Posts Tagged ‘ parenting ’

Parenting With One Hand Behind Your Back

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Mommies are supposed to be able to leap tall buildings with a single bound  and perform other feats of superhuman strength. I’ve carried my daughters around even when my back was out, kept the household going through a severe bout of the swine flu, and walked the dog when I had a gimpy leg.  But all it took was a quick snap of the wrist in karate class this weekend to really throw me for a loop. Consider a broken wrist my kryptonite.

I’ve lost complete use of my left hand, which for most people wouldn’t be a big deal. But I’m a lefty, and my right hand has generally just been there for show. And so I am left navigating the world with just one subpar hand, trying to relearn how to do things like make sandwiches, dress myself, and brush my hair.

It’s not going very well. I can’t wear anything but T-shirts and sweatpants, so I look like a shlub everywhere I go. I have bed head and not in a good way, unless my nine-year-old puts my hair in a ponytail. And somehow, already, the cast is starting to smell funky.

As a writer, I usually spend most of my days clattering away on a keyboard. But one-handed typing takes 10 times as long, and so I’ve resorted to voice recognition software. Talking to write seems to be almost as challenging as one-handed typing. But at least the words come a little faster (even if they’re sometimes incorrect).

I feel bad for my husband. Even when we’re both at full capacity, managing the chaos in our house requires all hands on deck. But right now, the only chore I can still muster is unloading and loading the dishwasher, unless it has a lot of heavy dishes in it. So his plate is overloaded. Fortunately, my daughters are old enough to take on a bit more here at home – not that they are exactly chomping at the bit for a chance to take out the garbage or fold laundry. But maybe this will teach them a little bit more responsibility.

And I’m feeling a bit sorry for myself. I can’t take care of my kids the way I used to, can’t hug my daughters before bed at night. The things I like to do for fun tend to require two hands – you can’t play bass guitar or bake cookies with one hand. I have to bum rides from my friends, and get chauffeured anywhere I need to go. I feel like a loser, sitting on my couch in PJs, watching TV and nursing an aching arm while my husband manages everything else.

Right now, I’m making it job number one to regain my left hand as soon as I possibly can. I am following a superhealthy diet for bone growth – no wine or caffeine or carbonated drinks, and plenty of healthy foods, like low-fat dairy, veggies, and lean meat. I am getting more sleep. And the following doctor’s orders to T.

I’m trying to stay positive about this. My kids will learn more responsibility. I may start eating healthier. My right hand and arm will get stronger. And we will make it through the next six weeks, even if my house ends up looking like a disaster.

But in the meantime, I need some advice from moms who have been through this before. Any tips for better one-handed grooming? Any suggestions for getting the kids to pitch in? Any ideas for helping me feel a little less useless?

Image: Wrist cast by SFC/Shutterstock.com

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Sneak Peek of What to Expect at the 92nd Street Y Parenting Conference Next Week

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

We’re less than one week away from the 92nd Street Y Parenting Conference, where experts will gather to discuss some of the most prevalent parenting issues moms and dads face today.

One of parents’ top concerns involves raising children in a digital world. Dr. Michael Thompson, a best-selling author and international speaker, is one of the conference’s panelists — watch below to see what he says about controlling your child’s digital interactions:

And don’t forget: Parents and American Baby editor in chief, Dana Points, will also host a roundtable discussion and Q&A with Thompson and the other panelists after they have spoken. Tickets for the event can be purchased on 92y.org but if you are unable to attend, watch a live webcast of the conference on Parents.com.

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A Valentine’s Day Love Letter for Your Child

Monday, February 4th, 2013

Editor’s Note: In a post for an ongoing series, Dr. Harley A. Rotbart, a Parents advisor, will be guest blogging once a month. He will be offering different advice, tips, and personal stories on how parents can “savor the moment” and maximize the time they spend with kids. Read more posts by Harley Rotbart from this series.

I remember when I first held you in my arms and instantly knew how deeply I loved you. You were so tiny and helpless. You knew nothing and depended on me for everything. I was nervous because there was so much to learn and so much to teach. You were a tiny, gorgeous blob of clay. Since that first moment, it has been my joy and privilege to be your sculptor, to shape you into the beautiful child you are today and to continue shaping you into the responsible, moral, and loving adult I pray you will be someday. It’s my job to make you feel happy and loved. To protect, comfort, guide, inspire, and motivate you.  It’s a wonderful job, the best in the world. But it’s a hard job, and sometimes I still get nervous.

There are times when I do or say things that you don’t yet understand, and they upset you. I try to explain but some things will make sense only when you’re older. As a parent, I have to make rules and set limits that may seem unfair. Like when I make you eat vegetables or do homework, when I say something isn’t healthy or something is too expensive, when I tell you it’s bedtime or you’ve had enough TV or you need to clean your room.  You may think I don’t love you when all I do is say “no,” especially on days when it seems like I’m saying it a lot.

My days are very busy, with lots of grown-up things I need to do. Sometimes I have less time and energy to spend with you than either of us would wish. You may think I don’t love you when I’m too tired to play or when an important phone call interrupts us, when I have to work on the weekend, when I have a meeting during your soccer game, or when I come home late or have to leave town. You may think I don’t love you when I say, “I can’t right now,” especially on days when it seems like I’m saying it a lot.

As hard as I try to do things right, sometimes I make mistakes. Grown-ups aren’t perfect. You may think I don’t love you when I lose my temper or raise my voice, when I blame you for something you didn’t do, when I don’t notice the good things you did do, or when I say something that hurts your feelings or embarrasses you.

But I want you to know this: Even during the times when it may seem like I don’t love you, I really do. Very, very much.  With all my heart and soul. I love you more than anything else in the world.

Happy Valentine’s Day, my sweet, wonderful child.

Dr. Harley A. Rotbart

Dr. Harley A. Rotbart is Professor and Vice Chairman of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado. He is the author of three books for parents and families, including the recent No Regrets Parenting, a Parents advisor, and a contributor to The New York Times Motherlode blog. Visit his blog at noregretsparenting.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter (@NoRegretsParent).

 

Image: Red paper envelope with white heart via Shutterstock.

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Mark Your Calendars for the 92nd Street Y Parenting Conference

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

What do you really need to know as a parent?

On February 11, five experts will host presentations on a slew of topics at the 92nd Street Y’s Parenting Conference to answer that question. Topics aimed to help moms and dads meet today’s parenting challenges include: language learning and literacy, parental anxiety, and raising independent children.

Parents and American Baby editor-in-chief Dana Points will then host a roundtable discussion and Q&A with the panelists. On February 12, parents can also join experts for an intimate Q&A breakfast.

If you live in the New York City area, consider attending! Interested participants can find more information about the conference, register, and buy tickets on the site. Parents can also follow the 92Y Parenting livestream video on 92y.org or the webcast on Parents.com. Be sure to check out the live updates on Twitter via #92YParenting, as well.

For a sneak peek, watch Dr. Michael Thompson, a best-selling author, international speaker, and one of the conference’s panelists, talk about controlling your child’s digital interactions:

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Make New Year’s Absolutions (Instead of Resolutions)

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

New Year confetti and balloonsEditor’s Note: In a post for an ongoing series, Dr. Harley A. Rotbart, a Parents advisor, will be guest blogging once a month. He will be offering different advice, tips, and personal stories on how parents can “savor the moment” and maximize the time they spend with kids. Read more posts by Harley Rotbart from this series.

New Year’s resolutions are a nice concept but risky business – if we don’t live up to those bold promises we feel like failures. For parents, this can be particularly tough, as we often make resolutions not only for ourselves but for our families, and this magnifies the chances of falling short and feeling guilty (We should have tried harder, done more).

For this New Year, I propose that parents avoid resolutions entirely and, instead, grant themselves absolutions. Absolutions are acts of forgiveness, amnesty from shortcomings real or imagined. The following New Year’s Absolutions are conditional upon your making one simple resolution – that you will always try to be the best parent you can. If you fulfill this resolution, you may hereby grant yourself absolution from any guilt associated with these inevitable situations in the coming year:

  1. Missing an occasional soccer game, dance rehearsal, karate match, or piano recital (no matter how hard you try to be at every one).
  2. Missing a PTA meeting or two, or failing to volunteer for the big school fund-raiser (how could they not have checked your calendar before scheduling?).
  3. Coming up short of a culinary masterpiece for dinner some nights (or maybe most nights!).
  4. Feeding your kids Pop-Tarts for breakfast in the car on the way to school on those rare chaotic mornings. (Rare?!)
  5. Allowing unavoidable work to occasionally interfere with family time.
  6. Letting some weekends slip away without accomplishing any of the planned family activities.
  7. Sneaking off to a far corner of the house to scream when your kids have pushed you to the limit.
  8. Caving in to your kids’ requests for more TV or video game time than you prefer, so you can have a little peace and quiet.
  9. Letting your mind wander to the dishes in the sink or the lawn that needs mowing when your kids are telling you the most important thing about their day.
  10. Catching yourself saying the same dreadful things to your kids that your parents said to you: “Because I said so” or “You’ll understand when you grow up.”
  11. Falling asleep before your kids during their bedtime story.
  12. Letting your kids out of the car in the school drop-off line before their hair is brushed (and is that the same shirt they wore yesterday?).
  13. Receiving a call from your child’s teacher telling you that your kid taped a classmate’s legs to the chair during arts and crafts.
  14. Doing more of your kids’ homework than you know you should, just to get it done and get them to bed.
  15. Believing that other parents are always doing a better job at everything than you are.

So this New Year, lose the guilt. Give yourself a break and be realistic about parenting; you’re doing a great job, most of the time. And, even when you wish you could do better, be wiser, and show more patience, that consciousness about your parenting proves your love and commitment to your kids. It is this love and commitment that will become your legacy as parents, for this New Year and beyond. Happy and healthy 2013 to all!

Dr. Harley A. RotbartDr. Harley A. Rotbart is Professor and Vice Chairman of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado. He is the author of three books for parents and families, including the recent No Regrets Parenting, a Parents advisor, and a contributor to The New York Times Motherlode blog. Visit his blog at noregretsparenting.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter (@NoRegretsParent).

 

Image: Multicolored balloons and confetti via Shutterstock

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Putting Two Kids Through Private School on One Salary

Friday, December 14th, 2012

Editor’s Note: Parents.com has partnered with LearnVest.com to bring you a monthly series of posts about money-related topics related to moms. These guest posts will be shorter, edited versions of longer features from LearnVest.com. The following essay reveals how one mom made the tough decision to whittle her budget in order to send her kids to private school.

When my husband and I were house hunting in 2006, admittedly the last thing on our minds was the quality of our neighborhood school, because we never intended to be living there when our daughter started kindergarten.

Now, six years later, we’re paying five digits a year for our two kids to go to private schools, even though it’s putting a major strain on our finances. We’re a single-earning family, and that sole earner (me) happens to be self-employed in journalism, a field that took a major hit during the recession.

We’re not alone. In 2009-2010, there were more than 5 million American schoolchildren attending private school, according to the Council for American Private Education, which was equal to about 10% of the total number of children enrolled in school in the U.S. Plus, according to CNN, the average annual tuition bill is $22,000 for private schools, across all grades K-12.

Looking back on our own situation, sometimes I wonder how we managed to get here…

We Started Off With a Plan

Our daughter wasn’t even 2 years old in 2006 when my husband and I both quit our jobs. I left my position as a corporate marketing manager to be a stay-at-home mom, and my husband stopped teaching to enroll full-time in graduate school—where he was going to get his doctorate in music education to become a professor—in Urbana, Illinois, a full 700 miles away from where we were currently living in Rochester, N.Y.

I had major concerns about going into this situation with both of us not working. But my husband was awarded a prestigious academic fellowship that came with a $19,000 stipend, we had the option to get student loans and we had some savings as well.

After a lot of talking, and a lot of compromise, we decided we could make it work on a limited income for the time being, but it was going to be very lean.

Our first shock was the high cost of real estate in our new city. In a small college town like Urbana, sellers have you over a barrel when the housing stock is limited and you have no option but to settle there, so we ended up buying a half-built tract house in an “affordable housing” development that also offered a hefty tax incentive. After all, the plan was to move wherever my husband got a job at a university after he graduated in three years…

Where It All Went Wrong

My husband surmised that a typical doctoral program in his field took about three years to complete–two years of coursework and one year writing a dissertation. Then he would hit the academic job market, looking for (and hopefully getting) a position as a professor.

At least, those were our plans. We didn’t anticipate how having a family would impact my husband’s studies. Because we are so far from our support system, he often had to step in and take over for me when I needed to leave the kids at home for some reason, or if I was sick (in the last four years I’ve had three major surgeries). All of that took time away from working on his degree and he fell behind.

A multitude of obstacles (including those mentioned above) have prevented my husband from finishing his schooling. On top of that, his academic advisor left the university, stalling his dissertation until he found a new one. He is slated to graduate in 2013, but the bottom line is, we never expected to still be living in Urbana six years after moving here.

Read the rest of this story and the important lessons learned on LearnVest.com.

Plus: Don’t forget to also sign up for the Baby on Board Bootcamp newsletter, a free newsletter that helps moms budget and manage family finances better over a course of 10 days.

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Parents Daily News Roundup

Monday, November 26th, 2012

Goody Blog Daily News Roundup

Disabled Parents Often Lose Custody Of Children, Report Finds
A new study estimates that there is an 80% child removal rate for the 6.1 million parents with intellectual or psychiatric disabilities in the U.S. (via Huffington Post)

Fetal Alcohol Exposure Affects Brain Structure in Children
Children exposed to alcohol during fetal development exhibit changes in brain structure and metabolism that are visible using various imaging techniques, according to a new study. (via ScienceDaily)

Bounce House-Related Injuries on the Rise in U.S
The number of U.S. children hurt while using inflatable bouncers, such as bounce houses and moonwalks, is 15 times higher than in 1995, according to a new study. (via Reuters)

School Districts Brace for Cuts as Fiscal Crisis Looms
The automatic budget cuts and tax increases that will kick in next year could spawn another round of belt-tightening at public schools already battered by the recession and its aftermath. (via New York Times)

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10 Special Traditions Beyond Thanksgiving

Monday, November 5th, 2012

Mother and daughter in pile of leavesEditor’s Note: In a post for an ongoing series, Dr. Harley A. Rotbart, a Parents advisor, will be guest blogging once a month. He will be offering different advice, tips, and personal stories on how parents can “savor the moment” and maximize the time they spend with kids. Read more posts by Harley Rotbart from this series.

At Thanksgiving time, we are reminded again of how important traditions are in a family’s life and legacy. But many parents express anxiety about how to find the “right” traditions for their family. Should traditions just “evolve,” or should parents consciously establish them? The right answer is do both – allow some traditions to evolve by embracing the activities your kids naturally gravitate toward, and consciously experiment with other traditions to see which ones work within your family dynamic.

There are two secrets to establish lasting family traditions: repetition and anticipation. When you find something that brings out smiles, repeat it on a regular and predictable enough basis that it becomes an ingrained part of the family repertoire. For those traditions that need planning ahead, begin talking about the event days before it occurs to build excitement. Anticipation can be as much fun as the tradition itself.

Traditions come in two sizes: big (national and federal holidays, birthdays, anniversaries,); and small (those unique to your family). Both are important in a family’s legacy, so personalize them with these 10 ideas for creating special traditions:

1- Make the big holidays your own. Serve meals at the homeless shelter on Thanksgiving morning. Play backyard football before Christmas dinner to work up an appetite. Bring flowers to the local military cemetery on Memorial Day or July 4th.

2- Turn birthdays into unique celebrations. Hang balloons in the kitchen the night before so the kids arrive to a party room on their big morning. Eat pancakes for breakfast in mom and dad’s bed. Sing “Happy Birthday” in the most off-key way possible.

3- Double (or quadruple!) the number of birthdays. Serve a cupcake on quarter birthdays and half a cake on half-birthdays. Avoid gifts on these fractional celebrations, and instead focus on laughter, singing, and fun. Add a balloon or two. Celebrate your pets’ birthdays, too!

4- Have monthly Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Give mom a night off from household chores on the first Tuesday of every month, and make a special dinner for her. Do the same for dad on the second Thursday of every month. Pick which day of the month works best for you, but your family will have 22 more “celebrations” each year.

5- Share quirky inside secrets. Make a funny noise in the elevator when it’s just your family taking a ride, or give a whoop every day when the clock strikes your address number (if you live at 920 Elm Lane, cheer at 9:20 every morning and night). Invent a secret family hand shake.

6- Have the same meals for special occasions. Serve Chinese food for every anniversary, Indian food for good report cards, or hot dogs on the opening day of baseball season every year.

7- Get dressed up for a candlelight dinner. Once a month, have everyone wear their best party clothes and eat a fancy meal at home by candlelight. Put on soft music, bring out the good dishes, and use restaurant table manners.

8- Celebrate the first sign of seasons. Have a family leaf fight every fall when the leaves begin to pile up in the yard, go sledding after the first snowfall, eat fruit salad in the garden to celebrate the appearance of the first spring flower, and have a family water fight on the first summer day that reaches 90º.

9- Have family-only activities. Plan a family comedy night or a talent show, make holiday cards from scratch, or write personalized lyrics to an old song and then sing the new composition together.

10- Give back to the community together. Identify a favorite charity and participate in its fundraising each year – walk, run, bike, volunteer, and/or donate.

Try lots of different ideas. There’s no such thing as “failure” – if an idea doesn’t work, you’ve still spent wonderful moments with your kids. Plus, you’ve created unforgettable memories and, perhaps, given them something to tease you about for years to come (“Remember when dad thought it would be fun to have all of us join the “polar bear club” and jump into the lake in December?”)

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Dr. Harley A. Rotbart

Dr. Harley A. Rotbart is Professor and Vice Chairman of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado. He is the author of three books for parents and families, including the recent No Regrets Parenting, a Parents advisor, and a contributor to The New York Times Motherlode blog. Visit his blog at noregretsparenting.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter (@NoRegretsParent).

 

Image: Mother and daughter in autumn yellow park via Shutterstock.

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