Saturday, August 31, 2013

Hurry Up, Slow Down, Smell the Roses

Sarah running around the apple
orchard to catch up with her cousin...
No need to rush!
Rachel Macy Stafford, mother of two, shared her epiphany recently on the overuse of two words in an interview with The Huffington Post. She explained that she used to utter the words "hurry up" regularly to her youngest, free-spirited daughter who took her time doing nearly everything, as she desired each experience to the fullest. These words were conveyed by busy mom Rachel so often that she didn't realize how much and its impact until one day her little one asked innocently if she needed to rush since mommy always asked her too.

As you can imagine Rachel felt crushed.  I then started to think, about "how many times I uttered this or similar phrases to my daughter?"

As busy parents we often burn the wick at both ends doing, obviously, way too much in a day.  As a result, our children many times may suffer the consequences of busy and packed schedules. This is especially likely of families with more than one child.

I saw the headline on Rachel's story when it first came out but chose not to read it at the time. However, it didn't stop me from thinking about it over and over again. I kept thinking do I utter words similar to "Hurry up" to Sarah so often that she will feel stressed by it? I realized that while I don't say "hurry up" I instead say phrases such as, "come on we have to get going" or "are you done yet." They are just as damaging if used too often. However, I noticed that I didn't convey these words all the time. That I did know. Still, I felt a pang of guilt thinking that maybe I am rushing my daughter through life.

With such packed schedules including fun activities, grocery shopping and running necessary errands and, for me, being a full-time working parent, it's easy to get caught up in saying any or all of these aforementioned phrases to our children and forget that they have shorter legs and can't walk as fast, they like to look around and discover and explore, and can easily be distracted thus slowing them down.

We may not see it this way, but uttering any of these phrases can become like an addiction.  It's what we begin to say to nearly every action our kids make. We have also heard of the phase, "stop and smell the roses."  But, because we hear it so often we may tend to block it out and it loses its meaning.

Let's be honest, not every day can be a walk in the park.  Life happens and we have to move with it. And, young kids don't really understand the consequences of being late or missing appointments. However, we can help by applying some strategies to help us better manage time so we don't feel harried and rushed or the need to push our children to move faster.

While there are indeed moments when I let Sarah set the pace, I painfully thought of the many times I held her hand and willed her to walk faster just so we can get onto our next task.

I thought about my times in a public restroom with Sarah either at Target, pharmacy or a restaurant saying to her, "are you done yet" and a recent conversation with my sister recently regarding her own children that I decided to go back and read Rachel's story in it entirety.

Young kids don't really understand the concept of time or how long it takes to do things or to get to places.  So, since life is not slowing down anytime soon it likely would be best to institute some strategies for both parent and child.  Let's be honest, thinking that we can slow down life to "smell the roses" literally and figuratively all the time is not very realistic.  However, we can build in approaches so that we are not asking our kids to rush and help them understand that there is a time for lollygagging and there is a time where a schedule is important to stick to.

So, instead of beating ourselves up, let's consider some of the following approaches to help us to somewhat slow down, or at least give our children time to enjoy life, smell the flowers in between, and take their time when time allows.

After leaving a Target Sarah wanted
to play with the big ball structures,
and I let her.  A few minutes of fun
I could make time for.
1. Establish time for strolling, exploring and discovering
2. Set alarm clock to give kids more time to get ready at their pace
3. Explain concept of time with children and the importance of meeting  schedules and that there is a time and place for taking it all in
4. Make a concerted effort not to say phrases that involve "rushing"
5. Determine if too much is on your daily "to do" list. Can some tasks be removed to allow for more soaking up in between?
6. If doing a task must involve taking the kids along consider ways to keep them occupied (e.g., while sitting in the cart during grocery shopping) so you don't feel rushed and they can enjoy time too

Patience is not something that comes easy for me. However, I am going to make a much more concerted effort to try these ideas. I admit that crazy, hectic, busy me isn't always fun to be around. I am going to do my best to try to slow it down, smell the roses literally and figuratively and not tell Sarah to rush. 

Starting today, I am pledging to try to slow it down, carve out more time for my daughter to process and explore, cut back on too many tasks in one day and be mindful of not using "rush" phrases and be more sensitive in my communication.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Growing Up, Gaining Independence, and a Tooth Fairy Visit

Ironically Sarah showed off her missing
tooth during a visit to her new school.
Sniff, sniff...she's growing up
This week Sarah lost a tooth.  She didn't realize she lost her tooth until her teacher noticed it was missing.  It was likely lost during lunch time eating. Sarah likely swallowed it.  Thankfully she did not seem bothered by the fact that she could not hold the missing tooth or worry that if she didn't have it the tooth fairy would not come.

Sarah's teacher called me during my work day to tell me about the lost tooth and I was so excited. 

What is it about a tooth falling out that is such a big deal?

When our children lose their baby teeth it's like a rite of passage.  Fortunately, Sarah's first tooth did not come with much tugging and pulling (yuck and yeah).  She just experienced a bit of pain for a few days as it was uncomfortable.

Well, our children are growing up and a lost tooth is part of the growing process. While thankfully there are 19 more teeth to go in Sarah's mouth, there are still many more years that she will allow me to hold her, hug her and envelop her in my arms. baby is growing up.

Today is also Sarah's last day of pre-school and next week begins Kindergarten. 

You can bet I will be that parent balling her eyes out as my child gets on the bus filled with happy and sad tears.  I will be happy of course because Sarah is so excited to start a new chapter and grow up.  Sadness may also ensue me as my little girl is growing up and blossoming and moving on in her development.

I am so incredibly proud to be a parent and especially to be Sarah's mom. While I have a lump in my
throat ready to well in tears, I know that Sarah growing up is necessary and inevitable.  She will always be my baby, but I am always going to do what I can to make the journey to growing up fun and enjoyable.

So, after Sarah wrote a note to the tooth fairy telling her that she believed in her, she tucked it under her pillow and fell to sleep.  And, as you can imagine, the tooth fairy arrived last night. She left Sarah a lovely note and great thanks for taking such great care of her teeth. She assured Sarah that her lost tooth made its way to her and that it was in good hands. Also inside was a new toothbrush, toothpaste and a cute little box for Sarah to store her future teeth, those that she doesn't swallow.  Also included was a dollar bill signed by the tooth fairy herself for Sarah to use to do whatever it is that she would like.

Let's just say that when morning came Sarah was beyond excited on all levels. While she couldn't really read the letter, when I read it to her she beamed.  She was so happy to know that even though her tooth was lost, it was found. And, she loved her new treats. Sarah, who had just been to the dentist recently for her check-up, with yet again, a clean bill of health, was so proud of what she accomplished.  She was happy to hear that the tooth fairy was impressed with how well she kept her teeth clean too.

Our little ones are growing up and it's hard to see them change but it is wonderful to see their independence.

There are many fun ways to make cleaning teeth fun and enjoying the changes that our little ones are going through.  A while back on Mommy's Point of View I shared about a book called Melvin The Magnificent Molar and have to say that this book was a great foray into the discussion about teeth with Sarah and became a staple in our regular reading time.  It's a book I encourage. We have been reading it since Sarah's first dentist visit in her first year.

Would love to hear of your creative ideas on how you introduced The Tooth Fairy to your children.

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...