tricky people

As a former New Yorker, I am always cautious when it comes to strangers. We learned about stranger danger growing up, but the tricky people concept can be a better way to teach kids to stay away from sketchy adults.

I’m a very petite female, so I understand others can pose a threat to me. That said, the most important people in my life were once strangers. My husband was once a stranger, and his family (now my family) were once strangers. One might say that strangers are friends you haven’t met yet. 

my daughter’s numerous encounters with strangers

My daughter absolutely subscribes to this way of thinking. When she was very young, she would smile and wave to everyone she saw at the grocery store. It made a quick trip to the supermarket a huge ordeal as everyone would smile back and begin to chat with her/me. As she got older, a greeting followed suit. I explained to her that we shouldn’t start up a conversation with people we don’t know, but she looked at me baffled. In her mind, it was an opportunity to meet and engage with new people.

my daughters encounters with strangers

When Brielle was 3 years old, we went to a neighborhood park with my husband and my in-laws. Brielle was (and still is) a bundle of energy, and there was a big field where she could run around. It was deserted until a couple of well-dressed men in suits showed up. I was speaking to my in-laws when my husband tapped me on the shoulder. To my horror, Brielle had gone over to these men and interrupted their conversation. The men were smiling at her and clearly found her amusing. Before my husband could stop me, I ran over and apologized for the intrusion and dragged her away. My husband informed me after the fact that these well-dressed men were doing a drug exchange when Brielle ran over. I aged 10 years in that moment.

I explained to Brielle the importance of 911, and she was told to only dial those numbers if the person with her is unresponsive and/or she is in danger. She knows our phone number and address in case of an emergency. To my shock and terror, she started telling cashiers at the supermarket our phone number and address. That incident aged me another 20 years. Luckily after another conversation about privacy and the importance of keeping contact information to ourselves, she no longer did that again.

i had to teach my daughter how to be safe

I wish I could say that those were the last times Brielle put herself in harm’s way, but that would be a lie. When Brielle was 5, Matt went across the street to ask our neighbors a question, and I told Brielle to go into her playroom so I could take a quick shower.

I went into the bathroom and turned the shower on. At that point, a feeling of doom came over me. I don’t know if it was maternal instinct or divine intervention, but somehow, I knew something was wrong.

I immediately ran out of the bathroom to check on Brielle. She wasn’t there. I screamed her name, but there was no answer. At this point I opened the door and started screaming on the top of my lungs for her. To my relief, I heard Brielle come to the front porch. After I gave her a huge hug and composed myself, I asked her where she had gone. She told me she went outside to find Matt, and she heard my voice right before she left our driveway.

I knew I had to instill in Brielle an awareness that it is not okay to wander outside or talk to strangers. However, there is a fine line between being cautious and being fearful, and I wanted to make sure that I treaded that line carefully. It was at that point that I spoke to her about “tricky people”.

the tricky people concept helps kids identify unsafe adults

teach kids to identify tricky people

Pattie Fitzgerald, the creator of the website Safely Ever After, Inc., came up with the concept of tricky people. I know some people explain it as “stranger danger”, but I feared that explaining it in that way would make my daughter feel that all strangers are dangerous.

I told Brielle that a grownup is trying to trick her if she is approached by one for help. If a safe adult needs help, they will ask another adult, not a kid. Pattie explains, “Instead of looking for the boogie man, a child should look for the person asking them to do something that doesn’t sound right or ask if the adult is trying to get them to break one of their family’s safety rules or trick them.” She lists her “Super 10, Play-It-Safe Rules for Kids and Grownups” here: https://safelyeverafter.com/prevention/#tab-886fbe060b867e5ba61.

how i teach my daughter the tricky people concept

I informed Brielle that most people are not a threat, but it is important to understand the concept of tricky people. I explained that tricky people are the ones who try to trick you into doing something you shouldn’t do, such as getting into their car, or telling her they have a toy/animal in order to take her. She knows that I would never tell someone to pick her up or ask her to leave without talking with her about it in advance, and in the case of an emergency I would tell this person the password.

The password is a word I thought up as a code word that only my daughter and I know. She is not allowed to tell anyone the password, and only someone who received my permission to take her would know it. We have acted out different scenes of what a “tricky person” might say to try to convince her to go with him/her, and how she should handle herself in those situations. As much as I have tried to drill this awareness into her, she still is very trusting, and I worry.

teaching children about internet predators

internet predators

Brielle uses the iPad on weekends to watch pre-selected shows. I discovered that she was going onto fan groups for these actors, and chatting with others on a fan board. When I tried to discuss the dangers of speaking with strangers online, she was puzzled. She didn’t understand how anyone could hurt her when the only interaction was from a computer. She said that they can’t jump out of the screen; therefore, she was in no imminent danger.

I looked up different tricky people scenarios that are meant for children and showed it to Brielle. I explained to her that tricky people can be on the computer as well. Her IPad usage is closely monitored, but I know I can’t monitor every action that she makes.

it’s our job as parents to teach kids to be cautious, not fearful 

It seems like life is an endless game of whack-a-mole. Every single time I discuss the dangers of one situation, another one pops up. It makes me want to lock my daughter in our house and throw away the key.

It is our job as parents to teach and guide our children. Despite all our best efforts, there are still monsters out there. Some are in the playground, others in a car, and some are on the computer. The world is a scary place, but being scared of everything isn’t a way to live. Ignoring harsh realities aren’t okay either.

I will continue to try to instill in her that although there are many kind people, there are also some whose intentions aren’t pure. Tricky people can be anywhere – from the grocery store to an online chat room or kids game. It is my job to protect her from the tricky people in the world, but it is also her job to be mindful of those people and to not put herself in harm’s way.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to this problem. The world is a better place because of our children’s trust in the good of people. All we can do as parents is keep pointing our kids in the right direction, be diligent about their safety, and teach them to be cautious, not fearful.

13 sleep solutions to aid children at bedtime

Bedtime is a difficult time for my daughter. For many years she had no problem falling asleep and staying asleep. As Brielle got older, her mind and body started to get restless due to her Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and ADHD. What was once a seamless transition turned into evenings filled with tears, anxiety, and fear. I had to research and come up with sleep solutions to help her relax and doze off at bedtime.

sleep solutions and tools to help your child sleep

There are numerous strategies and products that aid in my daughter’s transition to bedtime. I hope some of these sleep solution suggestions are helpful for your kids as well:

Brainstorm

Discuss with your child what specifically is bothersome for them about bedtime. Is it the dark? Afraid of sleeping in a room by themselves? Is it that they can’t calm their thoughts? Whatever it is, encourage your child to be open and honest about their concerns. Be supportive, and brainstorm together about what tools they can use to fall asleep.

Some ideas that my daughter and I brainstormed together:

(a) My daughter doesn’t like being by herself at night and is also a restless sleeper. My husband and I each gave her a stuffed animal that we had from our childhood, so she has something tangible to remind her that we are with her while she sleeps in her own room.

(b) We also were gifted a small photo album such as this one. It is filled with photos of her family that she can look at if she feels sad. I love that the album is small, so she can easily hold it.

(c) Brielle didn’t like the darkness, so she used a light projector that comes in a variety of colors and settings.

Relaxation Techniques

There are many sleep solution tools available to help your child relax and prevent bedtime battles:

a) I do a visualization with her before bedtime where she imagines a box filled with all her worries and concerns. She tells me what the box looks like, and then she visualizes opening her box and fills it up with every fear and bothersome thought. Next, she imagines closing the box, putting a lock on it (so the worries can’t creep back into her mind), and throwing it where it is impossible to resurface (sometimes it is the bottom of an ocean, other times it is buried underground). This is the only time during our bedtime routine where I allow her to voice her grievances. Once they are put in the box, we put aside negative thoughts and wait until the morning to discuss any, as needed.

b) Breathing: there are several breathing techniques we use. She gets to pick which ones she wants to implement each night:

· 4-7-8: Inhale for 4 seconds, hold it for 7 seconds, and exhale for 8 seconds. We do this together several times.

· Deep belly breathing: She inhales and fills her tummy with air then exhales and the air leaves her tummy. You can do this while doing the 4-7-8, but I find that it overwhelms her, so we choose one or the other.

· Tensing and relaxing her body from her head to her toes: She tenses/squeezes her face, arms and hands, chest, stomach, legs, and feet for 7 seconds while taking a deep breath and holding it, and then exhales as she releases the tension in that body part. This is a favorite of mine, and one which I do on my own as a form of self-care .

· Taking an inhale and then exhaling for as long as she can while vibrating her lips to make a “wwww” or “ommm” sound: According to Neurosculpting Instititue (neurosculptinginstitute.com), “The researchers found that the vibrations from ‘OM’ chanting stimulate the vagus nerve, which then sends out neurotransmitters and electrical signals that reduce activity to key areas of the brain like the amygdala, associated with our flight/fight/freeze response. In addition, the increased oxygenation of the blood from the vibration facilitates feelings of relaxation and release in the muscles and structure of the body.”

Being her own friend

As I mentioned in my article about ways to build your confidence , it is important to treat yourself with the same compassion as you would a friend. If she still feels anxious or sad after using the relaxation techniques, I encourage her to talk to herself and comfort herself just like she would if a friend was upset at bedtime.

Using a sound soother

My husband and I use a sound soother, and our daughter has one in her room as well. We bought her this sound soother almost a decade ago, and it is still going strong!

The sound soother is crucial for her sleep routine. It helps her fall asleep and stay asleep when there is background noise that might wake her up. It also helps calm her mind and body. She uses the rain sound, but all the sounds work very well.

Weighted blanket

Having that extra pressure on her body when she goes to sleep is extremely helpful in calming and relaxing her. We got her this one because it is budget-friendly, gives just the right amount of support, and has great reviews on Amazon.

sleep solutions to aid in preventing bedtime battles

Consistency

Keeping a consistent bedtime is crucial for those who need extra support during transitions or don’t like changes in their routine. Life sometimes gets in the way, but I try to have her go to bed at the same time as often as possible.

Books

There are many great books out there about kids who have difficulty sleeping. I chose the book, Orion and the Dark, because it tells the story of a boy who has many fears, particularly the dark, and he discovers that darkness can be his friend. After reading it, we talk about her fears, and how it is okay to feel afraid, but being brave is facing things despite being afraid.

Come up with a bedtime routine

Just as having bedtime at the same time each night is helpful, so is having a consistent routine leading up to saying goodnight. I set aside 15-20 minutes before I leave her room to read books, discuss and implement what tools she is going to use to aid her with bedtime, and give hugs and kisses.

Alarm clocks

Many younger kids benefit from having an alarm clock with lights to notify them when it is time to wake up (red=sleep and green=wake up), and older kids can have a digital clock that they set. In my daughter’s case, she would wake up hours before the time that we told her. She would then stare at the clock until she was allowed to get up. As a result, we opted to take the clock out of her room and revisit it another time.

Video monitor

We used this video monitor when she was a baby, and it something we still use today. It is very helpful because it reassures her that although she is not with us, we can still see her and hear her.

Transitions

After spending time with her reading and doing relaxation exercises, I noticed that she would get anxious and scared once I left her room. It felt like all the work we had done together vanished as soon as I walked away. As a result, I incorporated a 12-minute period in which she can go to the bathroom, talk to herself, and do the relaxation exercises on her own before she had to lay down. Putting this small window of time in between my leaving her room and her laying down made the transition to sleeping much easier.

We discuss in advance what I will say when the 12 minutes is up. I want to keep the interaction as brief as possible. I speak into the monitor and let her know that her time is up, and she is to lay down. We then tell each other “I love you” and “Goodnight.” At that point, our interaction for the night is over. She knows I will not speak to her again until the morning. At first, she got upset when I would only speak to her once. Through consistency she learned that this is part of our bedtime routine. The structure of it aids in her sleep and helps prevent battles at bedtime.

Melatonin

Melatonin is a natural and non-addictive supplement that can be used to help problematic sleepers. Speak to your pediatrician to discuss what dosage would be best for your child.

Black Out Curtains

Black Out Curtains are a great idea for kids who wake up when the light shines into their room. These have great reviews , come in a variety of colors, and are a great price!

 

 

wishing you and your children a great night

I offer my daughter empathy, support, and compassion, but I cannot force my daughter to feel okay at bedtime. Her perception about bedtime is based on her own inner dialogue. She can choose to see bedtime in a positive way, or she can see bedtime in a negative way. I do everything within my power to aid in that choice. She is the one who makes that decision. These sleep solutions and products have been very helpful for Brielle. With that said, there is no magical wand that can make our children WANT to sleep.

Finding tools and strategies to aid in sleep is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It is a trial and error process to determine what will work best for each child. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me! I hope that some of these options will be helpful for your child

parenting tips and strategies and tips to help

parenting a child with adhd

This article is part 1 of a 2-part article devoted to parenting a child with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD):

I have not been shy about how hard it is to be a parent. Although my daughter wasn’t officially diagnosed with ADHD until she was 6, we suspected she had ADHD long before she was diagnosed. As a Speech-Language Pathologist, and more importantly, as a mother, I came up with some strategies to parent my daughter:

strategies to help children with adhd

Strategies to Help Children with ADHD

1- Structure and routines are crucial. Most kids like routine, but stability is extra important for children with ADHD. If you subscribed to my blog, you have the daily routine I use with my daughter for homeschooling/remote learning. Involve your child in the implementation of their routine (within reason) so your child has some input. For example, I give my daughter options of what she gets to do when she takes a break. Things may come up that prevent you from sticking to your routine, but try to be as consistent as possible.

2- Establish clear boundaries and expectations in advance. Make sure these boundaries are reasonable. For example, if you want your kid in bed by 9pm, make sure you leave enough time to establish a bedtime routine. Understand your child’s capabilities and set expectations accordingly to promote success. That means understanding that expecting your child to calmly walk throughout the grocery store while you to do a full grocery shopping is not going to happen. A more reasonable expectation (that is more likely to be successful) is making a list of a few essential items and playing a game to see who will spot the items first.

3- Transitions are especially challenging for children with ADHD. Make sure to discuss transitions in advance, so your child is prepared for it. Give reminders of upcoming transitions as well. I try to give a ten minute and then five minute warning before transitions (like leaving the park, stop playing with a friend, leaving the house).

pick your battles and give children the space to make some choices

Pick Your Battles

4- Give your child opportunities to make choices. Kids like to feel some sense of control. Power struggles are common, but if you give your child some options, you give them a sense of power while still having control of the situation. Try to provide options rather than ask an open-ended question. I provide my daughter with choices throughout the day such as offering carrots or strawberries for a snack, whether she wants to wear sneakers or sandals when we leave the house, picking two books out of five that she wants me to read to her, what stuffed animal she wants to sleep with, etc.

5- Pick your battles. Children with ADHD struggle with impulse control, so understand your child and be mindful of their struggles. Praise them for their accomplishments, and unless they are putting themselves or someone else in danger, try to ignore the small stuff. It promotes a calmer environment for you and your child.

6- Choose quality over quantity. It is better to give your child ten minutes of interaction without distraction (checking your phone, answering an email, thinking about something else) than twenty minutes with numerous interruptions. I spend ten minutes a day with Brielle everyday doing “fun time”. During these ten minutes, she gets to pick any activity she wants to play with me (within reason, of course), and there are no phones, computers, or any other distractions. As I mentioned, kids need attention and they want to feel like they have some control. This is especially true for children with ADHD because there is so much that isn’t within their control. This daily activity honors both of those components. My daughter knows this is something we do together each day, and it can never be taken away as a punishment.

more adhd parenting tips

7- Be mindful of what you are feeding your child. I don’t give Brielle anything with Red-40, and I try to limit her sugar intake as much as possible. That’s not to say your child should never get a special treat, but don’t give something with a ton of sugar and then be surprised when your child is bouncing of the walls (Brielle literally tried to bounce off the wall one time when she had a huge piece of cake- lesson learned!).

8- If possible, provide visual and auditory prompts when asking your child to do something. For example, when I am homeschooling my daughter I start off by pointing to my eyes and asking her to put on her “focusing eyes”, pointing to my ears and ask her to put on her “listening ears” and pointing to my head and asking her to put on her “thinking cap”. I also read aloud instructions to her and underline or highlight key words. I then ask her to explain the instructions in her own words. We also have a saying that accompanies gestures, which is “Stop, Think, then Act”. Reminders are crucial with a child that has ADHD.

9- Sleep! It’s important for every child to get adequate sleep, but especially a child with ADHD. I can tell when she didn’t get enough sleep the day before, as she’s even more hyper on those days. Establish a routine that provides ample time for sleep and naps (if your child still naps), and stick to it as much as possible.

10- Children with ADHD need breaks. Included in my homeschool/ remote learning routine are intervals and suggestions for breaks throughout the day. My daughter gets numerous breaks so she has the opportunity to “get her wiggles out”. If your child is at school, discuss with the teacher opportunities for brain breaks (for example, letting your child get up and stretch or a being a helper that gives out something). When your kid gets home from school let your child play outside. Your child can just run or play active games such as Simon Says, tag, hopscotch or Red Light, Green Light. Make sure your child knows that asking for breaks is okay when doing homework. Set a timer for a specific amount of time for your child to recharge.

Germ Factory

My Daughter, A germ factory

Is your child as much of a germ factory as mine is? My daughter loves to share her germs when she gets sick. Normally, I think that is a wonderful quality for a child to possess. I love that she will eagerly share her toys and take turns with others. However, there are exceptions to every rule.

The rule of sharing should not apply when it comes to getting sick. My daughter thinks that if she isn’t feeling well, it is perfectly acceptable do everything in her power to share her germs with me. Now I could reason that she didn’t know any better when she was a baby. After all, what do babies know about being germ factories and stopping the spread of germs? At three, I chalked it up to having poor impulse control. However, at the age of 7, she is just playing dirty (no pun intended).

germs are not my friend

I hate germs. My husband calls me a germaphobe, and perhaps I am. I wash my hands thoroughly before I put any item of food into my mouth, I will never eat anything that dropped on the floor (five second rule- ha!), and don’t even get me started on doorknobs and faucet handles. My dream house is one that is fully motion-censored, so I never have to touch anything.

Germ Factory

 
Despite my own desire to live in a germ-free world, I understand that kids are meant to get dirty. I mean, some of the most fun activities are messy ones. Bring on the slime, the playdough, the finger paints, the playground that every child has touched. I even have pictures of my daughter playing in the mud, with dirt in parts of her where no dirt should ever be. I can handle all that.

my daughter loves to share

What I can’t handle is when my daughter, the germ factory, gets sick. When my daughter has a cold she will do the following: cough on me, wipe her nose on me, sneeze on me, and even lick me. I still have nightmares about what happened when she had a stomach bug.
On top of everything else, being sick rarely slows her down. She doesn’t lay there and play quietly. When I inevitably catch whatever abomination she has, I have to take care of a germ-oozing energizer bunny despite feeling like something that got scraped off of the bottom of a shoe.
 
I’ve explained to her many-a-time that those types of behaviors are simply unacceptable. However, the more utter disgust I show, the more she seems determined to gross me out (mission accomplished). I try to avoid her when she’s sick, but then I remember that I’m the only one around to take care of her. She doesn’t act this way around her father, and even if she did, I doubt he’d care. I decided that I must follow the same rule you would with dogs and bees- show no fear.
 
The last time she had a bad cold, I tried to apply my newfound logic. I didn’t react when she used my shorts as Kleenex and didn’t blink an eye when she sneezed in my hair. I calmly walked away from her and didn’t reinforce her behavior in any way (and in the privacy of my own room scrubbed myself down). My thought was that by showing no reaction, there would be no motivation to act that way. Turns out, the motivation is that she simply enjoys sharing her germs with me.
I finally came up with a solution; Vitamin C and Lysol. Wait, you can’t find Lysol anymore…I guess I have to start wearing a mask indoors.
My Labor Story

My labor story was nothing like the women you hear of who gave birth in a toilet bowl or in the car. I noticed I had some leakage (more like a drip), so I called my OB-GYN and spoke to the physician assistant. She informed that it was probably discharge (I apologize if this is TMI). When it continued into the next day, I suspected something was up and called again. This time, they told me to come to their office. I was informed that I lost a significant amount of amniotic fluid and needed to go to the hospital.

To be completely honest, I wasn’t thrilled with the timing. My due date was August 8th, and it was August 2nd (which is my wedding anniversary). I joked with my husband throughout my pregnancy that the baby would want to arrive on our anniversary, and apparently it was a self-fulfilling prophecy.  I knew this would be the last time I’d get to celebrate my anniversary fully (because her birthday would be the same or next day), so I tried to convince my husband to stop for a quick anniversary meal on the way. Shockingly my request was denied, and we rushed to the hospital.

my Labor and delivery

I was not dilated at all, so they had to give me Petocin. All this did was speed up my contractions, but still no dilation. Seventeen hours into my labor I had dilated 3cm and I had a fever. My husband kept commenting on how my body was shaking from the contractions. Nurses kept coming in to ask me what brought me there (seriously?!). The anesthesiologist administered the epidural manually on four separate occasions.

My theory is that my body realized that in order to survive I was going to have to dilate, so I finally dilated 7cm after TWENTY-ONE hours of labor (on top of 24 hours of a high water leak). By 23 hours and change, I was fully dilated. My OB-GYN (who came highly recommended) was texting on her phone when it was time to push. I decided I was getting that baby out of me with or without her help (which clearly I wasn’t getting), and I delivered my daughter after 30 minutes of pushing. The complications I had after delivery are another story, and perhaps one I will go into at another time (or perhaps I’ll just spare you the gory details).

our nicu experience

My husband and I had decided we would not find out if we were having a boy or a girl in advance. Everyone (myself included) thought that I was having a boy. We had picked out a definitive name for a boy, and had a couple of names for a girl. When we looked at our daughter for the first time, we knew this was our Brielle.

My Labor Story

I didn’t know it at the time, but my daughter was not breathing after their first attempt, and it took a good twenty seconds before she started to cry. My husband did not get to cut the umbilical cord, and she was rushed to the NICU because they thought Brielle might have an infection due to my fever. My husband and I were the only visitors allowed to see her at the hospital.

When I finally made it to the NICU, I was informed that my daughter’s blood sugar level had dropped. Unfortunately, they had to give her formula before I arrived. I had wanted to breastfeed her for her first feeding, but unfortunately, that was not in the cards. I was able to feed her the next time though. After two days at NICU she was deemed healthy and we took her home.

It is unbelievable to think that my labor story took place almost eight years ago. I am able to look back at it now and laugh, but it was anything but funny at the time. That experience seems like it happened yesterday and also a million years ago. Giving birth to a child is a great representation of parenthood; it brings you unimaginable pain, but also brings you unimaginable joy

Homeschooling Tips

homeschooling tips

Homeschooling your child is no easy task. Not to brag, but I started homeschooling before it was even a thing. Joking aside, when I started homeschooling my daughter I didn’t know anyone who was homeschooling. Who would have thought a pandemic would force every household to teach their kids from home? In the past year and a half, I have found these homeschooling tips extremely useful.

Most of you were thrown into homeschooling and had to go along with whatever your child’s school implemented. This isn’t the greatest representation of the realities of homeschooling.

I decided to homeschool my then first-grade daughter for a myriad of reasons. Brielle is a super smart girl. She knew her letters and numbers by 2, started reading and writing paragraphs by three. As bright as she is, she also has ADHD, working memory issues, executive functioning issues, as well as processing issues. When you put that together it translated to a girl who is very capable, but was performing differently at school than she was at home. She learns differently than others, and she wasn’t able to get the support she needed in school to thrive academically. We looked all over the internet for homeschooling tips and suggestions to aid us in making the right decision for her.

Homeschooling Tips

We enrolled her in an online accredited school because it took some of the pressure off of me to figure out what she needed to learn for that grade (and I didn’t have to worry about preparing materials). Also, if I decide at a later time to enroll her in school, she can be put into the proper grade without any issues.

There are many ways to homeschool your child, and there is no right or wrong way. Each state has online public schools, but they fill up very quickly. They also offer various private homeschooling programs with varying teacher support (which also varies the price- these online schools are not fools). You can also come up with your own curriculum and not rely on any type of school. There are several websites out there that sell materials, and you can look up topics online or make your own materials. Google is your friend. Don’t be afraid to use it to look up school options for your state or homeschooling materials for your child’s grade.

I chose an online school with a program that provided hard copy texts and manipulatives, as Brielle is a kinesthetic learner. I couldn’t have Brielle in a school where it was all taught online, because endless computer time + Brielle= Brielle bouncing off the walls. As a result I taught Brielle 99% of the time (cue jaw drop), and occasionally there was a related video that she watched to reinforce what she learned.

Here are the pros and cons of homeschooling:

Pros

1-You can tailor the level of learning to the needs of the child. That means that if your kid needs extra help or extra time to grasp a topic, you are able to provide that. If your child is advanced in certain subjects, you will be able to do work at his or her level. I drove the homeschool’s coordinator crazy changing Brielle’s level and materials until I found the right fit for her. Truthfully, this poor woman has probably quit her job.

2-You can tailor the support to the need of the child. You know your child best, so you can provide the proper accommodations to ensure success. You are there if your child needs redirection or needs further explanation. This is essential for kids with learning disabilities, or kids who need different support than what is typically provided in a classroom.

Homeschooling Tips

3- Instead of putting your trust in someone else to teach your child, you are now holding all the cards. Most teachers are wonderful, but there are many students in a class, and the teacher cannot solely focus on your child.

4- You can tailor the material to your child. For example, if your child likes science, you can spend extra time doing science experiments. Learning comes in a variety of ways! Take a walk and teach them about nature. Let them splash in the rain and teach them about the water cycle. Learning through play is always best, and when it’s fun for them, it’s also fun for you. Afterall, less child hysterics means less hysterical Mom.

5- Often kids get bullied at school. Homeschooling your child allows your kids to socialize despite not participating in a classroom. Many places offer cooperative learning where you homeschool with other families. We didn’t have that option in our area, but Brielle participated in numerous extracurricular activities, so she still got to socialize.

6- Homeschooling takes less time than traditional school. A typical school day is 7-8 hours, and homeschooling shouldn’t take any longer than a few hours because you are only teaching one student- yours! That drastically cuts down the amount of time needed to learn. With my daughter’s focusing issues, that was a huge benefit.

7- You can plan school around your schedule as opposed to the other way around. Brielle and I were able to accompany my husband on a work trip without worrying that she would miss school. We simply did extra learning beforehand and took that time to enjoy ourselves.

Cons

1- Your child is home during the day. Every day. All the time. I know you’ve all gotten somewhat used to having them around since March (or have learned to tolerate it), but this is a whole new ballgame when it is the entire schoolyear.

2- You need the patience of a saint. I think I’m pretty patient with my daughter, but everyone has their limits, and children are excellent at testing them. Most kids are on their best behavior for their teacher, and then they act out at home. Now that I’m Teacher Mommy, it’s just a three-ring circus around here.

3- You will wear many hats, and it can be very overwhelming. You need to figure out a way to balance your role as teacher with your role as mother (in addition to the thousand other roles and responsibilities we have). I aged 10 years and had about 300,000 meltdowns during the first three weeks that I homeschooled Brielle. Brielle also had about 300,000 meltdowns. Surprisingly, my husband barricaded himself in his office.

homeschool

4- Homeschooling can be exhausting. There were times where I was super proud of the way I presented a lesson, and Brielle would stare back at me as if I was speaking a foreign language. Other times I would ask a question and wish there was someone else to call on because Brielle was busy studying the paint on our ceiling. You will need to be prepared to try different ways of teaching to find what works for your child. That way of teaching may vary by subject, mood or even the day.

5- YOU are responsible for their learning. That is a pro, but it is also a con. Their success (and failure) rests on your shoulders. That is a great responsibility, and not one that should be taken lightly.

6- Although your child can get plenty of socialization, it is not the same thing as being in a school with kids everyday for 7 hours a day. If you have a kid that is incredibly social, that might be worth considering.

7- Have I mentioned that your child will now be home with you? I strongly feel that point is worth mentioning again. Stop and let that soak in for awhile.

8- If you have power struggles with your kids now, just wait until you start homeschooling them. Getting your child to listen to you is not easy. Getting your child to listen to you while trying to teach them is a form of torture. The child who smiled all so sweetly at school has given me looks that make me worry that she is possessed.

Homeschooling isn’t right for every child, and it certainly isn’t right for every parent. Like all parenting choices, you need to trust your instincts and decide what is the best fit for you. If you do decide to homeschool, my biggest piece of advice is to remember that it is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time to find your footing. Homeschooling is a huge transition. As long as your kids are clothed, fed, and healthy, you are off to a great start!

I hope these homeschooling tips can be helpful to you as you plan your child’s education and curriculum. As always, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me!

self-love and a reminder to love yourself

Self-love is easy to forget when life throws so much your way.  Therefore, this is a reminder to love yourself. This letter is for you. Yes, you.

I see your strength, determination, and kindness. I also see your pain. Some days you just want to hide under the covers and never get out of bed. Somehow you always find a way to get up and keep on going.

I see how tired you are from juggling all of life’s responsibilities. Mortgage, bills, jobs, kids, organizing, scheduling, cooking, cleaning, planning activities; the list goes on and on. You are now the teacher too. With the pandemic, it is more overwhelming than ever. It seems like every time one thing gets accomplished, another thing pops up. It is exhausting, but you never stop trying.

I see how hard you try to be a wonderful mom. I see how much time you devote to motherhood. You will play one more game, read one more book, sing one more song, listen to one more story, give one more hug, and wipe away one more tear. I know you are not just the mom; you are the caregiver, cook, playmate, cheerleader, confidant, educator, nurse, and support system. I see that you want to set a good example and be a good role model. No matter how much you try, sometimes it feels like it’s never enough.

all that you do

I see how you take care of everyone else. How you strive to be a great wife, daughter, sister, friend, and person. I see your heart, and I see how much you love and care. Your needs sometimes get thrown by the wayside because you are too busy looking out for everyone else. I see that sometimes you don’t feel appreciated and feel the weight of the world on your shoulders.

Self Love Letter

I see your loneliness, now more than ever. Social isolation has become the new norm. I see that even when you reach out, there often isn’t enough time or the right words to express how you feel. Even if you know what to say, you don’t want to burden others with your struggles. Sometimes it feels like nobody understands you or truly cares.

I see the hardships you’ve had to overcome in your life and the cruelties you’ve had to endure. I see that no matter what curveballs are thrown your way, you refuse to give up. Others might have crumbled, but you didn’t. I see that you are survivor. I see your bravery, and I see your courage.

There are times when you feel weak and like the walls are closing in on you. Never forget how far you’ve come. You are strong, resilient, and capable. No matter how many times life has and will knock you down, you will always get back up. I see that you are a fighter; you always were, and always will be.

I see you. All of you. I am proud of who you are. You’ve got this.

Love always,

Me

Surviving Motherhood

We are survivors. As women, as people, we have all had to survive different obstacles in our lives. Of course, the degree of survival differs from person to person, but we have all had struggles in one way or another. For me, I had to survive a traumatic childhood and create strategies to have a loving, healthy relationship with my daughter. I believe that these parenting tips and strategies are helpful regardless of your specific struggles.

parenting tips and strategies

These are the 6 parenting tips and strategies that helped me become the mother I am today:

1-As a scared new mom, and even after all these years of parenthood, I often have NO idea what I am doing. If someone tells you they have all the answers, I have a bridge to sell you.  You can read parenting tips on the internet every day, and you will still not have all the answers. Each day it is my first time being a mother to my daughter at that age. Children do not come with a “how to” manual, and each child is different. What I do know is what NOT to do. I have a list of things that I will NEVER, ever do because those were horrific things that happened to me.

Awareness is key in implementing change. So I faced every horrific thing my mother did to me. I allowed myself to feel the helplessness, the sadness and the pain. If I allowed myself to stay in denial, or to convince myself that it was somehow justified, then how could I stop it from happening at my own hands? I used my own childhood as a roadmap of where I would never allow myself to go.

2-For many of us, toxic and dysfunctional relationships are all we know. It is crucial that we learn new and healthy ways of parenting. Don’t be afraid to get help! Read those parenting books (and roll your eyes at the things you know wouldn’t work for your child), phone a friend (or two, or three) when you are having a bad day or you need some advice on how to proceed. Read that self-help book (or two, or three) that you’ve read so many times that it is hard to make out the words. Reach out to your spouse or find a good therapist. It is okay to ask for help.

3- Kids will trigger the daylights out of you, and it is essential that you take time for your own well-being. Parenting is hard! Scream into a pillow. Write in your journal. Talk to yourself in the mirror. Be your greatest friend and ally. Take the time to work on healthy coping mechanisms, and cheer yourself on for all the progress you have made. Remember, it is a marathon, not a sprint.

On particularly stressful days I make sure my daughter is safely occupied, and then I go into my bedroom, lock the door, and vent (sometimes to my husband, and sometimes I am a frazzled woman talking to myself). My daughter knows that sometimes Mommy needs a time-out too. We openly talk about our feelings, and she knows that feeling overwhelmed or frustrated is not something that only kids have to deal with.

4- We will all make mistakes. As long as we are not abusing our children, mistakes are natural, normal, and par for the course. Accept responsibility for your mistakes, learn from them, and grow from them. Be willing to apologize to your children and recognize when you have done something wrong.

Parenting Tips

Many of us grew up feeling that we had to be perfect or had a caregiver who never admitted any wrongdoing. I am definitely a work-in-progress when it comes to expecting perfection from myself. I associated saying or doing the wrong thing with shame, because I was often shamed for my mistakes. If I don’t want my daughter to expect perfection from herself, I realized that I needed to set the right example that nobody (myself included) is perfect.  There is no shame in making mistakes. I can be a great mom and still mess up. I can be the parent and still apologize if I do something that I regret.

5- Just as our children need a parent, so do we.  When we were children, some of us did not get the love and compassion we needed from our parents.  If we did not receive support and kindness from our own parents, then we need to be our own parent.

How do we do that? Talk to that little child inside of you. Tell your inner child everything you wish you had heard from your parents and validate your inner child’s feelings and experiences. In order to love our children in healthy ways, we need to learn how to love ourselves.

6- Unconditional love. The two most beautiful words in the world (in my opinion). What so many of us craved, but never received, was unconditional love. Give your children that love. Love them on the good days, and love them and support them on the difficult ones.

My daughter never doubts the love I have for her. She knows that no matter how I am feeling and no matter what she says or does, that nothing can ever change the love I have for her. She knows that to the point where she rolls her eyes when I say it to her. My daughter knows that no matter where life takes her, I will always be waiting for her with open arms and an open heart.

 

 

Ian S. Thomas wrote, “Before your children came, they were told that you would love them, so whatever you do, however you treat them…to them, it is love.” Being a parent is the greatest responsibility one will ever have. We know better than anyone how significant our role is in our child’s life. It is the greatest challenge and the greatest joy to be a parent. Remember to honor both, and you will be able to navigate the bumpy road of parenting.