5 Habits of Highly Harried Moms

If you feel like you’re Julie Andrews, running through the hills singing at the top of your voice, then you are most probably dreaming.

In today’s fast-paced world, it’s almost impossible for us moms to simply throw caution to the wind and romp about aimlessly.  Every nook and cranny of our brain is preoccupied with thoughts of a thousand and one chores and office reports.  With our busy lifestyles, we all too often make mountains out of molehills and worry over the littlest things.  Tiny issues escalate into humungous problems which precariously overwhelm us.  Here are some of the habits of highly stressed moms:

Putting oneself last.  It’s almost inherent in moms to put themselves at the bottom of their priorities list.  Without batting an un-mascaraed eyelash, you’d gladly give up a tall cup of frapuccino for a hotdog for your kid.  When you put the needs of others before you, sure it’s an unspoken token of love, but in the end, your sanity pays the price for it.  Don’t be surprised if giving up that night out with the girls to look after your toddler subconsciously makes you cranky.

Zero recreation.  Everybody deserves a break from the humdrum of daily life.  I’m not saying that looking after your kids is humdrum.  It’s just that once in a while, it is refreshing to indulge in whatever it is you love to do.  Something as simple as a quick walk around the block will help refresh your soul.   Think exercise, hobbies, getting together with friends.

Worry worship.  Moms who are overly agitated tend to put worry on a pedestal.  If you fret too much about the future- and every minute thing in the present- you end up harassing yourself with unnecessary problems.  Remember, worry is a useless emotion because there’s only so much about the future we have control over.

Watching too much TV.  It’s absolutely pathetic to waste your time in front of the TV, what with all the mixed subliminal messages TV shows send their viewers.  Even a show seemingly as harmless as Glee can make you want things you can’t have.   Seeing Lisa Kudrow do mom roles in movies is a clear reminder that worthwhile shows such as Friends are a thing of the past.   Well, if you must watch TV, do it moderately.  You can instead spend some of your free time doing relaxing things such as reading a good book, or even knitting if you’re up to it.  Doing calming activities help make you mindful of the present moment, thus taking your mind away from useless worry.

Doing too much too soon.  Because we moms want to achieve a lot of things in as little time possible, we tend to overwork ourselves to the extent of burnout.  The key is in breaking things down into bite-size chunks.  Tackle one task or goal at a time, and your blood pressure wouldn’t have to pay the price.

If you want a major mindset overhaul, you can start to try banishing the above habits from your system.  Nobody said it was easy, but it is possible if you put your mind to it. Ultimately, your husband and kids will benefit from a happier you.  It’s an excellent way to start the new year, don’t you think?

 

Traveling With Kids: Things to Remember

Life is a highway, and I want to ride it all night long- sure, as long as I don’t have a bunch of attention-deprived kids screaming in the backseat as I drive!  It’s a breath of fresh air to finally have gotten them to agree to step out of the house, put down the Wii console, and venture into places we’ve never been before, but with their short attention spans taking over, I can hardly keep my eye on the road without having to glance at the rearview mirror to see if the kids are ok.  Thank heavens I read about The Guardian 50 tips for travelling with kids the night before.  A single mom like me does get by with a little help from online articles.

The key to surviving long road trips with children is to keep them entertained.   Try popping in that Barney CD, even your ears hurt from listening to it over and over again.  Play I Spy and other classic car games.    It also helps to travel at night, so the kids will nap most of the way.

If motion sickness gets the better of your kids, open a window and do keep a bag ready- just in case.  Try preventing untoward incidents by making sure everyone in the family isn’t hungry or thirsty.

To save on travel time, plan your trip ahead and take the shortest route possible.  Ask around for any ongoing roadwork, so you can take alternate routes.

It goes without saying that safety is an important concern when travelling with kids.  That Direct gov using a seat belt advisory can be put to good use this time.  Tell your kids to buckle up, even if that means arm-wrestling them just to have your way.

Be a responsible parent and make sure that your car is in tiptop, roadworthy condition.  Check the brakes, lights, water, oil, etc.  Be sure that you have car insurance, to help keep your mind at ease, in case of any eventuality.

Near or far, travelling with kids is always a worthwhile experience.  They learn things which they normally wouldn’t in the confines of the four walls of the classroom.  Travel opens up a whole world of discovery for them.  You get to see aspects of their personality you’ve never seen before, and you yourself inevitably get to unleash certain facets of your persona which only traveling with your children manages to bring out.  It’s a win-win situation, so go ahead, pack your bags, be like Dora the Explorer and travel the world!

 

References:

http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/2010/01/13/are-we-there-yet-how-to-keep-bored-back-seat-kids-entertained-86908-21964496/
http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Parents/Yourchildshealthandsafety/Roadandtravelsafety/DG_195279
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/familyholidays/8421886/Kirstie-Allsopp-on-how-to-travel-with-children.html

My Battery-Operated Friend

If I lived back in the day when people lived in caves and hairy-chested men walked around with clubs, I probably would be a nervous wreck- not because the mere sight of their leaf-covered genitals would send shivers down my spine, but because the absence of baby-monitoring devices in that era would simply not put my mind at ease.

After the initial euphoria of learning that I was pregnant fizzled out, I started feeling a wave of nervousness, as if I were a hopeful 16-year old at an American Idol audition.  I spent a lot of time reading up on baby care, and came across the topic of SIDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.  It’s when a baby under one year of age suddenly dies in his sleep.

When well-wishers asked me about what I wanted as a baby shower gift, I didn’t think twice about asking for a baby monitor.  I sure didn’t want to stay up all night to watch my baby as she slept, so I decided to take advantage of whatever technology was out there.  My aunt from the US sent me the angelcare ac401, and I must say, it stayed true to its name and did its job of being a heaven-sent angel to my baby girl.

What the angelcare monitor does is it detects the slightest movement from your baby- even while she’s asleep.  If it doesn’t detect any movement for 20 seconds, it will set off an alarm for you to check on your baby.

At first, I was intimidated by the monitor, but after my hubby and I carefully read the manual, operating it was a piece of cake.  We put the sensor pad under the mattress, right in the center.  Since the crib had wooden slats underneath, we put a stiff board under the pad, because it works best on a solid surface.

What I especially liked about the angelcare monitor is it allows you to set it to detect sound only, movement only, or both.  You can even choose whether to have the “tic” sound on or not.  I noticed that it detects even the slightest movement under a thick mattress, but it’s not overly sensitive to non-baby movements.

There are baby monitors, and then there are baby monitors, but there is just nothing quite like angelcare.  It gave both my baby and me a peaceful and restful sleep.

Ditch the TV, Bond with Your Child

King Midas was known to have the power to turn everything that he touched into gold.  In today’s financially-challenging times, anyone would fight tooth and nail just to have a power like that. 

But we parents do know that more than wads of money and chunks of gold, a more priceless commodity would have to be spending time with our children.  Time, once passed, is gone forever.  We can never take it back or adequately “make up for lost time.” 

Our jobs are often the culprit when it comes to grabbing us of time with the kids.  Since we can’t afford to do away with the things we do to put food on the table and a roof over our heads, we simply have to devise ways to work around the situation.

Although it is highly tempting to just sit in front of the TV with your kid and a huge bowl of popcorn in hand, that doesn’t really do much for interaction and bonding.  If anything, you just might end up with even wider hips from all the butter in that popcorn!

Take your cue from those worn out sandals your kid has been wearing for the longest time.  It would be a good idea to jump in on the MYOH Havaianas craze and try making your own funky pair of sandals.  It’s a novel idea, enhances your creativity and is downright fun!  Imagine customizing your own footwear as you spend precious time with your child.

Don’t let your imagination stop you.  Come up with other non-TV ways to connect and reconnect with your child.  Those activities will help you bond like crazy glue.

 

Postlessly Devoted to Her

I can hardly believe that I let Thanksgiving pass without posting on this blog.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t have anything to be thankful for.  I do, I do! – I just said that in my best Tweety impression. 

For one, I’m extremely grateful for this spanking pair of office pants (I’m not sure what they’re called), and the fact that I fit nicely into it (my butt is getting smaller with each passing day, I guess).

The most important thing I’m thankful for is the time I was able to spend with my daughter the past week, and weekend.  Though she was spotty all over from chicken pox, it has proven to be a silver lining on my cloud, as I got to have her for the weekend.  Normally, her dad would pick her up on a Friday afternoon and bring her back to me on Sunday.  Luckily, this weekend was a welcome exception. 

One of the reasons I hardly touched my computer last week was I wanted to devote every free time I had with my daughter.  After a long, dreary day at work, all I looked forward to was to come home and catch Phineas and Ferb with her. 

Inspired by a post from a blogger friend, Sam of What Little Things, I made a conscious decision to stop and smell the roses.  Heck, I sniffed the entire garden and stayed awhile.  Her post reminded me to find beauty and solace in the little things life has to offer.

So if I’m without a blog post for a few days, I’m probably dancing my heart out to the Wiggles with my daughter, or perfecting the color of Cinderella’s hair on a coloring book for the nth time.  Moments like these are undeniably priceless.

Cycles: Mom’s Best Friend

Show me a mom who wants her baby to get rashes all over his tender baby skin, and I’ll give you a million dollars.  In this part of the universe, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll find a mother who finds Quotes for Mother’s Day really inspiring, and yet dreams of having her precious little bundle of joy subjected to all forms of skin disease and stomach upset.  Moms would do anything and everything just to make sure that every object her baby puts in his mouth passes her standards of sanitation.  One such product which does the job is Cycles laundry detergent.

Before you pass this off as another product review, well, don’t!  I was fortunate enough to try Cycles out, and was pleasantly surprised to find how it doesn’t irritate my daughter’s sensitive skin.   Her skin tends to break out when I use regular detergent to wash her clothes, so Cycles has proven to be an answered prayer.

But wait, there’s more! (Yes, I just had to do that in my best infomercial voice!).

Another product sample which came in the mail is Cradle Baby Bottle and Nipple Cleaner.  It’s a dishwashing liquid which is perfectly safe for babies because it’s made of plant extracts.  It may be mild and gentle on your baby, yet it is tough on milk and food residue and foul odors from feeding bottles and nipples.  I promised an expectant mom I’d give this to her as a gift, and she was delighted to hear that such a product exists.

If you’re a mom who puts a premium on your baby’s health- and I’m pretty sure you are- do give these products a try.  They’ll help put your mind at ease.  And then you can attend to your other motherly duties.

Kid Smarts: Talking to Strangers

If I were a songwriter as talented as Taylor Swift, I’d probably write a song called Don’t Talk to Strangers (alternately entitled, “Who You Don’t Know Can Hurt You”).  That’s probably one of the early life lessons passed on to me by my parents which has stuck like crazy glue.  They have always stressed the importance of not talking to strangers as a precautionary form of action to ward off people with bad intentions.  Although there is a whole lot of truth to that, I do think it needs a little bit of tweaking in this day and age.

We parents must realize that there are some instances- although few and far between- when our kids may just have to talk to people they don’t know.  This is especially true when they’re lost or need help.    If they have to ask a stranger for help, remind them to look for people in uniform: policemen, security guards, etc.  Older people or those with kids can help too.  Tell your kid to be wary though, as not all good-looking people are necessarily kind-hearted.  Criminals now know better to shave and put on decent clothes when they’re on the prowl.

Here are the instances when your kids should not be talking to strangers:

A stranger offers them treats.  That sugary donut may look irresistibly scrumptious, but if it comes from a total stranger, there is a huge possibility that it may be laced with something which you’d find on a Top Ten Highly-Toxic Substances list.  Even toys can be covered in some harmful narcotic too, so remind your kids to just say no.

A stranger asks if your kid can keep a secret.  This act simply spells sleaziness, as he is trying to lure your kid and put him under his spell.  There can’t possibly be anything good that person has to do or say.

A stranger asks to touch your kid’s private parts- or asks your kid to touch his.  The stranger may say all sorts of things to try to earn your kid’s trust enough to make him do all sorts of unimaginable things.

It just doesn’t feel right.  Your kid should use his or her instincts too.  When he feels uncomfortable talking to someone, he should just walk away and find someone else to turn to.

Hard as we try, we parents can’t and will not always be there to protect our dear children.  If we arm them with the right knowledge about what goes on around us, they will be better-equipped to take care of themselves when the need arises.

 

 

Kindergarten Cliques: How to Handle Preschool Bullies

Okay, I’ve just added jujitsu, taekwondo, and karate to my martial-arts-to-teach-my-kid-so-she-can-beat-bullies list.  I have briefed my five-year old, and told her to leave no stone unturned and beat the living daylights out of her mean classmates.  I have just finished polishing all the heavy artillery in my arsenal and am ready to bring out the big guns when my daughter goes back to school on Monday.

Before I let the war-freak in me pounce on those bullies without batting a false eyelash, I am going to breathe deeply and count to ten- backwards- and let the calm, collected, poised, and smart mom in me take over.  That’s a difficult feat, I have to admit.

I had the feeling that something was amiss when my daughter came home from school one day with an unusually dejected look on her face.  Normally, she’d come home all jumpy and eager to tell me how her school day went.  When I asked her what was wrong, she told me, “Mama, Teacher said that classmates should love one another.  But why are some of them not nice to me?”  Although there hasn’t been any physical violence, some of her classmates tell her things which clearly have affected her.  Alarms went off inside me, and I had to restrain myself from screaming, “Off with their heads!”  Oh, the nerve of those kids to be mean to my angel of a daughter!

So, what do you do when your kids are bullied?  Short of pulling out your copy of Witchcraft for Dummies and casting a spell on those kids, you should first try to stay calm- unless of course, there has been evidence of physical abuse.

You should definitely let the teacher know.  She’s supposed to be the mom in school, so she should step up and sort things out.  She should be well-trained to handle such cases, and make recommendations for therapy for the bully, if deemed necessary.

Talk to your kid.  Tell her that she doesn’t deserve to be treated that way.  Remind her that she is doing a good job at being nice to them, but if they’re not nice to her in return, she should walk away and not be friends with them.

Boost your kid’s self-esteem.  What’s happening is certainly crushing her spirits, so try to help her regain her confidence by getting her involved in activities which hone her talents and skills.

Teach your kid to stand up for herself.  A little sassiness wouldn’t hurt.  With your kid’s renewed self-confidence, she should be able to know how to fight back without turning out to be the bad guy.    You can help her practice assertiveness at home, by encouraging her to always be open about how she feels about anything.  She should learn to express herself and not allow others to put her down.

It’s never easy fighting bullies.  That “I speak softly, but I carry a big stick!” attitude can be very well put to good use in such situations.  Practice is the key, I guess.

Art Therapy and Kids

Before you toss out those crayons which have been lying around the living room floor, try to practice those relaxation exercises you learned from anger management class. Breathe ever so deeply, slowly count to ten, and let your anger fly out the window. Instead of scolding your little one for leaving an artful mess on that newly polished floor, take consolation in the fact that aside from having a budding Michelangelo right there, your kid may simply be expressing his feelings and emotions through art.

Art therapy has been around for quite awhile, and children do benefit greatly from it. They seem to be more comfortable expressing themselves through art than verbally. Give them a paint brush and some poster paint, and they can freely paint their cares away.

Emotions are more easily processed when art is combined with music. For preschoolers, finger painting to music works effectively. This likewise proves to work with older kids. One way to do this “emotions exercise” through art is by having the kids choose their own medium. What will work best is music that evokes emotion. If possible, turn the lights off and have the kids draw to the music, encouraging them to just move their paints or pens to the music, without thinking of a certain form. Keep changing the music, so the kids can explore the influence of music on their artwork.

Art therapy also boosts a child’s self-esteem and helps with his personal development. You can do this by having your kid draw something about a skill he has just recently learned. Have him think about something he couldn’t do last year, but can do now. Another way is by having him draw a picture about something he wishes others knew about him.

A child likewise gains a more positive self-image and increases his self-awareness through art. You can help reinforce this by having him make a collage of pictures cut out from magazines which he feels best represents who he is.

Cultivate Curiosity in Your Children

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it definitely never injured a preschooler.  Curiosity is a strong and positive emotion which we parents must cultivate in our children.  It is basically inherent in us all, that’s why kids have the unshakeable habit of always asking “Why?”

Do you sometimes brush off your little one when he or she keeps asking you questions while you’re in the middle of something?  It’s time we stopped ignoring the kid and answered his questions- wisely, not in a wisecracking way.  Of course, we parents do get tired doing this, but we should keep in mind that whatever we do or say always has an effect on our kids.  When we tend to ignore their questions, they may start to feel discouraged, and later on feel that it’s not at all important that they want to learn things.  It puts a lid on their ability to express themselves openly to their parents.

Instead of pushing their queries aside, we must cultivate this inquisitive nature in our children.  It is essential that we feed and nurture this thirst for knowledge.  What can we do to develop this curiosity for learning?

Seek answers together.  Hit your local library and check out the books as resources.  Even at home you can surf the internet together and scour the web for answers.

To make it even more fun, you can visit the zoo or a museum so you can explore and learn at the same time.

You can likewise develop their inquisitive nature by asking your child questions which require more than one-word answers.  For example, “Why do you think that crocodile moves that way?”  Encourage your kids to ask questions when they want clarification on a topic, or if they simply want to learn more about something.

When you immerse yourself in your kid’s learning journey, you become a huge part of his lifelong love for learning.  This marriage of curiosity and learning nourishes not only your child’s intellect, but also the loving relationship between you two.  You learn and love together- and will finally know the difference between a crocodile and an alligator…