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Mom matriculation, the hardest part of motherhood, college drop off

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Mom matriculation. Have you heard of this? No? Yeah, I just made it up. Its definitely the hardest part of motherhood. It’s the culmination of the letting go that begins with senior year and just when you think its at its hardest, graduation, you unlock a new, unfathomable level of mom heartbreak… college drop off day. Bella is ready to launch but I’m not ready to let go. I don’t know if I ever told you guys the story of how I was supposed to go to Boston University, but,  about 2 weeks before I was supposed to leave, 4  little words from my dad stopped me dead in my tracks, “See you next summer.” What??? Immediate failure to launch..

I had never even spent 1 single night away from my parents because in Mexican culture we just don’t do that. Due to our strong multi-generational family ties, family is not only a big part of who we are,  it’s everything.  My dad’s words had great emotional power over me, in fact, more power than anyone else’s. Not in an intentional manipulative way, its just that his words have always landed like concrete on my heart. His opinion always mattered, and still matters, the most to me.  I’ve always held a tiny grudge about this. But that was all before I was the parent having to let go of my own, precious child. Now, I definitely get it, but,  I refuse to do that to my girls. Even if it kills me, in the process. 

I thought it was all overkill, until I got my first pangs of impending mom matriculation.

Due to this particular incident, and knowing how it completely altered my timeline and changed the trajectory of my life, I swore I’d never say or do anything to hinder my own children’s flight pattern. But again, that was before I knew what I know; that was before I was the parent in the scenario sending my own precious child off into the world, alone,  without me. 

Fast forward to 10 years ago,  when my oldest nephew was heading off to college, a “mere” 65 minutes away from home. Back before I realized that whether it’s 25 minutes or 65 minutes or 12 hours away,  living away from your child is actually the same distance in mom miles because out of your house means out of your house. Your child is no longer bounding through the house, randomly hugging you and asking for a Starby’s run while blasting Swiftie or Megan thee Stallion, while you all sing to your heart’s content.

I vividly remember my nephew going away to college, instantly regretting his decision and my brother and sister-in-law immediately agreeing to pick him up  and bring him back home, regardless of forfeiting his athletic scholarship.  Absolutely without hesitation, they agreed. In my naivate, I was actually disappointed in their decision ( as if it were any of my business) and really couldn’t understand why they hadn’t encouraged him to stay a little while longer. 

None of the baby books warn you about the pain of college drop off. No one warned me that launching my child into adulthood would feel like part of my own body was being ripped away.

When I started Purdue University,  a ” mere” 3 hours from home, I remember in those first few weeks sitting alone in my dorm room feeling that it was the winter of my discontent. Wishing someone, anyone,  would come to my rescue and demand I return home. But that never happened and, in the end, everything worked out. I learned how to navigate life without my parents, eventually became adult-ish and had a terribly good time doing it. After the situation with my nephew, it reaffirmed my belief that I would “never” do what my brother and his wife did. Big words from a mom of elementary schoolers. That was before I was the mom of a college freshman about to matriculate herself out of my orbit. 

If you thought labor and delivery was the hardest part of motherhood, hold on to your Lulus because the mental anguish of letting go makes child birth feel like a cake walk and that’s coming from a woman who did it unmedicated.

Bella decided last spring to defer acceptance to her first choice college and attend a private liberal arts college nearer to home her first year. She realized after several college visits that she prefers the intimate vibe of a smaller campus over a huge bustling one. She decided that she wanted 1 more year at home. I greedily accepted her decision. The school happens to be 25 minutes from my front door. Then, she decided to live at home this year, instead of on campus. Again, I greedily and whole-heartedly accepted her decision. Next year, she has every intention on transferring to her first choice. In fact, it’s already being carefully planned and coordinated with that prestigious university. They are happily awaiting her transfer and, barring any unforeseen circumstances, 356 days from today she’s fully spreading her wings and flying away. 

Those of you who have already survived mom matriculation, the hardest part of motherhood thus far, and are letting go when every single cell in your body wants to hold on for dear life… you are so strong.

I know many of you have dropped your babies off at college in the past couple of days and weeks and have driven away sobbing as you bravely left your hearts on campus. I’ve been watching your posts and feeling those pangs of motherly heartbreak right along with you, mostly for you. But now, something strange has started to happen, I’m getting very overwhelmed and feeling very anxious in anticipation of my impending turn to let go. Fuck, I really don’t want to. ( I’m only saying this here because I can never utter the words “Don’t go” that my heart is screaming inside my head.) Just as I’m sure,  none of you wanted to. I wanted to be cool about all of this but I’m realizing that I’m probably going to be the uncoolest about  it. 

This Friday is move in day for students living on campus at Bella’s school and also, the matriculation ceremony and banquet for freshman, kicking off a weekend long “welcome to campus” extravaganza. While Bella is not moving on campus, as if graduation itself was not the signal of the end… the matriculation ceremony is here to put a fine point on the fact that your child is no longer yours but almost, completely autonomously their own. 

So while she’s still technically here, she’s really there. I know that just like on the day she was born and everything changed, on Friday everything changes again and in 356 days… everything changes forever. No matter how tight my mama heart wants to hold on to the most precious thing in my world, I know I have to let go. And at a time when all I want to do is hold her closer and cling to her more tightly (maybe more than ever), I have to gently push her away with a smile and encouragement, while convincing her that I’m fine and it’s all going to be amazing, because for her, it will be and that’s all that matters right now. 

College drop off feels sort of like we’re heading into this weird parent-child purgatory where we’re both growing, letting go and being let go of, it’s by far the hardest part of motherhood.

Then, I’ll have to hug her, a hug that I know will need to sustain me for weeks or months (this child of mine, who I’ve hugged and kissed several times a day since her existence, who I’ve shared everything with) and I have to release her as mine as she runs towards who she’s meant to be. And I have to do it with grace and unconditional love because this is about her, not me. This is the beginning of her beautiful journey. Then, I’ll have to drive away leaving my child behind, seeing her walking towards her future in the rear view mirror as I become more of her past than her future. If this isn’t the hardest part of motherhood, I don’t know what is and I don’t want to know.

Mom matriculation, the hardest part of motherhood, college drop off

This starts Friday. I can already feel it. I’ve felt the pangs and waves of letting go all summer. I don’t know how I’ll survive my mom matriculation, especially, since I have to do college drop off this Friday, then again next August and then again the following year for my youngest. I know I will survive. Because now I know, living 25 minutes or 12 hours away from your child is actually the same distance in mom miles because in your heart is in your heart and no amount of time or distance can separate the bond between a child and their parent. 

No matter how near or far she flies away, I’ll always just be a phone call, text, car or plane ride away and this is how we survive college drop offs and new beginnings, her and us…mostly us. This is why I smile for her while my heart completely breaks for me. This is how we survive the hardest part of motherhood… the letting go. 

I’m seriously thinking of starting a mom support group for middle-aged, perimenopausal moms who’ve had to send their children off to college and are trying to survive the letting go. If you want in this mom matriculation posse, let me know. We’ll get through this college drop off, suffer being left behind next chapter of our lives together. Freedom is not what its all cracked up to be. Why didn’t the baby books warn us about this bullshit?

If you can relate or just love following along, as I head off into the motherhood unknown, please like, share and follow. 

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Top 15 Places to Visit in Boston, travel with teenagers, Things to Do with Teenagers in Boston

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

We’ve been visiting Boston with our girls every summer since they were littles. Nevertheless, there is just something so fun and conducive to making lifelong memories as a family about New England. Over the years, it has become our home away from home. If you’re planning travel with teenagers to Boston, there are plenty of exciting places to visit and activities to enjoy.

Top 15 Places to Visit in Boston, travel with teenagers, Things to Do with Teenagers in Boston

For a wicked good time, here are the top 15 places to visit including must-do, must-see and must-eat ( actually coming in the next post too many to mention here) places to check out with your teenagers while in Boston:

1. Fenway Park: If you’re in Boston during baseball season, catch a Red Sox baseball game at Fenway Park, one of the oldest and most iconic ballparks in the United States. The energetic atmosphere and passionate fans make it an unforgettable experience. It’s like a rock concert but with more peanuts and hot dogs and, finally, they’ll know why everyone gets so hyped and starts singing when “Sweet Caroline” starts playing.

 

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2. Freedom Trail: I know it might sound boring but I promise it’s cool. I’ve taken my girls multiple times and we still discover new and cool stuff. Take a walk along the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile trail that passes by 16 historically significant sites. It’s a great way for teenagers to learn about Boston’s rich history and the American Revolution with a side of cool old graveyards,

 

3. Museum of Science: Explore the Museum of Science, which offers interactive exhibits on various scientific subjects. From the planetarium and IMAX theater to the hands-on exhibits, there’s something to engage teenagers of all interests. Seriously, who can resist getting all hands on with interactive exhibits. Feels like Bill Nye the Science guy and Netflix had a baby.

 

4. New England Aquarium: Visit the New England Aquarium and discover marine life from around the world. Teenagers can enjoy watching penguins, sea turtles, and other fascinating creatures, as well as experience the Giant Ocean Tank. If. you really want to make it an experience to remember, I would highly recommend taking a whale watching tour.whale, Boston harbor cruises, whale watching, New England, family travel, things to do in Boston, Massachusetts

5. Boston Common and Public Garden: Spend time at Boston Common, the oldest public park in the United States, and the adjacent Public Garden. Take a swan boat ride, have a picnic, or simply relax in the green spaces and make sure to see the “Embrace” bronze sculpture memorial to MLK. It is stunning and a fun photo op for the gram.

Top 15 Places to Visit in Boston, travel with teenagers, Things to Do with Teenagers in Boston

6. Boston Harbor Islands: Take a ferry to the Boston Harbor Islands, a group of picturesque islands offering hiking trails, beaches, and opportunities for kayaking or paddleboarding. Spectacle Island and Georges Island are particularly popular choices.

 

7. Skywalk Observatory: Head to the Skywalk Observatory at the Prudential Center for breathtaking views of Boston’s skyline. It provides a 360-degree panoramic view of the city, allowing teenagers to appreciate the city’s beauty from above. These views are unbeatable and definitely social media worthy. Your teens will love it.

 

8. Museum of Fine Arts: Art enthusiasts will appreciate the Museum of Fine Arts, which houses an extensive collection of artwork from different cultures and time periods. It’s a great opportunity for teenagers to explore diverse artistic expressions.

 

9. Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum: Experience a unique historical reenactment at the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum. Teenagers can participate in the interactive exhibits, throw tea overboard ( and you know how much their angsty asses love to rebel), and learn about the events leading to the American Revolution.

 

10. Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall: Visit Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall, bustling marketplaces in the heart of Boston. Teenagers can enjoy shopping, sampling various cuisines, and watching street performers in this vibrant area. Hungry? Obviously, because teenagers always are, food is sport at Quincy Hall. There’s lobster rolls, pastries and all the clam chowder your teen foodies could ever imagine or hope for.

 

11. Duck tour: Undeniably, they are a bit silly but they are a great way to explore Boston. Jump on this amphibious vehicle and check out everything bean town has to offer, including the river. Oh yes, this Boston safari will put your teens in just enough imagined danger to keep things exciting. No, they are not actually in danger but that’s not the way they’ll tell it to their friends back home.

 

12. Charles River Esplanade: There’s nothing like a cool summer or fall stroll on the esplanade. Hang by the river while playing frisbee, people-watching while taking in breathtaking views of the Boston skyline. It is instagram and TikTok heaven.

 

Top 15 Places to Visit in Boston, travel with teenagers, Things to Do with Teenagers in Boston

13. Shopping: Newbury Street, downtown crossing, Prudential center and Copley place, oh my! Boston is one of our favorite places to shop. They have something for everyone and if you have girl, like I do, shopping (and eating) are two things we can definitely agree on from Saks to Gucci to Free People and Primark, this is some of the best shopping you and your teenagers will do. May I suggest, if you are not extremely wealthy, hit up Primark first. Great fast-fashion from a European brand but with Target prices. It’s the first place my girls want to hit as soon as we arrive. You’ll thank me later.

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14. The Swing Park at the Signature: This is such a fun thing to do for people of every age (honestly you could take your little kids or even your grandparents) but your teens will love this at night. We spent hours there, from sunset until it was dark out swinging on those glowing swings. The Lawn on D at the Signature also offers pickleball, lawn games and adult beverages.

 

15. Visit Harvard and Cambridge: Harvard is just a short drive away from downtown Boston and your teens will have a blast visiting the campus and soaking in all the ivy league vibes. The campus is gorgeous and why not plant that seed? Plus, Cambridge is full of fun little restaurants and shops to explore. My girls loved it.

Top 15 Places to Visit in Boston, travel with teenagers, Things to Do with Teenagers in Boston

This is just a get started list of places to visit and things to do with teenagers in Boston.

If you’re looking for a great place to stay with teenagers that’s right in the middle of all the Boston energy and excitement, we’ve been staying at The Hyatt Regency Boston for over a decade. If you’ve followed along over the years on my instagram, you’ve seen the breathtaking views and know, that its in the heart of the downtown crossing area.

Just a stones throw away from Chinatown and easily walkable to almost anywhere your heart could want to go in Boston. However,  most importantly, the customer service and attention to their guests is what keeps us coming back every single year. We’ve tried other hotels but nothing compares to how we are treated at the Hyatt Regency Boston. Bonus: There is nothing quite like a comfortable bed to take a midday vacation nap on and the Hyatt always delivers. Thank you Hyatt for always be such gracious hosts.

Top 15 Places to Visit in Boston, travel with teenagers, Things to Do with Teenagers in Boston

While these attractions offer a mix of history, culture, outdoor adventures, and entertainment that will keep teenagers engaged and entertained during their visit to Boston. Time to unleash your teenagers on Boston and let them explore and soak in all the culture, history, shopping and delicious food that Boston has to offer.

 

What is your top place to visit or thing to do with your teenagers in Boston?

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Things to Keep in Mind When Sending your Kid Away to College, college freshman

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Bella starts college in a couple weeks. Thankfully, she is attending college locally for her first year. I may not have to leave her on campus right now but I know it’s coming. And who are we kidding? Everything changes the moment they graduate. As a mom, you can feel it in your bones. The letting go happens at lightening speed. I barely recognize her from who she was in May. It is the beginning of the end of their time as “your little one” and the beginning of them becoming their own. All of my friends are sending their kids away to college over the next few weeks. Last night, I dreamt of going away to college. It’s been many years since I first went away to college. I’d forgotten how hard it was. There are some things we need to keep in mind when sending our kids off to college.

These days, I mostly remember how amazing it was, much like how these days the pain of labor feels like a very distant memory. The only thing remaining is the insanely immense love for my daughters. But last nights dream was a refresher in going away to college 101 and I wanted to remind some of you, especially those of you whose children will be going away to college later this summer.

Things to Keep in Mind When Sending your Kid Away to College

It’s lonely

Lonelier than I ever thought it could be. Those first few weeks, I wanted to come home 1000 times. I felt so isolated and out of my element. At home, I lived in a small house with a big family and suddenly I was alone in a 12×12 room in a city where I knew no one and had no car (freshman usually aren’t allowed). Cell phones were in existence but what college kid could afford one or the astronomical fees to use one? I’d left behind my life, my family, my friends, my boyfriend and everything I’d ever known. I went from a situation where everyone knew and loved me to no one knowing me and know one caring what I’d done up to that point.

It’s a new beginning

That sounds great, especially if you didn’t necessarily love the reputation you had up until that point. You are free and you can be whomever you want to be. In fact, this is what college is all about…growing up and becoming who you are meant to or want to be. You could start all over from scratch. One little problem, I loved who I was or at least who I appeared to be from the outside. I had worked really hard building my reputation, my circle of friends and how people saw me. At university, I was back to square one and I was all alone. I was finally the boss of me and I wasn’t sure it was all that it was cracked up to be.

It’s time to start adulting

For the first time in my life, I had to make my own decisions and I wasn’t equipped for the choices. Up until then, my parents had kept a very tight leash on my life. They made it very clear that they were the adults and I was the child and they made the rules. How the hell was I supposed to know how to make my own rules? How was I supposed to know what or where my boundaries were? Suddenly, I was faced with questions and situations I’d never been asked before and I had no idea what to do so I floundered ( a lot), made mistakes and got into some sticky situations. I’d like to say luckily I came out unscathed but that would be a lie. I learned the hard way. Adulting for me was like being thrown into the ocean without ever being taught to swim.

It’s wonderful and scary

A lot of the time, I felt like a kid pretending to be an adult and hoping not to get caught. On somedays, I still do. It was empowering to find out who I was apart from my parents. I discovered things I didn’t know about myself before and realized my parents truths were not necessarily mine because we came from different upbringings. But I also realized how scary it is to be the one in charge and making all the decisions for myself. It was terrifying realizing that there was no one to come running to pick up all the pieces when I blew up my life, just me.

It’s exciting

As scary as it was being left in a new place all alone, it was exhilarating. I really thought I might puke and cry when my mom drove away on drop off day. My roommate had made other housing plans and for the first time in my entire life, I was alone in the silence with my thoughts. I remember my first grocery run, walking around the tiny campus grocery choosing late night snacks and drinks that I wanted. It felt empowering because it was the first time I’d ever been able to make the decision solely based on myself. Making new friends, joining clubs, going to classes, learning my way around and just existing was exciting and new. I realize now that’s what college is all about, not just learning but growing into an adult.

It’s super hard and super scary until it’s not. That’s just how life works. There are definitely ways not to make the process so isolating and lonely but at the end of the day, your child has to go through this alone, without you. More if that freaking letting go that I hate so much. All of this to say, your child has no idea what’s in store or the myriad of emotions that they’ll feel once you pull away so try to keep that in mind when they’re trying to push you away.

The truth that no one realizes and you may have forgotten is that they’re even more afraid of being let get of than you are of letting go. Hug them a little tighter over the next few weeks, be a little more compassionate and make sure they know that you will always be their soft place to land. They don’t know, what they don’t know. What they do know, what they feel in their bones, is that life is about to change in huge ways for them and beneath the excitement and bravado, they are, as we’ve always known, still just our little kids underneath, on the brink of becoming who they are meant to be. Be there to help them up and dust them off when they fall but, you have to also let them stumble so they learn the right path for themselves.

What is the one thing you’d like to remind other parents to remember when sending their kids away to college for the first time?

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Practical Ways To Keep Your Teenager Out Of Trouble

Everyone wants to make sure their child is safe, but that doesn’t always mean making sure they don’t get hurt or sick. Sometimes, you’ll need to save them from themselves. Teenagers are particularly susceptible to engaging in risky behaviors that could be harmful thanks to pushing boundaries and gaining independence. It’s just the way it is but that doesn’t mean that you have to sit back and watch it happen. Sure, there are some lessons that teenagers need to learn all on their own but there are ways to give them space and still minimize the collateral damage they might do to themselves.

You wouldn’t want them hurting themselves or getting arrested for a class 2 misdemeanor, for example. You’ll need to know how to keep your teenager out of trouble while still giving them room to figure things out themselves. It doesn’t have to be as complicated and you don’t have to revert back to your helicopter days of their toddlerhood. It’s going to include a whole lot of trusting your own parenting, putting a little trust and faith in the good humans you’ve been raising and, unfortunately, a little bit of letting go.

By following five practical strategies, you can help minimize your worry and maximize their safety.

How to Keep Your Teenager Out of Trouble

1. Create A Safe Environment

If your teenager has a safe environment at home, they’ll be less likely to get into trouble. You should make sure they feel as comfortable as possible at home, especially when it comes to anything they could be doing. The more comfortable they are talking to you about things, the more you’ll know about them.

They’ll be more likely to tell you the truth, no matter how embarrassing it could be. You can create this safe environment in multiple ways, such as:

  • Showing respect
  • Using natural language
  • Showing your teenager you care

The safer the environment is, the more comfortable your teenager will be to talk to you about what’s happening in their life. You can keep them out of trouble much better because of it.

2. Make Sure They’re Supervised

Supervision can be one of the more practical ways to keep your teen out of trouble. You can be there to make sure they don’t do anything they shouldn’t. While that doesn’t mean being with them constantly, there are ways you can supervise them without being overbearing. Don’t go overboard and make them feel like you don’t trust them. Just use common sense, not every teenager is going to choose to go wild and remember, your teen is innocent until proven guilty so don’t make them feel like a criminal without proof.

Letting them spend time with their friends in your living room can be a great way to do this. It gives you the ability to avoid any potential trouble while ensuring they make the decisions they should make. It’ll also give you more peace of mind while you’re at it. My house has always been where the kids hang out and I’ll host everything just so I can get to know who my kids are spending their time with, know what they’re doing and who they’re doing it with. I trust my girls and I also know that I won’t always be there so I’d prefer them to learn to make good choices on their own while I’m nearby to answer any questions or lend support than to shelter them and as soon as they leave my house they have no clue how to take care of themselves. This is all a part of growing up, just like making mistakes is a part of learning.

3. Get Professional Support

One of the most effective ways to keep your teenager out of trouble is to get professional support. You mightn’t be able to spot the signs or symptoms of whatever trouble they’re in, and you mightn’t be able to help them. That’s especially true when it comes to mental health. You should seek professional support for this if you notice:

  • Dramatic changes in personality
  • Continually talking about shame or embarrassment
  • Unexplained cuts and bruises
  • Explosive outbursts
  • A recent loss

By getting them the help they could need, you can make sure you avoid any possible trouble and its consequences.

4. Use Effective Monitoring Practices

You can’t stay with your teenager all the time to supervise them, but that doesn’t mean you can’t stay in touch with them. A lot of research shows that teenagers who are being monitored by their parents are less likely to engage in bad behavior. They’re also less likely to make poor decisions.

It’s worth using some monitoring strategies to make sure you can achieve this. There are more than a few ways you can do this, including:

  • Having them call you every hour
  • Check how they’re spending money
  • Getting the numbers of their close friends

Using a few of these strategies can be one of the more effective ways to keep your teenager out of trouble.

5. Get To Know Them

The parent-child relationship changes after kids reach their teenage years. Their interests will change and they’ll continue to grow in multiple ways. They could turn into a completely new person compared to what they were like in their younger ways. You should make sure you get to know the new them.

They’ll still be figuring themselves out, and that could be a difficult process. By putting the effort into getting to know them, you help them figure themselves out. It can avoid them lashing out and can make the process much easier for them while also bringing you closer together.

How To Keep Your Teenager Out Of Trouble

If you don’t know how to keep your teenager out of trouble, you could end up worrying about them a lot. Injuries, trouble with the law, and similar concerns can all prove anxiety-inducing. You’ll naturally want to avoid that, but it doesn’t need to be as complicated as you’d think.

A few practical tips can make this much easier. Making sure they’re supervised, creating a safe environment, and getting professional support – among other options – can all help with this. There’s no reason not to do it.

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Shedd Aquarium, Museum of Science and Industry, Field Museum, Adler planetarium, art institute of chciago, broadway on Chicago, navy pier, chicago shakespeare theater, Things to do with teens and kids in Chicago, Things to do with teens in Chicago, Chicago, Things to do in Chicago, travel to Chicago, travel with teens, teens, family travel

I’m a Chicago girl and there is nothing I love more than sharing my hometown with my daughters. I love taking my children to visit my family and introducing them to the city I love. It’s nice because while I’m figuring out all the best things to do in Chicago with teens and kids, I get to play tourist.

Chicago is one of my favorite cities but when you live somewhere you never play tourist because you.live.there. When you’re young, you’re like no way, I’m not wasting my time because you think you’ll always be there. Everything tourists come to Chicago to see, we saw on field trips a zillion times with school. You couldn’t pay us enough to go willingly.

READ ALSO: Chicago Ten Things to do Before You Die

But then you grow up and you realize OMG, all of these amazing museums, art galleries, Planetariums, Zoos, Aquariums and theaters were right here and I took it all for granted. You realize that there are amazing things to do, food to eat and different cultures all around and you took it all for granted. But no more.

Of course, it is winter, and your first instinct is to be indoors feeling comfy in your best wool slippers or under a warm blanket. However, sometimes this can take you away from all the fun you can have in Chicago. As long as you are protected from the frigid weather, there are many things to see and experience. Chicago has so much in store for you and the family.

Here is a list of things to do in Chicago during the Winter months

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The Museum of Science and Industry

During the winter months, November through January, Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light is displayed. Explore rich holiday traditions from around the globe while creating your own traditions with loved ones in Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light.

It began in 1942 with a single tree. Today, the Museum’s beloved annual celebration features a four-story, floor-to-dome Grand Tree, surrounded by a forest of more than 50 trees and displays decorated by volunteers to represent the holiday traditions from cultures around the globe. On the weekends, you can also enjoy live holiday performances. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience that brings a whole world of holiday joy under one roof.

READ ALSO: Spring Break Make It Yourself at MSI

This has been a favorite of mine since I was a little girl. This year, I took my parents and my daughters and it was truly magical. My only piece of advice, it is very busy over the holiday break between Christmas and New Year.

Also, if you are going during a busy season or when a popular exhibit is at the museum, be sure to get tickets for the exhibits that you want to see. There are some free exhibits that are very popular and so tickets are given on first come first serve basis, plot your plan and get your tickets as soon as you get there so you don’t miss anything.

Free admission days: The Museum of Science and Industry is free for Illinois residents with valid ID on the following dates in 2019: January 7–10, 14–17, 21–24, 28–31, February 4–7, 11–14, 19–21, 25–28

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Shedd Aquarium

If you are looking for a leisurely day to spend with children of all ages, the Shedd Aquarium is perfect. You are inside from the elements, whether it be the sweltering heat of the summer or the brutal cold of Chicago winters, and children (and adults alike) love the serene beauty that surrounds you.

Discover Aquatic Animals from around the World. You can purchase tickets online and save time. Encounter Penguins. Meet Beluga Whales. Award Winning Exhibits. Hands-On Activities. Watch Shark Feedings. Shows: Shark Feeding Tour, Behind-the-Scenes Tour, Beluga Encounter, Penguin Encounter. Our favorite was the Dolphin show and the Beluga Whales. It’s a great day of exciting aquatic fun.

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Don’t forget about the free admission days.  Check the shed aquarium page free admissions page at a later day. Check back frequently because it’s a great deal.

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Field Museum

Who can forget the iconic shots of Kevin Bacon in She’s Having a Baby at the Field Museum? If your child or teen is into history at all, Field Museum is the place to visit. Even if they aren’t, I think the Field Museum could convince them to be. The Field Museum fuels a journey of discovery across time to enable solutions for a brighter future rich in nature and culture. It’s where real science, dinosaurs, and world-class exhibits inspire fun for all. My girls and nephew loved the mummies exhibit, Sue the T-Rex and Maximo the Titanosaur.

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There are Free Admission Days, which are free basic admission for Illinois residents with proof of residency. Discounted passes are available in person and cannot be purchased online in advance.

Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago, located in Millennium Park, is a hub for summertime festivals like Lollapalooza, the Blues Festival, and Taste of Chicago but it’s really a great place to visit during the winter months as well. There are many pieces to be adored and to give your family something to think about Wood’s American Gothic, Matisse’s Bathers By a River, Monet’s Water Lilies, Rivera’s Weaver and even Renoir’s Two Sisters. There are O’Keefe, Toulouse-Lautrec and Warhols. All these I remember seeing as a child. But even among the Dali and Van Goghs, the piece I love the most is Picasso’s The Old Guitarist. Those artworks are probably only allowed to be shipped and prepped by top-notch art handlers to safeguard their authenticity. Having a place to go and share these pieces with my daughters, feels a little bit like going to church at the Sistine Chapel. We are overcome with awe and wonder. The art Institute is a must-visit when you’re in Chicago.

Just like all the other amazing museums in Chicago, the Art Institute of Chicago has free admission days.

Adler Planetarium

Chicago’s Adler Planetarium is America’s first planetarium and a premier resource for inspiring the next generation of space explorers and bonus, it is right next door to the Shedd Aquarium so you can make a day of it with the kids. If your child is interested in astronomy or space in general, how it works, what’s out there, or just connecting the constellations in the night sky, they will love the Adler Planetarium.

Countless galaxies, unfathomable distances, exploding stars, diamond planets, black holes, there’s no way around it, space is freaking awesome! Come learn more at the Adler Planetarium during our Illinois Resident Discount Days—where Illinois residents receive FREE General Admission to the museum. General Admission provides access to all exhibitions and experiences (excluding the historic Atwood Sphere Experience and sky shows.*)

Navy Pier

If you’ve never been to Navy Pier, make sure to visit on your next trip to Chicago. Originally completed in 1916 as part of Daniel Burnham’s plan for Chicago, Navy Pier is an iconic city landmark inspiring discovery and wonder. Since its reopening in 1995, more than 180 million visitors have come to enjoy the Pier’s 50 acres of unparalleled attractions and experiences. As Navy Pier enters its second century, the venue is evolving into an accessible, year-round centerpiece for Chicago’s diverse arts and cultural treasures.

There is so much to do at Navy Pier. There are restaurants, art, shopping, the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, and even rides. Navy Pier is home to one of Chicago’s most iconic attractions: the magnificent Centennial Wheel, offering soaring views of the Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan. And let’s not forget about the Pepsi Wave Swinger, carousel and more. Honestly, there is so much to do…just add teens and an instant good time.

Shedd Aquarium, Museum of Science and Industry, Field Museum, Adler planetarium, art institute of chciago, broadway on Chicago, navy pier, chicago shakespeare theater, Things to do with teens and kids in Chicago, Things to do with teens in Chicago, Chicago, Things to do in Chicago, travel to Chicago, travel with teens, teens, family travelNavy Pier’s mission is to be a world-class public place that celebrates and showcases the vitality of Chicago and provides for the enjoyment of Chicago-area residents and visitors year-round. My girls love it and I’m sure that your kids will too. Did I mention that there is Garrett’s popcorn in the Pier and a Harry Careys?

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Medieval Times Schaumburg

If you’ve never been to a Medieval Times, you are missing out. I always wanted to go but never made the drive as I said, when you live in Chicago, you don’t do touristy things). A couple of years ago, I found myself at a work event with my family and guess where we ended up? Medieval Times. We loved it so much, this past holiday season when I was home visiting my parents, we took them to Medieval times in Schaumburg (just north of the city) and they loved it and so did my kids.

For the first time in Medieval Times 35-year history, a woman is in charge. All hail Queen Dona Maria Isabella. Enjoy an electrifying show featuring heroic knights on spirited horses displaying the astounding athletic feats and thrilling swordplay that have become hallmarks of this unique entertainment experience. Enjoy a “hands-on” feast as the dynamic performance unfolds before you. A sweeping musical score and brilliant lights provide a fabulous backdrop for this spellbinding experience that blurs the boundary between fairy tale and spectacle!

Yes, there is a blue knight and a red knight and you eat with your hands but so is everybody else and it was magical and splendid and I can’t wait to go again. There is a 2-hour medieval jousting tournament, 6 competing knights with real weapons, beautiful horses and a live flight of the royal falcon. Medieval Times is like nothing else you’ve ever experienced.

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Shedd Aquarium, Museum of Science and Industry, Field Museum, Adler planetarium, art institute of chciago, broadway on Chicago, navy pier, chicago shakespeare theater, Things to do with teens and kids in Chicago, Things to do with teens in Chicago, Chicago, Things to do in Chicago, travel to Chicago, travel with teens, teens, family travel, broadway in chicagoBroadway in Chicago

If you love the theater, Broadway in Chicago is the place to be. Hamilton, anyone? The theater district is vibrant and located within walking distance of so many great restaurants and entertainment opportunities, including the Joffrey ballet. There is no shortage of things to see and places to be while experiencing Broadway on Chicago. There is a constant assortment of plays and musicals to see on the stage, something for everyone, even the most discerning critics.

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There are so many more things, these are just a few and the list gets longer during the warmer months. What is your favorite thing to do, see and eat in Chicago? The best part is that all of these places are great for just adults too.

READ ALSO: The Aladdin Experience Things to do in Chicago, Joffrey Ballet, The Nutcracker

The Joffrey Ballet’s The Nutcracker

As you all know, the ballet has a special place in my heart because my girls are ballerinas. The Nutcracker has always and will forever be a huge part of our holiday tradition. The girls have never seen it live from the audience because, for as long as they can remember, they have danced in it. Our local production is known to be one of the best in the country but we’ve always wanted to see the Joffrey’s, one of the premier dance companies in the world today, production. This year it’s on the list. The Joffrey Ballet’s critically-acclaimed reimagined classic, The Nutcracker by Tony Award-winning choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, returns to celebrate the magic of the holiday season. Wheeldon’s American tale relocates Marie and her immigrant family to the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, where Marie embarks on a whirlwind adventure with the Nutcracker Prince.

Things to do in Chicago, Joffrey Ballet, The NutcrackerThe Joffrey Ballet performs The Nutcracker from Saturday, December 3rd through Sunday, December 27, 2022.

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What is your favorite thing to do in Chicago with teens or kids?

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love letter to my teen daughter, Bella, teen birthday

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Dear Daughter,

It’s taken me a couple of weeks to post this because I’m still in shock. How did we get here? Time is a cruel bitch, the minutes sometimes seem like an eternity but the years have passed by in what feels like, at best, a slow syncopated blink of an eye. It’s too soon for me to have to start letting go, My heart won’t loosen the white knuckle grip it’s had on you since the first moment I saw those 2 pink lines. You’ve been the love of my life from that second. My mind knows that you’re not mine alone.  You belong to yourself, I have just been entrusted the privilege and honor of being your mother in this lifetime. 

love letter to my teen daughter, Bella, teen birthday

How could you simultaneously only and already be on this earth for 17 years? You came into the world and changed me forever. You literally changed the woman I was, am and will be. You made me stronger, wiser, kinder, more compassionate and better. You gave me a new and more tolerant view of the world. You taught me what it means to love someone so unconditionally and completely that no ask is too big, no request too small, a thousand years not long enough and nothing can ever change that love. It’s unending, unwavering and all-encompassing. I wouldn’t just take a bullet for you, I’m pretty sure I’d be capable of murder for you. No one told me this was what motherhood is. 

love letter to my teen daughter, Bella, teen birthday

As you grow our relationship keeps evolving. At every age, I think I couldn’t love you more and then I discover another level. My heart has an unending abyss of love for you. The older you get, the bigger my love which I find incredible because if anyone would have told me on the day you were born that I could ever love anything more than I did in that heart bursting moment, I would have surely called them crazy because I loved you so completely. But here we are with my heart growing grinch-like 2x each day, hour, minute and second. Boundless is the only word that comes to mind and I hope you’ve felt that in your soul every single day of your 17 years here with me. 

love letter to my teen daughter, Bella, teen birthday

I am so proud of the young woman you are becoming. You can literally do anything you set your mind to. I just wish you could see yourself through my eyes so that you could see how truly amazing, smart, beautiful, fierce and breathtaking you really are. Stop comparing yourself to me. I am full of flaws. You are the best part of me.  Embrace your humanness. There is no shame in being vulnerable, real, kind, compassionate, honest and real. Perfection does not exist. Just be the best you to you, that’s more than enough. Never measure your worth by someone else. There is only 1 you. 

love letter to my teen daughter, Bella, teen birthday,Love letter, tween, 12th birthday, birthday, daughter

The things you consider weaknesses are actually strengths. There are so many people who cannot recognize or accept their vulnerabilities but you know them, embrace them and work through them which makes you stronger than most adults faced with the same situations. 

You will always be my baby big paws and as you grow into a woman, my best friend and one of my all time favorite human beings. Please don’t be afraid to be gloriously you in all your honesty and grit. Continue standing up for what you believe in even when it feels impossible. Don’t back down when you have something to say but remember louder doesn’t always mean better. Use your words as swords to defeat ignorance, bigotry and hatred. Believe in yourself. 

love letter to my teen daughter, Bella, teen birthday

Trust your gut and love the Bella you see in the mirror. Most importantly, remember we’ve always got your back. No matter how crazy, out of control the circumstances, we’re on your side. Every second of every day. 

love letter to my teenage daughter, Bella, teen birthday

Don’t be afraid to try. The worst that anyone can say is no. Every failure is the opportunity to get better and to gain wisdom and fresh perspective for the next time. Love each time with your whole heart. Dance and sing like no one’s watching. Travel the world and meet new people. Never be afraid of new things. Every day is the opportunity for a new beginning. You’re never too old for a new adventure and it’s never too late unless you’re dead. Tell people you love them. Don’t be afraid of the unknown and always believe people when they show you who they are. And don’t ever feel guilty for walking away from people, places and situations that no longer serve a purpose in your life. It’s better to walk away than to hold on to things that hold you back and hurt you. 

love letter to my teenage daughter, Bella, teen birthday

I love you more than words can ever convey but I tried because words are my love language and I love you more than everything. Even a lifetime wouldn’t be long enough to get to be your mother but know that I cherish every single second that I get to be. Happy 17th Birthday Bella!  Wishing you a lifetime of happiness, love, laughter, adventure and the courage and power to chase your dreams! You can do all the things!

Love you more

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parenting teens, next time they won't need me, letting go, mom of teens

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

If you’ve heard that the teen years of parenting are the worst, don’t believe everything you hear. It’s different from previous years but it’s just as beautiful in many ways. I like to think of it as the evolution of the parent and teen relationship filled with beauty and misery.

Our most recent trip to Walt Disney World may have been the last one of my girls’ childhood wonder. It wasn’t on purpose. They didn’t try to do it but it happened. I felt it. The gentle pulling away that is growing up. As a parent, there’s nothing you can do about it.

You’re presented with 2 pseudo choices, go with it and gently let go with a loving smile while wiping away the secret tear in your eye. Or you can hold on for dear life, as they push, pull and drag you off of them. They love you but their instinct is to achieve maximum freedom and independence. You’re a hindrance to both, whether you mean to be or not. There’s only one way to come out of this alive, you have to let go so that the subtle pushing and pulling away of childhood into adolescence doesn’t kill you both.

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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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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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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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