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Parenting

Parenting is nothing you expected and everything you could have imagined all rolled into one. I have been spit up on, pooped on, vomited on all before 7 a.m. in the newborn years. I’ve watched my toddler shove a pearl up her nose and poop in her mouth, and I’ve even masticated food. Not as fun as it sounds. I’ve survived breast buds and the sex talk. I share everything I ever learned and you might want to know about parenting from pregnancy to labor thru to the teens years.  It’s is hard but it’s the toughest job that you’ll ever love but the salary sucks.

How Sending my Teens to School in a Pandemic is Destroying their Mental Health, Middle Class Mom Private School Kid CoVid Problems.

My girls have been home sick for almost 2 weeks. We’ve consistently tested negative for CoVid. If we’re being honest, we’ve been sick a lot since the kids have been back in school. We’ve been tested so many times that I’m actually embarrassed to go to our local CVS because they know us by name now. Currently, our school is overrun with Omicron. There are no masks required, no social distancing and they are about to take away the mode 3 learning option for those who are actively sick or quarantined. In essence, they are trying to force everyone to be in person. What am I supposed to do when I know sending my teens to school in a pandemic is destroying their mental health?

Here’s some more truth. I am diabetic. Last year, I kept the girls home, to their detriment. It’s resulted in my efforts to protect our health negatively impacting their mental health and quality of life. For that, I will feel guilt for the rest of my life. Every time they were exposed, I adhered to the testing and quarantine guidelines laid out…while others, from shame, ignored symptoms and even concealed positive results and still attended school. Being of a rational mind, all of this has weighed heavily on me and added to my anxiety. It’s added to our already huge feeling of being unsafe.

Last week, the girls were out for a stomach virus (2 negative tests last week say no CoVid). The principal called to suggest we pull the girls out of their school (the private school I’ve been paying for 3 years/ almost 2 of which my girls were virtual). I won’t lie, I was insulted and I was hurt. They suggested an online academy not associated with the school itself.

I know kids need to be in school. I’ve seen the damage not being there can cause… firsthand. But what about their safety and well-being? “What are you doing to keep them safe?” I asked.

He, literally, changed the subject and asked me if the girls were wearing their masks at school? Switching the onus to them. They do wear their masks but they are in the minority in a school of 1000. They are also a part of the vaccinated and boostered club minority. He did make a point to let me know that soon, he was planning to remove the asynchronous learning option for kids altogether because it is too taxing on the teachers. That was last Friday.

Monday, my girls were still sick. I called the school in tears because my children were obviously still unwell, vomiting, nauseous and having terrible diarrhea but now, I have the threat of expulsion looming. These are good, smart kids who are being threatened with removal because they’ve been heavily sick after almost 2 years of being completely isolated. They catch every virus that comes along now.

I was on the phone in tears asking for permission to let my children stay home from a school overrun with coronavirus. I couldn’t reach the principal so I spoke to the Vice-principal. She said to keep the girls home. She also told me that she had 80 positive cases that morning and was in the process of sending more kids home after she ended our call. Also, the principal that I had spoken with on the previous Friday was now home quarantining because he and his children had been exposed at school and tested positive. As the week has gone on, more and more children and staff have been sent home to isolate themselves after either being exposed or testing positive. My daughters go back today.

Sending my Teens to School in a Pandemic is Destroying their Mental Health

Tomorrow, they are hosting an all-school mass with the Bishop. An all-school mass (for those not in Catholic school) is mass with all 1000 kids together, complete with the Eucharist and the sign of peace (both contact). I think it’s insane for obvious reasons but this is what’s happening. Nothing makes sense to me anymore. I’m going to tell them that my girls are not allowed to attend. The last time I did this, they ignored my email and sent them anyway.

This time, I’m going to call and speak with the vice principal. If need be, I will come to pick them up until the mass is over. Who has an all-school mass during a pandemic surge? Does this make sense to anyone? Am I overreacting? I feel like I’m asking to do an insane thing in a pandemic surge. I’m conflicted because science tells me to be cautious and the school is making me feel like I’m the crazy one.

This morning I woke up and (with my little brother and sister both sick and testing positive for Omicron) thought to myself, is online school really such a bad option? Is my pride worth putting my girl’s health in danger? But can their mental health handle the isolation when everyone else they know is going about their business? I’m watching it happen, Coronavirus is destroying our teens and tweens. It’s too much for their hearts and heads to handle. What do you do when sending your teens to school in a pandemic is destroying their mental health?

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Middle Class Mom Private School Kid CoVid Problems.

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Not saying CoVid and this pandemic are issues especially hard for middle class moms with private school kids but not saying it isn’t either. I’ve noticed that, at least from my viewpoint, public schools are doing more to stop the spread. Public schools are funded by the government and are more likely to follow government guidelines and recommendations because they are cognizant that not doing so can end in losing funding. Private schools on the other hand are funded by donors, usually wealthy alumni who gift large sums of money, often with “suggestions.” What I’m saying is that if you think super-rich kids are terrible, well, you’ve never experienced their entitled parents firsthand.

They don’t like to be told what to do. It infringes upon “their freedom” so they will scream white at the top of their lungs while staring directly at a black wall. If you disagree, you are not right, you are obviously blind because you chose to believe your own eyes over what they tell you. This is the situation.

Middle Class Mom Private School Kid CoVid Problems.

Science and research show that vaccines, masks and social distancing are the way to end the pandemic. Some people at private schools say none of it exists and refuse to allow their children to follow guidelines for a “political pandemic” created by the liberals to make us all sheeple. After all, this is MURICA! Caught right in the middle of it all, the faculty and administration just trying to do the right thing by humankind without alienating the very people who pay their salaries.

Omicron is here and making my life more difficult than ever. I hate pandemic parenting because I’m terrified to send my kids to school. Let me start by saying that this whole pandemic has been a lesson in versatility, patience and pushing past fear. It’s enough already. I give. I’ve learned my lesson. I wash my hands religiously, I prioritize people and I live like every day could be my last, because it could be but my breaking point seems to be when I live in a world where others are pretending that none of this is real. People are dying and where I live, people are pretending that nothing is wrong. People are dying and nothing is wrong? Is this logical to anyone reading this? If so, please help it make sense because I can’t and it’s literally making me feel insane.

At this point, my family has been vaccinated and boostered, except Gabi who will get hers this week as soon as I can get her an appointment. We rarely go anywhere. With Omicron we are actually reverting to our March 2020 hermit lives. We wear masks in public and we social distance when possible. We wash our hands and change our outside clothes. We disinfect everything. In our state, we are in the minority.

At our daughters’ school, there are no preventative CoVid safety measures in place this year other than CDC guideline quarantining for the minimum 5 days if exposed and showing symptoms. But there is no social distancing or mask policy in place. There is no vaccination requirement. So every day, my rational and intelligent girls who have common sense go to school knowing they are 100% exposed. This is not okay.

Middle Class Mom Private School Kid CoVid Problems.

They are under so much stress (as any rational/ thinking person would be) that they have now both developed severe stress and anxiety due to the mishandling of the pandemic. They are kids who should be doing kid things but instead they are worried they are going to die or kill someone else because the adults are dropping the ball. The adults in charge are neither caring or protecting our children from Coronavirus, Delta or Omicron. They’re just seeing how this all plays out and that’s just not working for me anymore.

The other day I was driving to pick my daughters up from school and the truck ahead of me had a bumper sticker that read, “Unmask Our Kids Now.” In my head I heard, “unhand my mother” or “Free Nelson Mandela” only it wasn’t about saving anyone. In fact, quite the opposite. It basically read, “Societal rules don’t apply to me because I’m a selfish toddler who doesn’t care about anyone else but me and it’s my right to do whatever I want.”

You see, all over the country, friends of mine are taking their 5-11-year-olds to get their vaccination. In fact, they went on the very first day of eligibility, some of them drove to neighboring cities and even states, just to do their part to help end this pandemic. I’m elated. We took our girls as soon as they were eligible. Now, we’re getting them boostered because that is what all of us should be doing to end this pandemic. Was I nervous about giving my daughters a brand new vaccination? Yes. But I’m more afraid of CoVid and the long-term effects of Coronavirus.

There are still adults who haven’t gotten 1 shot yet. Y’all should be ashamed. You’d probably jump in the lifeboats ahead of the women and children too, am I right? Come on, this is embarrassing, America. Be a grown-up and do your part. Yes, I know, you don’t believe in CoVid but he believes in you and if you’re just going to live your life like you’re pursuing happiness, Consequences be damned, YOU WILL GET COVID. Regardless if you believe or not.

Middle Class Mom Private School Kid CoVid Problems.

So here we are. My daughter has missed 30 days of in-person school. I’d say at least 20 of those days were mandatory quarantines from exposure or from having “symptoms” like coughing or sore throat. I did it because even though they were vaccinated, the rules are in place to protect all of us. Also, the girls have caught a few viruses this year (as expected when reentering public places after 17 months of isolation) and pre-CoVid if my children were sick, I kept them home to protect others from catching it and to let my girls rest and recuperate. But suddenly, CoVid is the only acceptable reason for an absence.

Here’s where the real frustration comes into play, aside from kids at school chastising those who are vaccinated and/or wearing masks now the administration is questioning whether or not my daughters are “really sick” or just “don’t want to be there” when I call my daughters in sick. This began after we made them aware of the mental health struggles our girls are dealing with (as are most intelligent adults and teens). Talk about minimizing mental health. What else did I expect from a place that literally had a speaker come in and tell the kids that depression is evil and they need to pray away their mental health issues? Look, I’m all for leaning on God for strength when you feel helpless but to make it a character flaw to seek mental health help is something entirely different altogether.

Honestly, I didn’t write this post to complain about my kids’ school, I’m simply frustrated and exhausted from all of this. My daughter’s been vomiting and nauseous for the past 36 hours. Obviously, I can’t send her into a school like that nor would I send a child who is feeling that terrible into school. I called the attendance office and explained and braced myself for the inevitable call from the school nurse telling us we’d need a negative CoVid test to return, even with being vaccinated and boostered. Can I just mention that we’ve had to get so many CoVid tests in the past 2 years that the pharmacy techs at our local CVS know us by name now? It’s embarrassing. All that aside, I did get the call for the nurse but not before I got the call from the Vice Principal telling me that we “need to have a meeting to discuss her attendance”. It’s the first day of the new semester, what is there to talk about? She.Is. SICK. End of the story.   

Middle Class Mom Private School Kid CoVid Problems.

I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do. My first priority is to keep my girls healthy, happy and alive. ALIVE. At this point, I’m getting as afraid of their depression and anxiety as I am of CoVid. No child should have to feel so hopeless and helpless. I spend many nights a week reassuring my daughters that we can get through this. Holding them while they cry about what they’ve lost and the normal teen experience that they simply cannot have right now. They are missing normal human connection and being able to attend school safely. Every day they feel under threat and I don’t blame them. So I advocate for them, reassure them, hold them and love them as much and as unconditionally as I can but it’s hard when I’m just as stressed, anxious and depressed as they are.

Update: Day 2 of vomiting and nausea, they are requiring a doctor’s note or fax saying the doctor doesn’t need to see her in order to excuse the absences. Even the pediatrician is like, it hasn’t even been 48 hours, she’s not dehydrated and she’s not running a fever coming in would be more dangerous than waiting it out. They can’t even do anything for a stomach bug. FML.

What would you do in my situation? What are you doing to not only protect your family from CoVid Omicron but all the long-term side effects of surviving a pandemic in a world where conspiracy theorists and CoVid deniers pretend nothing is wrong and none of this is real?

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15 Reasons your family needs an emergency fund

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, well, with the exception of a surging pandemic. 2021, you’re so unoriginal. If 2020 taught us anything, it’s to always expect the unexpected. No matter how on top of things you think you are in terms of your family finances or life in general, no matter how well you might be doing at the moment, things can always change and you need to be prepared for any unforeseen emergencies that come your way, especially when you have a family.

Building an emergency fund once you have paid for the essentials in life, is a really sensible way of providing your family with some extra financial cushioning should the worst go wrong and if coronavirus has taught us anything it’s that it can. Don’t believe me?

Here are 15 very good reasons why our family really does need an emergency fund:

1. Job loss

None of us like to think that we might lose our jobs one day, but these days, there really is no such thing as a job for life and a job loss is something that can happen to anyone at any time for a whole host of reasons. If you lost your job, how would you cope? If you have an emergency fund that you can dip into when you need it, it is will be a whole lot easier to cover the bills and keep the family afloat until you find a new position, that’s for sure.

2. You need to relocate

Relocating is a lot more common now than it was even just a few years ago and often doing so can lead to better opportunities for your whole family in terms of job and schooling prp[ets, but if you cannot afford the costs of relocation you could miss out, which is why having an emergency fund is imminently sensible.

3. Legal costs

None of us like to think that we or a family member would ever end up on the wrong side of the law, but from DUIs to lawsuits, there are so many things that can happen unexpectedly and when they do, in order to do our best for ourselves or our family members who have gotten into trouble, we will need to find the money for lawyers, bail bonds, and things of that nature, which as you will probably know, can be pretty expensive, so if you do not have a pot of money to fall back on, it could be a very tricky situation to navigate indeed.

4. Tax bills

If you have filed your taxes correctly, this is unlikely to happen to you but it is not uncommon for families across the United States to be hit with unexpected tax bills due to calculating errors and things like that. Owing money to the IRS is never a good experience and it can cause a whole lot of stress and strain on family life, which is why being able to access the cash you need to settle that unexpected tax bill should it arise is always going to be a good thing.

5. Car troubles

How would your family get by without your car? Chances are you would struggle to get everyone to work and school on time not to mention running basic errands like grocery shopping. But, you know that car repairs can be extremely expensive, and sometimes, there’s no amount of repairing that can keep the car in action any longer, which means you will need to find the money for a new one, which means if you don’t have an emergency fund to fall back on, you could end up having to manage without access to a vehicle for quite a while. Is it really worth taking the risk?

6. Veterinary bills

If you have pets, then it is a really good idea to take out an insurance policy that will cover any treatments and medications they may need throughout their life, but even if you have insurance,w you will normally be asked to pay for various deductibles and veterinary treatment can be very expensive. The last thing you want is to feel like you have to get your pet put to sleep because you cannot afford to pay for treatment, hence why an emergency find would be a literal lifesaver.

7. Rent rises

If you rent your home, then there is a good chance that the rent you are paying will rise on a semi-regular basis, and if you are not prepared for that when it happens, it could be difficult to keep a roof over your head. If you have an emergency fund, you can dip into that to make up the shortfall until you find a more affordable home or maybe pick up a few more hours at work. Keeping a roof over your family’s head is probably the most important thing you need to do and having savings available to you when you need them will really help with that.

8. Unexpected bills

Unexpected utility bills are hardly unheard of but they can throw your finances out of whack if you have not budgeted for them and the last thing you need is to risk having the power turned off, for example. Having cash tucked away for just such bills is something that may not seem necessary, but which you will be glad of should the problem of an unexpected bill arise.

9. Health issues

Health issues are also very common, unfortunately, and if you are hit with a nasty illness that leaves you unable to work, you may not be able to bring any money into the home. That, on top of the fact that medical bills can get very expensive, even if you have insurance, means that having a nest egg hidden away for when you get sick is one of the most sensible things you could ever do for your whole family.

10. Pregnancy


Pregnancy is a lot easier to manage financially and emotionally when it is planned by you and your spouse. However, life happens and unexpected pregnancies are as common as sunshine in Florida, so if there is any chance you could end up unexpectedly pregnant at all, it really would be wise to have some money set aside in an emergency fund that will help you to pay for the essentials like diapers and doctor visits, you might have to find other ways of financing the first 18 years of the little bundle’s life though! 

11. Divorce

No one gets married thinking that they will one day get divorced, but around half of all marriages o end up in divorce and that means that it could well be something that you have to deal with one day. Should the worst happen, it will be a whole lot easier to start your life over as a single person if you have some money in the bank to help you get started. It will mean that you don’t have to wait for the divorce settlement to move out and start building a new life and that can be amazing for your mental health, Hopefully, you’ll never need to use, it but you never know what life is going to throw at you!

12. Kids activities

If you have children, you will know that they cost you an absolute fortune in many ways from clothing to college funds, but something a lot of parents do not consider in terms of financiaing their kids are the various extra-curricular activities that they are going to want to try throughout their lives. Many of these activities come right lots of unexpected expenses from the costs of uniforms to trips and tournament entry fees, so having an emergency fund can really help you to support your children with their interests.

13. Weddings

Whether your own or someone else’s weddings can be expensive affairs when you count the cost of outfits, gits, travel, and hotel stays, so when one is sprung on you at the last minute it can be a struggle to find money in the budget to attend. Not when you have an emergency fund though!

14. Death

When you have a family it is really important that you and your spouse have life insurance policies so that if one or both of you were to sadly pass away, the rest of the family would have a financial cushion to take care of them. However, having an emergency fund can also be helpful because it may take the insurance a while to payout and the last thing loved ones need is to be worrying about money when they are mourning an important loss.

15. Unexpected opportunities

Sometimes in life, we are thrown an opportunity that is too good to pass up, whether it be a business opportunity or the vacation of a lifetime, but many of us DO have to pass them up because we simply do not have access to the funds that would enable us to take the opportunity that is presented to us, When you have an emergency fund, this is less of a problem and you can truly embrace life and do what you really want instead of being held back by a lack of money.

As you can see, having an emergency fund makes so much sense for pretty much every eventuality in life, so time to start saving!

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elf on the shelf, elf on the shelf ideas, elf on the shelf funny ideas, keurig, elf on the shelf expert level, baby shark, kinderegg, febreeze

It’s that time of the year again. You know the one. The time of the year when the elf on the shelf arrives. Also, coincidentally, when parents have about 5 whimsical, hilarious and creative elf on the shelf ideas and then, we’re out. Even if we’re not out, we forget. Oh, the horror. Why must those little guys need so much assistance? No fear, this mom scoured the internet and below are 20 funny last minute elf on the shelf ideas that parents can remember and kids will love.

Let me tell you a little story about the dumbest parents in the world, that would be the Big Guy and myself, in case there was any confusion. The elf on the shelf started coming when Bella was 2-years-old. We thought, “OMG, it’s so cute every kid should have one of Santa’s adorable elves come to visit them at Christmas.”

READ ALSO: The Elf is Back in Town

Our first elf on the shelf arrived that year, in a box (with little breathing holes in it) from the North Pole (sent from Santa Claus himself, no less) and a letter from the Jolly Big Guy. Did I mention that we do not half-ass anything in this house? We put our whole ass in our hell yeahs…even funny last minute elf in the shelf ideas.

His name was Ed and he was freaking adorable. No, he didn’t look like the other elves. He’s pleasantly plump and has kind eyes and I’m assuming that he is probably Santa’s favorite because he kind of looks like Santa himself (maybe he’s Santa’s illegitimate son? I’m not saying he is but I’m not saying he isn’t either.)

After all, Elf on the shelf can come in all sizes, shapes and colors just like people. #TeachableMoment

Ed was fantastic. Bella loved him and so did we. An elf’s life is pretty sweet when kids are toddlers. Toddlers have the attention span of gnats. Ed could literally move his lazy derriere an inch a night and Bella was perfectly tickled.

By 2008, we had two little girls and, for some reason, Santa thought it would be cool to send 2 elves. One for each girl. Ed and Ana Lee (who’s a little old guy who came with a name tag). So, then there were 2 elves, 2 daughters and the 3-year-old was pretty perceptive. Life gets more complicated when 2 lazy elves have to put on a dog and pony show every night. 2 kids, this mommy was exhausted.

READ ALSO: Elf on the Shelf Run Amuck

Well, if you think things were getting crazy, well, you have no idea. Ended up moving a couple of times and well, let’s just say for argument’s sake, that our elves got confused for a couple of years and we ended up with 3 more different elves, Herbie Hancock, Rick Astley and Darling Nikki. I’m blaming sundowners for Ed and Ana lee’s confusion. Moving is not good for elf consistency. So, for those of you keeping track, now that we have lived in this house for 6 years, all 5 elves have been showing up. It gets chaotic up in here.

Here are 20 Funny Last Minute Elf on the shelf ideas for Parents and Elves who are exhausted and lack imagination or both.

1. The Elf on the Shelf with Proof

Have the elf show up in a box with holes from the North Pole and a letter from Santa. Remember to remove all name tags they bring with themselves, as to allow for a more suitable name to be given to said elf.

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Photo Credit: @Frugalmom

2. The Hostess with the Mostest Elf

Has your elf shown up with a welcome breakfast for the whole family? Wouldn’t that be awesome? Maybe you help the little guy out and host your own north pole breakfast. 

3. Paratrooper Elf

Has your Elf on the Shelf parachuted in? It’s different, unexpected and really brings adventure. I mean, if he’s arriving by parachute, what might this little guy (or gal) do next? Who says that last minute Elf on the Shelf ideas have to be boring?

4. Kissing Elf on the Shelf

A bag full of kisses for all the bubs and sisses. Maybe your elf is just not that into boxes maybe he arrives with a note from Santa and a bag full of chocolate kisses.

5. Full of Hot Air Elf on the Shelf

Forget the box altogether, and forget Santa’s predictable sleigh, why not arrive by hot air balloon, zip line or under the Christmas tree locomotive? After all, Danger could be his middle name (check the “name” tag someone forgot to remove).

6. Do you want to build a snowman Elf on the Shelf

If your kids are like mine they are Frozen fanatics and they also love building snowmen, so kids find it pretty cool when their Elf shows up and writes Frozen lyrics all over the bathroom mirror and builds a toilet paper snowman. And hey, if it’s snowing out, parents, you’ll get bonus points for taking those kiddies out and building an actual snowman!

READ ALSO: The Elf on the Shelf Problem

But be careful, our 5 elves have been known to toilet paper our house, the tree and anything else when hopped up on too much peppermint. I’m pretty sure that our elves turn into chain-smoking, drunken frat boy hooligans at night.

7. Loco for Coco Elf on the Shelf

Maybe while you’re outside building the snowman, maybe Rick Astley (that little go-getter that he is) the elf decides to put together a surprise coco bar for the whole family. How thoughtful. Best.elf. ever.

8. Like a Wrecking Ball Elf on the Shelf

Maybe your elf is MacGyver and he likes to live on the edge. So he takes some string, a toilet paper roll and he swings in overnight to make an entrance.

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Photo Credit: @CameronsCoffee

9. S’mores Elf on the Shelf

I’m not one for advocating that elves play with fire but it sure would be nice to return from a cold day at school to find Smoky the elf carefully making S’mores. That would be a nice treat, right?

elf on the shelf, elf on the shelf ideas, elf on the shelf funny ideas, keurig, elf on the shelf expert level, baby shark, kinderegg, febreeze

Photo Credit: @Craftywayout

10. Pump You Up Elf on the Shelf

Schwarzenegger elf really doesn’t like to miss his workouts, especially around the holidays with all the yummy desserts around the joint. Maybe he concocts marshmallow dumbbells to keep in shape and keep those love handles at bay.

elf on the shelf, elf on the shelf ideas, elf on the shelf funny ideas, keurig, elf on the shelf expert level, baby shark, kinderegg, febreeze

Photo credit: @Juliee_1985

11. An Angel Gets its Wings Elf on the Shelf

Frosty the snow elf really loves playing in the “snow” so beware, he may go to extreme lengths to feel at home and make sugar, rice, powdered sugar or sprinkle angels.

Mischievous Elf on the Shelf Ideas for the elves who want to live on the edge.

elf on the shelf, elf on the shelf ideas, elf on the shelf funny ideas, keurig, elf on the shelf expert level, baby shark, kinderegg, febreeze

Photo Credit: @Dopedreams_3X

12. Pooping elf on the shelf.

I am not sure what exactly these elves eat on a regular basis, but I can say that we’ve caught them pooping a toilet full of chocolate chips in the Barbie toilet. We’ve also caught them making not so nice toilet humor and playing pranks in the bathroom.

13. Tawanda! Elf on the Shelf

Ever caught your elves mid mischief? Well, one of our elf’s favorite things to do besides swing from chandeliers and cozy up to the Barbies and American Girl Dolls is sledding down the stairs. We’ve caught them doing it in the Barbie car, in toilet paper tubes and even by wrapping themselves in the toilet paper, yelling “Tawanda!” and just rolling. Silly elves, toilet paper is for wiping butts not sliding down the stairs.

14. The Godfather Elf on the Shelf

Our girls know that touching the elves is strictly forbidden and strips them of their North Pole magical abilities, so they don’t touch them but those elves are sneaky. When the girls have had talkback, push the boundary days, our elves have not been above crawling in the bed with them and sleeping on the pillow next to them. It’s pretty Tony Soprano sleeping with the fishes/ waking up with a horse head in your bed thug like.

elf on the shelf, elf on the shelf ideas, elf on the shelf funny ideas, keurig, elf on the shelf expert level, baby shark, kinderegg, febreeze15. Shoe Conga Elf on the Shelf

Elves like to be silly. I once saw our elves do a shoe conga from the living room, through the foyer and into the movie room. They’ve also been known to do this aboard the Polar Express beneath the Christmas tree.

16. Horsing Around Elves

They’re just like us and they get bored. I’ve seen them rally all those stuffies, Polly Pockets and Barbie dolls lying on the floor and let the sack races begin.

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Photo Credit: @Pittmankid

17. K-Cup Criminal Elf on the Shelf

Did you know that elves love coffee and hot chocolate almost as much as they love peppermint sticks? They do. I’ve caught them on more than one occasion reusing my old K-Cups. I’m cool with it. I’m all about recycling and reusing.

elf on the shelf, elf on the shelf ideas, elf on the shelf funny ideas, keurig, elf on the shelf expert level, baby shark, kinderegg, febreeze

Photo credit: @elfontheshelf

18. Sick Day Elf on the Shelf

Well, even elves get cooties sometimes, especially during a pandemic. Who says they can’t get quarantined to one spot??  Our kids know all about it now, so if you forget to move Elfie, he was quarantined. That’s your story, now stick to it. In these situations, it is best if they leave a doctor’s note to let the kids know why they’re not moving. Enjoy your sleep and take advantage of those days that you don’t have to chase him down every night. P.S. It’s the worse when the elf catches a cold from your kid but the guilt does buy you a couple extra days of relief but don’t try that with Omicron, too much pandemic stress could blow it all up in your face. Don’t get greedy.

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Photo Credit: @lips_last_with_Selena

19. Elfy sharks doo doo doo doo doo doo 

We have an entire family of elves, therefore, why wouldn’t they want to get in on the latest craze? You just know they’re going to show up as the family of sharks one day, perhaps with the JAWS music playing softly in the background. Baby shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo.

20. Picasso Elf on the Shelf

Our elves seem to get increasingly mischievous the closer we get to Christmas. One of their favorite things to do is climb up our shelves and draw silly mustaches and unibrows on family photos.

There are ( as my teen would say) “literally” 1000 other things your elf can do and mischief they can get into. I can go on for infinity.

If you are looking for some other great ideas check out this awesome elf on the shelf checklist.

I can say that our elves are a bit rambunctious. On their last night at our house, we almost always find them hungover after a night of drunken debauchery; gorged on peppermint and passed out in the middle of their Go Fish game.

They’ve even been known to toilet paper our Christmas tree and fill our house with paper snowflakes while we were at a holiday party. Elves are awesome but they sure love their shenanigans. They also have a penchant for stealing phones while you sleep and leaving random #elfies on our phones.

elf on the shelf, elf on the shelf ideas, elf on the shelf funny ideas, keurig, elf on the shelf expert level, baby shark, kinderegg, febreeze

What’s your best funny last minute elf on the shelf ideas? What’s the craziest thing your elf has ever done?

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A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing, teens betrayed by priest amongst sexual misconduct with a minor allegations

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

This is the Throat Punch Thursday that I prayed I would never have to write but here we are. A couple of weeks ago, the unexpected hit me over the head with a shovel and knocked me right on my ass. There are things that sometimes happen that cause you to question everything around you; everything you’ve ever known or believed. Things that can create a crisis of faith within ourselves and make it impossible to trust others, especially when you’re a teenager.

It’s been a rough summer (a rough couple of years if I’m being honest) so bizarre and beyond reality. In fact, I’ve actually come to expect the unexpected and not much shocks me anymore, including death. Nothing like diving headfirst into the shallow end of an empty pool of midlife crises to shake you to your core.

I at least expected my birthday post to be rainbows and unicorns, just 24 drama-free hours. A day of reflection and gratefully counting my blessings. But nope, instead, I’m posting this a week after my actual birthday because it was more like a shit sandwich served with a side of communion wine. Apparently, my birthday coincided with a Satan yes day.

As parents, a couple of things we really dread getting from school are the lice letter and the “your child has been directly exposed to CoVid and must quarantine for 10-14 days”. I know, I’ve gotten the latter almost every week this year. My girls have been in the school building a grand total of 7 of the 33 days of school so far due to quarantining but now, I am glad of that. Because we got the letter that no Catholic school parent ever wants to get…the “our school’s priest will no longer be our priest effective immediately. He resigned after the diocese was notified of allegations about him engaging in sexual and other misconduct, including that with a minor.”

What. The. Actual. Fuck????? I know for you non-Catholic people that’s a running joke but for us, it is the actual worst-case scenario.

Let that set in for a minute. If your children go to Catholic school, you know that all the kids love the young, fun priest who is always at all the games, says hi to all the parents, cheers for your children and is fondly embraced by students, teachers and parents alike. We are actually grateful when our kids can connect, on a human level, with a spiritual leader for guidance and comfort but not one of us ever wants our child to connect with them on a “physical” level. For a couple of obvious reasons, that should never happen 1) he took a vow of celibacy 2) he is literally married to God 3) he has been entrusted with the souls and lives of our children who we send to that school. We have all been betrayed. I’m the most skeptical, suspicious person there is when it comes to my children, I trust no one. And still, I am speechless.

I’m not going to lie. I’m writing this to process my feelings because, honestly, I was shocked. Not shocked that a priest crossed the line ( because I live in the real world) but that OUR priest crossed the line. I, myself, just chit-chatted with him at the soccer game and the football game last week. He was known to everyone as a kind, caring, friendly, funny man of faith. He attended the same high school he is pastor at. He grew up here and has known many of the kids growing up.

He was trusted by everyone because he was one of us. We trusted him with our children, with their souls. He said the prayers before the games and gave the game day mass. He was beloved and now, all of these fragile teens who tend to have a hard time trusting adults anyways were told last Monday that he betrayed not only his collar but each and every one of those students who loved him and every parent who trusted him. Because that’s how Catholic school kids and parents work, they run on faith that they are safe with their priest.

I am angry, disappointed and sad. We still don’t know the whole story. I’m sure we never will. He was reported to the authorities by the diocese and it will surely be a big deal when the priest of an elite Catholic school is arrested for sexual misconduct with a minor, in a town built on Catholic schools and churches. We don’t know if the kid was a boy or a girl, not that it makes any difference. We don’t know if it was a 13-year-old freshman or a 17-year-old Senior. We don’t know what evidence they have. In honesty, we don’t know if it’s truth or rumor. But, I have to believe, if there is enough evidence for the diocese to force him to resign and send a letter out to all of the parents, there has to be at least some truth to the allegations.

I do know that all of our children have had their trust broken and their faith tested. Can they recover from that? I don’t think they can. You can’t trust someone without them earning that trust back and you can’t just force faith down kids’ throats when they’ve been betrayed by everything they believed to be true. Faith is given without facts or proof but when the curtain’s been pulled back and the truth is revealed to be ugly and unlike any version of the truth you’ve ever believed existed, maybe you can’t get that back. Not only has a child been assaulted, but they’ve all been betrayed and lied to as they shared their lives with a predator; a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

I grew up a devout Catholic but I learned at a young age that a priest is just a man. Mistakes can be made and rules are broken. But what about the parents of the kids who were sexually assaulted, what are they supposed to say to their children? How are any of us supposed to trust again? How can we make our children feel safe?

Update (10/08/21):

The victims were 2 girls, ages 17 and 19 at the time of the first incident. It happened once in June and again in September. June 30, the two girls were invited to the priest’s house to celebrate his birthday and eat cake. They were the only two people at his home that night, according to the girls. He offered them alcohol, they both accepted but said they were not drunk. However, the girls said he was “seriously intoxicated” and had slurred speech, was stumbling, and was pale, sweaty, and vomiting.

One of the victims said he touched her inappropriately repeatedly, despite her efforts to slap his hands away. He also asked her to perform sexual acts on him.

The girls said he then passed out and they put him to bed when he pulled one of them into the bed with him and groped her, according to court documents. The teen says she told him to stop and he did.

Between June 20th and September 17th, the girls said they had several “normal” interactions with the priest and he apologized.

“Both indicated that while they were very concerned the night of the incident, both considered Father a friend and spiritual advisor. They wanted to believe his conduct would not happen again and [Victim 2] indicated that she was capable of forgiving but “would not forget,'” the court document reads.

Then on Sept. 17, he invited the two girls over to his home again. The girls said given his apologies and the fact that they consider him a central figure in their faith, they went.

When they arrived, again he offered them alcohol.

Again he became intoxicated and assaulted the girls.

At this time, he is charged with child seduction, sexual battery, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, furnishing alcohol to a minor, and two counts of battery.

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back to school, must have supplies for college

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Kids are getting ready to go back to school in person again soon. I don’t know about the rest of you but we are ecstatic. I loved the bonus pandemic year home with my girls (I truly did) but it was challenging and it was hard on everyone involved. The girls deserve a normal high school experience and I can’t wait to watch them have it together.

All that being said, last year was long and the kids got cheated and moms never got a day off, not even an hour in the day because thanks to pandemic hyper anxiety and depression, moms were on call ( if not actively tending to meltdowns) every minute of every day. Who am I telling? You know. If I wasn’t worrying they would contract coronavirus, I was terrified they were getting suicidal and that might have been the worst part of everything. I wasn’t just meeting needs, I was anticipating spiritual, psychological and physical needs. I was a damned mom medium and I am exhausted.

My girls are not the only ones going back to school. Kids all over the world are making the leap from virtual to in-person over the next few weeks from kindergarten to university and moms everywhere are having high impact, stop you in your tracks panic attacks predecessed by elation and followed by extreme mom guilt because how can we put our own comfort above our children’s safety and send them back to school but really it’s all about everyone’s mental health.

Here is a definitive list of what college kids need this year before returning to school:

Therapy appointment

I am serious, all kids from 4-24 ( and all the adults) need regularly scheduled therapy appointments for re-entry into the real world and out of the zoom world and the best way to do that is by taking an hour every other week and meeting with their therapist over ZOOM. Baby steps and it works. The girls have been in therapy since the pandemic started.

Ergonomic Office Chair

Thanks to Flexispot I was able to personally try out the Soutien Ergonomic Office Chair and it is amazing and I don’t say that lightly. I’ve worked from home for the past 12 years and spend a huge amount of my time sitting at a desk. The thing is that in the wrong chair that means back pain, neck pain and feeling pretty awful. I’ve been using this chair since the spring and it alleviates all of that and it is very comfortable. I love it and will be sending one with each of my girls when they head off to college in the next couple of years because if I can’t be there to make them comfortable, you better believe that I’m sending them a chair that does.

CoVid Vaccination

Not to be that person but if you can, please get your kids their CoVid vaccination before school start back not only to keep them safe from coronavirus and keep others safe but to give your kids peace of mind. You think the long-term effects of CoVid are worrisome ( and they are) well, the effects on everyone’s mental health, even those fortunate enough to avoid contracting the virus, are devastating. It’s too much. Kids have enough to worry about as is, as parents, we need take this off their plate and make the decision to do the responsible thing for the greater good.

Lodge Baking Ware

It’s been a minute since I’ve been in college myself but I do remember making a few meals once I had an apartment and good bakeware was (and is) always appreciated. To be honest, I always remember my mom having cast-iron skillet ware and they were her favorites because they cooked evenly and completely. Recently, through the generosity of Lodge I tried out a few basic pieces myself;

Dual Handle Grilling Basket, Pizza Pan and the Casserole Pan and they are great for grilling, cooking pizza and making my mom’s chicken broccoli casserole, three staples I’ve taught my girls for college.

Meters OV-1-B Headphones 

These headphones are perfect to buy ahead of your teens going to college. My girls are in high school and like all teenagers they love to play their music very loudly the new fashion-forward Meters OV-1-B Headphones provide a win-win solution for both parents and their children. These headphones feature cutting-edge audio quality and a trendy design with volume unit (VU) meters on each earcup, giving teens a headset they’d actually want to wear while empowering parents to monitor how loudly their child/teen is playing their music. 

Each VU meter features a customizable RGB backlight, letting young listeners alter the color and brightness of their VU meters to match any style or mood. These real, active VU meters measure the headphones’ input, replicating the meters found on professional-grade bass amplifiers used in live musical performances, and giving parents a discrete way to ensure their child is enjoying music at a safe volume.

Face Masks

As much as we all thought that the pandemic was coming to an end, Delta variant had other plans. Now, there are surges everywhere and if you are sending your kids off to university you are probably worrying about them anyways so just load them up on face masks, disposable or some cool ones

Triple-Layer X-STATIC® Mask 

has a removable filter (that you can cut and tailor to your own face shape) and the layer closest to the face is made with X-STATIC® silver yarn. Used by US Special Forces and NASA astronauts, X-STATIC® yarn is 99.9% pure silver, making it one of the most effective antimicrobial and antiviral materials for use in textiles. 

  • Antimicrobial and antiviral
  • Highly effective in hot and wet environments
  • Permanent (silver is irreversibly bound to a polymer so it becomes a physical part of the fiber) and performance does not diminish over time (X-STATIC® has been tested for more than 250 washes with virtually no reduction in performance)

The masks are reusable and washable and come in a pack of two masks (so you can wear one while the other is in the wash). 

Last but not least, send our child off to college with lots and lots of love and support. Encourage them to spread their wings, meet new people, and try new things because that’s what college is all about…growing up and learning to live life on your own terms, becoming the person you want to be with no regrets.

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Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Unlike most people, I don’t want to be young again. It was a blast the first time around but I had to learn a lot of hard lessons. My life is a life well lived and well-deserved but lately, as my girls have become teenagers, I feel infinitely older. Don’t get me wrong, I love being the mom of teenage girls. They are so much fun and, with my girls, it’s like having a couple of built-in best friends. But they are so beautiful and flawless, as teen girls are, that I can’t help but notice that they are the present and I am the past.

That’s not always a bad thing. I’m an adult with life experiences, wisdom and the inability to give any Fs about what strangers think of me. This makes me a better mom and role model for my girls. Still, it reminds me that my life is probably at the midway point, or pretty close. While possibilities are endless ahead of me, some things are irrefutably behind me; meeting someone, falling in love, getting married, having babies, and buying my first house. There are still firsts ahead of me, still lots of excitement and adventures to be had but that bright-eyed, the world is brand new time has passed for me.

We will never again be the women we were before becoming moms. We get older every year and deal with a laundry list of responsibilities that feels never-ending. But, just because we are getting older doesn’t mean we have to feel old. There are many ways to keep feeling youthful and vibrant, here are four effective approaches that will give you the energy to live your life the way you want without regrets. Don’t let the number of candles on your birthday cake determine how you live your life. 

Hang Out with Friends More Regularly 

Spending time with the people you consider closest to you is one of the best ways to encourage physical and mental well-being. When was the last time you and your friends had a night together? Granted, after the past year of the pandemic, peopling can be exhausting but totally worth it. Still, it can be challenging to stay in touch as your friends start families and have more commitments, but putting aside a night every month (especially if the kids are old enough) will do wonders for keeping you young. Sure, you won’t have the wild nights you once had in your youth, but you don’t need to. Instead, you can enjoy one another’s company for what it is and maintain your friendships for years.

Spend Time In Nature 

The link between nature and staying young is something you cannot underestimate. Getting away from the city and breathing in the fresh air will maintain excellent health and encourage you to feel more grateful for the world around you. It might not be an immediate change, but the more time you spend outside, whether you go on hikes, bike rides, or just go for a picnic will create a positive association with the outdoors, and you’ll look for as many excuses as you can to get outside. 

Know Your Limits 

Most people enjoy a drink after a stressful day at work, but you know you aren’t as young as you used to be. You will get to an age where even the smallest hangover can keep you bedridden all day long. Likewise, drinking can make you look older as you miss out on the sleep that’s crucial as you get older. Therefore, it’s important that you know your limits. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a tipple now and again but overdoing it will not do you any favors. 

Do Things for You 

Younger people will go through their early life worrying about what everyone thinks of them and this can stop them from reaching their potential. However, once you get older, you can start doing things for yourself, and this will make you feel younger. This means you can solve your grooming issues by finding ways to remove hair permanently, or you can dress however you like. You can follow hobbies and go on vacations to places you’ve always wanted, and you don’t need to worry about what anybody says about it. 

Forever Young

Many people are worried about trying to be too young for too long. They are concerned about missing the point of growing old gracefully. These ideas find the perfect balance between enjoying your life while still embracing getting older. 

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How to Help Your Child when They are Feeling Anxious, how to help a child with anxiety

If your child suffers from being anxious, you already know that watching them struggle with it the worst. As parents, we genuinely want to make everything better. But anxiety is not like a scraped knee, we can’t just kiss it or wish it away. But we also don’t have to watch it happen. There are things we can do, starting with support and considering professional help. Especially after this past year of living the pandemic life and the unthinkable lurking around every corner.

As their parents, kids expect us to be able to calm them, make them feel safe, remove that feeling of anxiety and dread that is rising up in them for whatever reason. They want us to take those anxious feelings away and make them feel happy and relaxed again. And as parents, that’s what we want too. The problem is, knowing what we want – and what our children want – and knowing how to make that happen are two separate issues, and the former is much easier than the letter. In fact, some parents can start to feel anxious themselves in this situation, as they don’t know what to say or do to make their child feel better. 

The past year and especially these past few weeks filled with upheaval and loss, we’ve all been a little anxious. The truth is there are no perfect words to say, and there is no perfect response because every child is different. However, doing something, even if it’s imperfect, is far better than doing nothing at all, and even if it doesn’t entirely quell your child’s fears, it can go a long way toward helping them, and it might give you an insight into their thoughts and feelings too, enabling you to be more proactive in the future.

How to help your child when they are feeling anxious

Always Be Empathetic 

One of the most important things your child will want from you when they are feeling anxious is to know that you understand how they feel. This is why empathy is so important; your child will be much more likely to come to you in the future with other issues if they know you are understanding. Suppose you brush away their concerns because you don’t personally understand why they

are worried, or you know that whatever their concern is isn’t really a big deal. In that case, they will pull away, and when there is something more problematic to worry them, they may stay silent, making them feel worse and causing potential behavioral problems. 

Empathy is an important trait to have, but it is not the same as sympathy, and this distinction is important. Sympathy is about acknowledging their anxiety and caring that they are upset. Empathy is about understanding the anxiety itself; you are putting yourself in their position, in other words. Although sympathy is not a negative thing, empathy is much better – it helps the child much more. 

When you are showing empathy, the best advice is to show emotion. If you stay cool and calm, it doesn’t matter what your words say; your child will get the feeling you don’t really understand what they are going through. 

Keep Them In The Moment 

When people – and this includes children – are anxious, they will start talking about ‘if only’ and ‘what if’, trying to think of a way that they can undo the problem. Of course, this is not possible, and it will only serve to make things more upsetting. You cannot go back in time and make good mistakes or change something so that whatever is causing the anxiety isn’t a problem. Yet as human beings, we seem to be conditioned to think along these lines, always working out ways we could have prevented this or that thing from occurring. 

If this is how your child is reacting, you can help them by keeping them in the present. Just listening and being fully present can mean everything. Simply reminding them that there is no point in worrying about the past probably won’t help; adults know this logically, and yet still they have the same concerns. What you can do is assist your child in being more mindful, so they concentrate only on the present. In this way, they can not only stop worrying about the past, but they can forget any upcoming worries too. To do this, you need to engage their senses. They need to name five things they can see to begin with, and then name four things they can touch. Then three things they can hear. This will bring their attention right back to the present and calm them considerably. 

Have a Ritual 

Rituals and routines are how children, teens (and many adults) run their lives, and they are comforting, even when the child is feeling anxious. Why not come up with your own ritual for when your child is feeling upset and worried? If you use it every time, and it’s one they can relate to and enjoy, then they will always have a tangible way to reduce their fears and to feel better. 

One idea might be to ‘press a button’. The button could be your nose or perhaps a nose ring you wear (or another piece of jewelry) or mole on your arm or anything else that could conceivably be a button. If the child is feeling anxious, get them to tell you what is wrong, and then have them ‘press the button’. When they do this, perhaps you can sing a silly song, tell a joke, or do an impression. Maybe they have to copy you. This will immediately turn a sad or scary situation into a funny one that they think of fondly. It’s good for children to have their own coping mechanisms, but if they can also have one that involves you and shows that you know what they are going through, this can help even more. 

The above idea is just one of so many you can come up with. It’s often best to think of your own rituals that relate to you and your child, as they will have the most positive impact and offer the biggest benefits. 

There are many different ways that we parents can help our anxious child but not all of them will have a positive effect. This is why it is crucial to ensure that we are empathetic and that we allow our children to say what’s on their minds and tell us how they are feeling. Try to assure them that their feelings are valid and talk them through. Even if you’re not sure what to do to help, just listening and understanding can be enough. 

How do you comfort your child when they are having anxiety about a new or stressful situation.

What’s your best tip for how to help your child when they are feeling anxious?

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Tips to Help your Teen Survive

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

We’ve all been so worried about keeping our kids safe from Coronavirus that we’ve forgotten to keep their mental health safe from seclusion. Check in on your teens and little ones, they are not alright. Not even close. I put my girls in therapy last April at the beginning of the pandemic and they are still struggling. We can’t shelter them from the world but we can try to ease the weight of the world so many of us are feeling. Below are some Tips to Help your Teen Survive Depression, Anxiety and Pandemic Burnout.

It’s not fine. We’re not fine. They’re not fine. The kids are not alright.

We’ve been quarantining since March 9th. Our life went on pause and everything we had planned for the spring and summer was canceled. Nothing is like it’s supposed to be. The new normal absolutely sucks. We are a family of huggers and kissers. Friends are family and family is everything. We’re explorers and adventurers. We celebrate life in the small moments but this past year has been hard to find the silver linings.

Disclaimer: Firstly, let me start by saying I am not a therapist or a trained mental health professional. I’m just a mom who is very self-aware, has years of therapy under her built and pays a professional to treat her children. A good licensed mental health professional to follow for great tips is Katie Hurley.

Bella turned 15 last March 10th and 16 this year. March 14th , 2020 was supposed to be her quinceañera. We planned for years for her big day. Everything was ready to go. The dress, the court, the venue, DJ, photographer and videographer. It was going to be the quinceañera she had been dreaming of since she was a little girl. Friends and family from around the country were flying and driving in to celebrate our special girl. I can’t even put into words the devastation I felt taking that away from her. It hurts to even think of it now, especially since we rescheduled it to August 8th and had to postpone once again. Instead of getting the quinceañera of her dreams, she didn’t even get a proper birthday celebration. Her birthday was basically skipped for the past two years thanks to CoVid.

Gabs turned 13 last May, the day after what was supposed to be last day of school. There was no party. No family and friends to hug and play with. There’s no theme or games in the backyard. There was no bbq with 50 of her favorite people. There was a birthday drive-by parade which made her pandemic heart break with gratitude for those who showed up. She felt alone and forgotten. The smallest gestures mean so much when human contact is few and far between.

But how do you help your teen survive pandemic burnout?

https://youtu.be/gXFjjwGlVsw

We’ve learned not to take things for granted. We know the worth of our freedom to move throughout the world safely. We know the value of a hug and human interaction in real time. Virtual is a poor substitute but it may be the only thing offered at the moment.

Our kids are resilient. They are strong and they are amazing. They carry on even when they want to give up but everyone has their breaking point, even you and I. I’ve been doing everything that I’m supposed to do and still, people I love are getting sick. People I know are dying. My heart is breaking but I’m trying hard to keep my mental stability. Manic mom has even made an appearance this pandemic and I was hoping to never see her again. I’m trying to be strong for the Big Guy and the girls but even I notice that while I’ve had to adopt the let it go, one day at a time mentality, I am also holding on to things. I’m holding on to things and anxious about things I don’t even realize.

I’ve started clenching my jaw and my fists in my sleep from stress. I wake up sore. I’ve started finding myself angry for no reason at all or maybe it’s for every reason under the sun. Why would I think my girls are any different? They are younger with less life experience and more hormones. How could I forget that?

Check in on your kids. They are not alright.

https://youtu.be/BrP9UW9eOts

My girls have been overly silly. At first, I was annoyed by this but then I realized this silliness is what is allowing them to get through this unbelievably stressful time. If they need to regress and find joy in the simplest things, who am I to judge? Right now, all bets are off. We’re all just trying to get through this pandemic. We’re in survival mode and that’s ok. Unfortunately, all that silliness has begun to give way to anxiety, depression and burnout and not just for them. I am burnt out too.

I’m so over virtual learning. Not only have my girls been virtual all year long, so have I. I had the bright idea to get a masters and enrolled a month pre pandemic. I’ve been struggling with burn out myself for the past couple months but watching my girls buckle under the pressure and anxiety of this non-stop pandemic life is too much. I hate it for them and can do very little to make it better other than pay for therapy and give out random hugs and encouragement all day.

Worse, I feel like I’m failing at that because I’m struggling myself. I hate all of this. There’s 2 weeks left of school for the girls and I feel like we’re all drowning. There’s no down time and days and nights are just one long exercise in never ending lists of shit to get done. I want to scream but I’m afraid if I start, I’ll never be able to stop. F*ck you pandemic and all the people who aren’t doing their part. I’m tired of my cage. I know this will pass but watching my girls struggle is the worst.

https://youtu.be/F_9K8Pgekwo

Tips to help your teen survive depression, and anxiety and overcome pandemic burn out.

  • Create calm times of the day, preferably an hour or longer.
  • Spend time with them doing silly and fun things like playing a game, being outdoors, cooking a fun meal (this helps kids calm down their nervous system so they aren’t so triggered by stress), or just plain talking.
  • Structure helps kids know what to expect which always improves stress.
  • Sleep and eat well (less sugar).
  • Help them write about their feelings.
  • Get them a therapist, many are offering virtual right now. Do it.
Tips to Help your Teen Survive  Depression, Tips to Help your Teen Survive Anxiety, Tips to Help your Teen Survive Pandemic Burnout

Anxiety specific simple but effective grounding techniques

Grounding Techniques
Grounding is a technique that helps keep someone in the present. They help reorient a. person to the here-and-now and in reality. Grounding skills can be helpful in managing overwhelming feelings or intense anxiety. They help someone to regain their mental focus from an often intensely emotional state. 

Grounding skills occur within two specific approaches: Sensory Awareness and Cognitive Awareness.

Sensory Awareness
Grounding Exercise #1:
Begin by tracing your hand on a piece of paper and label each finger as one of the five
senses. Then take each finger and identify something special and safe representing each
of those five senses. For example: Thumb represents sight and a label for sight might be
butterflies or my middle finger represents the smell sense and it could be represented by
lilacs.
After writing and drawing all this on paper, post it on your refrigerator or other safe
places in the home where it could be easily seen and memorize it.
Whenever you get triggered, breathe deeply and slowly, and put your hand in front of
your face where you can really see it – stare at your hand and then look at each finger and
try to do the five senses exercise from memory.

Grounding Exercise #2:
• Keep your eyes open, look around the room, notice your surroundings, notice
details.
• Hold a pillow, stuffed animal or a ball.
• Place a cool cloth on your face, or hold something cool such as a can of soda.
• Listen to soothing music
• Put your feet firmly on the ground
• FOCUS on someone’s voice or a neutral conversation.

Sensory Awareness Grounding Exercise #3:
Here’s the 54321 “game”.
• Name 5 things you can see in the room with you.
• 4 things you can feel (“chair on my back” or “feet on floor”)
• 3 things you can hear right now (“fingers tapping on keyboard” or “tv”)
• 2 things you can smell right now (or, 2 things you like the smell of)
•1 good thing about yourself

Cognitive Awareness Grounding Exercise:
Re-orient yourself in place and time by asking yourself some or all of these questions:

Where am I?

What is today?

What is the date?

What is the month?

What is the year?

How old am I?

What season is it?

Tips for parents

Build coping skills. One thing kids and teens need to hear on repeat is that all emotions are okay. There is no right or wrong way to feel about this global pandemic. Parents should get in the habit of checking in with each child privately throughout the day to give them an opportunity to verbalize feelings and talk about triggers.

Learn how to manage anger. Now is the time to figure out some techniques to decrease negativity in the home. In other words, stop yelling. Parents have a lot on their plates, and it is difficult to juggle work responsibilities, parenting responsibilities, keeping the family physically and emotionally safe, and running a distance-learning school. Chances are, you feel like you might snap at times.

Adjust expectations. To hear social media tell it, this is a time when everyone should be enjoying every moment and learning new things as a family (a privilege not everyone shares). And parents suddenly find themselves in the driver’s seat for their children’s education, expected to manage distance learning regardless of resources, finances, work schedules and child-care struggles. Then there are the expectations parents have of their kids regarding learning, training for extracurricular activities and being “productive” during this time away from school.

Practice empathic communication. There’s a lot we don’t have control over right now, and that can trigger negative emotions, but we can control how we respond to and communicate with others. One thing I hear on that tiny screen day after day during my sessions with kids: I just want my parents to understand me.

Tap into technology, and stay connected. Many parents spend a fair amount of time trying to manage and limit screen time. There are positives and negatives to technology, though, and now is the time to tap into the positives. It’s still important to focus on balance and make sure that kids and teens are getting exercise and engaging in activities that don’t involve screens, but technology can be a source of support, connection and education.

Parents, don’t forget to take care of your own mental health. It’s hard to help your teen survive depression, anxiety and pandemic burnout if you are holding on by a thread yourself. Believe me, I know. Find yourself some coping mechanisms and a licensed therapist.

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How Autism is Different in Girls than Boys and How to Recognize autism in girls

April is Autism Awareness month. Did you know that? I didn’t. To be honest, I don’t know a whole hell of a lot about the ins and outs of autism and what a diagnosis means for parents and children who live with it. It’s not that I don’t care, it’s that I am not directly affected by it ( that I know of because maybe I have just not paid enough attention). The most interesting thing I’ve learned as a girl mom is how autism is different in girls than boys and how to recognize autism in girls. Did you know it looked different?

I do have friends who have children, more than 1, who are autistic but even though I know them, their children and spend time with them, I ask on a need to know basis and listen when they want me to but I never wanted to pry to the point that I make them feel uncomfortable. I know that sounds like a lazy excuse but I swear, I didn’t want them to feel like they needed to educate me. I’m a Latina/woman/ with a mental health diagnosis…I don’t appreciate having to be anyone’s token anything so I try not to put others in that position. 

What is autism?

I’m fully aware that every child with or without autism is different. However, I was assigned a post for Cafemom this week about things everyone should know about Autism and, in my research, I reached out to my friends and asked for help and credible resources and I learned a lot. A lot. I’m so grateful for this assignment. 

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