Posted in Commitment, making time, Parenting, Reflections, Uncategorized

Spend Time With Them! (Part 3)

Hello, everyone. Let’s pick up where we left off last time. Also, if you need to catch up, here is the link to Part 1.

celebrate life plaque

Everyone is busy. Let’s own that.

Let’s also consider some fairly easy ways to work together-time into one’s busy day.

Sometimes, it’s a mindset. If whatever you’re doing is a necessity (i.e., making dinner), find a way to involve your kids. (And yes, sometimes it IS far easier–and faster–to get the job done yourself.)

Meals: Kids can tear lettuce for salad, count out baby carrots for snacks, fold napkins, set the table.

Laundry: Let kids fold laundry or match socks. (A direct, life-skill application of some of the skills kids learn in pre-k, or through pre-k aged activities—more on that in a future post.)

“Table Time”:  Have kids do their homework nearby (i.e., while you’re preparing dinner). Simple crafts a child can complete without a parent’s help are ideal at this time too.  (That’s a great way to work in fine motor skills too! Examples: Make a macaroni necklace, paint a page from a paint-with-water book, etc.) Allow a younger child to read to you while you’re engaged in something else.

Schedule a DOABLE amount of time for something you and/or they enjoy (i.e., snuggle time to read a book, play a game, etc). Even 15 minutes works, and sometimes, two quarter-hour slots are easier to find (or make) than that one 30-minute period.

When they were too small to walk, I’d hold them while I sang and twirled to show tunes I’d play on CDs. (It’s even easier to find songs with YouTube.)

When weather allowed, I’d take them to the school yard, walk behind them while they rode their bikes, dragged them to the tennis court. (Older Son still plays with me every now and again. BTW, this blog-post talks about working in fitness time. Use your creativity to make it work for you and your kids together!)

As my kids got older (i.e., middle school age), just sitting at the dinner table longer with them and their friends—vs. jumping up to get everything tidied up—often resulted in some of the liveliest, bond-building chats we’ve had. We still have them every now and again.

And this segues me right into a biggie: HAVE DINNER (or one meal*) TOGETHER AT THE TABLE, per day, if possible.

I understand parents’ work and kids’ school, homework and/or activity schedules don’t always jive. Even a meal together once or twice a week will suffice—and what’s currently happening at my house these days. (Older Son works until 7:30 PM at least three evenings/week. His commute is 30+ minutes, depending on traffic, and he goes to school all-day Saturday.)

For those of you with older kids involved in extracurricular activities, work, etc, hold the meal until later, assuming you can. Or, set the table and eat as a family with whoever is present. (Lately, Hubby and I are home alone. Most times, we’ll still sit at the counter and eat together, rather than plop in front of the couch while we eat.)

*MAKE FAMILY MEAL TIME A DEVICE-FREE TIME. Parents too! No TVs on, phones or tablets at the table, etc—except, of course, when the US Open Tennis Championships are rescheduled to Monday b/c of rain. Then this Mom is allowed to tune the iPad to the match and have it on nearby while we eat. Being flexible is important! 😉 .

Relative to social skills and the autistic student whose family studies during meals. (I mentioned him in Part 2.) Family meal-time isn’t necessarily magical, but opportunities for sharing with potential resultant bonding, closeness and—yes, life-skill-learning—abound. And for some children, particularly those with special needs, that social piece might wind up being more key than the academics. Just MHO. (Perhaps I’ll talk about that in a future post.)

I hope you found some ideas here. And please keep this reminder: Don’t allow this write-up to make you feel guilty, that you’re not doing enough, etc. (Society will imply that from all angles. Reality is far different.)

So what are some ways you spend (or have spent) time with your children? Don’t be shy! Someone might be inspired!

Until next time,

Joanne

©Joanne C Timpano (content and images), 2016. All rights reserved.

Posted in Commitment, making time, Parenting, Reflections, Uncategorized

Spend Time With Them! (Part 2)

Good day! Last time I opened up a discussion on spending time with our kids.

By no means am I trying to provoke guilt. Life tends to be very busy for everyone and everyone has his/her unique situation to deal in and find a way through.

These are the general purposes behind this post:

  1. To generate awareness of how you spend your time relative to your children. (Awareness is generally the first step of  change—and an important seed for “laying the groundwork” for future relationships with your kids.)
  1. To offer from-the-trenches-suggestions to help busy parent(s) work things out in a way that works for his/her/their unique family styles/lives.

Because, folks, when it’s all said and done and those “little ones” have morphed into “big ones,” what (IMHO) will have mattered most is the effort and intention behind all you have done as a parent. Not that it’s easy, especially in today’s work-driven, achievement-oriented society.

mom -n-baby boys
My li’l boys–can’t believe it went as fast as it did! Who knew?

Quick story and then I’m done (for today):

A special-ed teacher/friend mentioned a conversation she had with the parent of one of her autistic students. (Let’s remember that, among other things, autism is a developmental delay of social skills.)

The teacher discussed  using dinner time as a means of practicing and building social skills with“Mom.”

“Mom”—whose two older, non-classified children are honor students who attend an elite, enter-by-testing-only public school in the area—wasted no time answering the teacher. “We don’t have dinner together. Everyone eats while they study.”

I’ll pick up from here next time.

Seize the day!

Joanne

©Joanne C Timpano (content and images), 2016. All rights reserved.

Posted in Commitment, making time, Parenting, Reflections, Uncategorized

Spend Time With Them! (Part 1)

Welcome back, all. If you’re a fan, I hope your pick won the Super Bowl–mine got eliminated by the Cardinals, but I suppose Cam Newton provides enough entertainment to make up for it. 🙂

A while back I was cleaning in my kids’ room. (“Is it ever clean enough for you?” a friend asked recently. It’s not so much the “clean,” it’s the constant fending off clutter that collects in small spaces. These clusters of stuff catch dirt and dust, and then you notice them when you’re doing something else…and you have to clean that spot…and the next…)

Inhale.

Exhale.

Back to topic.

In my boys’ room, I have a crate with some of their childhood books I can’t seem to part with. (My “boys” recently turned 19 and 17.)

book crate
Yes, there is a Dick-and-Jane reader in there. Pretty sure it belonged to my middle stepson–he turned 27 last week.  🙂

As I moved things around for a more thorough cleaning than the weekly surface-get-the-house-back-to-baseline regimen, I came across this book:

Bruno the Tailor
Remember when I found the “mother’s day coupons”? I found the blue fabric too. More about that below.)

My father was born and raised in Italy and apprenticed to a tailor. That’s the work he did here, as a naturalized US citizen, until health issues forced him to retire. He died not long after I met my husband, and never had a chance to meet or know his grandchildren.

That of course, goes both ways; his grandchildren never knew him either. So, when I happened on this book (at Barnes and Noble, most likely), picking it up was a no-brainer. It gave me a way to connect my kids to their nonno, and also provided a pattern for making the apron that “Bruno” made in the book.

Older Son and I cut that out together. We never made the time to sew it, but I when I happened across it in the basket at the bottom of the stairs (where I discovered the mother’s day coupons), I didn’t have the heart to throw it out. So, it is still saved upstairs—one more thing I can’t let go of—as a reminder of time spent together when he was younger. The scarf pictured above belonged to his Cub Scout uniform—every grade the scarf changed. I believe this was the last one, before he would have crossed over to Boy Scouts in 6th grade. (And I wonder why I have clutter.)

I know folks are busy these days. I suppose I was too, as that unfinished sewing project suggests.

So…in the interest of brevity, I’ll list more thoughts in the next post, and some ideas following that.

All thoughts on this topic welcome! (For the comment-shy crowd, please feel free to send me an email via my contact page.)

Have a wonderful day,

Joanne

©Joanne C Timpano (content and images), 2016. All rights reserved.

Posted in Commitment, Discipline vs. Control, Parenting, School-related, Uncategorized

When You Take That Step Back… (Part Two)

Welcome back, and thank you again for your time! I hope you find something that will make your parenting journey even a hair easier.

If you’re here for the first time, you might want to catch up by reading Part One.

And here is where we left off last time: Younger Son is on a journey toward commitment to football, but not to his grades.

Football Xbox school

I’ll tell you true, folks, the boy is no stellar student. Not that I expect him to be an honors man, but a little effort here and there would be nice, especially when it comes time to studying for quizzes and tests, and especially since he gets a decent return when he takes a whole 15 or 20 minutes to look over his study guide nightly a few days before a test. (Homework isn’t an issue. He gets that done, usually w/o a hitch and w/o help, reminders, etc.)

Long story short, I had to bite the bullet and step back when it came to freshman algebra. He was in danger of failing—and not having the necessary credits to play football come fall. I gave frequent reminders to pull out the material, do five measly practice problems a night, employ his older brother/math whiz for help as needed, go to teacher for extra help, etc.

The result? Viva la resistance. The only time he studied is when I hid the X-box controller. (Remember the high interest and motivation I talked about in the previous post? The grand irony: only the controller he liked went missing. He couldn’t be bothered playing with either of the other two sitting next to his unit. “But I didn’t do anything!” he wails when he notices its absence. “Exactly,” Mom says. Then he’ll pull out his notes and come back, pleased as punch to claim an 82 on his Social Studies test. See what I mean?)

Anyway, I finally decided to stop “necking,” as he tends to say. In other words, if he failed algebra, he failed algebra. He wasn’t taking direction from me or his dad, and life lessons tend to stick better anyway, or so says MHO. (Besides, as a freshman, he has three years to make it up. I figured if he loved the class so much the first time, why not sit through it another year? Or, better yet: rather than sleep late during vacation, he can get up every morning for summer school then go to football practice. 0:-).

I also checked with his guidance counselor to find out if he has the credits to play next year. Somehow, I wound up getting a call from the supervisor of the phys-ed and athletics department.

I gave her some background on my guy and his lack of commitment to studying.

God (Universe, Higher Power, etc) provided the EXACT answer and direction I needed. The supervisor advised me to direct Younger Son to her office the following week. “In cases like this, I have the kids bring me their work on a weekly basis. If grades aren’t up to par, they’re not allowed to play.”

Woot! Younger Son will have to be accountable to someone other than his ma, his pa and himself. He enjoys pleasing teachers, coaches, etc, he likes (as long as the effort he has to put in isn’t overwhelming).

Being able to play and not be benched or not allowed on the team might be just the carrot that needs to be dangled in front of him to get him to commit to his schoolwork a tad more.

And mamma doesn’t have to be the studying enforcer.

Sometimes, you have to take a step back and be open to different ways a situation can work itself out. You might be pleasantly surprised at how life jumps in and gives you exactly what you need, exactly when you need it.

What are your thoughts on this matter? Do you get out of the way, let life take over and see where it takes you? Have you ever gotten what you need exactly when you need it? Please feel free to share about your experiences in the comments. And if you feel comment-shy, don’t hesitate to send me a private message via my CONTACT ME page.

Have a great day everyone!

Joanne

 

Copyright © 2014 Joanne C Timpano. All Rights Reserved (content and images) . 

Posted in Commitment, Discipline vs. Control, Parenting, School-related, Uncategorized

When You Take That Step Back…(Part One)

A solution often shows.

Welcome to my first “official” post on my new blog/website! (Please feel free to take a few minutes and peruse my other pages too!) I hope you know your time is greatly appreciated. As a working parent myself, I understand how precious it is. In the interest of time, I promise to keep the articles I share as short and to the point as I can make them. (That’s why I broke this one up and spread it over two days. 🙂 )

I also know–firsthand–the challenges parenting entails. Here is an episode–and some resolution–direct from my experience:

Younger Son is a great kid, my challenge-child and a definite work-in-progress. Although not diagnosed, my inner occupational therapist notes a touch of each of the following: Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD); anxiety; cognitive inflexibility and decreased frustration tolerance. (Translation for the latter two terms: being able to conjure and/or implement Plan A, B, C, etc as needed, and staying cool when the going gets tough. Neither skill is among this almost 16-year-old’s strong points. He’s also true to his ADD in that if something isn’t of high interest or motivation, he probably won’t be bothered with it. Avoidance is king.)

Did I mention when he gets an idea in his head—as in, my-Xbox-isn’t-working-at-9PM-Friday-night-so-we-have-to-go-buy-one-now—redirecting him is next to impossible?

A little background: The kid loves football. He played in a recreational league at age 10 (?) and maybe picked up an allergy to commitment sometime after that. He quit after a second season. During middle school, he came home with papers for wrestling and decided last minute he wasn’t joining. Talked about football too, but never took active steps to join his school’s team or any league, for that matter.

Last November, he asked me, “If I join a Saturday basketball league, do you think I’ll commit to football?”

Awesome question! (Showed insight into his issue.) My suggestion: “Try and see where that takes you.”

That small commitment has so far resulted in having joined—and stuck to—training for football for the 2014-15 school year. He has been doing weight workouts regularly at home for about a year and added short spurts of biking or riding his skateboard to most of his days. (We’re working on finding him substitute cardio activities. It’s getting a tad cold for biking in our area.) He and his friends also get together for basketball or football games whenever the weather allows.

Hubby and I constantly express praise for how committed he has been to his decision.

He keeps coming up short in one place: commitment to his grades in school.

I promised to keep posts short and will pick up from here next time. Look for Part Two on Thursday of this week (Dec 11). In the meantime, thoughts, questions, insight and feedback are welcome. Please note that any comment you leave below might be helpful to someone else. You can also reach out to me privately via my CONTACT ME page. (Also, be assured only I will be able to view your email, and I NEVER share it.)

Remember to check in later this week for Part Two. (Afraid you’ll forget? Click the FOLLOW button at the top of the page. You’ll never miss a future post. It will automatically be delivered to your inbox every time one goes live.)

Have a great day,

Joanne

 

Copyright © 2014 Joanne C Timpano. All Rights Reserved.