Monthly Archives: August 2011

Elation

The weather was perfect – the crowd happy and the children joyfully engaged at our annual Children’s Festival on Saturday!

However it is the very strong feeling of community and connection that is resonating the most for me

  In addition to the hard work on the part of our staff (and many staff family members, I might add), I am struck by the efforts and contributions of so many parents and participants in preparing for and helping at the festival. In addition, I’m thrilled to see so many families who were once regular participants return to volunteer with their now older children, at the very festival they once played at.  This sense of ownership in this event speaks powerfully to the strength of belonging that exists within the families who play such a significant role at The Parenting Place.

So though many of us may be a bit weary the day after, I know for me the elation, joy and appreciation I feel makes it all worthwhile.

Thank you to all those who contributed, our sponsors, community volunteers, our participants, our families, our staff, and the children – for whom we all do what we do.

I am honored to be a part of it all.

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Hope you can come

It’s that time of year again.  A flurry of activity, waking up at night with a new idea or wondering whether this idea will work better, finding volunteers, keeping fingers crossed for a perfect day.  And then it arrives.

That’s right, folks, it’s  Children’s Festival time again – my very favorite festival for kids – and their parents who are given the gift of observing their children freely engaged in fun, playful activities.

It’s hard for me to describe in words what makes the Children’s Festival so special  This year’s theme is Alphabet City.  Every year we strive to create a world that is simple yet fanciful, that will ignite an active, creative and imaginative spark from our young participants, no matter what activity they choose.

So I hope The Children’s Festival at Myrick Park on Saturday, August 27th from 9-12 is on your “to do” list.  It’s going to be a beautiful day.  I’m betting on it!

If you still need buttons, you can buy them at The Parenting Place – $4. a piece, 3 for $10. if purchased in advance; $5. on day of event.  Children under 2 are free.

Scholarship buttons are also available.  Many of our sponsors and participants have purchased buttons that they hope will be given to families to enjoy the morning.  Please don’t hesitate to call me and take advantage of this generous gift.  They can be picked up at The Parenting Place or at the day of the festival in the Myrick Park shelter.

Come experience the magic with us!

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I forgive you

It’s been quite a few years now since a young woman who was the director of a child-care center in La Crescent came and presented a parenting workshop at The Parenting Place.

One of the points she stressed and which I’ve thought about many times since, was the way most of us respond to an apology from someone.

She felt strongly that when the children in her care apologized to each other or to her or another staff person, they would hear back, “I forgive you”.

I’ve been aware of how most of us do reply to apologies from our children, our friends, our spouses and others in our life.  And it’s true.  We seldom give forgiveness and almost always resort to a more casual “It’s okay”, “Don’t worry about it”, “Forget it” , “It doesn’t really matter”  or unfortunately,  sometimes, “whatever”. With children, we may even begin to stir up the issue once again by repeating the reasons not to “do” whatever it was anymore.

When an apology is needed, it is because there has been a break in the relationship – no matter how minor or gaping.  In order to absolutely clear the air and set the relationship back on track, a person hearing  ” I forgive you” is comforted by those strong words, the hard feelings are removed and the burden of guilt is released. 

 A fresh slate has been established.

 I thank this young woman for giving me food for thought and apologize for not remembering her name.

However, I’m pretty sure she’d forgive me.

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Rise and shine

On Friday at Play Shoppe, a mom who’s always very “on-top-of-things” shared she had begun adjusting her daughters’ bedtimes in preparation for school to begin.  I was struck, wow, of course, good for her, at the same time I wondered, where did the summer go?

This is exactly the time to start reining in later bedtimes and casual, lazy wake-up times, eating breakfast whenever and only getting dressed after that.  As low- key and inviting as that might sound, it doesn’t work well once school begins.

Experts say preschoolers need 11-13 hours of sleep to be well-rested for a busy day; elementary school children need 10-12 hours; pre-teens 9-11 hours and teens, 8 -9 hours a day.

I can hear some of you gasping already – really?  Going by the hour some of our children need to be up and out of the house, bedtimes definitely also need to be pretty early.

So if you’ve had the pleasure of being more laid back this summer, now is the time to begin, as the mom I spoke with has, to adjust the times your child is going to bed and rising in the morning.

Just as I wrote that, I realized how much more pleasant it sounds to “rise” in the morning rather than just “get up” or even worse, “drag yourself out of bed”.  No, our efforts here are definitely focused on rising, positively- ready to take on the day.

So how should we begin?

We can begin by moving bedtime ahead about 15-20 minutes every three to four days. Wake-up time in the morning should go directly to the very time your children need to rise for school.  This will help tire them earlier in the evening as you are in the process of changing their schedule.

Closing the blinds or pulling curtains shut in your child’s room at night will help block the lingering light outside.  Once your child is asleep, go in and open them up so the morning light will warmly greet your child.

Morning light is very significant in helping to reset our internal clocks, so spending time out-of-doors in the morning is key as we prepare for our new schedule.

Having ample amount of physical exercise and play is necessary in having a tired child in the evening. Swimming, fresh air, sunshine, climbing, digging, running and jumping all make children happy and tired.

All experts recommend limiting screen time, especially as bedtime draws near.  Even though, as adults we may too often doze off in front of the screen, for children, it alerts their brains in a way that is not conducive to restful falling to sleep or staying asleep.

It’s helpful if  TVs and computers and phones are not in use by anyone in the house at least until the children are asleep.  Keeping the house quiet as if all is naturally settling down creates a mood of peace and coziness and speaks for itself.  It’s time for bed.

I knew a mom who while her girls were in the tub, would dim all the lights and safely light some candles here and there in the house so when they appeared, dried off and in their pajamas, this warm, cozy, quiet ambiance greeted them and acknowledged it was indeed time for rest.

It is so wise if we can allow our natural routines to lead the way for our children’s day versus our own constant direction and nagging.

Of course, children will definitely be more tired during these days and probably display more crankiness and changes in behavior as well.  This is the time to give them some slack.  Don’t demand new expectations of them. 

 Let’s focus on rested children and celebrate that. 

Sweet Dreams!

If you are struggling with tired children or concerned about preparing your child for school, feel free to give me a call at The Parenting Place, 784-8125.

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My new status

Well, I’m officially a mother-in-law now.  As much as the jokes and groans and often negative one-liners describe this delicate position, I am thrilled to join the ranks.

I love the fact that this very special young woman (my daughter-in-law) loves my son and shares his life. And that her parents (the other in-laws) genuinely care about our son and so graciously welcome him and our whole family into their lives.

Through the years, both with friends and parents that I’ve worked with, the subject of mothers-in-law often comes up.  Frequently this conversation is a rant against perceived injustices, complaints, insecurities, misunderstandings that over-shadow the real relationship.

I can’t imagine this happening with us.  The couple themselves don’t need to be managed or directed or worried about.  I anticipate just enjoying, respecting, supporting and admiring their choices and the life they create together.

I encourage all moms out there who cringe at the thought of dealing with in-laws to reconsider.  This mom of your husband/partner was once like you are – loving, struggling, caring deeply, doing the best that she was able for her child.

Take the opportunity to see this person so central in your partner’s young life as she might have been then.   Appreciate what her life has been like, what she has brought to your mate’s life, and what you can offer to and gain from hers.

Take the time to hear her story.

Your partner is often the one trapped in the middle.  It’s hard to hear criticism about a loved one even if it rings a bit true.  Better to listen and look for positive solutions versus jumping on the bandwagon of attack.

Children pick up on all the vibes and those negative ones lurk around often bringing confusion, insecurities,misunderstandings and mistrust.

Now that I am a mother-in-law and my son has one too (fortunately that he respects and cares for already), I declare a “celebration” of mothers-in law – a new look at perhaps an old way of seeing things.  The relationship is not a rivalry, a contest or does it need to feel judgmental. 

For all of you out there, whose children grow up and choose to marry, you will one day become the mother-in-law yourself.  Practice now how to embrace your own relationship, with your mother-in-law.  Listen more and judge less.  Motherhood is a universal shared experience.  There is sure to be  more commonality than differences in your lives. 

Remember, you both have love in common here .

What a great place to start.

If any of you are thinking, “she doesn’t know my mother-in-law”, give me a call at The Parenting Place, 784-8125.    Perhaps together, we can find some positive ground on which to begin.

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