Author Archives: fmswift

Won’t you be my neighbor?

Have you ever gotten a tune stuck in your head that you find yourself humming all day long?

Well – that’s me – with “Its a beautiful day in the neighborhood”, the opening song from Mr. Roger’s TV show that so many of today’s parents and children have grown up watching.

Recently when Heather and I sat down to plan our family Spring Fun morning coming up at The Parenting Place, we talked about the message of neighborhoods and the significance of neighbors that always came across so strongly in this beloved TV classic.

And, so, yep – our Spring Fun morning, on Saturday, March 23rd at The Parenting Place will be just that – “It’s a beautiful day in our neighborhood”, 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM, where we’ll celebrate our friendship through play, activities and visits from a few of our own very special neighbors of The Parenting Place.

And – since we discovered March is also Mr. Roger’s birthday, we’ll celebrate that with – what else? – cake and candles and party pizazz.

And we’re asking participants, if they are able, to bring a package cake mix and can of frosting to pack up and deliver to our neighborhood food bank for families in need to be able to celebrate someone in their family on their special day.

You know, we often wonder how to help our children feel a part of their “larger world” outside the family, and for me, that always, always starts with our neighbors.

So, you’re invited – to meet some of our very fun and interesting neighbors – to celebrate together, to play and create, (of course, always, at The Parenting Place!) meet new friends, and enjoy a beautiful day in our neighborhood.

Registration is required – online at http://www.theparentingplace.net or by contacting Fran/Heather at 608-784-8125; families with young and older siblings welcome.

“Please won’t you be our neighbor?”

 

 

 

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just ask

Sometimes when my sisters and I were young, we would go with my mom to visit her elderly aunt who lived alone in a large rambling house.  As my mom and her aunt visited in the kitchen, we would be off on our own, exploring all the rooms in the house.

There was one room that held great attraction for us – as well as fear and daring.  And that shadowy room had in it an ornate secretary desk.  It stood dark in a corner – closed up – but one day we opened it –  inside, there was a black revolver pistol.

That was enough for us.  We closed the desk and ran out.  But, every time we visited, the attraction of seeing the revolver was too much – and we would need to go back and look at it.

We never picked it up – although I think we dared each other to touch it.  It was a frightening object to us – and one we never told any adult about.

I’m sharing this with you because there may be guns in people’s homes now where your children play.  The question experts advise parents to ask of the homes their children visit is “Do you have a gun in your home and is it unloaded and locked up, and is the ammunition stored separately?”

Because just as my sisters and I found out –  the attraction of just looking even at the gun we discovered was a thrill.

And many children – braver than us – could actually pick up a gun they find, point it and even pull the trigger, innocently ending in loss of life.

So … it’s a hard question to ask, isn’t it?  But The Academy of Pediatrics advises it’s a question that needs an answer – for the safety of your children.

Sometimes we have to start the difficult conversation.

People who have a gun properly stored will not take offense.  And those who do react negatively to your inquiry, that, too, might just be your answer.

 

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empowerment

I just read a phrase recently that stuck with me – “empowered by knowing the routine”.

I always believed that was true for children, whether at home or at childcare.

But after my knee replacement surgery, I came home to – what for me was almost a sense of anxiety at first – and I wondered why. It didn’t take long for me to recognize that my normal routine no longer fit – and so each day, I tried to figure out – what my new routine/structure was supposed to be.

Fortunately I had great help leading me into the days ahead until I felt comfortable – yes, empowered even – by my new normal. Now as I slip back into a combination of my old trusty routine and my healing one, I believe even more in the strength and confidence a routine offers.

Of course, that’s probably number one when I talk to parents about a parenting concern- “what is your child’s daily routine look like?

For children thrive on knowing what to expect, from day break to sunset.  When they are informed, when they feel confident and aware of their daily details, stress is relieved and behavior improves.

Appreciating a routine is far different than feeling one is in a rut.  Having a routine doesn’t mean things don’t change. Fun activities pop up, bedtime is later, Monday’s are different than Saturdays, but the general sense and warmth of sharing, of knowing what’s going to happen and what integral part they play brings a sense of place, of belonging, of confidence and yes, empowerment.

“Empowered by knowing”.

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stuck

A mom was sharing a humorous story about her two-year-old little guy – who, after sitting on the potty proceeded to independently try to put his own pants back on.

When Mom came into the bathroom, he immediately told her, “Don’t see me”, “don’t see me” .  This apparently was a feat he was determined to do – on his own – no help invited.

But minutes later, Mom heard from the other room “I’m stuck!”  And stuck he was – two feet in one leg hole.

And yes he did need a little helping hand.

I love this sweet story.  I love how he says “don’t see me”.  I love his struggle and his eventual realization “I’m stuck”, and yes, I do need some help.

As parents it’s easy to identify with this young fellow.  Often we struggle with different parenting concerns, and feel stuck – kind of like having two feet in one leg hole.

This is the time to give The Parenting Place a call, ask for a Parent Educator, and tell us, like this brave boy, “I’m stuck”

And then choose to talk your struggle out over the phone,  or meet at The Parenting Place for some one-on-one sessions, or attend a class with other parents.

We take “stuck” seriously and love to help you

 

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Boxed in

This is the time of year when families do get that boxed-in feeling – frigid temperatures, wind chills, slippery walking conditions, a knee replacement   – can expose all of us to old-fashioned cabin fever.

And cabin fever can be challenging.   The glitter of the holidays is past, the allure of new playthings fading, as one long day at home turns into the next.  Patience for all can wear thin

Well, think simple if you have that boxed-in feeling – go with it.  Look around your house – in the basement, or pick up a few from the supermarket. I’m talking cardboard boxes.

I love that the simple cardboard box has a prominent spot at the National Toy Hall of Fame.

As well it should!

A cardboard box catches every child’s imagination.  You must know that if one is left anywhere  in sight with children around, it will not be ignored.  A cardboard box can be transformed into as many ideas as your child has.

And simple works best.  Yes you could spend hours creating a masterpiece, but a few circles on the top of a box for the stove burners – a door cut open for the oven, and you can almost smell the cupcakes baking.

In fact I just received a few pictures of my little guys,Theo and Zeke.  Yep, they were both engaged in playing with their cardboard box kitchen – a stove, a microwave and a pantry. Add a few items from the kitchen, a few empty boxes and cartons from the recycling, and say no more.

Play is happening.

And the great thing about a box is – what might it be tomorrow?

So look around your home and begin to recover from that nasty cabin fever.

Don’t worry about creating clutter.  It’s play, it’s imagination .

It’s child development in process.

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boy oh boy

What a lovely, sweet, wild, and fun Christmas week we had with our two young grandsons.

And, oh, did the house seem ever so quiet when their bags were packed and we waved good-bye.

Later that day, while waiting my turn at Great Clips – waiting for one particular stylist that was already promised to four young brothers ahead of me -a – 9 year-old, a 7- year-old, a 5 -year-old, and a  3-year-old  –  I sat back and enjoyed.

It was the perfect remedy for me – already missing my two sweet guys.

And like I always notice in Theo’s and Zeke’s mom, – this mom, too, just knew how to connect with each of her boys. Her eyes were always on them when they spoke to her – her response positive and personal – her laugh, genuine, her touch lingering on a shoulder or gently stroking a back.

I have a definite soft spot for little boys – for their vulnerability, sensitivity, sweetness that often goes unnoticed among the rough and tumble.

Unless, of course, you’ve been lucky enough to have a boy or two in your life.

Like me.

 

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Best Wishes

Luckily I was in no particular hurry at the supermarket yesterday, because in every aisle it seemed I met up with someone I knew – some that I haven’t seen in years even – that deserved more than just a passing hi – time to “catch-up” and remember.

There was definitely a feeling of festivity and joy in the air, nobody seeming to be bothered by crowded aisles and lines at the cash register. Maybe it was the carolers at the front door or the holiday wishes being exchanged all around, but there was the hint of anticipation – of families and folks gathering, connecting, celebrating, remembering others.

At The Parenting Place Friday’s Play Shoppe, this same feeling was palpable.

Many parents turned out with their children –  in search of what a song, a small hand reaching out to an old hand with a Christmas tree craft, smiles all around, hearts warmed, eyes moist – could mean.

And they found it – the true spirit of sharing – and caring – simply by connecting.

May you all enjoy your own personal joyful ways of celebrating  and connecting this holiday season.

Best Wishes!

 

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