Back to School

Welcome to my parent support blog. I'm new to this, but hoping to create a healthy, supportive community where we can discuss everyday parenting concerns and trends. I welcome your comments and questions. By the way, I'm definitely more of a talker than writer, so, please forgive my grammar and punctuation errors. I really try to live by the motto " Nobody's Perfect  "

So, today is my first day as a freelance parent support coach and educator. I'm a bit nostalgic about leaving my fabulous position of 6 years as a facilitator at a very busy downtown drop in program where I served families and caregivers with children aged birth to 6. In that position, I always loved coming back in September to hear everyone's summer stories and to marvel at how much developmental change happened in such a short time. I'm not sure who was prouder of these new milestones, parents, caregivers or the children themselves. I am already missing the hugs and smiling faces but have changed gears professionally in search of restoring some much needed balance in my own family life.

The first day of school is already here and I think I had more butterflies in my stomach than my 12 year old son did. I've got my fingers crossed that he ends up in a great homeroom class with an empathetic teacher and some good pals. My husband and I tried to pack his brain with positive advice in small portions all weekend long.. Things like" don't forgot how important it is to make a good impression this week, be polite, listen well, try to tone down your larger than life personality when the teacher is talking, keep calm, enjoy your time with friends and know that mom is home at lunch time if you need a little stress buffer." He looked pretty resilient and keen as he left the door this morning.

I did a lot of reading this summer and I'd like to share one article that really resonated with me. Thank you to my colleague Sandy who forwarded it to my inbox. It is called " What should a four year old know? " by blogger Alicia Bayer. I'd encourage you to read the article in full on her blog www.magicalchildhood.com. In a nutshell, this great article reminds us that counting to 100, knowing the alphabet, being able to cut and write your name are not nearly as critical as the following:

A child should know she is loved unconditionally all of the time.

He should grow up in a safe, respectful environment and be encouraged to trust his own instincts.

A child should know how to laugh, be silly and use their imaginations to the fullest. Kids should know it is okay to paint the sky orange and draw a cat with 6 legs.

Children should have opportunities to get to know their own interests and be encouraged to follow them.

Our children need to know that the world is magical and so are they in their uniqueness, brilliance, kindness, etc.

 

The article also goes on to discuss what the parent of a 4 year old should know. In summary:

All children develop at their own pace.

The best predictor of academic success is reading, so, read your child great books over and over.

Smartest doesn't equal happiest. Give your child the gift of a simple, carefree childhood.

Surround kids with books, nature, art, music, physical activity, cooking, quiet time and opportunities to freely explore.

Give your child your time.

I believe that a balanced life rich in nature, art, music, science, physical activity, calm restorative moments, giving back to your community, friendship and love is the magic we all seek. So let's be intentional in our quest of allowing everyday magic to enter our lives. Slow down, connect more.

Have a great week. Joanne

Stress Buffer Memories from Summer

Well, here we are but a few weeks into the Sepember routine and some stressors are starting to creep back into our lives. Here are some common daily scenerios that get our stress juices flowing:

  • getting everyone packed up with snacks, lunches and having had a healthy breakfast
  • getting out the door on time
  • surviving the everyday ups and downs of school, daycare, playgroup, or work
  • finding time and energy for a healthy and sometimes yummy evening meal
  • running off to extracurriculars and ensuring everyone gets to bed on time for a good might sleep.

That list doesn't include the extras like remembering to hem my 12 year olds' men's size medium pants, picking up groceries, laundry, spending time with my aging mother, fall house maintenance, etc, etc.You get the picture. Summer holidays seem a long way off......

Children definitely react to this increased pace and you may see evidence of this in the hidden messages of their misbehavior. Whining, aggression, attitude, tears, clingyness, sore tummies, headaches, temper tantrums are all signs that life is not in balance for your child. In Kim Payne's book, "Simplicity Parenting"' he equates these difficult behaviours to having a " soul fever". Kids have turmoil in their life or problems they need to work out and they display these issues with their behaviour. Kim Payne suggests as with having a fever from a childhood illness, with a soul fever, we need to pull back, simplify and slow things down so we can restore balance. I like to think about the stress buffers I can try to provide for my child everyday....

things like:

  • helping him stay organized for the morning ( ensuring he has his backpack ready for school
  • making time for a sit down breakfast and some connection time to talk
  • packing a healthy lunch, snack and water to keep him hydrated through out the day
  • being present emotionally (whenever possible) when he wants to talk after school or needs support to finish homework
  • trying to have a sit down family supper with some shared stories and laughs
  • support for his sporty passions
  • a fun family shared activity when time permits
  • a cuddle and maybe some side by side reading at bed time

By the way, we as parents need stress buffers too... A chat with a good friend on the phone, a walk, a run or bike ride, a cup of tea and a chapter of your latest book interest, even a fleeting glance at the newest magazines while you wait in line to pay for groceries. All these little moments of peace add up to a more resilient, happier person and family.

So when you are trying to slow things down and connect with your loved ones, help them remember the slow pace of summer and the sand castles you built together or the picnic you had at a łake. Describe how you felt using all your senses to bring you all back to those peaceful, slow, happy feelings and push back those stressors. You can be a treasure box of happy memories for your child giving them the gift of being able to change their thoughts when things are hard or rough or scary. Heck, if you are feeling creative make a scrapbook together of some favorite memories. Enjoy the rest of September.....Joanne