Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

How often do your kids really share their thoughts?

Do you always encourage your kids to say whatever they want or do you censor them?  Your immediate reaction might be confusion – how or why would you censor kids?  But, think about it.. have you ever told your child to watch what they say in certain company?  Gave them a stern look as they randomly opened up about their thoughts or observations in front of strangers or your in-laws.  Most parents probably don’t restrict their kids from what they say and we all try and teach them ‘how’ behaviors which we hope will stick as they grow older (we have all been in work situations or at a cocktail party when we notice some adults seem to be lacking in the how).   Nevertheless, it is important for us to really allow our kids to be heard. Not only does this help with their confidence but you will no doubt learn more about who your child is.

My kids very freely discuss their views on anything from politics to gender bias on TV to what to ask Santa for Christmas.  They seem to have an opinion about everything and have no problem sharing it and yes, my son who has absolutely no filter will blurt out something embarrassing.

These are just a few ways in which you can encourage your kids to share their thoughts:

  1. Provide a space for them to share their views in a way they are comfortable with.  My daughter, who is an introvert has her own blog where she will write about random views on any subject.  She has learnt to fine tune this and can discuss them so articulately that I find it hard to believe she is only 11.  Forget CNN having political experts on their panels, they should invite my daughter and ask her what she thinks about the USA elections and the outcomes.  Creating ways for your kids to share their views especially if their personality might be one where they back away from the limelight can reinforce the significance of what they want to share with the world.
  2. Discussions around dinner. I suggested this in an earlier blog- pick a topic and just go from there.  Try something you all heard on the news, maybe saw on a poster, an advert, the latest fad that kids are into, an upcoming event etc.
  3. Responding with active listening.  This is so important to do as a parent and I know we are all guilty of sometimes not really listening.   Our kids have little tidbits of things they say as their minds process their environments – really listen to what they are saying and don’t react but ask open ended questions which will allow them to expand their thoughts and share more with you.  I have found this approach has not only had my kids discuss various topics in depth with me but their friends tend to do the same when they are over at our house.

15178226_1397466740273310_3569625004042050821_nI saw this quote on Facebook and I know you Supermoms would agree with Margaret Mead.  Provide your kids with the tools to expand their minds and become problem solvers. Allow them to understand more of what is happening in the world around them and encourage them to create their own thoughts.  Make them feel that their voice is important, relevant and you truly are interested in what they have to say.

Yes, they live with you and their views will no doubt be a reflection of you and how they have been raised but teach them to question what they see and hear.

You would be amazed at how much we can learn from our children!

 

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

How your stress impacts your kids

I know you have heard how your behavior and emotions impacts your kids but have you ever heard it directly from them?  I recently have and it was a big a-ha moment for me!  We recently went through a big change with moving once again across borders and this time the kids were older and much more expressive in how they feel.   Without going into the lengthy details of the move,  I underestimated the impact it would have on me leaving our beautiful character filled village and amazing group of friends and neighbors.   Being thrown into suburban Toronto was a shock to my system and my reservations about the move and where we were living impacted the kids.

My realization came when I was watching a movie with my very articulate 8-year-old and he said he was going to play in his room because he could feel how stressed I was and it was stressing him out.   I was in “getting everything done” mode and clearing the house of boxes to the extent that in less than 1 week everything was unpacked and our pictures were on the wall.   I was physically and emotionally exhausted and all of that was being reflected onto the kids.  So, instead of them enjoying their first week of being in a new place they were drained and miserable and started school not being in a great mood or with an energized outlook to what lie ahead.

dreamstime_xs_33193038We may think if we act like we are positive and relaxed then our kids will be okay.   The truth is they know how we really feel and the older they get, having spent more time around us, they know when something is wrong and when we’re covering up on how we really feel.   How we feel and what we do impacts them significantly.  When we are stressed they feel it even at the young age of 8.

What does this mean for you?   Supermoms need to find some time for themselves, you need to get yourself into a better state of being both physically and emotionally.   This may mean saying no to requests, having your home untidy and telling people around you that you need some time to yourself.  When we are in a better space the little people around us are in a better space too and I know that is what all you Supermoms strive for!

 

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

What is the “normal” family?

Firstly, there is the word “normal” – a word I constantly have a problem with.  The definition of normal is “conforming to a standard, typical, the usual”.   What I am hoping most of you would ask next is – What is standard, typical or usual?  In the world we live in there is no Leave It To Beaver family and there is nothing standard about a family.  It is time everyone realizes that there is no definition of a perfect family and all that matters is what works for you!

As someone with a husband who constantly travels and is more often than not spending weeks, and sometimes months without him not around I feel the constant questions and judgement about our family arrangement.  Yes, he is away;  yes, we miss him and yes, we are okay.

dreamstime_xs_34273318This blog piece would be too long to mention all the different types of families – same-sex parents, grandparents raising grandchildren, uncles and aunts raising their nieces and nephews, single parent homes, stay at home dads, families with diverse religions and ethnicity etc. etc. etc.   While you may think that your family environment which could be a home in the burbs, a stay at home mom, a 9-5 dad, a mini-van and a dog is perfect and ideal,  that may not be what everyone wants to defines as a their family.

All I am asking is to stop the judgment and realize there is no normal.  Just as each person is unique so is every family situation. What is important is that kids are raised in an environment where they feel safe, loved and protected.   Would I love to see my husband every day? Of course I would, but that does not mean that we don’t have a family and home that works best for us.  To all the Supermoms out there just remember that our kids mirror so much of what they hear and see from us.   Help them realize that there is no judgement in choices they make especially if their choices are what works best for them.

 

Sunday, April 10th, 2016

Advice from a special needs mom to other parents

I am sure that many of you either know of a parent of a special need child or are one yourself.  I have tried my best to understand the wide spectrum that exists under the words “special needs”.  The best thing that I have done is to speak to parents who are open and wanting the rest of the world to understand what they go through on a daily basis.   I recently asked one mom if she would be willing to share her thoughts and advice on being a parent of children with special needs and what would she tell other parents going through the same thing. Below is her response verbatim.   I know this is longer than my regular blog posts – but trust me, everyone should take a few minutes and read this.

Start…

1.- Join a support group. Whether it is a local support group or a social media support group. Because, let’s face it, we live surrounded by neurotypical children and their families. We all believe that we are not making comparisons, but deep inside the brain, in some hidden unconscious place the comparisons are happening… we need to remove that “normal” baseline as often as possible, and remind ourselves that we are not alone in this journey.  Plus, support groups can be a great source of information.
2.- Read. Learn as much as you can about your child’s condition. This will help you understand their world much better, set the right limits and goals, and advocate for them with confidence. When my oldest one got his evaluation results I was a full time working mom with a  4-year-old and a 11-month-old. Reading was close to impossible. I read one book, but was it the right one. I revisited the book when the youngest one got his evaluation. My life is in a different place now and reading is easier for me. I continue to read and learn more about their old and new diagnosis. But I get it, finding the time to read and the access to the books can be hard some times. I also listen to videos (TED, youtube) on my cellphone while driving to work and take five minutes here and there to read a short article or check my social media support groups. Stay informed and on top of things.
3.- Find those other parents.  As a mom of children with invisible disabilities I’ve got a lot of eye rolling and shocked expressions from other parents. You don’t need those… But those other parents…The parents of neurotypical children who think that your kid is awesome. The mom who says “I think he is so polite and smart, and you guys are doing an amazing job” and you know she is being honest. The dad who sees your son trotting through the house on his hands and feet and says “Wow! That is so awesome! He is so good at doing THAT!”. In a two hour play date they see their strengths so much more than their challenges… and you need those comments because when you have been there all day, day after day, in the mist of it you may lose that perspective. Those parents and their kids are invaluable.
 4.-Take no-thank-you-bites. Don’t be afraid to try new things, but be ready to quit if needed. We pressure our kids to not be quitters, but sometimes quitting is not just ok, it is necessary. In a family outing or vacation, the ideal situation is to quit just one minute before they hit the sensory overload, meltdown stage. Sometimes is better to try to avoid the situation all together, but sometimes it is good to push your child just a little bit out of their comfort zone.  The same goes for after school activities. We tried soccer and gymnastics for a few weeks, T-ball was a one-and-a-half practice session thing… Swimming? That one hit home.  Learning to read the signs of when is time to quit takes time. There is no manual, you just have to get to know your child. We get it wrong many times before we start getting it right. Because of that…
5.- Do the “self-care” thing, including forgiveness. Forgive yourself and others, and move on with a lesson learned. Embrace the five minute self-care choices out there. Get yourself a cup of tea, read two pages of your favorite book, call a friend… just do something that you enjoy, as simple as it may be, and write a mental note-to-self: “I’m enjoying this”.
6.- Make your partner a true partner. I think this is actually from “Lean In” but it applies here just as well. My husband knows when I am my wits’ end and he takes over, and the other way around. In a family outing, a trip to the supermarket, the farm… we split the work, “I’ll keep an eye on kid number one, you watch kid number two”. The buddy system works.  We both can read the signs of when it’s time to quit. We have both gone down this path together. Communication is key.
7.- Be thankful. I am thankful for a bazillion things: I am thankful for the other moms who post in the support group, for those people who took the time to write books about these invisible disabilities, for our school district, teachers and especial education team, for all the help that we are getting, for being able to write these lines after 8+ years of learning from and with my wonderful especial kids.
End….
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I really do hope that the 7 points above has either opened your mind and you have gained more insight into this world.  If you are a special needs parent, I really think the holistic approach of being thankful, making your partner a true partner and focusing on self-care is great advice.
To my friend – thank you for your time for sharing this…
Sunday, April 3rd, 2016

let them play with their toys a little longer….

Our weekend trip to Target always has the kids wanting to look at the toys and negotiate their way through what could they possibly get with their allowance.   Today was slightly different.  As they did their normal walk down the toy aisles, I heard a mom saying “But you’re almost 12 years old don’t you think you should stop buying this stuff”.   What she was referring to was an aisle full of Little Pet Shops, Shopkins, Monster High gizmos etc. as her daughter was looking at them.  The comment made me stop and almost want to turn to my 11-year old and say “yes, I will buy you anything in the toy section”.   When did being almost 12 mean you had to stop playing with toys.  I actually love it when my daughter,  who has already started developing that “tween attitude” is up in her room, on the floor surrounded by dolls, pet shops and little animals.   It’s not like this girl was looking at baby toys or something for a toddler – why pressure her to move on from wanting to play with mini pets for a few more years.

dreamstime_xs_49092844In a world that is constantly “on” with information from the internet and social media, maybe having them playing with old fashion actual toys is not such a bad idea.  Don’t get me wrong we live in a very techy home – with way too many devices and I do think technology is great but if I can stop my kids from being submerged in it then that’s a win.

What’s wrong with wanting our little ones to remain kids as long as they can.  To play with their Matchbox Cars, Legos, Calico Critters and dolls.  To have quiet time in their rooms while their imagination takes them and their toys to magical places.   Their time as a kid is so short that we should really be encouraging them to enjoy it and not try to end it too soon.  Next time you see them playing in their rooms why not take a break from whatever you are doing and join them on the floor for a few minutes.   It will lighten up your day and theirs!

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

6 kids have this to say about the U.S. elections…

We all know that our kids listen to everything we say and often their opinions are created from a combined view of what they hear at home and what they see on television or online.  Now, I really try to avoid getting into politics on social media but how can we not avoid the political scene happening in the U.S. right now.  One encouraging aspect of it is that our kids are starting to pay more attention to the upcoming elections, who is in the running and even asking questions about what the difference between the candidates are.

In a recent carpool I was doing with 6 kids in the car – all girls ages 10-11 and my 7-year old son, it was fascinating to hear their views.  Firstly, they started the conversation completely on their own with one kid asking, who would you vote for in the elections.  These are the responses:

I would not vote for Donald Trump he is crazy.

I hate Donald Trump, what’s wrong with him.

And….his hair is weird (that was my 7- year old son)

I would vote for Hillary because we should have a female president.

But don’t you think our first female president should be a good female president?dreamstime_xs_27169053

Well, I think she is awesome and all women should vote for her.

I was born outside of the U.S. and we’re Muslim so if Donald Trump wins we would have to leave.

Really?  Is that really true?

Yes – she’s right – that’s what I heard as well.  If you are not from the U.S. and you believe in Islam you have to leave.

No one likes him, I don’t understand why is he on TV all the time and who are all these people voting for him?

I still think we should all vote for Hillary, she is going to be great as a president.

I don’t think she is and I will only vote for a female president when there is a good one.  We should vote for Bernie Sanders instead.

Yeah, my mom is a Republican but now she has to vote for Sanders because there is no one else.

Republicans don’t care about everyday people.

I don’t know about that but I don’t think our country is ready for a female president (this is from a 10-year old girl!!).

Okay, you guys are all boring me, who wants to go for ice-cream (my 7- year old again…).

Yes!!!  Ice-cream …..

And we are back to what 10 year olds would normally talk about – friends at school, having a sleepover and what are you doing for your birthday.

Here’s the thing – does this 5 minute conversation with 10-11 year old kids really sound so different from what we actually hear on the news everyday!   Do you know what your kids would say?  As our kids are becoming more intrigued and interested in the elections should we be talking to them about it more?  Should schools be playing a part in this?  Or do we keep politics at home like we are supposed to do with religion?

Why not ask your kids tonight what do they think about the elections, what have they heard, do they talk about it with their friends.  Here’s a tip – don’t say anything just let the conversation happen between them (obviously, that’s if you have more than 1 kid). Trust me,  it will be a dinner conversation you will always remember.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

learning to say no…

Are you one of those people who tend to always explain your actions – why you shop a certain way, why you have to say no to something, why you threw your kid an over the top birthday party, why you don’t want to go out with the girls on Thursday night….  Have you ever asked yourself why do you do this?  Why do you have a need to justify your actions?  I’m not a therapist and I would not do justice to any theories that I am sure exits as to why you have a need to constantly be explaining your actions.  Instead, this blog post will simply be about why just saying no is a great thing to do.

Saying NO can be very liberating and there should not be any guilt associated with it not do you have to explain why you can’t do something.  It does not matter whether it is a school activity, car pooling, looking after someone’s kids, hosting a play day or doing a group activity – if you do not want to do something you don’t have to and that’s it. No reasons need to be given to anyone.  The result is you will start creating time for yourself.   Time for you to just be.  When did you last have time to just be?  Just remember that saying no to many things you don’t actually want to be doing, allows you to say yes to the one thing you really want to do.  Why not start making a list of all the things you have wanted to do but told yourself you don’t have time for.  You will now have that time!IMG_3820

You don’t owe anyone any explanations – your time belongs to you and people will have their opinions of you regardless of what you do or don’t do.  We tell our kids to be confident and steadfast in decisions they make and to not base their decisions on what others think – well, shouldn’t we do the same thing?  Those little people in our lives are always looking at how we behave and they mirror what they see.  Being strong and determined in the decisions we make and allowing time for ourselves is being a positive role model for them.  So, Supermoms, I encourage you to let your cape fly in the wind and continue making decisions that make you feel liberated, free and more like yourself. Trust me, you will not regret saying no!

 

Thursday, February 18th, 2016

Alpha Moms – are they crazy or are you one of them?

Those moms, yes those moms – walking around school smiling, knowing every teacher and most of the kids by name.  At every soccer game with extra water for the kid who forgot.  Baking for teachers and volunteering in class each week.  They are on every PTA committee, teachers can rely on them for help, they do fundraising and even agree to host neighborhood porch parties.  Their kids are busy with music and sports and schedules.  Does any of this sound familiar?

I think I first noticed them 3 years ago.  Walking around with that air of having it all together – school, kids, marriage, home etc.  You start questioning yourself – Am I supposed to be doing more? Are my kids going to lose out because I can’t bake and be at every PTA meeting?  I often have a conference call during soccer practice!   And then the mean, judgemental, guilty mom kicks in and you tell yourself they are obviously bored stay at home moms with nothing to do and they need to be this type of crazy Alpha Mom so they can feel better about themselves.  Yes, definitely mean!lionpicture

Now, fast-forward to present day and my confession that yes, I have become an Alpha Mom or some form of it.  As soon as I left my full-time job and started my own business my type A personality needed more structure and something to do.  I dived into being the most involved mom – websites, agendas, processes and proposals was just the start and it continued. Everything had a schedule including my kids’ lives from 7am until bedtime and of course not only was I at every soccer game with extra water and at every school meeting but I also became the chair of the PTA and hosted the porch party.  It took a while but the realization hit – this was not good thing!  Being an involved, on-time, organized mom was great but not at the expense of it taking over every part of my being.  Remember moms – don’t forget about YOU!

So, the question is are you an Alpha Mom or not?  Labels can be dangerous and the term Alpha Mom is evolving and morphing as all of us,  stay at home moms and working moms strive for that balance of being the best. This includes being part of our kids’ lives, having meaningful moments with our families and remembering ourselves.  Yes, being involved and having everything running smoothly is great, but it should not consume us.  Realizing all of this is when your Supermom kicks in –  knowing what you can do and what you should step away from.  My opinion is we are all some degree of a “Crazy Alpha Mom” and you know what, that’s absolutely okay!

Sunday, February 14th, 2016

embracing diversity through kids’ books…

bookplantMy adventures in being a mom often has me questioning the inclusiveness of the environments that our kids are part of – this could be their circle of friends, school or sports.  More often than not we find ourselves in the least diverse neighborhoods (reasons for that would be another very long blog….).  We all want our kids to feel included but what does that actually mean?  In our home from a young age we talked to the kids about acknowledging and embracing differences whether it is their own or ones that havent yet touched their lives.  This had made some impact on them in different ways including my soon to be 11-year old who has started chosing books that reflect who she is and what her history is all about.

Books can be great in starting a dialogue with kids.  I know when you go to the bookstore or library kids will often select those books that they are reading in class, are currently a TV series or that all their friends are reading.  That’s great – anything to get them to enjoy reading!  But, here’s an idea, why not select for them a few books about the diverse world they are part of?  A world that with technology is becoming smaller.  As a start you may want to take a look at this list by Groundwood Books – Celebrating a Diverse World through Children’s Books and maybe encourage your school library to purchase a few of them.

If you have come across other great titles feel free to share them on this blog post with other readers.

 

Monday, February 8th, 2016

5 superpowers moms would like to have

Thinking about the name of my blog which focuses on all moms being superheroes everyday, I thought about asking some moms if they could have an actual superpower what would they want.  Here are the top 5.  Feel free to add what you would want your superpower to be.

1. Flying: it is amazing how many moms all want to fly.  This was the most popular super power – I guess we are all so tired of traffic and it taking so long to get from one place to the other.  Or, maybe its just the price of airline tickets!!Super Momma

2. Being in 2 places at the same time.  What I am hoping moms are thinking is that they could be having some down time at the same time they are getting through those to do lists we all have.

3. Endless energy.  Nothing more needs to be said about this one…

4. Being able to twitch our nose like in “Bewitched” and make anything happen.  When one of my friends mentioned this I had a laugh and then agreed that would really be great.

5. Super human strength.  That would be amazing!

What was interesting is that some superpowers were never mentioned like being invisible, x-ray vision, super hearing or sight.  The main powers moms were looking for was to help them manage their busy days.  I wonder if I had to ask some dads the same question what would they say. Definitely an idea for another blog – stay tuned!