Friday, January 27, 2012

Managing Our Emotions Around the Kids

Ever have a bad day or day that did not go as planned and all you wanted to do was just come home and vent, cry or crawl into your bed and hide?

I know I have. And, I know there will be many more moments like this in the future.

As a parent I often feel that I need to keep my emotions somewhat in check when around my four-year-old, as I have experienced with her in the past her seeing me upset and then her getting upset as a result.

I love that Sarah is so caring and loving, but she often tends to grab on to my emotions and become impacted by them. She wants to be with me in the moment and feel what I am feeling. It's really sweet. Sometimes she gets sad if I am sad because in her mind, "Why is mommy sad?"  It's as if the universe of a child experiences a shift when they see mommy, or daddy, not act like how they are supposed to, at least in their eyes.

As parents, we are human too.  Yet, having feelings regarding specific situations that make us lose control, get angry or feel out of sorts can be confusing to young children especially if we are not in the right frame of mind to help explain or simplify it. We sometimes need to show our strength to our children even in times of weakness or sadness when all we really want to do is have our own tantrums in private, to protect them.

I'm am in no way suggesting that we as parents should hide how we are feeling around our kids, especially if we are sad. However, there is a time and place for everything. It's indeed important for our children to learn about life and the various emotions that can be experienced from day to day but to be careful not to appear too overwhelmed by an emotion such as extreme sadness or frustration as children do scare easily and get upset quickly without fully understanding the magnitude of a situation.

Children will benefit from understanding that life is unpredictable and that sometimes things do happen that cause us to have feelings and emotions of various kinds, and that sometimes we may experience being scattered, exaggerated, and out of control without reason.

In situations, especially where young children are involved, it's sometimes too complicated to explain to them what we are feeling, or the situation itself, so as not to upset them or that it's too convoluted for them to comprehend.

Sometimes we may just be too caught up in our emotions of a situation that we ourselves may not be coherent or capable of communicating in a reasonable fashion for our children to understand.  In certain instances, it may just be best to wait until after the kids are asleep to let it out or process what's on your mind.

All I can say is that sometimes life is not how we plan it, no matter how hard we try to organize it, and we have to find ways around the many twists and turns and help our children to understand that we too, are human, have feelings and do get sad or upset, happy or thrilled, angry or frustrated, and more.

It has been a challenging year for us on a number of fronts and it feels as if we have weathered a number of unexpected storms. Thankfully, there has been a plethora of wonderful experiences, happy moments, and shared joys to round it all out otherwise I might not have good reason to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Fortunately, I have a wonderful husband, dear friends and family to help me keep it all in check.  Sometimes I will share what I am feeling with Sarah if I feel she can understand what I am going through or just ask her for a hug and tell her that mommy just needs some extra love and kisses while I experience a challenging time.

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.  You can also make lemon cupcakes. Or, how about lemon margaritas?

What ever life throws our way, whether it is predictable or not, we still need to be careful of how we show those emotions in front of our kids as they can get scared by the uncertainty, upset by the unknown and overwhelmed by the unexpected.

Here's to doing as best as we can as parents to figure life out as we go, help our children to understand that the paths that lie ahead of us are not always straight and smooth and can indeed be very curvy and bumpy.  Engaging with our kids as much as possible and being honest with them to a point where they do not develop worry will help them to understand that we are all human and experience many feelings: good, bad and indifferent.

How do you handle your stress, sadness and frustrations in the presence of your children?

Was this story helpful to you, interesting to share with a friend, etc? 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Parenting: A Team Effort

As parents, we love our children with every essence of our beings, especially when they first come in to our lives. We likely thought that when we brought our precious little bundles into this world, we could do it all, at least as far as parenting goes.

Boy, was I sadly mistaken.  How about you?

I remember when Daniel and I first came home from the hospital with Sarah. We asked family and friends to give us at least a day or two to settle in on our own before the they arrived to meet our special addition.  As we stood there in the silence and calm of our apartment, staring at Sarah, then at our cat, and back at each other, we knew that life from then on was going to be different.  We also thought, and said out loud to each other, "what are we supposed to do now...where's the manual on how she works?"

As the days, weeks and months went by enamored by this little person in our lives, the amount of responsibility also grew exponentially.  Fortunately, Daniel was really sweet and supportive, especially since I was nursing Sarah. He often said, "my job is to take care of you and your job is take care of Sarah."

He didn't mean that I would change all the diapers or do all the baths. Instead, he knew that as a fiercely independent woman I needed time to get into a groove with Sarah, especially since we were nursing and she was dictating the schedule. He knew full well that I needed to do this before he could step in to help, where I really needed it.

Daniel did everything to help us. The first few weeks alone I sent him all around town picking up supplies, many times things we didn't likely end up needing, but being new parents we gave into it all.  He supported us all right, and I couldn't think of what it would have been like to do it alone.

I then thought of my mom raising my brother, sister and I, pretty much all by herself. Let's just say there were a lot of baby sitters.  She couldn't have done it fully alone. She did need some help. After having Sarah, I applauded her many times for doing an amazing job with us all.  We had a good childhood, nothing too out of the ordinary, and we all turned out relatively okay. We are loving, fun and hard working adults, and have not been arrested.

As time went on parenting got even harder. New milestones and new experiences.  Just when I was getting the hang of things it would change. Just when I found a size that fit Sarah it would change again.  Forget about switching out her clothes in her closet seasonally. I was changing them out monthly.

All this time Daniel was there supporting us, helping to run errands, and doing everything I asked him to do to help out. He got his hands dirty too. He willingly changed Sarah's diaper, bathed her, put her to sleep, and many, many, many times carried her face down on his forearm to comfort her from what was likely gas symptoms which erupted during the witching hour in the early evenings. He even got tendinitis in his arm as a result.

Fast forward a few years and I can unequivocally say that life with Sarah, and being a parent, has been an awesome, fun, exciting, exhausting, challenging and amazing ride. It's been an overall life-altering experience that I wouldn't change for anything in the world.

One of the most important things that rings true in this experience is that while parents, partners and others helping to care for a child, the responsibilities are rarely split equally.  For parents who are doing it solo, I bow down to you as this is indeed the toughest job I have ever had to do.  I am just thankful to G-d for my husband, who is a loving and wonderful man who has and continues to be incredibly loving and supportive especially when it comes to the care of our daughter.

This past weekend Daniel asked me, "Caren, do you ever have doubts as a parent?"

At first I paused thinking, hum, did Daniel have a rough day with Sarah?  Then I said, somewhat with a laugh and gasp, "Yes, most of the time." 

He then said, and something I did not at all expect, "because I don't have ANY doubts about you as a parent."

I was fully expecting Daniel to say that parenting is difficult and sometimes even more challenging than he anticipated. And, that maybe today was one of his tougher days with Sarah, although it didn't seem to be.

Not for a second did I expect what he said to me today, and he took my breath away.

Having a partner to share in the parenting responsibilities with you is tremendous. To have a partner who recognizes the incredibly hard job you do, that's priceless.  In that moment I wanted to cry, which I didn't, because I was truly touched by these words.

Sometimes as parents, because this job is incredibly stressful, challenging and ever-changing, we have doubts about the lessons we teach, the amount of time we spend with our kids and the examples we set for our children to follow.

Even with this sweet and adoring comment from Daniel, I will likely continue to doubt myself as a parent, and put pressure on myself to do the best job I can to raise our amazing little girl. What can I say? I am a Virgo. However, knowing that I have the support from my husband, all around, makes this job as parent that much more rewarding as I have him there to lean on, parent with and share my life with celebrating milestones, experiences parenting challenges and growing and learning together to raise a strong solid woman in Sarah.

While I am fortunate to have my spouse as my parenting partner in crime I am also fortunate to rely on family and friends to help as well when I need it because it's okay to say we can't do it all, or that we need help.

Here are some wise words from Henry Ford that I feel help sum up the importance of teamwork in any business, including the job of parenting, "Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress and working together is success."

Do you ask for help? Who supports you when you need it? Who is on your team?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Klutzy Mommy Returns

I should have know that when the train from work stalled tonight, and was running slow, that my evening was going to be an interesting one.

Eventually, the train arrived at the station, and I rushed to the car in the lot to get to Sarah's school for pick-up since Daniel was home not feeling well.  On the way, there was a accident involving three cars. Paramedics and police were onsite to address the situation. So, I made a mental note not to go home that way after getting Sarah.

Fortunately, I got to Sarah's school just in the nick of time.  She was downstairs playing, giggling, hiding, and ready to go.

She and I had lovely chatter in the car about the day's events.  Once on the road, aware of the accident I passed, which also happened to be on the way to our choice grocery store, which we needed to stop by, I decided to go in a different, familiar, direction to avoid the traffic.

Going in this different direction took us closer to home but a bit further away from the grocery store that we prefer to frequent. Therefore, I decided we would go to another store, a lesser preferred option, to pick up food for dinner, and other necessities.

Once I pulled into the parking spot, we were ready to get out.  As I was getting ready to step out of the car Sarah asked me a question.  As a result, I turned my body a certain way that I might not otherwise have done.  Let's just say that as a result I swung my head right into the car door frame.

Ouch is right.  My head began to throb.

It brought me back to the time I did something similar over a year ago by banging my head on the playground apparatus playing with Sarah, which ended with me getting a mild concussion. I was dizzy for days. It was not a fun experience at all. I am a born klutz.

My sister-in-law, who is likely reading this blog post, is likely thinking back, laughing, when I first met her, being introduced to the family. We were piling into their car to go out for lunch. She thought I was already in the car climbing in and accidentally closed the car door on my head.  I know. I am a klutz. Fortunately, all I got from that experience, besides a lot of love, attention and apologies, was a big headache. (Go ahead Ellen. Get a good laugh -- it's funny).

I don't feel the way I did then; however, I am on watch to see if my symptoms change.  Ugh. I have already checked the Internet to reconfirm concussion symptoms just to be sure there is nothing to worry about.  Praying that I will be fine when I wake up in the morning and no new or lingering symptoms.

Otherwise, it's to the doctor for me tomorrow. Ugh.

It just proves that rushing accomplishes nothing.  Thankfully I was not involved in the accident as I was still driving safely. If it meant getting to Sarah's school a bit late someone would have still been there with her. Thinking about it some more, had I been at the scene of the accident just minutes earlier (maybe when my train was supposed to arrive) I could very well have been part of that accident. Thank G-d I was not.

You can bet that I am counting my blessings.

Have you ever experienced a concussion or done something silly like this?

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Power of a Child's Giggle

There are so many wonderful sounds in this world.  The sound of a child giggling, especially my little one, is one of my favorites.

There is something so pure and unadulterated about the sound of laughter projected from kids. It's priceless.  Sometimes, I just stop in my tracks and my mind instantly becomes clear in order for it to be filled with this musical sense of freedom.

Oh how I wish I could bottle up Sarah's giggles in a jar and take them everywhere I go. Instead, I refer to videos on my phone and on my computer when I need a good reminder.

The sound of a child giggling is truly a powerful experience to witness. For me, this sound is music to my ears and helps to bring me back to center, take my mind off of life's stresses, and can sometimes get me out of a funk. 

What does it do for you?

The innocence of a child's laughter and giggles is captivating and refreshing. It's nearly impossible not to smile instantly when this sound is projected, especially from my precious girl.

I believe giggles are contagious.  Just thinking about it makes me smile.

How about you?  What does your child's giggle do for you? How about your nieces, nephews, cousins and other kids around you?

When days are tough, or not so much, the sound of giggly laughter from kids can be uplifting.  As adults, whether we are parents or not, we often get caught up in a lot of "serious" in life, and the sound of a child's laughter and giggles really can help to calm us down and direct our attention to something positive and playful.

Think about what you are feeling when you hear a child giggle next.  See what it does to you.  Tell us about.

Here are some Haiku on what kids and giggles and the impact of these cute and adorable sounds.

A child's giggles
Sweet, innocent, pure, funny
It can make us smile

Impact of giggles
Pure, unadulterated
Helps to warm the heart

Small body, big laughs
These sounds, straight from their bellies
Captures us, fills us

Precious sound kids make
Giggles are music to ears
For us to enjoy

I hope you enjoyed this blog post and if it brings to mind thoughts you have on what a child's laughter and giggles means to you and does for you.


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

Happy New Year everyone. 

I wanted to take this time to say "Thank You" to each and everyone of you, my readers and followers, who have been with me on this journey through life as a parent, and allowing me share with you the trials and tribulations, experiences and some valuable and insightful tips, news and thoughts on raising kids.

Here are some special New Year's Haiku to commemorate this time of year and the thoughts about what's most important.

A Happy New Year
Wishing you health, happiness
Life filled with love, fun

Kid friendly New Year's
Fireworks, friends, and laughter
Time spent together

A time to reflect
On the year that lies ahead
Goals, accomplishments

Hope to land a house
Pack, close, paint and move right in
Foundation begins

What's most important
Is family and dear friends
Love, support, good health

Here's to a great year
The start of something fresh, new
Love, health, happiness

Happy New Year!

Looking forward to keeping the blog posts coming this year and finding inspiration all around, including from you.  Thank you again for being so faithful to Mommy's Point of View and joining me on this journey.  I look forward to your comments and feedback in the new year and sharing in life, experiences and everything in between.

Halloween Candy for the Troops

While we all recover from over indulging in too much candy during Halloween, still the candy is in our homes staring at us willing us to...