Welcome to Educated, Common Sense Parenting! This is my parenting education/commentary blog. Start here and read About This Blog.

I believe too many parents today have let their children rule their households. Their children dictate their daily lives, demand every ounce of their attention and do not show any respect for their parents. This needs to change. The only way to do this is if parents start letting good old common sense start dictating their parenting practices and stop letting their children run the show. You're the parent. Act like one.

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Back to Work Summary: Week 2

My second week back to work was easier...and harder than Week 1. The most important thing I am learning to do is coming to realize that my family always comes first. It's easy to say and it should be quite obvious, but it's slightly more difficult to actually practice--especially when work seems to consume you.

Emotions: My emotions were a little more even-keeled this week. I got into a routine and I was happy to see both Brooke and Will were adjusting well to being away from home all day. Brookey was a a lot less emotional this week, too. She got into a regular nap pattern at school and has not been talking about wanting to stay home with me anymore! She also comes home well rested which makes for a much easier evening! Because she takes 2 hour naps at school, she has been going to bed later which we are not used to, but it's all working out. The key is she's getting enough sleep so she's not Miss. Drama Queen ever night!

This week I was also more stressed with work, so I found myself being short and even rude to Brookey. Stress equals a short temper for me. This summer, I hardly ever felt annoyed with Brookey like I did this week. Luckily I was very cognizant of it the moment it happened. The quick fix was just taking a step back and reminding myself that my family comes first. And no matter how stressful things get with work, when I am with my family I need to treat every moment as precious. Just changing my frame of mind seemed to help.

Schedule: Will's schedule is a little off, but I am slowly learning to go with the flow. When I read his schedule from daycare on Tuesday, it looked pretty off and he didn't take a good morning nap. I was a little irritated. But he's sleeping well at night, going to bed at the same time and most of all, is REALLY HAPPY when I pick him up! So I know he's getting enough rest and eating well. So that's what matters. Even when I had him home from the summer, days didn't always go "as planned" no matter how hard I tried. So I can't expect everyday to be exactly perfect and exactly the same. Slowly, I am letting go from my control freakishness about his schedule...

Work: Last weekend was definitely overwhelming. I had a slight nervous breakdown about the craziness of this school year (LOTS of changes)and all the work I was faced with. After having a good cry, I went to bed and it began to look better in the morning. I also took the wise advice of my husband and asked my boss for help. The work I am faced with is definitely not a one person job. One of my weaknesses is that I don't like to ask for help--to me, it's a sign of weakness and potential failure. But I am getting over that, too. I am coming to understand that if I am going to keep my family on the top of my priority list, I need to enlist the help of others and ask for things when I need them.

On the flip side, it was nice to see my colleagues again and have some adult interaction. I know some stay at home moms say they really miss adult interaction. I can't say I really MISSED adult interaction when I was home this summer, but I do like my colleagues and it was nice to see them again.

Although I am extremely, extremely nervous about this coming school year and all of the challenges it presents, I have to say that I am also genuinely EXCITED to see how it will all turn out.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Back to Work: Week 1 Summary

My first week back to work was definitely a roller coaster of emotions! I decided to write a little weekly summary to chronicle the good, bad and ugly of having two kids and working full time!! Here is the Week One low-down:

Emotions: Roller coaster is how I describe it. Surprisingly, my first day back was awesome. I really didn't even worry about the kids. Brookey came home excited and happy about seeing her friends again and Little Will--he was just his angel little self. The rest of the week was hit or miss. Will was even-Steven ( i swear, we should have just named him Steven) and came home happy, well rested and is still sleeping great. Brookey, on the other hand started come home exhausted and waaaay overtired most likely due to all the activity and excitement at school. I also found out her best friend at school doesn't nap, so of course Brookey didn't nap either! I don't even think she did daily "quiet time" like we did at home. So on Day 3, I wrote a note to her teacher asking her to PLEASE be sure that Brookey lays down for at least an hour during the day. Ever since then, she's been taking 2 hour naps at school and coming home a completely different girl! So nice. It's amazing what a little sleep will do.

Brooke's emotions have been a roller coaster this week too. She's my little drama queen!! The first day, she didn't even want to come home and raved about being at school. The next day (no nap), her teacher said she cried a little and said she missed me. She also told me she didn't like school and didn't want to go to preschool. On the third day, she was a lot happier, but she told me she still really missed me and when could she stay home with me again? Friday, she was super happy and told me she couldn't wait to go to preschool. Ahhh, I wouldn't expect anything less from this drama queen. I swear, GIRLS!! So much emotion!!! I pity the man who marries her.

Schedule: The kids were on a pretty good schedule this summer, especially Will. I expected a few days of adjustment for him as he got used to his surroundings. On Day 1, I called his school around midday and much to my surprise, he was eating and napping on his schedule with no crying!! I was shocked...and proud. I worked pretty hard to get him on his schedule and made sure I stuck with it this summer and it's definitely paying off and making HIS life and his teacher's life much easier! I think "angel" is the word she used to describe him. She said she had never seen a baby who didn't cry when going down for naps. Ah, if it could only stay this way into his 2's :-)

Work: I worked my a** off this week. Going back to work would be different if my job was just a desk job and not so emotionally attaching. My job is not just a teaching job, either. I work with the toughest kids...i also manage a team of aides, have mountains of paperwork to do AND have to teach. We're starting up a new special ed program at my school this year as well, so that's just added stress. However, the flip side is that everyday I pull off this feat of "balancing it all," I feel a huge sense of accomplishment.

Did I make the right decision to go back to work full time? Is this all going to work out? No clue. All I can do is take it one day at a time. Whether you stay home or work, there are good days and bad days. There are days when you feel, " Hey, I can totally handle this" and there are days you feel like jumping out the window. I think that is what all moms have in common, whether we choose to work or stay at home. Both jobs have amazing challenges, but also amazing satisfaction.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Developmental Olympics

At the beginning of Tracy's Hogg's (AKA: The Baby Whisperer) book, The Baby Whisperer Solves All of Your Problems she discusses what she calls The Developmental Olympics. The Developmental Olympics is exactly what it sounds like--this intense pressure and "training" we submit our kids to in the area of development. Don't lie...you've done it. You're at play group and you notice Sally Jane, who is two weeks younger than your little one is saying "Da, da" and "Ma, Ma" all throughout the play group. "Why isn't my little Susie saying ma, ma yet??," you wonder. A wave of jealously, mixed with slight feelings of inadequacy slowly comes across you. You leave the play group and spend the rest of the afternoon in your daughter's face saying, "Ma, ma, da, da! Can you say ma, ma? Can you say da, da?" until she swats you with her sippy cup.

Why do we do this? Haven't we heard a zillion times that "Children develop at different rates?" Sure we have. And we believe it, too.... just so long as our kids are the one developing the fastest! I think much of this is brought on by all of those lovely BOOKS on development. You know which ones I am talking about, What to Expect The First Year, What to Expect The Toddler Years, Your Baby's First Year Week by Week....that last book to me is the kicker. Has anyone read this book?? It tells you, week-by-week what your baby "should" be doing. For instance, "Week 4--your baby is smiling this week!" Um, not she's not! Should I be rushing her to the emergency room???

Books aside, I also think there is something innate with our generation (Gen X & Y) that somehow makes us think that if our kids aren't the BEST at something, then they're not good enough. As a special education teacher, I have had parents come to me saying they thought their child had a learning disability because they were reading at the 50th percentile. 50th percentile, my friends is called AVERAGE. A learning disability occurs when students are significantly below average--think FIFTH percentile, not fiftieth!

I am not saying we should just accept "average" from our kids. Sure, we need to push them so they can become the best that they can be--within reason. It is important to understand what you can control and what you cannot. Maybe your child says her first word 2 months after your friend's child. SO WHAT. It does not mean your friend's child is verbally gifted or destined for some kind of greatness. It also doesn't mean your kid is slow or has weak verbal ability. She just took her a little longer to speak up. That's it. If there was really a problem with some "milestone," your doctor would speak with you about it. And if she's reading at the 50th percentile and not the 95th, maybe you can spend some extra time reading with her. Talk to her teacher. See if there are things you can do to help her along. But for heaven sake, don't put this intense pressure on your child to make them a 95th percentile kid-- it's just not worth it.

I have learned with Brookey that there is a fine line between "firm encouragement" and pushing her over the edge. For example, I firmly encourage her to always try new things and not shy away from unfamiliar situations--because it seems to be in her nature to do so. On the other hand, if I push her too hard, she'll become frustrated and completely shut down. You have to determine the correct balance between encouraging and just letting them proceed at their own pace...and every child has a different balance that works for them.

When you put things into perspective, in the long run, no one really gives a damn when your precious Sally Jane sat up, said her first word or rolled over. So long as it's within NORMAL limits (and I am telling you--"normal limits" encompass a HUGE range!), we all have nothing to worry about. I have to admit, however that it is so much fun to get excited about our kid's many milestones, especially during the infant stage when it seems like everyday is a new milestone...just so long as we don't take it too seriously.

I know, I know, I can say it until I am blue in the face: "Children develop at different rates." I know you--you will still compare. It's okay, I forgive you...because I will, too. Maybe it's just a motherly instinct that we want our kids to be successful. Maybe you are just trying to get a gauge on where your child is compared to others. That's fair. Just make sure as you are comparing, that you are being fair to the child in front of you. Don't force her into the Olympics when she is still struggling at the Regionals.