Monday, September 23, 2013

Thanks for all you did wrong mom!

When it comes to being a mom there is no one way to do it. In fact we all have our own rules and guidelines that we follow. Some of us follow the methods of our mothers. Others see errors in their own upbringing and take a different route completely.

My mom was fun. She'd dance with us, play with us, give us snacks by candlelight just for fun. She would bury us in the sand, wrestle with us. She towed us too and from practices and games. She loved us sooo much. There are so many ways that I hope I am like her as a mother.  But she wasn't perfect. Far from it.

I don't really follow the parenting style of my mother. In fact I think my mom did many things with raising me that I wouldn't do with my own kids. I turned out all right in the end. In fact, I think I'm better than just alright, when all is said and done, but she did many things that I as a mom wouldn't do.

Is that to say that she was a bad mom? No. It means she had a different parenting style and I took what I learned from her and have raised my kids using that (or not using it as the case may be). I believe my mother did what she felt was right. And honestly that's all anyone can ever really ask.

But my mom was very relaxed about what we watched or listened to. My exposure to slightly more mature movies and music not only desensitized me to what I was seeing and hearing but it also made me encounter themes that I probably was not old enough to see.

She didn't read my diary or as I got older check my pager or cell phone. She didn't speak to my friends parents when I said we were sleeping at her house. She trusted me. She didn't snoop or question me too much either.

Was her mistake to trust me? Well... frankly, yes it was. I was a child. And though I appreciate, love and am grateful for her trust in me it was misplaced. We were kids, we pushed the limits and tested boundaries. I believe part of the issue was I never gave my mom a reason to mistrust me. Not because I was such and angel, but I was that good at hiding.

But my mom also believed I had to make my own choices and learn responsibility on my own. And I did. Slowly I might add. Her discipline ranged from extreme to laughable and varied depending on her mood. Small rule infractions could reap huge punishments while a major rule break could get a warning. Because it wasn't consistent I honestly wasn't too worried because if I got in trouble I may or may not be grounded. Not knowing made the risk much less intimidating.

So what I am getting at, the surprising point of this is... I learned a lot from my mom. Sure I don't agree with her but that is what taught me so much. I learned that my child can be trusted but not trusted blindly. I learned that they can make their own choices when I present them with options. And they learn responsibility along with consequences. And when it comes to discipline I am firm, fair and consistent (usually).

So while many of us follow the model of mother we were given there are those who, like me, take a different route. I don't agree with all the things my mom did but I am using it to learn with my kids and I hope they will learn from my mistakes (actually I'd hope not to make any but let's be realistic).

So this is a thank you to my mom. Sure you may have not been the picture perfect model but  you turned me into the best mom I know how to be. And that means everything to me and to my kids and hopefully one day they will look back and thank me for all I did wrong too.

Monday, September 16, 2013

How much privacy should your child have?

From WFLA's  News Channel 8

Polk teen's death spurs social media conversation

Polk County authorities are investigating the death of a 12-year-old girl. Her mother believes her daughter's death can be linked to cyber bullying.

"If I had known about it, I would have taken her phone and all of her electronics away," said Tricia Norman, outside her Lakeland home. She believes her daughter, Becca, took her own life by jumping from the tower at an abandoned cement plant.

Authorities found numerous negative messages on her phone, including "nobody cares about you" and "you seriously deserve to die."

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd says the recent case of cyber bullying should be a lesson to all parents: know what your children are doing on the phone and online.

"If you're not searching your children's devices, if you're not taking them from your 12, 13, 14, 15, 16-year olds, and demanding to look and see what's happening, you're not being a responsible parent," Sheriff Judd said.

Reed the full story here!

I decided to post this on and you can check it out here: How much privacy should your child have?

My question was prompted by this sad suicide story but at it's core it raised this question...

How much privacy should your child have?

This sad story is an example of what can happen if you are not fully aware of what is going on in your child's life. I am NOT blaming the mom. She is just one part of a sad story that led to this sad end. Had the mom gone through her phone, had the girl asked for help, had the kids who bullied her not done so, had thier parents paid more attention to what they were doing... but sadly these are all what ifs.

I asked Tampa Bay Moms Group Members:
Do/would you go through your child's cell phone?
Would you periodically search their room? Their backpack or purse?
Would you read her diary or private blog?
Do you check up on them online?

My answer is YES to all. I want my kids to have some privacy but I rather them be safe.

That means they can have a phone when they are responsible enough and with it comes the understanding that they can not lock it unless I have the password. I get it handed to me as soon as I ask. I can check it whenever I like. Same goes with their personal space and belongings, online accounts.

It's not that I don't trust my kids but I am their mom. Not their friend. And they are kids. I can trust them but that doesn't mean I can always trust their judgment.  As a parent I feel is it my duty to check up on every aspect of their lives.

Now that doesn't mean as take a peek at B's diary I have to read every page. I am not trying to see who she has a crush on or what she ate or why shes mad at a friend. I am grazing through looking only for things that I need to be involved in... like bullying (whether she is being bullied or doing the bullying). Same with A's cell phone. I pop on and go through his texts, I check on his instagram and facebook (both of which I am a friend on) and that's it. They know I will do this and if they don't like it they can hand over their phone or close their accounts or stop writing in their journal.

I hate that I feel I have to do this but I would hate even more to be standing on TV saying "If only I had checked her phone I would have known how bad things were".

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Love your belly!

It's easy to feel self conscious about our bodies. Once we become moms and have out tummy's morphed into a home for a tiny person and they leave... well, it's rarely the same. And we will exercise, complain, hide or explain away the marks, skin and flab. I know I do. But when I saw this I wanted to share it. If we all looked at our stomachs for how beautiful they are and the amazing thing they did wouldn't that be amazing?
I don't know who wrote it, or who made this but I'd love to find out. Not just to give them credit but to say... Thank You!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

How do you decide which extra curricular activities your child should do?

When I was asked this on  WFLA's Daytime Show I found the wording funny.

How do you decide which extra curricular activities your child should do? Well... you don't. You make suggestions, let them do the same, try them out and then as a family  you make a decision.

Doing activities like baseball, football, dance or music is a commitment and usually one that effects the who family.

My son did football for a few years and the commitment was high. Practice was 3 nights a week for two hours a night with games lasting about 3 hours on Saturday. It limited the time the girls could spend doing their activities and it increased the time I spent chauffeuring kids around town.

So before you make a commitment figure out what you want to have them try. What are they interested in? If your child is small and slow sadly football may not be a great option but soccer or baseball may. But if they are twice the size of other kids basketball may seem like the logical idea but maybe they have a song in their heart they need someone to teach them how to play! Don't limit them!!!

If you kid loves to dance but has no rhythm should you keep them from participating? No. Let them dance and realize they may never make the performance team.

All that matters is your kids are having fun, they are safe and you are not going insane.

But also remember once the season or session starts... when you sign up you make a commitment to the coach and team (or teacher and class, etc). Do not just drop out without a very good reason (health, moving, etc). It sets a bad example for your child. Make them stick it out. It shows that they should be able to have people count on them even when it's a sacrifice to themselves, it teaches them responsibility and just because they don't like it at first doesn't mean they won't change their minds.

So sit down, find out your child's interest and try something. It's great for their self esteem and health to find an activity that they are either good at or just plain enjoy. Now if you found something they are good at and enjoy you've hit the jack pot so stick with it!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

How do you prepare your child for the arrival of a new baby?

How do you prepare your child for the arrival of a new baby?

It's much like preparing your dog for a new puppy. Kidding, but not totally. It's really about easing into it.

When you are dealing with a child it's important to ease them into the new addition soon and slow. This goes for only children who will suddenly be sharing moms attention and affection or for other siblings who are suddenly losing their standing in the family hierarchy.

Sometimes I joke and say that kids have this natural survival instinct. It's what causes them to know the exact moment when mom and dad could be making a new addition and this explains why that is exactly when they will knock on the door or crawl into bed with you.

They have a sixth sense to let them know that they are moving down the chain.

Ok, so I'm just joking though it could be true (at least in my house) and it explains why hubby and I NEVER GET ALONE TIME.

But all kidding and sarcasm aside... here are some things to do to prepare your child(ren) for a new baby.

1. Tell them about it early. The sooner you tell them the longer they have to adjust. Have them ask any questions, answer them as honestly as their age permits.

2. Stress that they will always be special and find ways to make them feel that way. Give them a unique nickname or find a special story or rhyme you reserve just for them.

3.Let them share the news! Even if they aren't excited about a baby brother kids love to share news. It makes them feel big. So let them tell the grandparents, their friends, etc.

4. Allow them to go to the doctor with you... especially for the sonogram.

5. Let them pick out juniors name. You don't want to give them full control or your baby may be named Optimus Prime... but you could give them the names you are deciding between and let them have the final decision. This will really help foster a special bond.

6. Let them pick out things for the baby. A special blanket, their going home outfit or a stuffed animal will help them feel included.

7. Include them at the hospital. You may not want them in the room while you push (after all it's scary and who knows what colorful words they may hear). As soon as baby is out and able let your other children in first and be the very first to meet the new baby and hold them.  This is a good time to give them their special little gift they picked out.

8. Give your older kids a gift. You could get really creative and have them make a handmade frame in advance and then once baby is born put the first photo of them holding her into it. Or get them a special toy. It's easy for big kids to get jealous when the baby gets so much attention and gifts so be sure to not leave them out.

9. Be honest. Explain that when a new baby comes people are very excited to see the baby and sometimes it may seem like that is all they care about but that is not the case. And slowly things will become more balanced . If they ever feel they are not getting enough attention they can just say so. But you have to make a point to listen and look for signs if they don't mention it and of course make a point to give older kids all the love and attention they need... even if it's on just 2 hours of sleep thanks to that new bundle of joy.

10. Be ready to seek help. If your child starts to revert to younger behavior (tantrums, potty accidents, or won't do tasks they normally do like feeding themselves), acts out or becomes a bit rough with the new baby (pinches, tosses toys at or seems at all aggressive) and talking to them isn't working do not be afraid to ask for help. You can find a friend, parent, online connections like (sorry, shameless self promotion) and of course your pediatrician.

But if the kid just doesn't adjust to the new baby put them in a dog crate until they decide to play nice. And reward them with treats when they do good. And never underestimate the power of a good, behind the ear scratch. (:P)

Oh, and congratulations and good luck with your new addition!

Cyndi Edwards from Daytime motivated me to blog! (Again)

Today I recorded my segment for Daytime.  First of all let me say that I just LOVE going on. Cyndi is just so amazing. I adore her. And Jerry (who skipped out to have fun in L.A.) is a hoot!

But today it was just Cyndi and I. And the only bad part is the show will feature lots of models for a Tampa Fashion Week feature. So here I am surrounded by 80lb, 7' tall models. Nothing makes you feel sexy and thin like being surrounded by 20 something's who get paid to be gorgeous. It's hard to believe I ever came close to looking like them... but on the bright side... they should hope to look like me in 10 years after popping out a few kids. (Sour grapes anyone?)

So I'm feeling no so hot and here comes the cherry on top... literally. Cyndi walks out looking positively stunning in red! I probably complimented her 20 times. She was absolutely gorgeous! She could have been up there with those models no problem. And here I sat in my belly fat hiding blouse, mom jeans and ballet flats (because I just can't wrangle kids in heels).

Any way... today was pretty much the format as all the times before. I answer real questions from real moms. Simple right? But as Cyndi did my introducntion she mentioned my blog... My Handmade Life by Steffany813. Eeekkk!!!!

I have been so terribly bad about keeping up with this! She told be that she loved it and of course I was sincerely flattered but I told her what a absolute slacker I was about psoting here. It's not that I don't love it but I just don't have a lot of time and with Tampa Bay Moms Group growing so fast and other endevours I am dabbling it... well... my blog has fallen by the wayside.

But since it will be mentioned on Friday (10am on WFLA's Daytime if anyone cares to watch) I better freshen this puppy up!

SO here I am... I am blogging. I am posting. Yeah me!!!

I better keep it cracking too. Thanks Cyndi for giving me a swift kick in the butt to be a little better about my blog! (No pressure!)