Wednesday, November 12, 2014

My Mind’s Telling Me No...



Mama’s our family is going through a shift. Our kids are at a new school that is not working out very well for them, my husband got a new job in a new state and we are moving a few days before Christmas into our new home. So I’m packing and getting us ready to hit the road. This school year has been filled with many challenges, but some of the things my kids have dealt with at school were just hard to wrap my mind around. As Mama’s when our kids are hurt we hurt, it’s just that simple. My 4th grader experienced bullying in an extreme way this year and although I stayed on top of it I didn’t like how it made him feel. My daughter wanted to change the color of her skin and her hair because as a 2nd grader she felt that she could have nice friends that way. I know that times have changed and kids are different, but so are parents and the society we live. My son was told he was a B**** and a F****t by one of his classmates in the 4th grade!!! I told his teacher and she handled it. Another one of his classmates asked him if he wanted to die every time he opened his mouth to speak. When my son would answer him “No” his classmate would say, “Well shut up then”. Seriously? How horrible is that?

I am like a piranha when it comes to my children. Point blank period. I know that kids will be kids, but I feel horrible sending my kids to an environment where they feel less than because of their skin color and the horrible things other kids say to them. My son tells me that most days he wants to cry, but then he thinks of wrestlers and football players and how strong they are and that helps him to keep the tears in. He told me that he also remembered me telling him to ignore hurtful words spoken by others, but ignoring it doesn’t make the pain go away (TEARS!!). When I dropped him off to school that morning I cried in my car all the way back home because I felt awful for leaving him in a place where he is supposed to learn but feels unwelcomed and like an outsider daily. When my daughter was diagnosed with ADHD in the Spring of 2013 I wanted to homeschool her, but she wanted to stay in school so bad. Now she’s asking can she just go to school at home (sigh).

I have been dancing around the idea of homeschooling four children and got scared every time. I figured that I had not gone to school to properly teach my kids all they would need to know, so I would be better off sending them to public school daily and just supplementing them when they come home. I kept feeling the urge to homeschool, but like I said I was afraid that I would really mess my kids up. I prayed and waited all the while knowing what I was supposed to do but fear kept me from doing it (I’ll admit that). 

So here we are ready to move to our new home and I am proud to say that the Bouie Family will be homeschooling all of our children year round on a quarter system. I know this will be a rewarding, fun filled and trying time, but we are family and I love my kids past the moon. The kids are excited and they have already decided that they want to learn about zoology, earth space science, meteorology, African American history, Hieroglyphics and they are interested in cursive writing and a second language. I’m pretty geeked as we will set up a classroom per the kids request in our new home. My husband is 100% supportive of this decision. Many of my family members have been worried about their socialization, but fret not the kids will be active in dance, sports, church and maybe even a homeschool co-op!

So Mama’s I decided to listen to my heart because my mind was definitely telling me no. I cannot tell you if homeschooling is right for you as it comes with many sacrifices. I believe the sacrifice is worth it for me to teach my children, love on them and watch them grow and develop. I look forward to this time where our lives will no longer be dictated by a traditional school schedule. I believe the flexibility will be amazing and a welcomed breath of fresh air. Mama’s I’ll keep you posted on our progress and if you homeschool please share any tips or stories you may have!

Don’t wait, Live your best life now!

                    Nicole

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Safe Place to Make Mistakes


Happy Hump Day Mama’s! I wanted to share my thoughts about making your home a safe place for your kids. Now I’m not talking about outlet plugs or door locks, but I am talking about emotional safety. When I say emotional safety I’m talking about allowing your children to have the ability to make mistakes at home and learn from them in a healthy way. Children learn by making mistakes, just as we do sometimes as adults. Think back to when you were a kid, now count the number of mistakes you made…..I’m waiting. You ran out of fingers didn’t you? I know, me too. Your parents didn’t keep track of your mistakes and you shouldn’t keep track of the mistakes your kids make.
Kids need to be able to make mistakes and know that you as their Mama will be there to help them pick up the pieces and clean up the mess. This is how they build confidence to continue through the mistake and propel to their destiny. If you criticize them every time they make a mistake, you will hinder them from their natural curiosity. This will make them second guess themselves for fear of disappointing you. On the inside they may want to try something, but they will hold back because they are afraid of being a disappointment or being punished if they mess up.
If you find yourself scolding your child for every mistake they make stop! You may being displaying this behavior because you were treated this way as a child, or you may simply not know how to handle yourself in this type of situation. I’m not here to pass judgment. I’m here to give you options on how to handle your children when they make mistakes, so that you can both bounce back. Here are some suggestions:
1). Acknowledge the mistake- chances are your child already feels bad on the inside. Make eye contact with them and acknowledge the mistake.

2). Reassure them- let them know calmly that they are not in trouble because of the mistake.

3). Take a deep breath together- Sometimes a deep breath is all you need to remove negative thoughts and feelings so that you can focus on a resolution.

4). Talk to you child about the mistake- Ask them what happened and let them tell you without being interrupted. Ask them what they could have done differently and if they are unable to come up with a response, help them, as this will give them options in the future should this same challenge occur again.

5). Don’t dwell- Once the mistake is discussed do not dwell on it. It’s over. Mama’s as adults we do not like for others to dwell on our mistakes. Why do you think your kids would be any different?

It is my hope that you create a safe place for your kids to make mistakes, be kids and learn life lessons. I challenge you to make your home a safe place now, so as your children get older they can be confident in knowing they have you in their corner as their coach and biggest cheerleader.

Don’t wait, Live your best life now!
Nicole

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Don't Demote Yourself as a Parent


Happy Hump Day Mama’s! We all know how hard it can be to be consistent in our parenting. Whether you are parenting 1 child or 4 children sometimes you get tired. Let’s face it we all have busy lives, working, furthering our education, picking kids up, dropping kids off, cooking, cleaning, going to church, etc. If I’m being honest sometimes I just want my kids to give me 1 hour of quiet time where I can be still and they can govern themselves accordingly, yeah right. That’s not going to happen, at least not in my world and not right now. My kids are 9, 7, 4 and 2.
Mama’s have you ever been so worn out that you just let your kids get away with things that you normally would not? Come on admit it we all have. Sometimes we give in and comply with our kid’s demands, not even realizing that in doing so we are demoting ourselves as parents. Yes, let that sink in. Let me give you an example. When your child continues to ask for something that you have told them they cannot have. They keep asking and asking for it until they wear you down and when you’re at your breaking point you simply give up in defeat and allow them to have that very thing you’ve been saying no to for hours. You feel a moment of relief because now you’re no longer in negotiations with your child and the battle is over. Mama I hate to break it to you but the battle has just begun. What you just did was allow your child to make you erase your line in the sand and demote yourself as a parent.
How many times have you told your child they cannot go somewhere or that they cannot do something only to cave and allow them to do it? When you practice this behavior you send the mixed message that no is not the final answer. You openly invite your children to test you even more than they naturally would because on the right day you may cave if they pressure you hard enough. So basically you are making parenting your kids more difficult. Mama’s we have enough going on already so why on earth would we want to knowingly make parenting harder? I have been guilty of doing this and I had to stop it because when I would cave with one child the other would protest because I did not cave for them.
I kept a mental tally of what my kids typically ask for and made a schedule for when they can have these things. The schedule is on the side of the refrigerator and they can see it at any time. I do random surprises for them, for example I am giving them birthday cake for breakfast. This will make their day and it’s not something I do often so no harm no foul. Sometimes we’ll have breakfast for dinner or ice cream with sprinkles for dessert. Make parenting fun Mama’s without demoting yourself in the process. We set the stage for our parenting when our kids are young. It gets more challenging when kids get older so plant healthy consistent seeds now so that your kids will know that you say what you mean and mean what you say. Good luck with being consistent Mama’s, it can be tough but it’s so worth it!

Don’t wait, Live your best life now!

            Nicole

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Potty Training: You got this!



Happy Hump Day Mama’s! I am potty training my last child and I have a spaghetti junction of feelings towards this momentous occasion. I am happy that she is ready to be potty trained but I am not ready for cleaning up the “at will” pee and poop. I potty trained my youngest son around the age of 2, when he said he was ready. I didn’t force the issue on him because I didn’t want to be stressed out about it. We got a pourty potty http://www.pourty.com/  (from Amazon for around $15) which was amazing and in no time he was potty trained. Did we have accidents, of course we did, but at 3 years old he was completely potty trained and out of pull ups. He didn’t even use them at night and he still doesn’t. He gets up and goes to the bathroom at night. He rarely has accidents and when I say rare I mean really rare.
As a Mama to 4 kiddies I can attest that potty training can make you rip your eyelashes out of off (if they’re fake). You get upset because they went in the bathroom but peed or pooped on the floor. They took their pull up off full of poop and tried to clean themselves off. Mama I could go on and on with my potty training stories, but I won’t because I’m sure you have some of your own. I will however give a few suggestions that have worked for me and kept me sane. Ok here goes:
 1). Are they ready? Let your child give you queues that they are ready, verbally or by their actions (pulling their diaper off, pulling their pants off, saying potty, etc.)
2). Get a kid friendly potty. All potties are not created equal, seriously. We chose the Pourty Potty because it was easy to use, clean and we could put it anywhere in the house. Our guy like to potty while watching TV.
3). Prepare for the accidents. I purchased a small toiletry caddy to put my clean up supplies in (dawn, vinegar & water spray bottle, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, small wash cloth, hand towel and scrub brush)
4). Reward system (I used gummy bears in a small jar). Every time he went to the potty he received a special treat. He was the only person in the house that was allowed to eat these treats.
5). Be patient with yourself and your child. Each child is different and no two children will potty train the same. Do not compare your child to other children because they are unique and their potty training will be too. Do not compare yourself to other Mama’s as we all have our different ways of getting our kids potty trained.
6).  Let ‘em choose. Let your child pick out their “big boy” underwear when they reach this stage. It builds excitement and they take pride in it.
7). Less is more. When you are around the house allow your child to run around with their pull-up/underwear on with just a shirt. You don’t want to hinder progress in the beginning because they have on too many garments. You want to make it as easy as possible for them to pull their pants down and go!
8).  No yelling. I repeat, No Yelling. Let this time be fun. It will be a better experience for you and your child. You don’t want someone yelling at you when you’re trying to master something so don’t yell at your child (seriously, think about it).
9).  Be consistent. You will have to be as consistent as possible in an effort to move forward and make progress. If you say no diapers, the no more diapers, even at night. You don’t want to send mixed messages.
10). Enjoy this time because they grow up so fast an you don’t want to miss out on crucial moments because you were too stressed out potty training. Trust me they will get it! Then they will grow up and you will wonder where the time went.

This is list is not inclusive, but these are things that helped me make it through 3 (almost 4 potty training sessions). I encourage you to embrace the ups and downs of potty training. You can do this, (trust me) and still come out with all of your eyelashes and hair intact! I wish you a happy and successful potty training Mama’s!

Don't wait, Live your best life now!


              Nicole

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Embarrassed in Public

Happy Hump Day Mama’s! Let’s get right down to the nitty gritty. No one likes to be embarrassed, especially in public. As a Mama of 4 I can tell you that I have had my fair share of public embarrassment. I felt like I wanted to crawl into a cave and leave my child on the outside. I was not only embarrassed, but I was fuming. In my head I was thinking, “These people must think I’m a bad parent because of how my child is behaving, so let me show them I’m not”. As a child I was always told wherever you do it (act crazy), is where you get it. No if’s and’s or but’s about it. I really didn’t act out too often so I had nothing to worry about. When I had kids of my own I adopted that same philosophy because that’s what I was taught and it worked because it was very rare that I was chastised in public by my mother. As a mother of 4 I do my very best to keep it all together. Sometimes I’m successful and other times I’m not. If you read my blog post last week I told you that I have been attending this parenting class at my church and it has really opened my eyes to new ways of parenting and using different strategies to make parenting fun and less stressful. While in class there was a point that spoke on not embarrassing your kids in public. In my head all I could think of was what I’d been taught (where you do it, is where you get it). However I was told something that was strange to me, but I listened anyway. Our facilitators told us not to embarrass our kids in public…SAY WHAT?! I was waiting to hear their justification for this. They gave an example about being a working adult and what if you did something in front of your boss that they did not like and instead of pulling you into their office they embarrassed you in front of all your coworkers. How would that make you feel? Mama’s I had an “Ah-ha” moment! It clicked for me and made sense. We teach our kids to show respect and treat others that way you want them to treat you, but how can we teach that principle if we embarrass them in public, but we do not want to be embarrassed in public.
I came home and I was still wrapping my head around this new concept of delayed chastisement. On Monday I asked my kids how it makes them feel when I handled situations in public on the spot and I got two responses. One of my kids said it made them feel like a failure and the other said it made them feel like an idiot. I asked them why and they said because it was not everyone’s business to know what they had done and they felt like other people viewed them as bad kids because of their mishap. Mama’s these answers made my heart ache and my stomach turn because as a mother I am there to nurture my kids, not make them feel worthless. I asked them “how do they think I feel when they embarrass me in public?” They paused and said, “bad”. It was at that moment we both touched and agreed that we would try our very best not to embarrass each other in public.
For those Mama’s wondering let me clarify what embarrassment is for me. When I ask my kids not to do or say something in public and they do it. When we go into the store and I have made it perfectly clear what we are purchasing and when we get inside they get the “I wants”. For them it is embarrassing for me to lecture them in public, reminding them of what we’d already discussed and wanting an explanation as to why they deviated from it. Now Mama’s some of you are reading this and thinking I may be trying to be my children’s friend instead of their parent. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I want there to be mutual respect between my kids and I. They know I am the parent and what I say goes, but I want them to respect me, not fear me…That’s another topic for another day. I just wanted to share with you another helpful tip that I got from the parenting class. It’s never too late to change your approach to parenting. You can always learn something new that can help you grow as a Mama. Always be willing to learn, change and grow. If you don’t already do it, take a moment to talk about your parenting with your kids. Try this exercise as a family. Get a sheet of paper and pencil for everyone. Write your name at the top and make 3 columns, Start, Continue, Stop. Each family member will tell the other 3 things they want them to start doing, continue doing and stop doing. You’ll be surprised at the things you already do well, the things your family members want you to do and the things you may be doing to hurt someone without even realizing it. In order for this exercise to be successful there must be a safe atmosphere without punishment. Each person has to feel respected in order for honesty to take place. My family does this 3-4 times each year and we pull our lists out to see how we’ve improved. When you try it let me know by leaving a comment below!

Don’t wait, Live your best life now!

                       Nicole