is on its way and we are filled with fun thoughts of good things to come. If only for a brief moment, we are once again able to feel the “magic” in the air.

We need to try to remember that there is always magic in the world. Sometimes it feels like all the magic is gone. We’re often so caught in the horrible stories on the news, the stresses of work and family life, the weather, the commute, our everyday worries and anxieties and routines, that we forget to take a moment and just enjoy, well, the moment itself. There are still so many wonderful things in this world to cherish. There’s still hope for us to reach our dreams, to stretch to our true potential. There is always a reason somewhere to smile, to laugh, to enjoy one quiet breath. Somewhere deep inside of all of us is that ability to still “see the rainbows.” We may sometimes have to look a little harder to see the magic in the world, but it is still there.

This Spring, let’s hold onto that feeling of hope and rebirth, find that childlike corner of our heart (no matter how small it may have become) and try to stay positive. Live life from one joy to the next and always find a way to see the rainbows. They might sometimes be behind a cloud, but they are still always there!

Photo Credit: Nature’s Images via photopin cc

This article was originally published at Silverpen Productions, LLC. 

Psycho Mom

retro momSome days I feel completely psycho. I feel like I’m failing at whatever I do. If I were to take a step back and look at my life from the outside, I’d see that in reality, I’m really quite successful. I have a great job (or 2 or 3), I’m healthy, I have a beautiful family, and a kid that I just adore to no end who seems to think I’m pretty cool too. But the problem is, I live in my life and whether if I actually am or not, I feel like I’m failing at everything.

How does that happen? How does a happy, successful person suddenly start to feel like a complete psycho?

I’ll tell you how – I became a mom. That and the fact that society has created ridiculous expectations for ourselves. Back in the day, moms were expected to just be a mom. Little Suzy Homemaker – take care of the house, take care of the kids. But now, moms can have it all – family, house, career, kids.

And kids these days? They don’t just run outside to play in the yard all day. Now they have classes, and sports, and dance, and clubs, and play groups, and music lessons, and the list goes on and on. Being a stay-at-home mom is a full-time job in itself with lots of overtime hours. How do you even just keep up with your kids?

Then there’s the pressure to have it all – kids and career. So now you have this great job, which is full-time job #2. When you are at work, you’re thinking about what you should be doing with your kids. When you’re with your kids, you’re thinking about all the work you didn’t finish at your job. Not to mention you can’t really take your kids to all these groups and activities because there are just so many hours in the day.  But you will anyway because “that’s what good moms do.”

And housework? What’s that?!? You’re just happy when dinner gets on the table at a reasonable hour…

Women today can have it all. But at what price?

We put so much pressure on ourselves to be the best at everything, just because we can. Get the promotion at work, look fabulous every day, have the house spotless, the kids perfect, the hubby happy, workout, do yoga, meditate, don’t forget to treat yourself to the spa every now and then. Yeah, right. How often does all that really happen? Without a nanny and obscene amounts of money anyway… Society makes us believe that it always happens – or should happen. But in real life, these moms just feel psycho.

I know I do. I’m Miss Multi-tasker all the time, but I never think I am doing them well enough. I feel guilty being at work, because I “should” be home with my kid and doing things with her. I feel guilty if I’m just home because I “should” be showing my daughter that women can have a career too and I should be setting an example of a strong, independent woman. I need to pay the bills, but I feel like I’m not around enough to do ample activities to help “expand her development” and “socialization.” At the same time, it seems like we don’t just “not do anything” enough either. We should have more hang-at-home time to chill out and have quality time together. I feel like I can’t even stay on top of the laundry. I think my husband is getting the short end of the stick. I feel guilty if I dare to take a little bit of time just for me to do one workout or go get my hair cut. Some days, I feel completely psycho – have I mentioned that??

Let’s face it, anyone who says they do all these things and it’s not a problem is a big, fat liar. Back in the day, “it took a village” to raise a child. It still does, but we often no longer have that option. And that’s okay. This is what life is like now. We have to just remember that we can’t do it all. Nor should we. The most important things a child needs is shelter, food, a few clothes, support, and love. Lots and lots of love. Now, that’s “doable”. The rest is just gravy.

Having the internet and everything else at our fingertips can be a great resource, but sometimes it’s our biggest downfall. We are constantly barraged by all the “should be” images and that’s a major contributor to the psycho mom feeling. Maybe sometimes we need to just click it off. Remember we are human. We are only 1 woman with only 24 hours in the day. Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate what “doing it all” really means to us since it’s probably something a little different for each person. It’s always good to work towards a goal. As long as we remember that we are who we are (forget about the “should be”), and as long as we have a hefty source of love, we are 3/4 of the way there. No psycho mom needed.