I can’t believe school is almost out for the summer. Where did the year go? The kids will be home all day. What will we do? How can I keep them busy?
On those lazy, hot, summer days when your kids say, “I’m bored. There’s
nothing to do,” here are some ideas that I think would keep them busy and entertained:
1. Let your kids sleep later since they have had to get up early every day for school all year. Remember, they are growing and sleep is important to their growth and development.
2. Do fun things with them such as play board games; go on a picnic; ride bikes; have a cook-out and let them help cook; have a family movie night to watch a fun, family-oriented movie together, pop some popcorn, and talk about the movie afterwards. Having conversations with your kids helps to boost language and brain development.
3. Encourage your kids to spend lots of time outside. They need sunshine, fresh air, and time away from technology and social media.
4. Make sure they read during the summer months. Take them to the library; have some kid-friendly reading materials at your home; and read with or to them, if they are young. Remember, they can travel the world in a “good book”!
5. Give your kids chores to do that are always age-appropriate, such as making their bed each morning; putting away their clothes; keeping their room clean; and feeding the dog. This is how parents teach kids responsibility.
6. Limit their screen and social media time to a minimum each day and night. Take them away and re-charge them in your room or they may stay on them all night.
7. Encourage your kids to eat healthy. I think fresh fruits like melons are delicious during the summer and remember, water is a must to keep hydrated and feel good.
Written by Lynn Hooper, Guest Writer / Parenting Director, Just Say Something
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So, here we are… IT’S SPRING! (Ah-choo!) Yep. Time to put away the all-black wardrobe from winter and - OH NO - pull out the shorts and short sleeves! But what about those few extra pounds that - I don’t know - just happened over the winter? Hibernation is over. Maybe, I’ll exercise. Yeah, that’s it! I will exercise! I’m going to start TOMORROW! Oh, and maybe I will watch my calorie intake too! Yeah, I’m going to start TOMORROW! Oh wait, that dinner party is coming up next week and my birthday is coming and I do love cake… Fill in the blanks……
When do we finally decide that it’s time to take control of our wellness?
Let me preface this by also including single dads and caregivers of all kinds. You are rock stars! But for the sake of this text, I am speaking in terms of moms.
I am my own worst enemy sometimes when it comes to actually thinking about ME. Not to be discriminatory to you dads but moms are born with a litany constantly playing in their heads, “You must take care of everything”. We juggle not only our own schedule but also that of every other member of the family, including our pets! I don’t know… Our family members obviously have decided that the womb is actually some sort of tracking device that can find anything that is missing, despite the length of time said missing object has been gone, in 2.5 seconds or less. That pile of laundry is totally invisible to everyone except mom and she has to do calisthenics just to enter and exit the laundry room. Somehow the food magically jumps from the fridge to the oven to the table and hopefully at the EXACT time that each person can make it to the table due to varying schedules. It’s a lot. To be fair, thank you to all of the dads, partners, and significant others out there who do help. But let’s be honest, when does anyone EVER come up to you and say, “You really deserve a break. Why don’t you take 30 minutes for yourself to just go outside and breathe some fresh air? You are doing such a great job, mom, wife, sister, aunt, caregiver, please just think about YOU right now.” Rarely. So, where does that leave us? Well, technically, if we want to assure that it will get done, we must take charge of our own self-care.
How many times have we heard, “You can’t pour from an empty cup?” We think, “DUH”, but let’s break that down! Our lives are SO fragmented these days. We work. We have kids (and grandkids). We have pets. We have after-school activities to chauffer (and maybe coach) … Because, OF COURSE, we want our children to know we’re doing all we can to encourage them (and their team) to victory! We have church. We have aging parents. We have after-work meetings. The beat goes on…….
We are literally running a marathon from the time our feet hit the floor in the morning until we fall face first, comatose, into the bed at night. Our brains never stop. This is life. Where do we draw the line? I struggle with this EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I will speak for myself when I say that my typical way of handling this is to take whatever is at the top of the pile and work down. WAIT! That thing on the bottom just changed from this afternoon to this morning. So, yeah, not the most effective way to handle things, yet, it’s what I do.
Through INTENSE training, I am learning that even if I can only give myself what I call “mental health moments” throughout the day, it is enough to refresh, recharge, and reset. It has always been a joke to me when people talk about meditation. OH YEAH! That’s it. For someone who suffers from extreme ADHD (and has struggled with it for their entire life), this is what that looks like... OK, I am going to sit down now. Assume the position. Close my eyes, now. Clear my brain. Clear my brain. OH, MY GOSH! I meant to put the clothes in the dryer! Clear my brain…. Clear my brain…. Why is the dog barking? Clear my brain… Clear my brain. (Phone rings.) Well, you get the picture…..
So, I am left now trying to figure out how I managed to get onto the floor without a firm plan of how to get up again…. My granddaughter’s pajamas are still wet and she is in the shower getting for bed and my brain is even MORE scrambled than it was before.
So, since ADHD was not even a thing when I was young (or, at least, it wasn’t yet determined to be “a thing”), I learned early on that I had to pave my own road to survival in a world where I saw others doing well… So, why wasn’t I? I love being outside - walking, sitting in the sun, watching the birds, and gardening - and I can literally lose myself when doing any of these things. THIS, my friends, is the answer. You MUST find SOMETHING in which you can “lose yourself” to take your brain to some other place to escape the fragments of thoughts that grow totally out of proportion when unattended. Even if we can only do this for 10 minutes several times during the day. AHA! I just realized that there is some other form of “meditation”. Did I “invent” this? Let’s go with that. So, I invented this new way of “meditation”. Just kidding, but I just wanted to roll around in that moment for a bit! My brain has unplugged and gone to some “happy place”. Suddenly my blood pressure has lowered, my heart rate has decreased, and I am, for this moment, calm.
This is important on so many levels. Probably, first on the list is that my dogs and my family members are going to be spared my spontaneous combustion as the stress finally reaches fever pitch… But most importantly, I have let my brain know that it does not have to live in the stress of the moment. This is monumental.
For me, getting outside, listening to the birds, digging in the dirt, taking a walk, and trying to notice little things that probably others would never see, and just realizing that there is something at work here that is far greater than me is the takeaway for all of this.
What might that look like for you? Listening to music? Going to the gym? Working a puzzle? Playing with the dog? Reading a book? Just taking a hot bath and unwinding for a moment? There is no “one size fits all”. It is, plain and simply, WHAT FORM OF CALGON TAKES YOU AWAY??? (Oops! I think I just told my age!)
This is a rather lengthy way to say, “Don’t forget that you matter too. You may be the glue that is holding it all together! Don’t leave the cap off and allow all of the glue to run out of the tube, then you just have a mess. Same principle. Take care of YOU!!! You are smart. You are beautiful. You are kind. You are important. YOU MATTER!!! Treat yourself accordingly…and HAPPY SPRING!!!”
Written by Karen Hyatt, Grandparent, Guest Writer & JSS Parent Resource Consultant
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If your teen is in college, you probably have more to worry about than whether or not they get good grades, thanks to the pandemic! So, please chevk out this “College Mental Health Resources” article and share it with your college student!
Then you may want to read the parent/teacher’s guide on CHILDREN AND TECHNOLOGY: POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE EFFECTS from Maryville University….
Father’s Day, June 20th, is almost here. As a father myself, I always look forward to spending the day with my wife, children, and extended family. When I think about what a fathers is, I think about my father and how he took care of our family. He gave us rules, discipline, and showed us that he loved us. One of the many qualities of a good father is being present in your children’s lives. Always spend time with your kids…
Like most parents, my wife and I invested a lot of time in our kids early on. Our children were involved in a lot of activities. Keeping kids involved in activities that expand their minds and condition (exercise) their bodies, keeps them balanced and well-rounded. I try to keep my home balanced by treating my wife with dignity and respect. I want my girls to know how a father/husband should treat a mother/wife. This is part of building their foundation.
However, like most men, I’m still working on being a good listener…
Being a good father is a challenging task. Luckily, I had a lot of good role models when I was growing up and I learned a lot from them. I try to cultivate and instill good character and values in my children. I also encourage them to set boundaries and have confidence in themselves. Self-love is very important. When we make mistakes, we need to say, “I’m sorry” and show our children that we mean it with love.
As a father, we need to help our children develop their own interests and give them the support they need. As a father, we also need to model the behavior we expect our children to follow and show their mother the respect she deserves because she is just as important as we are.
A good father teaches clear boundaries and consequences for poor choices, including the decision to engage in substance use. I think fathers should set the tone for the entire household, leading by good example and training their children so that when they leave home, they will be a good reflection of who God made the head of his home.
Written by Stacey Ashmore, Community Outreach Support / Youth Impact Sports
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May is Mental Health Month, a time set aside to increase awareness and reduce the stigma concerning mental health related issues. If you’re like most people, you have probably always thought of mental health or mental illness as something you just don’t talk about even with family, friends or medical professionals! But if there’s one thing living in the midst of an ongoing pandemic has taught us, it’s that mental health issues should be talked about out in the open because it can happen to anyone, especially during a crisis.
Thanks to Covid and its mutating viruses, I think we realize that experiencing a mental health issue is normal whether it’s Anxiety; Depression; Panic Attacks; an obsessive-compulsive disorder; or an Attention Deficit and/or Hyperactivity Disorder, etc. Now, we understand that having a mental health issue doesn’t necessarily mean that you are mentally ill. It just means you are experiencing a problem at a particular moment in your life.
People who have these “glitches in the brain” as I call them, learn to cope with them by working through them until they pass - although they never really go away... They seek help by talking with friends, family members or others who have the same or a similar problem; ask for advice from a trusted, regular physician; or get helpful tips from reputable websites. I don’t think it matters what kind of help they get as long as it resolves the issue.
However, if they aren’t able to cope with a “glitch” and the problem begins to interfere with every aspect of their lives from getting ready in the morning to taking care of their kids to doing their job or if they have a more serious issue like substance abuse and/or addiction; Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder; suicidal thoughts; Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, etc., then they will need professional help. (Click to search the SC Directory of Mental Health Centers & Clinics or the National Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator.) Whether you’re a parent who needs help or the parent of a teen who is having difficulties, we know help is out there. We wish you luck with your recovery.
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“IF YOU DON’T STOP CRYING, I’LL GIVE YOU SOMETHING TO CRY ABOUT!” “I BROUGHT YOU INTO THIS WORLD, I CAN TAKE YOU OUT!” “I’M GOING TO SLAP YOU INTO THE NEXT COUNTY!” WOW! How many of us have heard THOSE words? I did. In all honestly, the first one doesn’t even make sense… But it was widely used and, as kids, we knew what it meant! It meant that we’d better stop whatever we were doing and FAST!
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. What does that mean? Let’s break it down…… Were our parents guilty of child abuse? Absolutely not. Times were different. Parents had control. Children listened. Families worked together. Well, that ship has sailed. We live in a time where the little bit of control that parents still have is slowly diminishing. We can certainly attribute the increased use of technology for part of that. Kids as young as six are given smart phones. By the age of 10, MOST kids have their own cell phones. What does that mean? It means that they have 24-hour access to the entire world and, trust me, they know how to access it. Kids are growing up WAY too fast and we all know that danger is out there and it can find them quickly.
So, how do parents deal with this? Here are some stats for you:
In 2020, there were 234 child fatalities in SC. 145 (62%) involved poor supervision or exposure to a hazard; 114 (78.6%) involved maltreatment or neglect; and 25 (17.2%) involved child abuse. [Source: SCFAC Annual Report 2020, South Carolina State Child Fatality Advisory Committee https://scfacsc.files.wordpress.com/2020/02/2019-scfac-annual-report-final,pdf]
Our children can push every button we have and they will continue to do that for as long as it works for them. So, how do we handle that? Let’s go back to technology. When they are constantly watching their screens, their brains are reeling with all of the information they are processing. When they shut off the technology, their brains are still in full court press, which prompts the statement, “I don’t have anything to do. I’m bored.” As overworked, over-stressed, and exhausted parents, it is so easy to allow this practice for them because they are quiet and that gives us time to get the myriad tasks that we, as adults, face each day done. In this overworked, over-stressed, and exhausted condition, it takes very little for us to explode or, at the very least, react negatively (and often unreasonably) to what in real life can be a pretty benign situation. We snap. We yell. We “swat” (and may or may not actually hit our target).
Let’s add a worldwide pandemic into this equation. YIKES! Now, the bills go on, work goes on (or perhaps you lost your job as a result of this) and now, in addition to everything you’re trying to juggle, you have to monitor your kids’ school work!!! Having personally experienced this, I can tell you that it was a total nightmare!!! That stress level, which was already elevated, has now reached a fever pitch and it’s not even noon yet!!!
First of all, “practice the pause”. This is a little used phrase (and less used practice) that can save a huge amount of heartache and “pressure cooker” explosions. While there were days that I just wanted to start running and never stop (until I remembered that I have passed the point of making THAT happen), I had to find SOME coping skills so that I didn’t do any harm to something or (worse) someone………
In this case, the term “adult time out” comes into play. How do we handle “time out” with our kids? We remove the problem from the child or remove the child from the problem. The psychology behind this practice is to give the child time to self-regulate to diffuse the emotion. Emotions pass. Reactions to emotions can last forever, if handled improperly. In a moment of frustration or anger, these reactions can leave scars on children that will follow them throughout their lives. In addition to emotional scars, sometimes it can elevate into physical scars.
In my case, I had to just walk outside (weather permitting). As someone who suffers greatly from ADHD, “meditation” is a foreign concept to me. The minute I sit down with the idea of “meditating”, my brain immediately goes into hyper-speed. This means that I had to find another coping mechanism. I would sit on the patio, close my eyes, and try to identify as many sounds as I could. Later, I learned that this is actually a form of meditation. Why? Because it diffuses the emotion and slows down the heart rate, lowers the blood pressure, and distracts your brain, if only for a short time. It only takes a few minutes to let the emotion pass to be able to think clearly again. This is what worked for me. What are some other “coping mechanisms”?
It may be that you just need to go into another room away from distractions. It can be just standing in place and doing intentional breathing. Perhaps turning on your favorite music may help - WHATEVER will distract your brain and give the emotion enough time to pass.
Children cannot process emotion. Typically bad behavior in children is nothing more than unprocessed emotions. They have no life skills on which to fall back, when their emotions run amuck. What they do NOT need is negative feedback from those who love them the most. It is important to remember that as their parents, you are their NUMBER ONE ROLE MODEL. Do not join in their chaos but show them by example that there are other ways to deal with these emotions, as well as explaining that emotions can go as quickly as they arise. PRACTICE THE PAUSE.
Also, speak up, if you become aware of any child who may be in an abusive situation. Children will not speak up. Sadly, for some children, it is the only life they know and, as far as they know, that is “normal”.
Children are our greatest resource and our hope for the future. It is our job to protect them. When we control our emotions, we are modeling for our children how to control their emotions. THIS is how this greatly maligned cycle will be broken.
Written by Karen Hyatt, Grandparent, Guest Writer & JSS Parent Resource Consultant
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The terrible incidences of social injustice; pandemics that seemingly come out of nowhere; the rise in covid-related hate-crime; the impact of covid on mental health, the economy (gas prices), healthcare, and employment; the increase in family homelessness; the extinction of bees, birds, fish, and some mammals; catastrophic floods, fires, rainstorms, hurricanes, and tornadoes; the melting of polar ice caps; the lack of civil discourse and political incursion; and the horrors of modern warfare really make us wonder. It’s scary enough to make us ask, “Is this the end?” If the world is scary for adults, it must be terrifying for kids, especially those who think you can die and get right back up like a cartoon character.
While as a parent your first inclination may be to keep your child from hearing about these terrible things, that doesn’t mean they won’t eventually find out about them. Kids learn about things from siblings and other family members; friends and friends’ parents and/or siblings; TV news, kids’ shows, cartoons, etc.; streaming TV; and social media (i.e. YouTube, Tik Tok, Snap Chat, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.). No matter how much you may want to protect your child, eventually the news is right there on the screen in front of them, frighteningly, blaringly loud, in color, and in a video they can replay over and over.
But there are some things you can do to help your child cope with their fear…..
While we don’t want to scare our child, we can’t exactly avoid teaching them about the scary things they should avoid like strangers on the street and on social media; fire and matches; wild animals; playing in traffic; swimming without a buddy; substance use and other risky behaviors; and a multitude of other things. But we should also teach them the world is basically a good, decent, safe place for them and we will do everything in our power to keep it that way. That’s our job as parents.
Explain to your child “all men are created equal”, no matter who they are; what they are; or what they look like. Being different is not a crime. It doesn’t make someone a bad person, just different. And we shouldn’t feel that we can bully someone; deny their rights; or mistreat or hurt them because they are different or because of an ugly stereotype, rumor or myth. Everyone deserves to be treated like everybody else. No one is any less or any better than anybody else.
Teach your child to protect themselves from invisible threats like Covid, Delta, Beta, Delta Cron, Omicron, and other viruses by whatever means available – masking; social distancing; vaccination; avoiding crowded places; helping parents clean on a regular basis; washing and/or sanitizing hands regularly; and eating healthy, immune system building vegetables, fruits (vitamin c-rich) & nuts and/or taking appropriate vitamins and supplements.
Tell your child to be civil even if they disagree with another person. Disagreeing with someone shouldn’t be used as an excuse to bully, threaten, or hurt another person on social media or in person; damage private or public property; or commit any act of violence. A disagreement is never a justification for violence. We won’t always share the same opinion as someone else. That’s just the way it is. So, we will just have to “agree to disagree” but it should never involve violence.
Help your child to understand that war is an awful, terrible thing that hurts everyone, directly and indirectly. And while it is sometimes an unfortunate reality, we should all do our part to make the world a better place by being kind to one another and either resolving our differences or “agreeing to disagree” without violence of any kind. If everyone remembers to follow that rule, then maybe kindness and civility will return across the nation and the world - and our world leaders will rethink declaring war.
But none of these “tips” are a “one off”, as some Brits might say. I think these are issues every parent should talk to their child about whenever there is a related story in the news. That way their child may be better able to cope with a sometimes frightening and ever-changing world. If so, maybe we will all eventually live in a world in which everyone has equal rights; pandemics are a thing of the past; the rate of covid-related hate-crime and mental illness has decreased; the economy is back on track; employment and prosperity are booming; global warming and mass extinctions have been dialed back; civility is once again a part of regular discourse; and war is non-existent. Or, at least, our children may one day be lucky enough to live in such a world. But no matter what happens out there in the “Big, Bad World”, I think parents should reassure their children they will protect them; love them; and keep them safe to the absolute best of their ability, no matter what. That’s a promise. Cross their heart.
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According to experts on the subject, parents should talk to their kids about the negative effects of marijuana on young brains early and often. Read the “Comprehensive Guide for Parents Talking to Their Teenagers About Cannabis” to find out why.
Happy New Year! So, here we are. Another year. Another attempt to do all of those things that we promised ourselves we would conquer way back in 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021. Sigh…… After 2020, we were CERTAIN that “next year will HAVE to be better”. Hmmm……… Perhaps it was in some ways. But life as we used to know it “way back when” (in 2019) seems to no longer exist. Now, we live in a world where we avoid crowds (or at least most of us do), we wash our hands more than we EVER have before, we put on our “mask armor” before we head out the door, and we head for the nearest exit, if we hear anyone sneeze or cough. It just seems that we have, as they say, reached that place commonly referred to as “The New Normal”.
OK. So here we are. Now what? What have you resolved to do to make this world – oh, and yourself - better in this new year? Exercise more and lose weight? Can we all just take a moment to have a good laugh and move on to the next thing on the list? Perhaps it was to spend more time doing things that you love to do? Wait. I think I can squeeze that in between the hours of 3:00AM and 4:00AM in my “free time”. Swear less? Oh well, I blew that one while trying to get the lights off the Christmas tree. Zero for three. But wait. Could I be a better parent? NOW, we’re getting somewhere!!!
The answer to that question is “ABSOLUTELY”! It takes NO extra time - although it does take some practice on the patience portion - to practice “the pause”. It does take some practice to pause for that moment and just not immediately, harshly react to that emotion that in the moment totally overwhelms us and can create chaos in all involved parties. Yes. We are overworked and overwhelmed. Yes. We are tired. Yes. Listening to the news is enough to make Superman bury his head in the sand. But that in no way is the fault of our children who feel the stress too. It’s important to remember that as trivial as what they say to you may be to YOU, it is the most important thing in the world to them…. And you are the ONE PERSON with whom they wish to share. Are we really too busy to take a few minutes out of our day to make eye to eye contact with them and LISTEN (without interruption) to their stories? What would it say to them that you took time away from what you are doing to REALLY listen to them? Well, it would say to them, “You matter”, “You’re worth it”, “I care about you”, and “Your stories are important to me.” It costs nothing, yet the rewards are totally beyond measure.
In this “New Normal” world, our children are forced into isolation. No man is an island. We (adults and children) were never meant to live in isolation. Teachers on computer screens have replaced those teachers who would stand at the door and welcome each and every one of them into class with a smile and words of encouragement. Sleepovers are quickly becoming a thing of the past: “So many germs.” Video games have replaced Red Rover, riding bicycles until dark, movie theaters….. You know, all those things that let kids be kids. Kids need to be outside. They need to run. They need to be with their friends. They need in-person school. They need all of those things…. But, more than anything, they need parents who hold on to family dinners, family values, boundaries, and being there to apply those band-aids when life (or playgrounds) throw them a curveball.
Can’t we all resolve that something that costs nothing but some small blocks of time carved out of our day, like resolving to be a better parent or grandparent, is time well spent as we move into 2022? We cannot singlehandedly change the world. But if we can change one life at a time, that’s how the world gets changed.
Written by Karen Hyatt, Grandparent, Guest Writer & JSS Parent Resource Consultant
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