Monday, June 30, 2014

The end of the lazy summer month

After twenty years of parenting, I've learned that lazy days of summer are hard to come by. The summers of my youth were completely unscheduled. My dad was at work all day. My mom didn't drive. We hung around at home or in the neighborhood and played all day. We weren't in any scheduled activities and pretty much the only time we left our little block or two was when my sister-in-law would drive us to a pool in a nearby community. And it lasted until after Labor Day.

Things aren't like that anymore. Come July each of the kids has at least one thing scheduled. One is going on a trip with church to Colorado. He's also starting driver ed. class. Another will be going to a nine day camp on a military base. Another will be in a two week theatre camp. My youngest will be at scout camp. Then there will be some outings in between I'm sure to the pool and festivals or farms.

Once the 4th of July hits the school supplies are out in stores and the pressure is on. Then as soon as August gets here, there's school registration and just a few precious days to run all over checking 73 items off of 4 school supply lists and then they're back in school.

June is the calm month. The month when we get to have a few of those lazy days. School was out a few days later than expected due to our crazy winter weather that caused some snow days, but we had a good week after that when we all slept in and didn't do much of anything other than finishing up the last few games of the spring soccer season. Then it was off on a vacation that was much needed. But the month is done and it's busy times ahead. It was nice while it lasted. :)

Monday, June 23, 2014

No More Perfect Kids: The beginning of a review

For a couple years, at the urging of my younger sister, I attended the annual Heart at Home Conference in March in Bloomington, Illinois. The conference grew out of a ministry started by Jill Savage, who created Hearts at Home to support mothers in their important role and encourage them. Attending was a great experience. The words of each speaker were ones I could relate to in some way. It was a weekend of just moms connecting and learning from one another. They covered so many topics - managing money, parenting a large family, helping your child to grow in their faith, setting limits and boundaries and much, much more. 

My sister introduced me to Jill, who she had been in touch with via e-mail. Jill seemed the perfect mother who had it all together and had it all. She spoke confidently, but relayed stories that let us know that she deals with the same struggles as other parents and that no one is immune to difficulties in child rearing. 

The next year when I attended the conference, Jill was facing marital issues and everyone could feel her pain and she didn’t try to hide it, but stood on stage in front of the crowd and talked about the difficult time she was going through. This year I wasn’t able to attend, but through following her blog and getting e-mail and Facebook updates learned about her diagnosis with breast cancer and ongoing treatment. The battle she has been going through is heartbreaking, yet so inspiring. 

In the spring, I got an e-mail asking to be one of a group to preview her new book, No More Perfect Kids with co-author Kathy Koch, PhD and review it. I was happy to. I find her so inspiring and in her writing, she expresses so many things that other moms feel. I value her experience as a mother of five and know that she has a lot of wisdom to pass on.

I feel like a little bit of a failure for not finishing the book in time for the launch, but as even Jill might say, life happens and we have to adjust to it. I tend to do my reading in the more relaxed summer months when I don’t have my day mapped out with chauffeuring and I can stay up a little later to read as I am not up doing drop off at 7 a.m. the next day. 

So, I can’t give a full review yet, but so far I’m enjoying it and finding it useful especially as it relates to treating kids as individuals - that’s so important when you have multiple children. You can’t have blanket rules and expectations as you are setting yourself and them up for failure. Each one has his own thoughts, beliefs, passions and when we see that and recognize what their strengths are, things can go so much more smoothly.

I’d gotten through the first few chapters reading them as my son was at his archery lessons. When archery finished up it went in my tote bag and I haven’t gotten back to it. Now that it’s summer, I’ll be shifting back and forth between it and “The Book Thief” which I started after seeing the movie and only got 20 pages in. Here’s to a relaxing summer with lots of good reading. I’ll post more on the book later, but if you’re looking for some interesting reading this summer to help you improve your role as a parent, this is a great book to pick up!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Turning things around

I love when I have one of those clarifying moments that seem to open my eyes and make me look at everything a little differently. Recently, I went to school to help out at the book fair. It was following an extremely cranky evening - on both my part and the kids'. Nothing was making them happy. Nothing was making me happy.

Suddenly there I was among these little people who seemed so genuinely happy to see me. I got a couple hugs. And then there were other gestures that just made me realize how kind kids can be. Kids can get a bad wrap these days for being mean and bullies and spoiled and lots of other things. And there's plenty of that out there. But on this day, everything seemed to be falling into place and everyone was behaving so nicely.

When one kid got a few coins back, she asked us to donate them for the fund for buying books for classrooms. Another child saw someone drop some money and promptly returned it to her classmate. Another child came up and bought something for her friend. Another child bought a book for his teacher.

I went into that situation feeling really grumpy and expecting that the kids I'd encounter would make me grumpier. They proved me wrong and I'm so glad they did. I left with a completely different outlook on how good and pure and full of hope kids can be and how much hope they can restore in me.