Parenting Feels

I’m one of those young moms. I had my first son when I was 21, and my second son at 24. If you haven’t done the math yet, I’m now 30 years old. Today, my 6 year old completed Kindergarten, and my oldest son is moving on to the fifth grade. The end of school year has finally arrived, and I’m now stuck with a  going-to-be 1st grader and 5th grader for 2.5 months.

Earlier today, my eldest son and I were walking to get drinks at a local boba cafe. While waiting for our drinks, my son sees two of his martial art buddies come in, and he gives me the eye signal to leave him. I receive the message and take my drink and sit outside. As I’m sitting outside I watch through the glass to see him mingle with his friends. At this time, I have so many feelings rushing through me, the disappointment of him dismissing me, for his friends, excitement in watching my son grow and mingle with his friends, and proud, that I was able to read his discreet signs of communicating with me.

I clearly remember when I was my sons age (9-10years old), being in the 4th and 5th grade and wanting social time with my friends. It’s that age of having your own social life, being dropped off to birthday parties for a few hours, and also sleepovers. Times, when I wanted to communicate with my mom about wanting her to step-aside from “my” fun always came out the wrong way.

I did such a poor job at communicating to my mother how I wanted to hang with friends. At times I would be clear and direct, but other times, obviously to avoid embarrassment, I’d bark out in an ugly tone to my mother on wanting to hang out with friends.

For that I am sorry to my mom. I was young. Naive. And spoiled.

Now, as an adult, and as a mother of a young child entering the chapter of having friends outside of his parents and younger sibling, it’s time for me to let my son break free just a little bit. Gain that self-confidence, and have him express who he is to others his age.

Gawd, it’s such milestone….I call this Parenting Feels. A rush of mixed emotions seeing your offspring grow into the people who they are coming to be.

Are you experiencing the parenting feels around this age? Doesn’t it feel weird? Exciting? Scary?

Comment below, I’d love to read your Parenting Truths!!

 

Volunteering Gig

We all want to be involved at our kid’s school. But squeezing in the time and figuring out where you fit in can be hard. It’s not just fitting it in – in your schedule, but socially too. I’m a young mom, well, I’d like to say I’m a young mom now approaching 30 but done with the diaper/toddler stage. Both my children are now at grade school level, and fitting in with other parents is difficult. While some were starting college, I was in 2nd grade. Now, as adults we’re both in the same communities for our children. I’ll come back to socially fitting in as a parent at your child’s school later on, but let’s continue to focus on volunteering.

This guide below inspired by Scholastic.com will help match your life to the best volunteering jobs. You’ll be helping out without stressing out before you know it!

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Above is me at my son’s Nursery school. Once a week I’d come in and develop a greater bond with my child by sharing his nursery school experience. 

Early Days Of Volunteering

Many years before having children, I was volunteering at hospitals, after-school programs, care homes, to community churches and festivals. All throughout high-school my best memories were helping out the community. My very first volunteering gig was being a candy striper hospital volunteer. Candy stripers make a hospital visit pleasant by eating with, reading to, assisting or delivering items to patients. I passed out snacks to new moms in their recovery rooms, and also took pictures of the new borns! I also did afternoon crafting in the corner of the pediatrics department.

My first job was a SCORE! coach for an after school tutoring service called SCORE! Educational Centers. Helping out children has always be of some interest to me I enjoyed helping out with children, practicing methods of positive reinforcement, and helping students set and achieve academic goals. Jumping straight into motherhood at 21, helping out children has been a background of mine. Below is a guide I follow with have two children 4 & 8. As a stay-at-home mom I believe it’s my duty to give back. Check out I was able to find my perfect volunteering gig.

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That’s me and my son Tristan. Coming into his classroom gave me an opportunity to observe how my child gets along with other children and adults.

Become A School Volunteer!

You life is….

Basically Insane

  • You and your partner work crazy long hours.
  • You have a kid (or two) still in diapers.

Start as a booster or attendee: If you have more money than time, write a check for the new monkey bars or the after-school art instructor. Don’t feel guilty- a donation is always welcome.

If you have more money than time, attend school events! You’ll be expanding the PTA community beyond the same few families, which is a good thing!

 

You life is….

Mostly Workable

  • Your boss lets you arrive late or leave early, and your partner’s job is flexible, too!
  • Your youngest is in elementary school.

 

You’d be great as an event volunteer or committee member. What to know: If you’re signing up for an event, look for opportunities that let your bond with fellow moms and dads, like joining a craft table pr the cleanup crew.

A year ago I had enrolled youngest son was put in a Nursery school, where I developed a greater understanding of my own child and all children. As it was a parent-run, not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing a high quality preschool experience for children. One day a week positions were given to the parents to sit in and help in the classroom with active rolls and duties to complete. Weekends, parents we were come in a care of the facility and school yard. It was a really interesting approach in learning for my son, and myself. Co-Ops or cooperative schools is definitely a great intro to learning with your children socially and as well with other parents. However,  participating parent obligations are needed, this boosts future willed volunteering positions later on in your child’s school life.

If you want to be a committee member, set specific parameters instead of taking on a open-ended role. That way, you know what’s expected of you-sending out the email blasts, say-and you don’t put in more time than anticipated.

When my oldest son was in 2nd grade, I arranged with his teacher that I can come in every Friday for a crafternoon (Crafting afternoon.) It was perfectly set, as the kids just arrived back from lunch, winded down with a book reading, and settled into groups as the teacher and myself rotated groups with different activity tables. What was fun was most holiday events landed on a Friday that school year, and I hosted the classroom party as well.

 

Your life is….

Pretty Flexible

  • You work part-time and have an understanding partner.
  • Your grade-school kids are fairly independent by now.

Set you sights on class parent and be prepared to: Plan parties, collect donations, send emails, and round up snacks. Partner with someone who has what you don’t, like time in the mornings or an outgoing personality.

This is one stage I am currently at right now with my boys. The time flexibility is there, but I don’t quite have the outgoing personality as I think I might have. So, I plan class treats, all day volunteering a few times a month, and plan the holiday parties.

 

Your life is….

Ready For More!

  • You work at home and have a chill partner!
  • Your youngest kids is already in grade school (or you have ultra-reliable childcare)

PTA Positions Keep in mind: This is a commitment, and full time job. The role is to listen to parents and ideas. Being a school advocate as district meetings, and maintaining a good relationship with the principal. It’s a lot of work, but the rewards are pretty exciting: After all, because of the hard work and dedication, you’re sure to see positive changes at your school!

Alternately Edited By Francesaca Castagnoli Scholastic.com/ParentAndChild

 

Overall, as parents, most of our plates are not only full but overflowing; our schedules are so tight they’re cutting off blood flow and our to-do lists are endless. The last thing any of us truly wants to do is commit to another project, group, or organization. But the one area of volunteering shouldn’t be ignored. The ongoing social, academic and emotional success of our kids relies heavily on the amazing network of parents and guardians. I hope the above tips can help you find a place within your lifestyle to help out at your child’s school.

What do you do for your kids school? Are you a stay-at-home-mom, that comes into class once or twice a week? Are you part of the PTA, and take a pretty active roll within the school? Comment below!

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Happier Mornings

The holiday season is slowly approaching, but until then it’s the crazy and most busiest season for most families. Before the boys wake up for school, I stand in my kitchen analyzing our family white board. Schedules are so crazy right now, especially with birthdays every weekend, appointment visits, and early dismissals, it’s hard to keep track of all of it. Every morning feels like a Monday morning. Getting the kids ready for school until I drop them off is a precious time for me schedule and get organize. It’s a time for me to process our day/week/month and so forth.

Too boot out the crazy season, crazy mornings are evidently to happen. Rushing my children to get, change, eat breakfast, up brush their teeth, pack homework its an insane tornado every morning. Develop new behaviors and practices for yourself. Here are a few secrets to happier mornings:

 

Challenge Them

Instead of rushing them, challenge them. As your child is slowly packing their backpack, tell your kids that you doubt they can do it. Naturally we as parents feel we have to explain every single thing to our children. But actually, of you say, ‘I bet you can’t get dressed all by yourself,’ your child will most likely respond, ‘Oh yes I can! Watch!’ Once your child completes the task, praise him!! This will encourage an encore performance.

Practice

Self-sufficiency requires some repetition. The good news: About two weeks of dedication is all parents need to get kids with the program. During that time, help your child get through each task until he can do it entirely without you. Then fade out those prompts and you’re done.

Do Some Prep

A bit of advance legwork, like laying out the next day’s outfit or putting out the cereal the night before, can save a lot of hand-holding during the a.m rush. Growing up (in a Filipino household) I’ve witnessed my mom cook dinner in the wee hours of the night. She would be cooking loads of food for the week to feed our family. My mom would also prep my dad’s lunch the same night. It was what we say ‘baon’ (pronounced “bah-own”) in Tagalog.  She’d pack two tupperware for him, one filled with rice, the other with the specialty dish, usually a soup meat based dish with boil veggies. I saw my mom do this ever since I was a little girl, until the day I moved out later in my early twenties.

Now, as a mother, I need the efficiency in her methods. My dad still this day grabs his lunch every morning, as I do the same for my young boys with their breakfast and school lunches.

Set A Fast Pace

One morning I left the kids for a moment as they were eating their breakfast, to do the rest of my make-up (yes, if I have a few minutes to spare I apply some make-up as a refresher) When the kids linger, just this week I caught the boys playing checkers as they were waiting. Try to beat the clock!! Pick a series of related tasks (think: brushing teeth, putting on socks and shoes), set a timer for a few minutes, and ask your kid if he can do them before the buzzer sounds. Every time he wins, he gets a point to be used for a treat.

Raising boys: They love games. Create a game for anything. That brings us back to challenging them.

Calm Yourself

The more stressed you get, the less likely kids will do what you ask. To decompress, walk to the end of the house and back. Remember you can always try again tomorrow. Something I’ve been practicing is openly apologizing for rushed and late days when things were clearly at my fault. In the car as I drop my son off school a few minutes late “I’m sorry we were late today. Tomorrow we will wake up earlier, and get it right tomorrow.”

You can’t go wrong with apologies, and being accountable when you are at fault. We learn from our mistakes, and make better choices next time and get better the following day. Admitting to minor faults, and practicing them to your children will teach them honesty, and liable to their own actions.

Follow the above steps to create happier mornings in your household and I promise you, just developing new behaviors will produce not just happier morning within a home, but happier family.

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Alternately Edited by Jennifer O’Neil Scholastic.com/ParentAndChild