The Great Pumpkin Carving

What’s a favorite Fall tradition for your family?

We have several including going to our favorite pumpkin patch, but the tradition I look most forward to is pumpkin carving. The pumpkin carving is fun, but I enjoy the company, seeing everyone, talking, catching up, sharing a meal, and feeling connected.

Last year, we skipped the tradition as a precaution due to COVID. We all missed it. My niece is a senior in high school and will be heading off to college next year. This being her last pumpkin carving (at least for a while) is really hitting home. My sons and I talked about it when we went to the pumpkin patch with their cousins. We are all in a bit of denial this tradition will come to an end-of-sorts after this year. Yes, it will still go on, but it will be different without her with us. I’m reminded again of how quickly time is going and trying to be truly present so I can fully take in the joy of the experience and all of us being back together again.

What traditions are you most looking forward to resuming? What will it mean to you and your family to be back with others again?

Motherhood

How are you celebrating Mother’s Day today?

I’m reflecting this year on my time as a mother.

M – Milestones. Getting pregnant. Birth. Watching my children grow. Wow, wow, wow!

O – Observer. Trying to understand my child, what they need, and figuring out how to give it to them (physically, emotionally). A lot of trial and error.

T – Time. Such a strange thing. It slowed down so much when the kids were young. I couldn’t wait for time to go faster. Fast forward and I’d love for time to slow down now. My boys are becoming more independent by the day and will be grown and on their own before I know it.

H – Help. I was bad at asking for it when I first became a parent, thinking I was supposed to know how to magically do everything without any formal experience or training. A huge thank you to family, friends, and other new parents who supported my husband and I, helping us become better parents.

E – Everything. There is so much that goes into parenting. It’s hard, but what a joy. My boys have helped me grow so much as a person. Everything that goes into it — good and bad —has been absolutely worth it.

R – Rewarding. Seeing the world through my boys eyes as young children and now as teens always makes me feel like I’m seeing (appreciating) the world anew.

I hope all the moms out there have a wonderful Mother’s Day. What does being a mother mean to you?

While the Kids are Away, the Parents Will…

Has your child ever spent the night at their grandparents, or a friend’s house? Or gone away to overnight camp? How did you spend your free time?

My boys go away a few times a year — to camp, a school trip, or visiting their grandparents. Every time they leave, my husband and I have to figure out what to do with ourselves. All our parenting duties temporarily go away and we have to adjust to it being just the two of us.

When my boys were young, I coveted date night. Just having some time away with my husband was priceless. I desperately needed a break from my parenting responsibilities. But as my boys have grown and become much more independent, date nights are something my husband and I need. It’s no longer about needing a break, but instead about being connected.

A date night now can include simple things like a walk around the neighborhood, eating dinner together, or talking, about anything other than work or the kids. This time together reminds us why we’re together. When our kids are gone (particularly when it’s for several nights) we miss them, but know that they are growing with the experiences they are having, while we are strengthening our relationship while they’re gone.

How do you and your significant other stay connected? How do you enjoy your (kid) free time when you have it?

One Day At A Time

How do you handle stressful situations?

This year has been off to a somewhat stressful start for our family. My job has evolved and I’ve taken on more responsibility. My oldest picked up new classes and is feeling the stress of higher demands on his abilities and performance. And we got a cat (but you already know that).

Early in January, I was having moments where the new responsibilities were too many and coming at me too fast. In those moments I’d feel overwhelmed, and experience a wide range of emotion from fear–can I handle everything that is being given to me? to anger–why is this happening me? to hope — okay, I think I can do this; only to find myself repeating this loop over and over. It was exhausting.

My oldest was going through the same. Taking on assignments that were pushing his comfort level. Due dates that seemed aggressive. Grades hanging in the balance. He too was dealing with a range of emotion from fear — how am I doing to do this? to anger — why are they asking me/making me do this? to hope — okay, maybe I can figure this out. The same loop repeating over and over, and just like his mom, he was finding it exhausting.

In moments of stress, we seek out coping mechanisms. All my former coping mechanisms were not having the intended affect. Food — no thanks, no appetite — I’m too stressed. Meditation — okay I’m meditating, but I’m only slightly less tense after doing so. Giving myself a break — too tense and overwhelmed to even consider it. I had a moment of clarity when I was discussing my situation with a peer. “I’ve got to just take it one day at a time,” I said. I don’t know where it came from, but it was like a light turned on. Part of my struggle was that I kept jumbling everything I had to do today, tomorrow, next week, next month, etc. into the ‘have-to-do’ compartment of my brain which was setting off my ‘help-I’m-overwhelmed’ alarm bells. When I said it outloud, I could almost immediately feel the stress diminishing. One day at a time. I can handle this. Just focus on today. Not tomorrow or the day after that. Just today.

After having this ephiphany I shared it with my son. When he next shared how stressed he was, I asked him what he had to get done that day — not the next or the following, just that day. When he replied with items he had to do he had a similar reaction. He even smiled and said, “I can do that, mom.”

His relief matched mine. I’ve heard the phrase “one day at a time” a million times, but never really took it to heart, until now…when I had to.

How do you cope with stressful situations? How do you help your child cope when they are stressed?

March Madness

What does March Madness make you think of?

Basketball right? I would agree with that, up until I a few years ago when I realized March is the month where a culmination of things come together: the first flowers of Spring start to bloom, time change (Spring forward), St. Patrick’s Day, and, the NCAA basketball tournaments.

As a parent, this month always seems to go by in a flash. My boys and I were just admiring the first crocuses and daffodils of the season. Every year it seems these flowers come earlier than we expect. We braced ourselves for losing an hour of the day (and how that always seems to throw off our sleep cycle for a week) when the clock jumped an hour forward last night. The kids are excited about it being St. Patrick’s Day later this week. Always a fun day for our family to wear green, dance, be silly (by doing silly dancing in our house), and hope for good luck. And last, but certainly not least, there is the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball tournaments. It’s not a family affair yet, more of something I like to watch, but my son’s are starting to show some interest in so there is hope it will become one in future years.

Before I know it, March will be over and we’ll be into April with another flurry of events: Easter, Spring Break and dreams of summer will begin.

I’m doing my best to enjoy the ‘madness’ and not let it pass me by. Smell the flowers. Check. Spring forward. Check (I had no choice). 🙂 Dance a silly jig with my kids on St. Patty’s Day. Looking forward to it. And enjoy watching the basketball tournament — Bounce. Bounce. Check.

How are you enjoying March ‘madness’?  What family activities make up your March?

 

 

Spring Forward

Do you ever wish you could stop time, or at least, slow it down?

Daylight Savings starts today, and it reminds me how quickly time is moving forward. It seems like the year just started and we’re already almost a quarter of the way done. My kids complain about how slow time goes. I can remember when I felt like that. Time dragged on as a kid. I thought the school year lasted forever.

A friend recently shared a photograph of a group of us, from a trip we’d all taken ten years ago. My oldest was a baby in the picture. When I looked at the picture I had two thoughts: 1) I can’t believe how fast time is gone, and 2) wow, look how young I look.   There’s a lot that goes into ten years of time, and while to my son it may feel like time is going slow, to me it feels like it’s going faster and faster. I wish there were a way I could slow it down. If I spring forward another ten years, he’ll be off on his own. Gulp. I’m not sure I’m ready to think about that just yet.

How do you experience time? How does your child?

 

Spring Breakin’

How are you recharging your batteries during Spring Break?

I look forward to Spring each year. Not only do we exit the cold weather months, and have all the lovely Spring colors, but it’s the entry point for many of us into vacation time. After many months of working hard, we finally start to think about taking a break; doing something out of the ordinary; maybe even going someplace different or new. There’s something about planning a vacation that’s so much fun–having something to look forward to can do wonders when you are tired or in need of a change from the daily grind.

Camping trips, visits with family, fun with the kids are all on the horizon. I anxiously await when our next trip will be: whether it’s a long weekend or more time away.

How are you and your family breaking away from the ordinary to enjoy yourself?

Rock Around the Clock

Springing forward always reminds me how precious time is. When my sons were born, time went from normal spend to slow-motion. Sleepless nights, feeding, clothing and changing seemed like an endless cycle. I couldn’t wait for time to get back to “normal” speed again. What I’ve noticed is the more independent your child becomes, the faster time seems to go. You don’t have to hover over them to get them ready or be beside them each second to know where they are and what they are up to.  My husband and I made this observation the other day, while the kids were busy playing with their toys by themselves and we were having a conversation in the other room. It’s nice, I thought, they are able to do more on their own. And the more they are able to do on their own, the less they will need my assistance. It made me momentarily sad. It reminded me of the precious time I have left with them before they go out and live life on their own.

This realization made for a great ‘live-in-the-moment’ opportunity. As a family, we watched a movie together. During the credits, music played that we couldn’t help, but dance to. It was silly, but exhilarating. While my boys are still relatively young, I won’t always get to do this. It made dancing with them in that moment that much more special. I could have danced all night like that.

How has time changed for you as your child grows? What event(s) helped you to pause and appreciate what was going on in a moment of time?

Time Time Time

As we spring forward, I am reminded of how precious time is. I’m reminded of how quickly time has passed since my children were born. I’m reminded of how much I used to dislike longer days when my children were younger, because the longer light keep my children up later or woke them earlier. Now they are older, and the sunlight doesn’t affect their sleep like it used to, and I’m starting to look forward to the longer days once again.

I’m reminded that how I spend my time each day is up to me. That I need to be selfish with my time (and ladies, we know that isn’t easy, right? Because we’re raised to not be selfish.), but I believe we owe it to ourselves and our families to be selfish with our time. Who knew being selfish could be a good thing?

To explain further, when my children were younger I spent my time where I thought I was supposed to, not necessarily where I wanted to. I said “yes” way too often. “Will you volunteer to serve on this committee?” Yes. “Will you host a play date?” Yes. “Will you _fill in the blank_?” Yes. See, it’s scary, I would say “yes” to just about everything.

What I learned was that I was not only doing myself a disservice, but also my family. I was spreading myself too thin and wasn’t experiencing a level of happiness, satisfaction or justification that offset how and where my time was being spent. In fact, I was exhausted and miserable. That spilled over to my family. My children may have been too young to notice this, but my husband wasn’t.

I started to get more selfish with my time. Where, how and who I spend it with. While I gladly give time to my family, friends and work, I seek opportunities that help me recharge my batteries. When I’m recharged, I’m better at being present, and noticeably happier. That spills over to my family. My kids are older now and they notice it, my husband to.

What do you give your time to today? How are you recharging your batteries? Do you struggle with being selfish with your time?

Time

There never seems to be enough time, does there? There is always something going on, or needs to be done and time can easily get away from us. I often wish there were more hours in the day or that I had a Time Turner necklace like Hermione had in the Harry Potter series. Something to allow me to get everything done that I need to, and allow me to spend the quality time I want to with my family. Alas, time turners don’t exist nor do I anticipate the length of the day changing anytime soon. So what’s a parent to do?

I was fortunate enough to lead a parenting group discussion this past week and participate in another that had multiple speakers. With everything going on this week, including all the Halloween events, it could have easily been an overwhelming seven days. What I found was that speaking to the group of parents and participating in the other helped me in many ways. I was engaged in both discussions and felt alive versus going through the motions. I felt energized and whole. I learned valuable insight during both events. I was reminded of the power of, and energy boost I get from, being fully present not only with the adults around me, but also with my children. I was prompted to re-evaluate time — where I spend it, where I want to spend it and who I want to spend it with? The answers, though once difficult to articulate, now come with ease. I want to spend my time learning and sharing what I know with others. I identify strongly with being both a student and a teacher. I want to spend time with people who see value in what I have to offer, regardless if it’s a captivated audience (my children) or those that proactively seek me out. I want to spend time with people I care about most, my children and husband, and others who are special to me.

One of the speakers this past week shared a wonderful quote that I think summed up time best. “The days are long, but the years are short.” I think this statement captures time as a parent beautifully, though the days never seem long enough, and the years seem to get shorter and shorter (or go by quicker and quicker).

As we enter the beginning of the holiday season, where will you spend your time? Where do you want to spend your time? And who do you want to spend it with?