No Privacy

By Karen DeBolt | 17th Dec 2007 | Filed under Parenting, Reflections

Doula Mel over at the Bosombuddies blog wrote wondering about whether she should check on her eleven year old son’s cellphone text messaging with a girl and whether she should let him know that she would be checking.

Here at our house, we have a hard and fast rule that there is NO privacy when it comes to the internet.  I think the same rule applies to cellphones. My oldest has been caught already in a textual conversation which curled my hair. After calling our local police department, I locked down her computer for a week, then proceeded to give her and a couple of her friends a lecture on the dangers of the internet. The more I looked into their doings the more I realized that a determined predator would have no problem at all knowing all sorts of things about them just from their use of an online social networking site. I also showed them some videos on the NetSmartz website which scared them a bit.

So, they have no privacy and they know they have no privacy.  I feel okay about this, and several times I have heard one or the other of my kids telling their friends to “cool it, my mom reads this stuff.”  It gives them an easy way to stop uncomfortable conversations since they can just put it all on me.  I’m really okay with that.

So how much privacy do you allow your kids to have?

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Looking Forward to a Break

By Karen DeBolt | 15th Dec 2007 | Filed under Self Care

Take a break! You deserve it.Sometimes no matter what you do to relieve your holiday stress, life is just too complicated or too hard to manage, so you just have to sort of grin and bear it.  Maybe your marriage is straining or your child’s behavior has become worrisome. Maybe attending family gatherings is putting you over the edge.

Something that has helped me when I’m feeling this way is to plan a fun getaway.  There’s something about having some fun activity to do that helps to get through the tough times. There’s many types of breaks that can be helpful including:

  • A quiet retreat by yourself.
  • A girl’s night out with friends.
  • A weekend at the coast or on the slopes with your sweetie.

It doesn’t matter what you do as long as it sounds fun and relaxing for you. Get creative!  Make plans now and it will give you something to look forward to when all the hard work of the holidays is over.

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Tis The Season For Holiday Stress

By Karen DeBolt | 14th Dec 2007 | Filed under Self Care

Stress just seems to be a normal state of affairs at this time of year. We rush around trying to do all of our normal activities then add on gift purchasing, holiday preparations, baking and the never ending list of potlucks, parties and that is all before the big day!  Add in some out of town guests or a trip out of town and what do you get?

Frazzled? – check

Anxious? – oh yeah

Exhausted? – DUH!

Does it have to be this way? Can the holidays be the happy, carefree times of our youth?

Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the main reason my youthful holidays were so carefree was because my own mom was frazzled, anxious and exhausted.  Actually, my mom did quite a few things that really helped to make the holidays a bit easier for us and herself. Here are a few ideas for you:

Get organized

Mom always wrote a TON of lists about everything from gifts to menus.  She kept the lists all on the same pad so that she could work on them during those odd spare moments like while waiting for a kid to come out of play practice or in the doctors office. Also, having everything in one place meant she didn’t lose her list.

Fake Christmas Tree

Mom figured out that having a live Christmas tree was a LOT more work, so she got a nice fake tree and never looked back. Okay, I admit to whining about this one.

I love a live tree so I always have one now that I get a choice, but I also understand better now why she made that choice. She prioritized other activities over dealing with a live tree.

Renegotiate traditions

As our extended family grew bigger, it got harder and harder to buy gifts for everyone. So mom started calling around and asked about changing our tradition to a gift exchange game rather than gifts for everyone.  We tried it and have had a lively if somewhat brutal family gift exchange every year for the past 30 years or so! It’s big fun!

What have you learned from your mom about handling the holidays?

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Selfish Or Self-care?

By Karen DeBolt | 10th Dec 2007 | Filed under Parenting, Reflections, Self Care

Before my children were born, I had a shower every day, I got hair cuts whenever I needed to, and went out with my friends as often as my work schedule allowed.  I’m the low maintenance type so I rarely did things like get facials, massages, or other spa type treatments.  It just wasn’t me.

Once my first baby was born, I learned how hard getting a shower was, my hair grew long and wild, and friends became voices on the telephone answering machine for a while.  That is what having a baby did to my self-care routines. Self-care?  All I could do was self preservation.

As babies, grew to toddlers and toddlers to preschoolers, things got a bit easier, but somehow my self-care never quite went completely back to “BC” levels (Before Children)

Yes, I did get a shower whenever I wanted again, but somehow in becoming a mother, I began to have the idea that taking care of my self was, well, selfish. I sure didn’t want to take time away from my children or my husband! That would be self-serving, not the selfless person I wanted to be for them.

Well, it wasn’t long before, you guessed it, I start to get seriously grumpy. My fuse was shorter and shorter. My patience was thin. My husband was about ready to run away from home!

My “self-lessness” turned me into a grouchy, bitch from H%#$.  Not exactly the result I was going for let me tell you!

My kids became more clingy and demanding–even defiant.  Even though I thought that I was being more devoted to them, in fact by “running on empty” I was not able to give them as much of myself.  My self-sacrificing behavior actually kept me from being the kind of mom I really wanted to be.Massage

It took some time, but eventually I really got it. I needed to take better care of me so that I could take better care of my family.  For the first time, I really got that whole speech on the airplane about putting on your mask first then your child’s.

There are some basic, no exceptions self care activities that must happen in order for me to be a healthy, happy woman. It is only in this state that I can also be a healthy, happy mom.  My kids sure notice the difference too!

What are your no exceptions self-care activities?

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Channeling Our Parents

By Karen DeBolt | 9th Dec 2007 | Filed under Parenting, Reflections

Pipes channel without a valveAs parents it takes a lot of mindfulness to begin to notice our own, shall I say, less than stellar family dynamics. It’s much easier for someone outside the family to recognize those negative patterns and role modeling blunders. However, there is nothing like finding yourself saying some comment to your child that you remember with dismay your own parent saying to you.

Some common sayings are “Because I said so!” or the perennial favorite “Wait until your father gets home!”  I call this channeling my mom. UGH!  Growing up I swore that I could NEVER say that to my kids, but then in the heat of the moment, there it was. My mother’s words were coming out of my mouth.

It happened to me again just the other day. I found myself saying to my beautiful, 14 year old daughter who was thinking about being Cher for Halloween “You don’t have the figure for it anyway.”  My stress at thinking about her exposing large quantities of skin while traipsing around the neighborhood at night must have caused me to blow a fuse or something. Ugh!  I was completely mortified when I realized what I had said.  Unfortunately, the conversation was happening as she was leaving for her dad’s house, so I wasn’t able to apologize immediately, but I did grab her as soon as I saw her again the next day.

She didn’t even remember my rude comment she said.  I’d like to think that because this type of thing is not normal for our relationship that it didn’t land on her, but just slid on by.

I can hope that is the case.

Anyway, I’m glad I caught myself and was able to apologize.  Mindfulness was the key.  I recognized that yucky feeling inside. I asked myself, “What is this yucky feeling about? What does it remind me of?”  With self awareness, I hope to be able to avoid channeling my mother in the future.

Do you find yourself channeling your parents? I’m all ears

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