Tag Archives: single parenting

Be A Warrior in Your Relationships

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Well, I have moved back to my old neighborhood and I am glad because the kids are happy, their schools are closer, and it’s beautiful here.  Along with this move came a reconnection to their dad.  Our past is somewhat intense.  We met in high school and knew then that we wanted to be together “forever” but as we all know, when kids get involved and only one parent matures, it makes for some heavy situations.  Fast forward 14 years and we are both a lot more mature and it is time to act as such.

I have come to the realization that it is important for our daughter to finally see her parents interact in a positive way and our 3.5 year old son to have his dad around on a consistent basis (also in a positive way).  So, I extended the olive branch and offered for him to spend time with the kids and then when they went to bed we could watch the first game of the NBA finals.  Both of us are going for Golden State!

Anyways, he was surprised because I never wanted to watch sports with him when we were together in the past nor did I really want him watching sports alone.  I’d rather have him watch a good Lifetime Movie with me. So, he accepted the offer and was pleasantly surprised when he saw that I had brought two different types of wings, chips and dip, and beer and wine for the game.Go Warriors

We watched it and celebrated the ups and downs of the game.  As we sat there glued to the screen and the food, it suddenly hit me that there was a clear power struggle between him and me. I didn’t want to give up control and he didn’t either.  We also weren’t keeping the kids and each other partner first.  We were young and selfish.  All he wanted was my presence sharing an experience that he enjoyed.  Crazily I used to be so mad at him for other actions that I tied it to anything that he wanted to do and “didn’t do it”.

Needless to say it was a great experience sharing a positive night with their dad and since then he has come over more often to spend time with the kids, talk about our daughters grades and our sons progress in a new preschool, and just relax.

What I want to end with is the fact that there shouldn’t be a power struggle because those types of struggles don’t account for the children.  We need to focus on healthy relationships, which sometimes mean sacrifice, for our kids.

The Justin Saga

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So, my two-almost-three-year-old gives me the worst time when I take him out in public. It has gotten to the point where I am afraid to take him anywhere, including church! I have good reason, he randomly yells at people passing by, hits other children, and makes faces at strangers. Of course, I researched and came up with a load of possible reasons why he is the way that he is, my little sprout watching bundle of joy. I had narrowed it down to just a few, oppositional defiance disorder, severe ADHD, and borderline personality disorder. I’ve already taken him to a child psychologist and she prompted me to use the program 1,2,3 Magic! I hope that it works because it is getting hard to find a babysitter to watch him while I go to the grocery store.

After my own analysis of the situation and then speaking with the child psychologist, I came to the conclusion that it “should” be hard to label a two year old. For goodness sake, one of the guidance counselors at my school thinks her son has sociopathic tendencies. Of course we don’t truly believe that there is anything wrong with our children but what we do know is that the behavior being exhibited cannot continue and we want to take action now. Justin’s (my son) pediatrician said that his behavior is normal, especially for a child who spends all day with his older grandparents and is not used to going out and interacting with other children. He stated that the negative behaviors should start to diminish after he starts preschool.

But, guess what? He must be potty-trained to start preschool. And Justin’s response to potty training…. a resounding “No”!

The saga to be continued….

Creative Play

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Creative Play
courtesy of nor.org

courtesy of npr.org

According to PBS (n.d.), the ability to create something from personal experiences and feelings can nurture emotional health and assist with mental growth by providing opportunities to problem solve and think in new ways.  Adults benefit too because creative play leads to relaxation or stimulation of new ideas and mental growth.  With advantages like these, it is impossible to deny the impact it can also have on bonding time.  As single parents, it is crucial for us to bond with our children as we are their first peek into what the world is like “out there”.  We want them to trust us and our opinions more than they will trust their friends as we have been there, done that.  It is during this time, that walls can be broken down and conversations can filter in (for the older children).  Some of us struggle with the concept of being silly and getting dirty or letting our children find their way in creative play.  But, there is no failure or gong that goes off to signal foul play.  It is all fun, outside of the box fun, giggles, laughter, joy, eye contact, wonder, imagination, celebration, stimulation…play.  Don’t be scared that the carpet and the walls will become ruined (the odds that this will happen regardless are great).  Put on some clothes that you feel comfortable in and depending on the type of activity, that you don’t mind getting nasty.  First think of your child’s natural strengths and talents and build activities around those. After building self-esteem, transport them to new activities where they must think outside of the box and use their imagination.  I look back at my own childhood and since everyone else in the household was an adult and worked long hours, I had to entertain myself.  I set up concerts using my Barbie dolls, created castles with Lego’s, completed latch hook and paint by number pieces, collected garbage pail kid cards, rocks, stamps, etc.

But, now there are so many other options out there and our kids are glued to screens instead of manipulating pieces and putting things together with their hands to create something new, whether or not it turns out the way that they intended.  Below, I have listed some options for creative play with your child by age group.  I hope that this helps and you try some of these this summer when you have more time with them than during the school year.

Toddlers & Young Children:

  • foam blocks
  • foam tangram
  • finger paints outside, in the tub, on a wooden table
  • Wii just dance or any dance game on the Wii or Kinetic for Xbox
  • decorate clay pots
  • use towel paper rolls to create instruments, kaleidoscope, animals like color snakes, etc
  • fruit loop necklaces
  • create a rainbow with paper plates and colorful streamers
  • just color (crayons, blank paper, huge coloring book)

The great thing about toddlers is that they are more interested in the box than the contents. Utilize everyday household supplies to save money and create with what you have.  Small ones love to get messy and make a lot of noise so keep that in my mind.

Tweens:

  • make lip gloss, soap, candy
  • bake a cake that looks gross but tastes wonderful
  • let them design a menu and make the meal (with your assistance of course)
  • watch a YouTube video together and learn a new dance move
  • put together a skit, write it and act it out
  • put together a dance routine
  • Wii Zumba
  • latch hook
  • paint by number
  • watch a YouTube video and learn how to crochet and knit (make a scarf)
  • purchase a science experiment book and try one a week
  • make jewelry
  • up cycle a pair of jeans or a t-shirt and make it something new
  • paint glass

Remember there are a lot of items that you can obtain from your local dollar store.  You don’t need to go to some expensive craft store to get started.  Also, use your seasons; in the summer collect seashells and place them in clear containers, in the fall, gather some leaves and create something, in the winter make something besides a snow man with the snow, and in the spring plant a garden.

Teens:

  • make snow globes
  • create a musical
  • shadow boxing
  • create an iPad sleeve from recycled resources or old clothing
  • make a journal from scratch
  • vision boards
  • bejeweled iPhone cases or jazz them up in a different way
  • learn to sew together
  • Wii Michael Jackson

Okay, the Wii showed up in each category but it is really fun and my kids love to see me let my hair down, plus I get some exercise.  If you can think of anything else, please add to the list in the comments.  If you have questions please feel free to contact me here in the comments or via Twitter.  Now, go play with your kids!

Workplace Advice

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Image  It has been a while but, I was just getting myself together for the beginning of the school year.  I have to say that I already love my students.  I have learned a lot about working as part of a team and dealing with issues in the work environment.  Although it is only the beginning of the school year, both my colleagues and I are super stressed.  Trust us, it is not the kids but the system in which we have to work within.  Anyway, I have some tips that maybe everyone can use if they are working for someone else and not self-employed.

1.  Do your job!  Although, this may sound simple, it is not because sometimes after working at the same job for a while, we become complacent and slack on small things.  Try not to do this because there will always be someone watching.  Get your mind-set every morning to come in and do your job.

2.  Confront certain issues upfront.  This could save a lot of time and a lot of headaches.  We are not mind readers so, if you have questions or something that you need to get off your chest, speak with a trusted individual behind closed doors.

3.  Know your rights.  Unfortunately, life is not fair.  This one is self-explanatory.

4.  Re-read your job description.  Know exactly what it is that you do or are supposed to be doing.

5.  Participate voluntarily in professional development and build a portfolio.  This looks great to both present and future employers.

6.  Get passionate about some aspect of your work so that you can stay at 100% most of the time, if not all of the time.

7.  Do NOT trust everyone.  You may want to feel that you and your boss/co-worker have a special connection but, that may not be the case.  Sometimes your weaknesses that you share can translate into an inability to perform your job.  Watch out for this one.

8.  Stay out of the lounge; this could prove to be detrimental to your career unless you know exactly who will be in there at all times and when and you feel that you can trust them.

9.  Build a trusted network of colleagues to vent to, share successes, and complete professional projects with.

10.  Get involved in projects that your employer are working on, it can mean career-advancement fast-track!

Sometimes, you will have to take a step back and breathe.  I am an optimist so even when I get down, I try not to stay down for long. But once someone at work crosses me, I take my mother’s advice and never trust them again or let them into my circle fully.  This is because they have broken the bond.  You never know what their motives may be.  I am cordial, professional, but no fool.

Stay wise, stay employed, stay happy.  Remember there are kids and households to support.

The Village

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I would like to think that I can do all things and that I can be everything to my children as a single parent, but I am a realist.  I realize that there may be certain needs that must be met that I may not be able to meet.  As a single parent or a just a parent for that matter, it is important to not short change ourselves or our kids trying to be supermom and superdad.  Sometimes we must employ the help of others.  We must create the village*.

I realized this earlier this week as I waited for my daughter to finish volleyball camp.  As I was standing there, I observed other girls from all different backgrounds receiving instruction, lessons, skills, and support.  The coach was building a team in front of me.  If there was a girl there who wanted to belong to something, she was definitely going to belong to this team.  I watched my daughter’s face shift from focused (on what the coach was saying) to joyous when she was able to high-five a team member or score a point.  This moment I could not provide her with on my own.

There is a huge gap between my children, my daughter is 12 and my son is 21 months.  She has pretty much been an only child until he was born.  I have constantly been busy working and going to school to provide for her and I have to admit, I missed out on a lot.  But, when I was off from work and not in class, I took her to museums, plays at the library, outdoor festivals, etc.  I tried my hardest on a mediocre salary.  But, there are things that I could not provide.  I am not ashamed to say that I utilize my village*.  I put her in cotillion because I want her to be refined and conduct herself as a young lady should.  I let her participate in any sport that she wanted to, to include gymnastics, tae kwon do, cheerleading, soccer, and volleyball.  She needed the team and the discipline and friendships that are included.  I let her participate in the play for which she was so awesome, I had to step back and soak it all in.  She received applause after applause and it seemed as though everyone in the audience stopped her afterward and told her how wonderful she was.  She needed that, they all need that.  Of course they receive the accolades from us because we are always there but, it is special when it comes from complete strangers who do not owe you anything.

I encourage you to take advantage of any opportunity to build your village because our kids need that.  Don’t go it alone.  If you look hard enough, there is always someone there willing to help.

*It takes a village to raise a child. – African Proverb