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Time for Mom

May 13, 2021

High School Confidential

Istock_000005085148xsmall I thought I was the only mom on the planet who ever feels that motherhood is a lot like high school. Turns out I'm not alone.

My buddy Cynthia over at Sugar Mama says the only difference is that now you can't run to your room after school on particularly bad days. "You have to live in your own mistakes, fears, bad haircuts, every second of every day and learn to love it," she adds.

Humor definitely helps — and Sugar Mama has that in spades. And some days, you receive support from someone out of the blue that means so much. Click on the link above to hear the rest of the story.

May 06, 2021

How Many Balls Are You Juggling?

Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., author of Crazy Busy: Overstretched, Overbooked and About to Snap!, tells a wonderful story, over on his website, Crazy Busy Life, that every parent can appreciate:

"I once interviewed a professional juggler. He told me the greatest number of balls he could juggle was six. The greatest anyone had ever juggled, as far as he knew, was eleven... I asked him if he was working to get to seven balls. He told me he was not because in order to get to seven he would have to give up several hours a day for at least six months, and he didn't have time to spare to do that. 'I'm very good,' he told me. 'I put on a great show with six. No one has ever come up to me and told me they wish I had done seven. I can work many variations with six and make people's jaws drop. Six is enough. I don't need more.'

Hallowell then asks us to consider: "Are you juggling more balls than you NEED to juggle? What do you give up if you are?"

That's a tough one. I love my family. I love my job. I love volunteering at my church and my son's school. What tends to get lost in the shuffle are things like exercise, getting my hair trimmed, shaving my legs — you know, basic physical maintenance. Not good!

So this week I plan to visit the dentist, shave those hairy legs, and get on the treadmill (an actual treadmill, not the treadmill that is sometimes my life!) for some cardio work. (Maybe I'll work out during American Idol tonight. And if Jason Castro wins this thing in a few weeks, it will only be because every 11-year-old girl in America voted for him because of his eyes! My pick? David Cook.)

May 04, 2021

Sneaking Off For a Date...

It's Sunday, and Randy and I needed to run to Home Depot and other exciting spots to do some shopping that would bore Matt (age 12) to tears.

So Matt volunteered to stay home and work on homework and household chores(!) while Randy and I went to buy towel bars and toilet plungers. (Yeah, marriage doesn't get any sexier than that...)

In the middle of running errands, with my stomach growling, I spotted our favorite burger joint, In 'N Out. I didn't have to work too hard to convince Randy to stop for lunch. We had so much fun! (Especially since our usual at-home meals consist of healthy chicken, pasta, fish, chicken, pasta, fish, chicken, pasta, fish...)

Can't remember the last time the two of us had just gone out for a burger, alone, on the spur of the moment. "Don't tell Matt!" we laughed, knowing he'd be mighty jealous.

As marital secrets go, this isn't a barn-burner, I know. But Randy and I must have looked pretty funny, sneaking out of the car when we got back home and tossing our In 'N Out soda cups in the recycling bin out by the street before we entered the house.

Shhh! Don't tell Matt.

April 20, 2021

Ugh - Sick Days!

Gotta love days like this: There's no food in the house, the laundry is in piles, I have writing deadlines out the wazoo — and my hubby and I are both sick.

Happily, Matt, our son, seems to have avoided catching either my sinus infection/bronchitis or his dad's upset stomach. So far. We're doing a lot of hand washing!

Schlepping through the past five days makes me realize how much I normally accomplish around here. And it makes me really appreciate my usual good health. But it's still hard not to get down in the dumps when all you want to do is go back to bed for the day...

As a busy parent, how do you handle those days and weeks when you're under the weather, but the demands of home and family continue? I need all the tips I can get this week!

Well, I'm off to go toss a coin with Randy to see who gets to head to the grocery store...

April 17, 2021

Welcome Jen Singer! (And Yes, She's a Good Mom)

Today we're pleased to chat with Jen Singer, author of You’re a Good Mom…And Your Kids Aren’t So Bad Either: 14 Secrets for Finding Happiness Between Super Mom and Slacker Mom.

For 21st Century mothers, there often seem to be just two choices: Super Mom or Slacker Mom. One’s bad for you; one’s bad for your kids. So what’s a mom to do? Singer offers secrets for raise perfectly good kids in that sweet spot between flash cards at breakfast and “donuts for dinner, kids!” The book is available on Amazon and at bookstores everywhere.

Thanks for making Parent Talk Today a stop on your blog tour, Jen! Now on to our Q&A:

Q.    How did motherhood get to be so competitive?

Jen Singer: It started with the very first Baby on Board sticker, most likely stuck on a 1985 Volvo. Since then, our society went child centric – and a little crazy, too. We’ve raised the motherhood bar so impossibly high, we can’t reach it. We drive our kids to not one, not two, but three activities and sports in a week – sometimes in a day. We use flash cards at stop lights and play music for our kids in utero. (Have you ever tried to listen to music underwater? It sounds all wrong.)

Q. That’s why we all feel like slacker moms, right? We can’t keep up.

Jen: And then we give up, and eventually, we’re serving donuts for dinner and letting our kids watch Desperate Housewives, because it’s easier than sending them to bed. But that’s bad for our kids, and trying to be a Super Mom is bad for us. There’s a sweet spot in between where you can raise good kids without losing yourself.

Q. So how can moms find that in between spot?

Jen: The first secret to finding happiness in 21st century motherhood is to realize that Super Mom is faking it and Slacker Mom isn’t as cool as she appears to be. The town über mom probably only gets to put her feet up at the gynecologist’s office. The rest of the time, she’s frantically trying to make perfect kids in her perfect house. She’s exhausted and her kids are, too.

The cool mom, on the other hand, has no idea what her kids are up to while she sucks down Diet Cokes and watches like-minded women on Moment of Truth. And now that there are web sites where kids as young as eight can build a virtual bimbo, breast implants and all, that’s pretty darn scary.

Q. But what if you want to do right by your kids? Don’t you have to sign them up for lots of activities just to keep up with everyone else?

Jen: Here’s one of my tips: Don’t be a frequent flyer. In other words, you don’t have to fill out all those flyers for karate and drama camp and math enrichment just because they come home with your kids. Pick one or two activities that your children are excited about, and sign up for those. And – I know this one is hard in the age of travel sports – let your kids play one sport per season, especially if they’re under 10. It’ll be easier on them and on the mileage of your mini-van.

Q. What if all the other moms are doing it?

Jen: Be a rebel mom. I know it’s hard to be the only mother who puts her foot down and doesn’t let her kid watch The Simpsons or play Halo. These days, it’s also much harder to shield our kids from age inappropriate media because there’s so much of it out there. But it pains me that even second graders watch CSI, which has gruesome crime scenes that even make grown-ups like me flinch. It’s more work to be your kids’ filter nowadays, but it’s also more important than ever to protect them from things they’re not ready for because there’s so much of it out there.

Q. Do you think the Internet helps or hinders today’s moms?

Jen: One of the best things for modern motherhood is the Internet. Also, one of the worst things for modern motherhood is the Internet. On the one hand, we can find blogs and web sites like this one that give us a sense of community, answer our parenting questions and even make us laugh. But we can also innocently look up the rash our kid has and wind up convincing ourselves that it’s a flesh-eating parasite from the Amazon, when we haven’t even gone hiking in a park, let alone in the jungle. Google wisely.

Q. What one tip would you give moms who are trying to find happiness?

Jen: Use triage. Pick out only those things that are truly important to you and your family, and aim for those. Take volunteering jobs that allow you to see your kids, like being a Cub Scouts den leader or escorting on the class trip. Build in playtime to your calendar – for the kids and for you. Move the computer into the family room so you can see what your kids are doing online. Then let everything that’s less important go. Really, do you have to bake cupcakes for your child’s birthday celebration at school when the bakery will do that for you?

Q. Do you think you’re a good mom?

Jen: It depends on the day! When my kids were toddlers, I used to feel guilty for folding laundry instead of entertaining them, even though I was spending upwards of 100 hours a week with them as a full-time at-home mom. I thought I had to constantly create teachable moments in order to prepare them for the future. But I really needed to teach them independence and self sufficiency. I’m not going to be there to help them pick out lunch or manage homework at college, after all. A good mom gets her kids ready for life on their own – and prepares herself for life without her kids.

April 14, 2021

Join Us Friday When The "You're a Good Mom" Blog Tour Stops Here!

For 21st Century mothers, there seem to be just two choices: Live up to the Super Mom or give up to be the Slacker Mom. One's bad for you; one's bad for your kids. So what's a momma to do?

In You're a Good Mom (and Your Kids Aren't So Bad Either): The 14 Secrets to Finding Happiness Between Super Mom and Slacker Mom," the Internet's favorite momma, Jen Singer, tells all. Turns out you can raise perfectly good kids in that sweet spot between flash cards at breakfast and "donuts for dinner, kids!" You'll find great tips like these:

  • Don't answer the phone when the class mom calls.
  • Your kid's birthday party isn't your coming-out celebration.
  • Don't treat fine restaurants like a McDonald's PlayPlace.
  • You think you're a "cool mom," but they think you're a pushover.

Filled with "that happened to me, too!" stories, YOU'RE A GOOD MOM offers giggles and a pat on the back for today's moms, whether they're deep in diapers or petrified by puberty.

Join us Friday for a great Q & A with author Jen Singer as she stops by Parent Talk Today on her blog tour!

And check out this terrific You Tube video preview:

March 15, 2022

Laugh it Up at MommaSaid.net

Hey mom! Need a break? Grab that non-fat latte and head over to MommaSaid.net, the creation of Jen Singer, a terrific mom, a very funny writer and a chick with fab hair.

MommaSaid.net was created in 2003 as a virtual community for full- and part-time stay-at-home mothers around the world, says Singer. One of my favorite spots on the site is the Back Fence, where moms share stories like this one, which Singer has generously allowed me to re-print here:

Pretty as a Picture

Thanks to Rebecca Norton of Norfolk, Massachusetts, for this story:

"I was on my way out the door to my cousin's bridal shower. I really don't like bridal showers, but I found great joy in putting on some 'real clothes' with no stains and 'real shoes' that were not good for chasing children.                                                    

"When my four-year-old daughter saw me, she said, 'Mommy, can I take your picture? Because we don't get to see you pretty!'"


                                                      

March 08, 2022

Can't Say No to Your Kids? Here's Help

In response to my Feb. 27 post, "Are You Crazy Busy?" Susan Newman, Ph.D., a social psychologist and author of 13 parenting and relationship books, including The Book of NO: 250 Ways to Say It — and Mean It — and Stop People-Pleasing Forever got in touch and offered to share these tips, from her wonderful book, with the rest of us:

When something needs to be done, you’re the one to do it. It often feels as if you’re the only reliable person you know. The trouble is: Everyone else thinks that way, too. Especially your children.

Children have no trouble saying no. But it’s a word you avoid because it sets your guilt meter running, particularly where your children are concerned. You don’t want to disappoint them or make them unhappy. When you say yes to your children’s every want and whim, you wind up saying no to yourself, being overwhelmed and exhausted. You can’t be a happy, effective parent if you always function on overload.

At times, it seems a child’s needs involve you in different and demanding ways every waking minute. You have every right to say no to a child who asks to stay up later or eat more candy than you think is healthy, just as you do to an adult child who seeks dollars to start a seemingly risky venture.

NO Teaches Life Lessons

In some situations, no is the obvious answer, but what happens when your child asks to add another extracurricular activity to her already-full schedule? You’re proud of her initiative and want her to excel, but at the same time, your brain calculates the extra costs, both monetary and physical, that will result if you give permission.

When faced with the decision to add another activity to your child’s crowded schedule, grant a privilege or buy the latest electronic gizmo, listen to your gut feeling and ask yourself these questions: Can you afford to invest the time or money? What will it take away from other children in your family? From your job? How much stress or pressure will it add to your life?

By calling up a no when you need it, you gain a bit of deserved time for yourself, and equally important, no prepares your child for the “real” world. Parental no’s teach children how to cope with disappointment, how to argue, how to strike a balance between work and play, time management and task prioritization — essential experiences that aren’t always taught in school. When children grow up learning these concepts, they are more likely to be successful in their academics, relationships and, later on, in their careers.

10 Tips for Saying NO

In The Book of NO I point out that you have certain rights. Among them: Using no to get your life in control and to be in control of it; requesting details before committing; refusing anyone, including your children, who insists on an immediate answer. Exercising your “no” rights will change how you think when your children’s requests seem excessive, unnecessary or impossible to meet given your other commitments.

In our culture of “yes parenting,” here are suggestions and reminders to make saying no to your children easier:

•    Don't get in the habit of putting your children's wants and wishes before yours.
•    Forget about keeping up with the Joneses (one of the reasons many parents say yes).
•    Think about what’s really involved (in terms of time, money, health, pressure — yours and theirs).
•    Children get over disappointment far better and faster than parents do.
•    Don’t say yes to avoid confrontation.
•    Appropriate use of NO teaches important life lessons.
•    Saying NO helps instill your beliefs and values.
•    Remember, it is your parental right to say NO.
•    Park your guilt. As adults, your children will find something other than your refusals to fault you for.
•    Your children may even thank you for teaching them how to say no.

Thanks, Dr. Newman! For more on how to say NO to your children, friends, family and at work, visit www.thebookofno.com.

February 27, 2022

Are You Crazy Busy?

It happened again the other day. I was at the grocery store and ran into a mom I know from my son's school. "How are you?" I asked. "Just crazy busy!" she said, before launching into a laundry list of all the things she had on her plate that day.

All parents, it seems — and especially moms —  have a similar mental list. Grocery shopping, work, laundry, dentist appointments, carpool, baseball practice, piano lessons... It's enough to make us pooped before lunch.

That's why, when I heard about it, I had to pick up a copy of Crazy Busy: Overstretched, Overbooked and About to Snap! by Edward M. Hallowell, M.D. Hallowell is a child and adult psychiatrist and the founder of The Hallowell Center for Cognitive and Emotional Health in Sudbury, MA. An expert on attention deficit disorder, he discusses how all of us — whether we have ADD or not —  can deal with "the rush, the gush, the worry, and the blather (which also includes clutter)."

I'm finding the book to be fascinating and really helpful. Hallowell lives in the real world and doesn't think we should toss the BlackBerry out with the bath water. But he does help us determine what really counts in life — and shows us how to focus on that.

Hallowell also has started a blog to discuss ADD and other issues, including those raised in this book. Check it out here.

Are you feeling crazy busy these days? What ways have you found to slow down and focus on the important things in your life? I'd love to hear your tips.

February 13, 2022

A Clear-Eyed Look at Parenting Through Divorce

Fellow writer and mom Lynne Meredith Schreiber just invited me to check out her new website, which is terrific.

But it wasn't until I clicked on her blog, "Nourish Cafe," that I really saw what a fearless and wonderful writer she is. Schreiber's writing cuts close to the bone and it was painful to read at times, as she described her life as a soon-to-be single mom to three young children.

But as strong as the emotion and pain were in her blog post, there was so much love, hope and clear-eyed strength there, as well. I'm looking forward to following her journey.

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