We all work hard as parents to keep drugs out of our kid’s repertoire. We educate them on the dangers of pot and harder drugs. We teach them to always ‘Say No’.
I discuss these things with my children from Day 1 and it’s incorporated into the very fiber of our family. So, when my kids had trouble falling or staying asleep I felt really ‘icky’ when my pediatrician recommended Melatonin for them.
I asked the usual questions, Is it harmful?, What are the side affects? etc. But, my doctor kept reassuring me that this was a ‘natural’ non-invasive pill that really just enhances our own bodies’ already prevalent Melatinon levels. “Essentially, it’s more like an herbal thing, than anything else” says my friend who swears that Melatonin saved her nights.
So I popped the top and gave my 10 year old her 5 mg pill. Then, a few days later when my oldest had trouble sleeping, I too popped the top and offered him a little purple sleep, as well. Suddenly, all groggy and sleepy we were basically all popping that top. Because, seriously who hasn’t had a rough night falling asleep and if a little purple friend can help us out, well why the heck not?
So, one evening about 5 days into our Melatonin-love-fest I saw my daughter aimlessly walking the hallway with one eye open. She wasn’t feeling at all well but, could barely put two words together in a sentence. She was about 2 hours into her sleep schedule and felt dizzy and nauseous. She wasn’t ‘awake’ enough to take care of herself and vomited all over. Obviously ill, we got her back to bed. But, it was clear that the melatonin was still in her system and making her ultra drowsy while she was sick. I decided to stop giving it to her, that night.
The next evening as I put the Melatonin away in a medicine cabinet, my oldest came up for a ‘hit’. I explained that I didn’t like how sleepy it made them in the morning and the fact that clearly we all were depending on something else to help us sleep. He huffed and went to bed. He was asleep in less than thirty minutes, on his own.
I did some research into circadian rhythms and how to naturally, truly naturally but, not pill-naturally, reset our clocks. With fortitude and a bedtime routine like warm baths, unplugging 1 hour before bed from screens and listening to the amazing power of Marconi Union (seriously, this is better than drugs!) we could all reset our internal clocks and get some much needed rest. Without the help of pills.
New research suggests that Melatonin may not even be safe and fewer medical professionals are recommending this non-FDA approved drug. Please do your research before you start anything and try some more natural ways to reset the clock before we jump on a pill. Let’s teach our kids that we don’t need drugs to help us do something as simple as fall asleep.
Dreaming of a vacation getaway? Someplace warm? Perhaps this Spring Break you’ll finally make your wish come true (I know I will!) Going away for Spring Break is awesome. Sitting in hour long car rides or planes trips, not so much. Some start spring break in just a few short weeks. Start project prep now and stay on top of boredom or bookmark this page and come back later.
Here are my top 5 faves for spring break travel plans to keep little and big ones busy when the iPad battery runs low or the videos have run out….
Keep It Contained
My travel motto, learned after years of road trips, is always Keep It Contained. Whatever ‘it’ is, it can’t roll around and fall to the floor every minute. So, here is a a genius plan-ahead activity that can be adapted to whatever projects or printouts your little one loves. This could be a fun pre-trip prep with an older one, as well. I would put my 14 year old or 10 year old on this project, I am sure she’d love making it ahead of time for my preschooler.
Solving, Are We There Yet?
You are about to say thank you. I know it. Who hasn’t almost stopped the car in hour 10 in the car, after the Are We There Yet and the I’m Boreds took over?
Create this little paper chain. Attach to back of your seat and let them rip off one per hour (or for shorter trips you can determine the intervals). You can include little jokes, projects, games, out of the window things to look for etc. and keep them entertained for hours. When you get there and they rip that last chain off, you’ll breathe a huge sigh of relief. Well, you’re welcome.
Have Lego Fans, Will Travel
My daughters love lego. It can keep them entertained for hours. But, with my Keep It Contained rules, well that’s a toughie. Until, I found this little smartypants article that solved my lego problem and made my spring trip plans oh, so much easier. And, for other amazing lego storage ideas visit here.
Paris, For Big Kids
This would be an amazing Euro travel idea or really fun for any preteen or teen traveler. Simply visit this site and print out a tiny little Paris to be colored, cut, folded and imagined. Placed in a decorated box this could provide a full trip of fun and imagination. Voila!
Bored Board Games
Depending on the age, dusting off those old trivia games could be an excellent time passer for kids. Worst Case Scenario cards, Trivial Pursuit (even jr. addition for the little ones) or Would You Rather can be played amongst the kids or read by the passenger in the front seat. You could go one further and have the kids make up the cards prior to the trip. Especially excellent idea if you’re older kids are home a few days prior to the trip. Stick cards in a ziplock and off you go!
Where ever you’re headed this spring break, make sure its warm & the snacks are plentiful. Have a great trip!!
11:00 pm Wednesday night. My son calls me from his room downstairs on my cell.
“Mom. My stomach kills.”
I go to his room and check on him. At nearly 17, this one rarely complains about ailments and really never needs my help for a stomachache. I’m on alert. I check on him and he doesn’t look ‘right’. Mother’s intuition kicks in and I touch the right side of his stomach. He looks pained, but not too bad. Something in me insists he must go the ER. I had my appendix out in 2010 and I know the signs. Off he goes with Dad.
I go back to bed. Exhausted, after an already long day caring for my sick daughters, 2 of 3 have fevers and bad coughs. I myself, have been sick for a week. I try to sleep, no avail. My phone texts back with hubby checking in. I doze off for about ten minutes when my ‘ding’ awakes me. “Appendicitis. Surgery in a few hours.”
I lay awake, wondering what to do. It’s 3 am and I have about 3 hours until surgery. If I leave now, my 14 year old will not be conscious enough to watch her sisters. I contemplate how complicated parenting and emergencies are – wake a friend? Call my sister in the middle of the night, who just started a new job? Just stay home and let my son handle surgery with just his Dad?
I suddenly freak out that my preschooler has Moms Day at school at 9. She’s been so excited, I can’t miss it.
Nothing feels right. And, at 4 am, exhausted and with one eye open, I call my parents. Thousands of miles away I just need to talk it out. I wake up my Dad and decide I want to go to the hospital. I want to be there. I wake up my 14 year old at 5 am, grateful to have a child old enough to help out in an emergency. She’s amazing and jumps to help.
Surgery successful, until the nurse tells me because my son is no longer a child, I cannot go in to see him in recovery. Ugh. Thanks for the painful reminder.
Once I do get to see his face and kiss his cheek, I run out the door to Moms Day. Pushing on adrenaline, I am oddly reminded of the following Different Strokes Episode where Arnold gets his appendix out, as I drive the car on going on 1 hour of sleep.
With Moms Day success, I run home to check on my girls. Then, run back to the hospital to relieve my husband and let him get some much needed rest. I sit next to my son as he sleeps, reminding myself that even though he’s almost an adult he looks so innocent and sweet and vulnerable laying there in that bed.
I am grateful, that I had my own appendix removed a few years earlier and by some miracle, immediately recognized the signs. I am thankful that he’s going to be just fine. I feel blessed that we are lucky enough to be surrounded with great friends as the texts and phone calls start to pour in. Offers of help, food, kindness and rest.
Lately, I have had this worry that as my children grow, I will no longer have a job as Mother. My job is 18 years and done.
Then, what? But, I am learning that truly being a parent doesn’t end, it just morphs. You go from Life Support to Life Coach to an occasional check-in, in the blink of an eye. I’m 39 and at 4 am, in crisis mode called my dad in the middle of the night. Total instinct.
I will try to remember, in a few months when we say goodbye to my son for a year abroad, that he really will still need us sometimes. My job as a parent isn’t ‘done’ - it’s just changed. He no longer needs me in the recovery room, but will let me know in longer term healing, how I can help.
I guess, we’ll see how it all plays out.
“You don’t know what you talkin’ bout, Sara” I chuckle to myself, as my head finally finds a pillow.
And then, I go to sleep.
I have seen the Grateful Dead live.
Bob Dylan. Yep, live on stage.
The Allman Brothers. Check. Oh, and 9 months pregnant.
Peter Himelman. Twice. Even got the idea to name my daughter Raina.
I have breathed in the secondhand smells of illegal drugs and stepped into the drippings of my neighbor’s spilled beer. I have been frightened after a Madison Square Garden Deadhead ran naked screaming like a monkey from a bad LSD trip. I have learned about Miracles and hackey sacks. I have watched the dances, the grooves, the space, the dreads, the unkempt un-deoderized bodies swaying in the steam-filled arenas.
Some would say they are jealous of my musical past. Some would say I am lucky. I however, never got it. Not for one darn second. I went to these concerts because the man I loved, loved them. I never spoke a word of dissent. I put on my long prairie skirt, grabbed my hemp purse and went to the shows. I held his hand. Tightly. Afraid and yes, somehow in wonder of all I was watching. I wished one day to go to a concert and actually enjoy the experience. To sing or dance along to the music. To come home in the great mood my boyfriend, now husband did. But, that never happened.
Last Summer we took the kids to a One Republic concert at Ravinia, an open, airy and beautiful park experience in Illinois. We dined on Sushi as Ryan Tedder belted out his tunes. I found myself humming or singing along in my casual, picnic clothes. I then took my daughters closer to the venue to watch. I was mesmerized by the music and the vibe in the air and my daughter’s excitement was infectious. It was actually enjoyable.
Last night, we celebrated my husband’s birthday 2 months late with floor seats at Paul Simon and Sting. As we entered the theater freezing our butts off, on yet another cold Chicago night, our bellies full of wraps eaten in the car on the way, I realized after 15 years of living in Chicago this was my first time in the United Center. Pathetic, I know.
We sat in our seats, lamenting to myself the taller person in front of me, but excited none the less. Knowing I don’t ordinarily enjoy concerts I was happy to at least know the songs. We stood as Paul and Sting took the stage. I glanced around me noting the average age on floor seats was roughly someplace between middle aged bellies and fully white hair. Noted, these performers are 62 and 72.
They opened with Brand New Day. It was okay. The excitement in the space was palpable but, I wasn’t ready to give in just yet. Song number four, Every Little Thing She Does is Magic was super fun and I felt the need to tap my legs. Eight songs in they played Mother & Child Reunion. My heart did a little dance. I love, love that song and to see it live on stage was pretty cool. America, Me & Julio Down By The Schoolyard, Roxanne. It was bordering on awesome. Then, The Boxer.
As Paul and Sting ever so gently sang, I felt the goosebumps rising on my arms. I was seeing history. My history. I remember as a child hearing these songs played on records at home or in the car. Listening to my mom play Simon & Garfunkel on the grand piano in our living room. Those songs leading into dancing songs around the room. It was a beautiful moment and a beautiful memory.
As the show came to a close it hit me like a Dead Head on an LSD trip hits the cold hard pavement at the end of the show. It was over and I wanted there to be more. It was an evening that showed me that music, when it’s something you like, when it’s something that brings back moments in your life, when its shared with someone you love – can be monumental and special and fun and something you want to do again.
So, my dear husband, dead-head – I get it. I really do get it.
I was raised in a very strict family. We had rules, regulations, curfews, punishments. We ate soap if we swore, went to bed without supper if we misbehaved and when I overspent on my credit card at 18, I was grounded for a month.
Some may think it wise parenting, others too much. But, it was a generational way to control a family with six children and ensure respectful, well-mannered children were brought into the world.
As a parent, I chose a different path. I have always loved the idea of Attachment Parenting. I loved the idea of nurturing a child so much in the beginning of their life, that as a growing person they felt fully supported and capable to go off on their own.
Some disagree with this parenting method. Many think Attachment Parenting raises, insecure, overly-attached, Momma’s boys or wussy girls. Overtime, I have settled somewhere between raising “Attached” children and instilling some discipline - when necessary.
“When necessary” is arbitrary, though. I discovered that the few times over the past 17+ years I have given my children a punishment, withdrawn a toy or given a Time Out I have looked into the eyes of a pained child. A child that lost a little trust in me or vice versa. I think withdrawing love and understanding by giving a punishment – banishing the child to their bedroom, the Time Out chair, or the like, just settles that child in for feeling bad about themselves – not changing the behavior.
I know, some of you will say I’m too soft. Some will say that a child needs to feel badly, so that they can change the behavior. I used to be torn. I never wanted to be the cause of pain or insecurity in my child. So, I have seen the light.
The proof is in the pudding, as I have learned that without punishment, but through talking about the consequences of their actions I can see the guilt and the understanding of the wrongdoing come across their faces.
My children own their mistakes. My children know precisely the moment they ‘messed up’ and by talking it through I can see their acceptance and their willingness to put it right. This is in essence the ‘point’ of a punishment and precisely the reason I don’t believe its usually necessary to go any further than a real, honest conversation.
My children are not perfect. They do sometimes misbehave or make bad choices. They are human, after all. But, I also know that they are really good kids who often immediately realize the err of their ways. They have an excellent moral compass. They feel guilt and compassion and the desire to be good people in the world. They treat others and their siblings with respect. I believe that is not only because of me or my husband – but, because they learned to believe in themselves and their ability to feel confident, not persecuted or constantly told they need a Time Out from love and affection.
I believe that if we hold them to a standard of constant perfection, punishing every mistake or sending them to the Time Out chair for every misbehavior, we create little sparks of self-doubt in them. Little pieces of yukkiness that they are disappointing their parent’s expectations. They grow up thinking they can never be good enough. It takes its toll and as parents we have to be conscious of it. We too, aren’t perfect. I work on remembering this everyday.
I have been in homes where the child has spent much of his day in Time Out. I have seen him return to the group only to continue the behavior. I have seen the child banished to his room, to ‘contemplate what he’s done’ only to contemplate exactly how angry he now is with his parents. I have seen siblings that fight to the end over jealousy or attention from another parent.
I do not think that I am the only one who believe this. I just read this article discussing the hows and whys of whether Time Outs accomplish the goal. But, I am always learning. What works for you?