My Annual Tribute To My Baby Brother

January 4th has come around again and, like every year, I am reminded that today is my baby brother’s birthday and today he should have turned 35 years old.  Since we lost him in a tragic accident in 2002 at the young age of only 22 years old, it is hard for me to imagine my younger brother (quite younger, by 13 years) pushing 40.

It pains me that I don’t get to see that as he was an absolute joy to be around at all ages.  As a baby who I got to help care for, which was great fun for a young teenaged girl.

Me holding my baby brother in 1981.

Me holding my baby brother in 1981.

Shane was a smiling and cheerful toddler who stole hearts with his cute bowl bangs hair cut and big bright eyes.  I was gone during his teen years since I was so much older, but thankfully with my Southwest Airlines Marketing job, I was able to fly him to see me quite a bit during those years.  On those visits, he would ask for my sisterly advice on girls, getting rid of the occassional teenage pimple and college planning tips.

As a young adult, he reciprocated my kindness more than once by dropping everything to fly 2,000 miles to care for me first when I broke my ankle and had my own toddler to chase after…and then again in 2001 when mastitis struck me during my daughter’s newborn days.  I was so sick (since this type of infection mimics the flu) and since my hubs was out of town on a business trip, my little bro came to the rescue to help care for me, my toddler son and my baby girl.  shane with my babesThat trip was a gift as it would be our last visit.  I cherish that visit, even though I was so sick, but I was well enough to lie on the couch and watch my sweet Shane care for and dote on his little nephew and baby niece.

For those of you that have suffered a recent loss (and there seems to be many of you that I have observed on Facebook in recent weeks), I highly recommend a soothing little book that gave our family great comfort during that very heartbreaking first year of loss.  I can tell you that 13 years later you don’t get over it, but you do get on with it and you move forward with your loved one firmly entrenched in your heart.

The other peculiar thing is that most days all is fine and then sometimes, out of the blue (even 13 years later) something will remind you.  A song may move you to tears with a memory of your loved one or a smell or a taste may take you right back with unplanned tears streaming down your face.  When that happens, embrace it, let the tears cleanse you and visit with your person.  I look at those times as a visit with my sweet Shane when perhaps we are connecting in a magical way until we see each other again.

At times I feel him over my shoulder cheering for my boy during an exciting hockey game or applauding my girl on stage when she nails a much rehearsed part in a play that means a lot to her.  I embrace that feeling of him being sort of a guardian angel to the niece and nephew that he adored.  My hubs said it best last year when I expressed out loud my heartfelt wish that Shane could see our boy play hockey since my brother loved sports.  Hubs answered me with the touching reply, “Shane has the best seat in the house” and that gave me great comfort.

The book that I recommend is called Healing After Loss:  Daily Mediations For Working Through Grief by Martha W. Hickman.  bookThis little paperback is filled with daily words of comfort.  The author of the book lost her own daughter, so she truly understands the grieving process.  Each page is dated and contains messages that help with the healing.  One message that resonated with me discusses how the pain is so great, but hurts this much because I loved this much.  And for that I am grateful.  I did love and still love him THAT much.  I continue to purchase copies at Barnes & Noble for my friends and family who experience a loss.  It sells for around $8 a copy.

So on this today I say Happy Birthday to my sunshiny Shane (he was always bright, positive and smiling).

Me, my helpful brother to the rescue and that broken ankle, that I didn't know at the time, would be a gift since it resulted in a month-long Shane visit to help me get around!

Me, my helpful brother to the rescue and that broken ankle, that I didn’t know at the time, would be a gift since it resulted in a month-long Shane visit to help me get around!

You are missed more than words can express and I celebrate you today and the gift that you were in my life and still are in my heart.shane winter

 

 

The Gift of Unscheduled Time

Manic:  Life on a super busy schedule, that has me feeling like a hamster on a speeding treadmill at times.

Managed:  Scheduling some unscheduled time.  It is a gift.

Our fam Xmas 2014

Hoping for a little more of this in 2015 :)

Happy New Year out there to my awesome readers.  As Jan. 1st approaches, I make and take the time to reflect, to relax and to truly enjoy the gift of unscheduled time.  This time will be short and very sweet as we will soon be thrust back into our busy lives, appointments, deadlines, due dates, tax season (ugh) and more.  But for now, I am quite thankful for the gift of unscheduled time.

Yesterday, upon our arrival home from a wonderful Christmas with my husband’s absolutely amazing family (I know how lucky I am) we actually got a lot of organzing done.  And this time, I didn’t ask this of anyone.  I didn’t put it on a schedule.  We just did it.  My teen boy took it upon himself to completely clean out a room from ceiling to floor that will become a hobby/train/model building room for his Daddy. My hubs (who unfortunately, is not on unscheduled time and, is right back at work) came home to a wonderful surprise to see this room emptied out and ready to launch a man cave room for him and his hobbies.  Nice son to do that for his dear ol’ Dad!

My teen girl worked just as hard and took it upon herself to clean out her Mama’s very cluttered kitchen cabinets, utensil drawers and more and she filled a big box with helpful kitchen items that was ready to go Goodwill.

The only thing wrong with this picture is the phone in my hand.  Let your phone go when you schedule your unscheduled time.

The only thing wrong with this picture is the phone in my hand. Let your phone go when you schedule your unscheduled time.

And just when I thought I was done pinching myself from these good deeds from my kids (that feels amazing since the house is being decluttered), that teen boy of mine surprised me yet again with a clean garage. That garage was an eyesore that had me shutting the garage door as quick as I could so the neighbors wouldn’t see in whenever I had to back my car out of the messy and embarrassing space!

And to top if off, my driving boy took it all to Goodwill for me!  Loving that he drives.

So we celebrated with dinner out and a double feature at the movies.  My girl had never been to a double feature before, which surprised me a little.  But that’s right, an overbooked calendar doesn’t allow for lazy hours at the cinema.  Scheduling unscheduled time did and it was very nice.

My New Year’s wish for all of you is sort of an oxymoron.  First take out your calender and then put it away for a few days.  Schedule some precious unscheduled time.

I am reminded of what my Mama told me as I held my newborn son 17 years ago and agonized in those moments about my upcoming career decisions and balancing my newfound love with this baby boy that my heart fell deeply in love with at first sight.

My wise and loving Mama with me and my the new love of my life, my firstborn.

Mother with me and the new love of my life, my firstborn.

My wise and loving Mother looked at me and gently said that I would know which decisions would be the right ones for me and to just remember “that the one thing you can’t get back is time” and her words have stayed with me ever since.

Good advice, Mom....cuz the days of climbing on me and to now working on their climb away from me which is a wonderful and exciting time for my kiddos.

Good advice, Mom….cuz the days of those kids climbing on me have now become their current climb away from me and into the world. This is also a wonderful and exciting time that I’m taking in and enjoying as we work on their wings now. And it is bittersweet for sure.

Go get yourselves some unscheduled time as you wrap 2014 and dive into 2015.  Cherish those moments because this happens very fast….

Happy :)

Happy :)

 

Keeping Kids Entertained At The Holiday Table

Manic:  Restless kids at the big holiday table resulting in stressed parents, bored kids and chaos.

Managed:  Brainstormed with the folks from Shamrock Farms and one of my gal pals about how to keep kids entertained at this holiday season’s big meal and we came up with some good stuff for parents everywhere.

It’s hard to believe that my teenagers are past this stage now, but I do remember those days!  Recently, one of my gal pals with younger children asked me for tips to keeping kids entertained at the holiday table so that they are not disruptive.  Here are a few tricks that I put to use with my son and daughter, as well as other clever ideas from my friend, Suzie.  Take a look…

*Consider a Kids Table – I know some of you want your children to learn dinner table etiquette (and I agree with that), but having a separate and nearby kids table can work well.  This way both the kiddos and the adults can converse with their own age groups about topics that all will find fun. Have their table set ahead of time with kid themed plates, holiday napkins and a drink that will make them cheer, like Shamrock Farms Chocolate Milk.

*Crafty Crafts for Festive Fun – Have a fun holiday craft ready for the children to do right after the meal.  Kids typically finish eating first, while adults may want to linger and enjoy the holiday fare and company.  Lexi gingerbread manOffering the kids pre-baked mini gingerbread cookies that they can frost and decorate to their hearts’ content gives them something fun to do while the grownups continue with dinner.

*Letters to Santa – Invite children to write a letter to Santa while they wait at the table before or after the meal.  Give them fun decorations, stickers and washable markers to decorate their note.  The letter will also make a great keepsake for the child’s scrapbook.

*Make Christmas Cups – Give the kids red or green Solo cups and materials to decorate the cup.  This becomes their drinking glass during dinner and they will be proud to show off their creation.  milkFill the finished cups with fun and festive Shamrock Farms Santa’s Choice Calcium Plus milk for their own special occasion drink.

*Older Kids Read – Ask the older children to read a holiday story to the younger kids.  And don’t forget to videotape to have this memorable record of the kids at different ages.  It goes by so quickly!

*Sing Along – Let each child select their favorite holiday tune and ask everyone at the table to sing it together.  This gets everyone in the holiday spirit and kids will love leading all in song.

*Holiday Eye Spy Game – Eye spy is a great game to keep kids engaged while also staying put.  Ask them to look for holiday themed items in the room, such as a wreath, something red and white or something sweet.

*Holiday Share – Whisper in the child’s ear to ask everyone at the table to share what they like most about the holiday.  Festive, fun and memorable.

What are your ideas for keeping kids happily busy and content at the holiday table?  Share in the comments section because we like to share ideas and help each other out when it comes to taking the manic out of the holiday season to make it more managed and enjoyable for all!

 

This article was sponsored by Shamrock Farms.  My opinion about how much I love Shamrock Farms foods are 100% my own. 

No More Hectic Holidays: 4 Things You Can Do Now to Streamline the Season

Manic:  Holiday planning!  Be honest: How often do you actually sit back and kick up your feet between November and January? Does the “most wonderful time of the year” feel more like a nonstop cycle of bake, clean, shop, wrap and repeat?!  Most years it does for me, especially since I had kids!

Managed:  These four tips that will get us ahead of the game!  Let’s do it and enjoy a managed, not manic, holiday season where we moms, hosts and holiday planners actually get to relax, too!

1.  Be prepared for guests. Help out-of-town guests feel at home with a welcome stocking filled with toiletries, non-perishable snacks, reading material and their favorite coffee or tea. stocking stuffAssembling everything ahead of time will free up those final precious moments for last-minute chores.  Also, keep a secret stash of snacks on hand for unexpected company. Stock the pantry with nuts, popcorn, crackers and chips, which is the perfect accompaniment for any variety of the Shamrock Farms delicious assortment of flavored sour cream.  Keeping a bottle of Shamrock Farms delicious eggnog on hand will also instantly up the festive factor of even the most casual get together.

bananabread_withpackaging

2.  Make-ahead meals. Who wants to cook after a day of battling holiday crowds? Avoid going overboard on take out by putting aside a few hours now to create make-ahead meals. Some family- and freezer-friendly options include chicken and sour cream enchiladas, Roxie’s easy lasagna  and Hungarian goulash.  (For best results, freeze the enchiladas and lasagna before baking. When ready to eat, pop the frozen dish into the oven for about 50 percent longer than the original cooking time.)

3.  Create go-to gifts. Avoid the last-minute dash for forgotten gifts by stocking up on several of one item – from candles to gourmet coffee to holiday tea towels. If you’re feeling particularly domestic, try your hand at preparing homemade vanilla extract in vintage bottles or a DIY body scrub.

My teen daughter actually made this DIY body butter.  We found the recipe online.

My teen daughter actually made this DIY body butter. We found the recipe online.

 

4.  Wrap it up. You may be weeks away from wrapping, but who needs the added stress of a midnight run for Scotch tape? Take an hour this week to take inventory of your wrapping supplies and stock up on scissors, tape, paper, tissue paper, gift tags, ribbon and bows. Keep it simple by using just one or two gift wraps for everyone on your list (it really doesn’t get much easier – or chicer – than brown craft paper wrapped in colorful twine).

Now, sit back, relax and actually enjoy all of the fabulous memories you’ve worked so hard to create. You deserve it!

 

 

This helpful holiday article was sponsored by wonderful Shamrock Farms.  My opinion about how much I love Shamrock Farms foods is 100% my own. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Tricky Task of Parenting with Boundaries on Technology

Manic:  Today’s mutiple technology gadgets that surround our kids.  With smart phones, tablets, social media, the internet and more…and with this way of life becoming mainstream and pretty much required to communicate in this day and age, how do we manage our kids’ technology with boundaries?

Managed:  Welcomed today’s guest writer, Dr. Lisa Strohman.  Dr. Strohman is a clinical psychologist who specializes in educating parents and children on the effects of technology overuse or addiction.  She shares her expertise on this important topic. She makes some great points here and has some helpful suggestions for us parents. And see the information that immediately follows this article about Dr. Strohman’s FREE seminar for parents who want  help working with their children to disconnect from technology.  This helpful free seminar will offer ideas on how to help kids achieve a more balanced life when it comes to life with and without all of the technology.

Dr. Strohman says:

 Boundaries with Technology: Is it possible?

bigstock-Animated-Children-Playing-Vide-6890267

How many times have we heard: “Mom, it’s an educational app! Everyone has it!”  As a Mom, I know how easy it is to give in and let kids have as much screen time as they want. As a professional, I know better.

Scientific evidence shows that spending more than two to three hours staring at a screen can have a potentially negative impact on developing brains. So what do we do when we are exhausted, stressed and overwhelmed? We find our children being exposed to more and more options for interacting with technology.

I often have parents in my office questioning whether there really is a way to create sustainable, healthy boundaries with technology. The short answer is YES! The longer answer is that it takes commitment.

The facts are daunting: 94 percent of kids are online daily and 74 percent of them use mobile devices to access social media online (outside the oversight of most parents).  Knowing what is and is not okay or safe is overwhelming for most parents. How can we set boundaries and where do we start? To help answer these questions I created a list of helpful tips on where to begin:

  • Set Time Limits

Giving kids a concrete limit on how much time they can spend online at home and on a mobile device,  gives them permission to disconnect. I have talked to plenty of parents who have kids that are actually relieved to have the excuse that their parents monitor their time online. It’s comforting for them to have an excuse to step away from technology for a little while, especially when their peers seem to be connected nonstop. For younger children, a simple digital timer gives them control in setting time limits and helps to effectively set boundaries. Older kids’ mobile Internet usage can easily be monitored through your phone company or other parental controls.

 

  • Establish Open Hours

This tip was given to me by a young mom who told me her son felt like his friends treated him as if he were a Circle K. They expected him to be available 24 hours a day for whatever they wanted. We talked about the amount of stress this caused him and created a plan to ask his parents if he could use them as a scape goat to tell friends that he could only use his phone between certain hours. I thought it was a great idea and have since recommended this method to multiple clients who have found success using this practice.

 

  • Model Balance

This can be just as big a challenge for a parent, but time and time again I’ve had kids ask me why they should limit their technology usage when their parents are always connected to technology. These comments prompted me to look at my own behavior and I recognized that I too was guilty of using technology too often. I would check my messages between math problems with my daughter, at stoplights, even at my children’s soccer practice. The more I put technology away, the more connected I felt and the more valuable conversations I could have with my kids. As parents, we have to remember we are constantly being observed and imitated by our children, so the more we model balance, the more our kids will practice it.

 

  • Create Tech Free Zones

This one is pretty easy to figure out, but sometimes harder to put into practice. Look around your home and see if you have any rooms that don’t have technology in them. Then, think through a typical drive with kids and see if you ever travel in town without any of you using handheld devices. Establishing tech free areas for our kids (and ourselves) can be an effective way to teach kids how to prioritize technology-free time.

Start this process by having a conversation with your family about the importance of balance with technology and show them that you are on board and ready to make changes as well. The appreciation your kids show you once you begin implementing boundaries might surprise you, and eventually they’ll come to cherish their offline time.

 

About our guest writer:

Dr. Lisa Strohman - Black topDr. Lisa Strohman is a clinical psychologist who specializes in educating parents and children on the effects of technology overuse or addiction.  Visit technologywellnesscenter.com to learn more and to take her proprietary Technology Use Continuum (TUC) assessment to gauge a child’s risk for technology addiction or overuse.

Scottsdale Psychologist Speaks On How Parents Can Help Children Disconnect From Technology and Enjoy A Balanced Lifestyle

***Free seminar for parents on Monday, November 10th

WHAT:           Press Pause to Connect is the second installment from Dr. Lisa Strohman’s monthly seminar series. Dr. Lisa will educate parents on how to create a balanced family environment in an increasingly technology-driven world. A mother and clinical psychologist with over a decade of experience in counseling, Dr. Lisa will offer guidance on how to set boundaries for children while providing tips to help define the rules for pressing pause in order to keep family members connected with one another.  Founder and Director of Technology Wellness Center Dr. Lisa uses her expertise to provide resources and counseling to families and teens battling issues related to technology overuse and addiction.

WHEN:           Monday, November 10th, 2014

6:30 – 7:30 p.m.

WHERE:         LifeScape Medical Associates

8757 E. Bell Rd.

Scottsdale, Ariz. 85260

WHO:              The event is open to parents, educators and adults working with children. Light refreshments will be served.

COST:            FREE, but attendees must register by phone or email as seating is   limited.  DrLisa@technologywellnesscenter.com or (480) 220-4702

WEBSITE:      http://technologywellnesscenter.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Halloween Decor Designed By A Tween That Didn’t Cost A Dime

Happy Halloween and if you are reading this on Saturday, I hope you had a wonderful and safe Halloween. This year we did not spend one cent on Halloween decorations and for my Halloween loving daughter, that was a sacrifice.  Although we have been so crazy busy this year, that she didn’t ask for anything new and we didn’t even decorate until the night before the big day, which is very unlike my girl.  She absolutely loves and looks forward to this day that is filled with ghosts and goblins. She came up with some fun and free Halloween decor ideas.  Take a look, file it in your memory bank and do this next year to save money.

*Simple Snake Idea — She simply took our garden hose, made a snake head and placed it by her makeshift sign that consisted of an upside down shovel stuck in the ground with a piece of white paper attached to the handle that reads “Beware of  (Killer) Snake” and this is all stuff we had on hand, so it was free!shovel sign

IMG_6124

*Flying Ghost — Use your shrubs and bushes to give the illusion of a flying witch or in this case a flying ghost that my girl simply made with an old white sheet and a sharpie.  Love it!IMG_6127

*Eerie Buried Body  — For this my girl took a pair of jeans, stuffed the legs with newspaper, added Cowboy boots and stuck the top under a big rock so it looks like a buried body is exposed.  So clever and again free! Halloween legs decor

[Read more…]

An Amazing & Unique Kids Book That Has Adults Laughing, Too!

When I find a treasure on social media that is fun to watch, makes you laugh out loud and is absolutely a gem for kids, I have to share!  Check out this cool children’s book, by The Office actor B.J. Novak, called The Book With No Pictures.  no pic bookI had read that Mr. Novak is a very talented actor and writer and I think it is super cool that he is using his talents to put out a book that is sure to bond kids with their parents, teachers, caregivers and anyone who takes the time to read to a child.  Reading to kids is an art form that can’t be overrated and is so important in today’s world that is clouded by too much technology.  My kids are a bit too old for this book now, but I still plan to buy a copy for my girl to read to the beloved children that she now babysits.  Even if you don’t have kids, this is worth a look because you will chuckle and be reminded of the simple, yet oh so important things in life….influencing and spending quality time with the youngsters….the next generation and our country’s future.  Take a look as this will make you smile.  Kudos to B.J. Novak!

A Must See In This Over The Top Technology World We Live In!

This really got my attention.  The world we live in is very different from when I was a kid and technology, smart phones, tablets, social media and more have changed the tricky business of parenting.  But I must also admit, that I have found myself drawn to it and it is like the computer screen is a magnet that takes me away from my family.  So the next time I find myself glued to my keyboard for more minutes than I’m sharing with my family or the next time I find myself looking down at my phone instead of looking up at my family…and my pets, too….I’m gonna remember this cool video that makes a lot of simple sense.  Take a look….

 

Guest Post: Cyberbullying & What Parents Need To Know

Manic:  Today’s technology and social media can be especially manic in the hands of our youth. Sadly, one of the byproducts of today’s 24/7 online life is what is called cyberbullying.

Managed: Welcoming today’s guest writer, Dr. Lisa Strohman, a clinical psychologist who specializes in educating parents and children on the effects of technology overuse or addiction, to share her expertise on this scary subject.  Lisa not only has some great tips on t his from a professional perspective, but also as a concerned parent as we all try to navigate our parenting skills through today’s very different online world. There is some terrific information here about what to look for and what to do when it comes to cyberbullying, so definitely read this.  To my knowledge, my children have not been affected by this awful trend, but I read every word of her article so that I’m informed just in case.

And Dr. Strohman will offer a free seminar for parents called The Impact of Technology on Brain Development on Monday, October 13th.  If you are interested in attending, details on the event follow this article.

Dr. Strohman says:

Cyberbullying: What Parents Need to Know

By Dr. Lisa Strohman JD, PhD

bigstock-Boy-Playing-Game-Console-8012650 (1)

Bullying has always been a part of growing up, but now these bullies are able to follow children into their homes, hiding behind the Internet. Thanks to 24/7 connections anyone can be a victim of cyberbullying. Zelda Williams, Robyn Williams’ daughter was recently driven away from her social media accounts after being harassed on Twitter and Instagram following the death of her father.

The definition of cyberbullying can vary, but any child that is harassed, humiliated, embarrassed, tormented, threatened, or otherwise targeted by another minor using technology would be considered a victim of cyberbullying. As a parent, I am terrified by what is occurring and as a professional psychologist I am committed and focused on providing tools and resources to help other parents understand the often dark and secret world our children are exposed to.

Statistics on Cyberbullying

  • Nearly one in four teens has experienced cyberbullying
  • Approximately one in six teens have admitted to cyberbullying others
  • Only 1 in 10 teens tell their parents if they have been a victim of cyberbullying

What Makes a Child Prone to Becoming a Cyberbully

  • Low self-esteem
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Feelings of anger or frustration
  • Peer pressure from friends

Signs Your Child is Cyberbullying Others

  • Avoids discussion about what they are doing online
  • Gets unusually agitated if their computer access is restricted
  • Uses multiple online accounts

Signs Your Child is Being Cyberbullied

  • Unexpectedly stops using the computer
  • Appears nervous when receiving text messages, emails or other online notifications
  • Appears angry, depressed or frustrated after going online
  • Becomes withdrawn from friends and family members

What You Can Do

  • Create a feeling of trust between you and your child
  • Assure your child if they come to you they will not lose their access to technology

Finally, understand that technology is an amazing tool and gift that we are privileged to have access to. It is about teaching balance, establishing open communication, and loving your children enough to question and talk through the issues they will face online. For more information on what protections are in place in your state you can refer to www.stopbullying.gov/laws.

 

About our guest writer:

Dr. Lisa Strohman - Black topDr. Lisa Strohman is a clinical psychologist who specializes in educating parents and children on the effects of technology overuse or addiction.  Visit technologywellnesscenter.com to learn more and to take her proprietary Technology Use Continuum (TUC) assessment to gauge a child’s risk for technology addiction or overuse.

 Details on Free Seminar:

THE IMPACT OF TECHNOLOGY

ON BRAIN DEVELOPMENT

Free seminar for parents Monday, October 13th

 WHAT:           Brain Rewired will be the first seminar in the monthly seminar series hosted by Dr. Lisa Strohman, a clinical psychologist and founder of the Technology Wellness Center. The philosophy of Technology Wellness Center is to approach the issue of technology addiction in a comprehensive holistic way that provides practical solutions instead of diagnostic labels. Dr. Lisa will discuss how technology is affecting the development of children’s brains and share insight on what parents need to know and tips on what they can do. Presentation includes an assessment tool for parents to measure their child’s risk related to technology use.  Dr. Lisa will be joined by Dr. Melissa Westendorf, co-founder of the Technology Wellness Center. Light refreshments will be served.

WHEN:           Monday, October 13th, 2014 – 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.

WHERE:         LifeScape Medical Associates @ 8757 E. Bell Rd. in Scottsdale, Ariz. 85260

WHO:             The event is open to parents, educators and adults working with children. Registration is required, as there will be limited seating available.

COST:             FREE, but attendees must register by email or by phone, as seating is limited so email to

                        DrLisa@technologywellnesscenter.com or call (480) 220-4701

WEBSITE:      http://technologywellnesscenter.com

 

 

9 Fit Tips For Moms So Busyness Doesn’t Rob Your Family Time

cropped-manic_managed_mom_web_header_900x1504.jpgManic:  A lot of moms that I know and me, more so this year than years past, because my kids are busier than they have ever been despite my best efforts to slow things down this school year.  Didn’t happen!

Managed:  Taking the time to actually sit down with my manic family to discuss some healthy ways to manage our schedules, our stress and our health.  This way I can hopefully minimize, as much as I can, that unpleasant and suffocating feeling called being overwhelmed!  And consider this….

I recently had a good friend (whose kids are all grown up now) tell me not to let busyness rob me of my family time.  That made me think!

Last week, when we had a family chat about this, I had to almost force the family to sit for a minute because even at night after dinner, we aren’t done.  Homework, washing that needed uniform piece, scrubbing out the lunch box and other items fill up the night hours right up until bedtime these days.

This year I broke my big rule that used to be that each child only participate in one activity during the busy school year.  At 16 and 12, each have been offered tremendous opportunities that would be quite disappointing to force them to decline.  In addition to that, they both make good grades and are in honors classes and they are both well behaved kids who make good choices…well most of the time, that is!  So hubs and I decided to let them both proceed with multiple activities.

Our 7th grade girl does student council, yearbook editor, broadcast club where she anchors her middle school’s daily morning show once a week, voice lessons, gymnastic lessons, weekly rehearsals for a big play that they do in May with our local children’s theater, she just got a part in the big Addams Family production at the community theater and she is starting Confirmation at our church and she babysits.

Our son, who is a Junior in high school, plays Varsity golf, Varsity hockey and is in three college level classes even though he is a high school junior.

Overwhelmed?!  Yep, you got it!  My husband and I both have busy careers and although mine is freelance so I can be home more, I’m still just as busy as when I worked a full time job!

So to put the word “managed” back into my manic managed mom title, here are some tips that I’m trying to really follow myself…

1.  Follow your pets example and get your sleep.   It is so tempting to stay up late to work on the different volunteer committees I serve on, my freelance work, RSVPs to events that we are invited to attend, extracurricular emails that must be written, bill paying, etc.  When all are in bed and moms can be productive, it is tempting to stay up and get stuff done, but you rob yourself of much needed sleep.  I get a lot more done, with a lot less mistakes, when I’m well rested.  Give yourself a regular bedtime and try to stick to it.  Follow the example your pets set and get your rest. Sleeping cat cuties

2.  Stay organized with a good calendar system and record an event on the calendar the second it is booked. This avoids overlapping and gives you the chance to say no if your calendar glance shows an already packed day.

I use cozi.com for the perfect onine family calendar and more.

I use cozi.com for the perfect onine family calendar and more.

3.  Exercise.  Even if it is only for 30 minutes twice a week.  You will feel so much better and your body will thank you.  At this point, I’m only able to get about 3 weekly sessions in (which has been frustrating), but I work smart and one of those workouts is done while my daughter is in her gymnastics class since it is close to my gym at Method 19 Fitness.   Since I started this, I sleep better, my skin is better and my body is getting more muscular, which is a good thing since I’m pushing 50. exercise at Method 19

4.  Communicate with your family and let them know just how much all has taken on each week.  We meet on Sunday evenings to look ahead at the week and to see how we can help each other and how to stay as healthy as we can.  When we do this, I have noticed that we are all nicer to each other and more understanding since we discussed just how much pressure each family member will be under a particular week with things like auditions, exams, tryouts, hubs having to travel and more.

5.  Grab gal pal time, too  For the moms, make time to unwind with your gal pals.  Combine volunteer work with recreation.  If you are serving on a parent volunteer committee, set up meetings at a wine bar to add a little joy to your work.  Find time to celebrate and encourage each other with a nice evening or afternoon out with your beloved girl friends. julie & rachel 2014 bday

6.  Eat well to keep your body and healthy and fueled as you proceed through this busy season that is also filled with cold and flu germs. foods

7.  Let the guilt go.  When you have to say no, don’t beat yourself up about it.  I’ve had several friends tell me this lately and their kids are grown up.  They can look back and really remember what was important when it came to time with their children versus the many requests and demands that moms receive as the school year takes off.  So as I make my decisions about where I choose to donate my time, I balance my answer with my quality time with my kids, my current schedule and also time with my hubs.

8.  Be kind to yourself.  Make time to read a book, schedule a manicure or a massage.  Whatever you need to refuel your reserves, do it.  Motherhood is full of mounting demands 24/7.  From committee meetings to homework help to piled up laundry to recipe hunting for healthy and tasty meals to vet appointments for the beloved family pet to an oil change for the much used family car to your own dentist appointment and their braces tightening hour, the demands are high and exhausting so take the time to recharge your own soul with whatever you do that makes you smile and feel relaxed. massage

9.  Be grateful.  A grateful heart is good for your soul and that is good for the entire family.

John, Rachel, Jack & Alexis

Sometimes I look at this to be reminded just how fast my kids are growing up. These was taken just a few years ago and they have completely changed now.

What de-stress remedies do you follow when you are in manic mode to feel more managed and in control? Share here in the comments section and remember to take your vitamins and take care of yourself, too.  Cheers to you busy Mamas out there!