Author: Marye Audet

I Am Not Ready for Another Adolescent

Posted on Jan 5, 2015 by 1 Comment

My ten year old is going to be eleven soon and I am not ready. Not at all.

She is already pulling away from public hugs and kissed. She is giddy and excited because a boy at camp (church camp, mind you) is “crushing” on her. She has definite ideas about how she wants her hair and what she wears.

She wants to shave her legs.

This is my baby. The last one. I am 54 and haven’t used birth control since the 70s. I should hit menopause soon so this is the last one. The very last one.

I already know how it will go. Remember, I have been through this seven other times. Each day she will get bigger, more independent, and need me less. She will develop her own tastes in everything and my opinions will no longer be great ideas to her.

I won’t be cool. She won’t curl up on my bed next to me when I am working so that she can be close to me. She will give me sneery teenage looks when I say things.

I am not ready. There are so many things I wanted to do and wanted to share with her while she was little. I question whether I have been the best mother I can be to her and whether or not I have set the foundation for her success in life. There are so many things still to be done.

Luckily, I have a 32 year old daughter and an 18 year old daughter so I can see how my parenting pans out at the end. I like the results.

But I am still not ready.

How well do you handle that transition?

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Family Friends Might as Well Be Related

Posted on Jan 2, 2015 by 2 Comments

We have been very lucky to have both friends and family friends. There is a couple with six kids to our eight and the ages mesh. We’ve known them forever it seems — maybe ten years? They have all boys and their boys are best friends with ours.

Luckily we have been allowed to participate in the shenanigans as well. The parents are dear friends and we go out with them for coffee and dessert or dinner. The whole family is always at our birthday parties and we are at theirs.

It is so difficult to mesh with another family to this extent. It’s hard enough to have couple friends that you both enjoy let alone adding kids to the mix.

I have taken this friendship for granted for so many years. I really hadn’t thought about it until one of their sons and one of mine decided to go into the Navy. I have two other sons in the military so I didn’t expect the emotional fallout that happened.

It hit me that the slumber parties, the family picnics, and the fun was ending. Not that we aren’t still friends but that our kids are at each other’s houses so much that with both of them gone it’s like a double whammy! I knew I loved their kids but I didn’t realize how much my emotions were tied into the group of us.

I guess I never realized what a blessing it was until things started to change. What about you? Do you have family friends?

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Letting Children Develop at Their Own Rate Cuts Parenting Stress

Posted on Jan 1, 2015 by 2 Comments

I feel like I am hearing more and more parents bemoaning their parenthood. The seem stressed about so many things that I have created a file in my head called “toxic stress parenting”.

If you are a victim of it you’re going to have to figure out how to put an end to it (non-violently) or you’ll create damage in you, your children, and your relationship with them that can’t be fixed. As far as I can tell, most parenting stress happens because you are trying to control something that can’t be controlled.

Potty training seems to be a high stress activity. I think some of it is because kids have to be potty trained to be eligible for certain day care situations and some of it is that we get competitive as parents.

When a frenemy posts on Facebook that her child is now successfully potty trained at the age of 9 months there is a tendency to want to match that. Maybe it’s to prove we’re good parents or our kids are as brilliant as anyone else’s.

You can’t win at potty training. You will make yourself crazy. Most kids aren’t ready until they are two and some, boys especially, are not ready until they are closer to three. You can’t rush normal development.

That’s just one example. Most two year olds are going to get frustrated and have tantrums. You don’t have to encourage them but you do need to accept it as part of the stage of development your child is in. You can’t discipline normal development, either.

Relax, accept your child’s rate of development as long as it seems to be within normal limits, and stop being so hard on yourself and your child. You are a great parent with a great kid — give  yourself a chance.

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The Stuff in My Purse Define Me as a Mom

Posted on Dec 31, 2014 by No Comments

I have several purses. I am a shoe addict and I like for my purses to at least coordinate with my outfits so that means that I have to have more than one purse.

I was transferring the contents of one to the other yesterday and I had to laugh over some of the things I carry every day. Any random person could go through and figure out pretty quickly that I am a mom.

Crayons

I have red, blue, yellow, and green crayons with me at all times. This means that if a restaurant doesn’t have a kids menu, or are out of a crayon color that is needed, all is not lost. I reach in the bag and there they are.

A Scrunchie

I have an 11 year old daughter and two granddaughters. Hair is a thing. There are times they need their hair put up to keep them cool or to keep it from getting tangled. I can pull out elastic bands and scrunchies and the problem is solved.

Baby Wipes to Go

Baby wipes are great for quick cleanup in the car, messy faces and hands, or their original use. Also, usually a Hello Kitty Bandaide or two

Snacks

At the very least, a snack size bag of Teddy Grahams. You just never know when you are going to need to keep the peace with some food.

Depending on the time of year there may be other things, too. Lip balm, sunscreen, and quarters for the horse outside the grocery store. What about you?

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A New App No Parent Should Be Without

Posted on Dec 29, 2014 by 1 Comment

My husband, like most husbands, has an inner 12 year old boy just looking for ways to play pranks on the kids. I think his life would feel complete if we got one of those security systems where you could turn lights, water, and television off remotely.

I’m pretty sure the first victim would be our teenage daughter who would find herself waterless about halfway through her daily extended shower. He grinned when we got new ceiling fans and they all had remotes for the lights, too. Imagine his delight if someone invented an app that could turn off kids’ smartphones?

Well, there is one. And I can think of some husband related reasons it would be great, too.

Let’s face it, there are two kinds of people in this world: those who are enslaved to their phones and those who aren’t. I am in the latter category.

Call me during working hours and if you haven’t made prior arrangements to talk to me I won’t answer. If I am out in public the phone is on vibrate and if someone calls I will check who it is and probably not answer unless it looks like an emergency.

Right now I am only answering (no matter what) if it is my son who is away at boot camp or my son who is in Okinawa.

My husband is totally the opposite. He will jump to answer the phone no matter where he is or what is going on. It’s crazy! His phone is with him all the time, no matter what.

My daughter, the only one of our dependent children with a phone at present., is the same way. Just let someone call and she will rush to it, whether it is the middle of dinner or not.

I drives me crazy. I feel so out of control.

I now have hope. A group of app developers have introduced a new app that is called DinnerTime. It is a set of parental controls for iPhone or Android smartphones that allows them to limit the time that their kids can access the phones.

This app allows you to block your child’s access whenever you like. You can make the break time anywhere from thirty minutes to three hours long. There’s even a countdown feature so that your kid knows when she can use her phone again. I like the fact that watching those seconds tick by will make time go by even slower.

Sure, it would be great to call your family to the dinner table and have them all put down their phones and come. It would be awesome of your teenager did not SnapChat while she was supposed to be studying for that algebra test, too.

This isn’t a perfect world. Sometimes it’s hard to supervise as well as you want to. Sometimes I’ll tell the kids to get off their phones only to get busy and forget that I ever said it.

This app seems to hold the answer.

photo credit: Juhan Sonin

 

 

 

Getting Your Family Through the Tough Times

Posted on Dec 26, 2014 by 1 Comment

Have you ever noticed that some families go through really hard stuff for long periods of time and seemingly come out of it intact and healthy while other families go through things that don’t seem nearly as difficult and they fall apart? I have always wondered what makes the difference.

It’s odd to me when people who’ve known me for a long time tell me I am an inspiration because they know details of my life that the general population isn’t privy to. It’s odd because I don’t think that we’ve been through anything all that devastating.

I know people who are living in situations when one spouse is in the late stages of cancer, situations where single moms are dealing with supporting their families at the same time that they are dealing with serious illnesses or a special needs child. To me they are the ones that are inspirational.

Within those groups are women who have a positive attitude and a smile on their face no matter what and there are those that are so hopeless that they can’t even acknowledge something positive.

When you look at the families of each, you see a trend — the positive moms have optimistic families while the hopeless moms have families that are broken and depressed.

So what makes the difference?

I think it is resilience. The healthy families seem to be able to put difficult situations and experiences behind them and move on. They see a negative experience as a singular happening rather than as a life pattern.

The more resilient families face things together, work together to overcome them, and take a “no man left behind” kind of attitude. The unhealthy families tend to move away from each other during difficulty and isolate themselves from each other.

So, how can you insure that you are a healthy family during the tough times?

Communication

Communication is probably more important than anything else. Family should be a safe place to share feelings, emotions, fears, and concerns without having to worry about a negative backlash.

Learn to listen to your family members without necessarily offering advice. It’s especially important not to criticize or be derogatory. Let your kids talk about what’s bothering them. Sometimes just telling someone is very healing.

At the same time you can’t have strong communication in your family in the hard times if you don’t spend time together in the good times. I have tried to instill a sense of camaraderie in my kids, a little one for all and all for one.

We may disagree (loudly!) but when the wolf is at the door we are all holding it shut — together. Take time every day to check in with each other and stay on top of what’s going on.

Gratefulness

Is your family grateful?

Families that are able to get through the hard stuff are grateful for the smallest blessings, and say so. They notice the little things and comment on them, they find positive experiences in each day and celebrate them, and they don’t take things for granted.

Security

Parents must instill a sense of security in their children so that no matter what happens there is trust that Dad, Mom, or Mom and Dad will handle it. If you don’t think your kids notice when you are acting irresponsibly, you are nuts. They notice.

The other side of that coin is that you have to have confidence that you will get through the situation. Maybe it’s faith in God, or the power of positive thinking, or whatever you happen to believe in, but you need to build that confidence.

It’s really true that you need to control your thoughts, stay positive, and keep your sense of humor. What are some ways your family copes with hard times?

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How to Teach Your Baby to Sign

Posted on Dec 24, 2014 by No Comments

Babies are intelligent. They have the potential to communicate long before they are physically able to produce words.

By taking the time to teach your baby to sign, you give him the ability to communicate at a much younger age. You can teach him to sign when he is hungry, thirsty, wet, or hurting.

Research indicates that teaching him to sign, and using sign language regularly will also help to increase his I.Q. significantly. So, where do you start?

Start with One Sign

Every young baby learns one sign readily. Have you ever seen a very young child wave “bye bye”? Of course, we all have! If they can learn to sign goodbye, they can learn any other sign as long as you have plenty of  patience and practice often.

One of the easiest signs to teach your baby is “milk” or “nurse”. I prefer to use separate signs for these words because it saves confusion later. We use a chest pat as the sign for nurse. The ASL sign for milk is holding the hand open, as if holding a cup and then closing the hand. I guess it almost looks like you are milking a cow, too.

Choose one sign to teach your baby at a time.  Let’s use milk as an example. As you are giving your child milk make the sign for milk. Continue to sign this every time that you give the child milk. Over a period of time the baby will start to mimic your sign.

Only use that sign for milk, never anything else because you will create confusion. Once he picks up that there is a link between the sign and the milk, you can move on to the next sign.

Continue signing regularly, using the words he knows often so that he does not forget them. Your child will recognize the signs that you make before he makes them on his own.

Since you are teaching a hearing child, you should also say the word as you sign it. It really helps them to master language much faster — which may or may not be a good thing.

This should be a fun activity between you and your baby. If you feel frustrated or begin to get angry, stop immediately and save it for another time. Teaching your baby to sign takes patience and time, but the rewards are incredible

Some Words to Teach Him

The very first signs that you’ll want to teach your baby are called need based signs. These signs help your baby communicate his current needs to you or anyone who is caring for him.

Of course, you may need to go over the signs with the babysitter and Grandma just to make sure that they understand what he is trying to tell them.

Some of the common signs that are taught first are:

  • More
  • Milk
  • Nurse
  • Hungry
  • Eat
  • Cold
  • Hurt
  • Sleepy
  • Diaper

Once you and your baby can communicate those signs you can teach him other words:

  • Mommy
  • Daddy
  • Dog
  • Thank you
  • Please
  • Bye
  • I love you

You can teach him many other words and phrases that will help the two of you to communicate better. The American Sign Language (ASL) website has a list of the first 100 words they teach and when you click on the word there is a demonstration that shows you how to do it.

Have you done any signing with any of your kids? How did you like it?

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Home Remedies for Ear Infection Pain

Posted on Dec 23, 2014 by 2 Comments

It would be great if ear infections hit during your pediatrician’s office hours but they almost never do. They seem to invariably hit in the middle of the night — and they hit hard.

You might not be able to get to the doctor until morning but you can help relieve that intense pain so you and your child can both get some sleep. Here are some things you can do at home to ease earache pain.

  • Acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help dull the pain. You can also “piggyback” the two if one doesn’t seem to work for more and a couple of hours. You can give your child acetaminophen and then give ibuprofen two hours later if necessary.
  • A warm washcloth or towel held over the ear and side of the face can do wonders. Stay away from heating pads, especially for young children.
  • Raise your child’s head. Babies and toddlers may be more comfortable sleeping in car seats while older children can have their heads elevated with pillows.
  • A few drops of warm olive oil in the ear can bring relief.
  • Chewing gum may help older children.
  • A little hydrogen peroxide in the ear can help sometimes.
  • Garlic oil or ear oil from the health food store helps relieve pain.

Obviously an ear infection is nothing to play around with. It’s important that you get your child to a doctor as soon as possible for an evaluation. In the meantime you can make him more comfortable with one of these home remedies.

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Will a Baby Rewire His Brain?

Posted on Dec 22, 2014 by 1 Comment

Everyone knows that when you have children you change. You instantly become a parent, although it takes years to feel like you are one.

Most people believe women are hardwired to be parents. They begin changing physically and emotionally from the moment of their child’s conception, but does parenting change men?

A new study says yes.

The research comes out of Bar-Ilan University, Israel. Traditional families, where the mom assumed most of the caregiving, and homosexual couples, where one of the men was the biological father, were studied and compared.

The two father families had shared caregiving responsibilities equally. What researchers found was that maternal instinct isn’t just a woman’s thing but can be developed by either sex that is a hands on parent.

In the homosexual couples, both men developed that maternal instinct. That implies that a man’s experience with parenting can cause the same changes in the brain that pregnancy and childbirth do.

In the past, men in traditional families generally were the providers while the women were the caregivers. I know when I was growing up in the 1960s everyone’s dads worked during the week and sat around on the weekends drinking beer and watching sports.

My dad was very involved with me, more so than most dads, but even so he was not what I would call a caregiver.

It’s an interesting study that’s sure to heat up the argument about whether or not a homosexual couple could parent children and give them the nurturing that is needed. It looks like the answer to that one is a definite yes.

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