In the wake of yesterday’s school shooting, my heart breaks for the victims and their families of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, the most recent victims of gun violence. Like many of you, I find myself drawn to the constant news updates online, even as someone who routinely avoids the daily news. As I continue to try to process this horrific act, my thoughts naturally shift toward my own children, who are elementary school-age. This is sadly one of many school shootings in their lifetime. As many experts have said, it’s wishful thinking that our children don’t know that these events occur. We live in a digital age which allows us to go online and watch live feeds of events AS THEY HAPPEN. Even if your children are not on social media or are not tech savvy, their friends and friend’s parents likely are and will certainly be talking about it. While we try to shield our kids from the media as much as possible, this event is likely to be the buzz of bus rides and lunchrooms all over the country. I wonder how much my own kids will hear. Continue reading
This summer has been a wonderful whirlwind of summer activities and a slower pace. Reduced schedules, lazy weekends, and summer BBQ’s are what we live for. In the midst of this, we are inundated with examples of public disagreement, violence, and accusations of inequality. Continue reading
The holidays are upon us. Thanksgiving and Hanukkah came and went. Christmas Day is right around the corner, as is New Year’s. Time flies. There is no doubt the holidays can be stressful with the hustle and bustle. It’s supposed to be a time of joy, reflection, and happiness, but the long lines, traffic, and just not enough hours in the day admittedly get in the way sometimes. As the new year rapidly approaches, I find myself thinking about New Year’s resolutions. I know I’ve had my share. Some of my prior resolutions were to exercise more, volunteer more, be more patient with my husband and children. This year I hope to be more organized with my family calendar. Staying organized despite a busy family calendar is a challenge for me regardless of the season.
Keeping the family calendar is no small feat. Between extracurricular activities, work schedules, school events, and family get-togethers, this can be a lot for any parent to keep track of. Pre-planning and scheduling activities ahead of time is the key. When you receive the school calendar, document all of the school holidays, conference days, and events. Sports practices and games are good to get on the calendar as soon as you receive the schedule. Family birthday parties and special occasions are also good to schedule in advance. When other, unexpected activities come up, you will be able to schedule without hesitation.
Don’t be afraid to set some scheduling limits. Sometimes you need some down time, and so do your kids. This helps get some rest, clear your mind, and allow your kids some unstructured play. Limit the number of activities your kids participate in. Most kids want to join every sport team or every club. Help them select the activities they want to do the most. One or two activities per season is a reasonable scheduling goal. This will allow them to participate in structured activities, while also allowing room to attend sleepovers and birthday parties, while staying healthy and rested. This also models for kids how to manage their own time as they get older, by prioritizing their goals.
Look over your calendar on a regular basis. There is no way to remember everything and checking the calendar routinely will help you to remember what’s coming up in the next few days. I sometimes have to look at my calendar multiple times a day to stay on top of activities. This helps to prevent double-booking, missing an activity or event, and even helps to feel more in control of your time.
Share your calendar. A family calendar should be monitored by THE FAMILY. Not just mom or dad. High school kids are more than capable of keeping an eye on their activities and planning accordingly. Of course, they will still need prompting and supervision. Paper calendars or personal organizers are great for keeping track, but may not be as accessible to an entire family. Online shared calendars work well. It’s important to use a trusted site that will protect your private family information. The iPhone Cloud allows families to share calendars. OurFamilyWizard website and app not only schedules a busy family calendar, it also schedules parent-time for families with more than one home. If the kids are going to mom’s house on Tuesday, Mom is able to see their planned events and vice versa when the kids are at their dad’s home. It helps to clarify drop off and pick up, as well as upcoming school events and extracurricular activities.
No matter how you choose to stay sane with a busy family calendar, I wish you a happy and healthy 2016!
As we embark on a new school year (where did the summer go?), you may be experiencing excitement, anxiety, and for some of you, even a little bit of fear as kids move on to the next academic level. Consider yourselves fortunate if your child enjoys school, likes to learn, and does homework without a fight. Many others have a very different experience of school. Academic demands are heightening and, as early as pre-k, we are seeing a shift in the expectations of our kids. While this is true, this is often a time when parents and teachers alike are surveying for any barriers to learning, which may include concerns for ADHD. In fact, some of you may have already been encouraged by a teacher or counselor to explore this possibility.
So we’ve all been there…at the restaurant watching the couple sitting next to us, on their phones instead of interacting with one another. The person walking in front of us, on their phone, oblivious to what’s going on around them. Sending a text that cannot wait or reading an email that is so urgent it must be read while walking. I’m certainly guilty of that. The use of electronics has become a dominant force in our lives and social media sites have become nearly inescapable. New sites are popping up all the time: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Cyberdust, to name a few. Cell phones, iPads, iPods, computers, Kindle, and Xbox are common access points.
While we are all aware of the some of the negative effects of social media (bullying, health issues, etc), the social media landscape does have some prosocial benefits. Social media offers some good information about health and wellness. It offers a forum to learn and practice interpersonal relationship skills. When used correctly, social media can actually enhance connectedness, knowledge, and overall health. Media devices (for most teens it is the phone) have become a sort of lifeline to their friends and family.
Car seat safety is a big deal. While the rate of motor vehicle-related deaths have significantly decreased over the past 12 years (a 45% drop), it is still the leading cause of death for children ages 4 and older. For every 1 child who dies in a motor vehicle accident, approximately 18 more are hospitalized, and another 400 children require some type of medical intervention.
One of the more confusing aspects of choosing a car seat has to do with the lack of consistency between the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and New York State law. The confusion surrounds age and weight limits, infant versus child, rear-facing versus forward-facing, convertible versus booster, and back seat versus front seat. There are hundreds of options available when choosing a car seat. The AAP updated the car seat guidelines in 2011. These guidelines include age expansion for rear-facing car seats, as well as vehicle safety for older kids. Continue reading
Like many of us, you may be celebrating the spring blossoms, the warmer weather, and, most importantly, the temporary relief from snow! This time of year many families are preparing for summer camps, swimming pools, and family vacations. Like many parents, you may be wondering about how to keep your children healthy and safe in the context of summer activities in a culture of ever-changing recommendations.
I don’t want to go to school!
The dreaded exclamation from our pre-school and school-aged children. An age-old complaint, though one must question whether or not this school resistance and refusal is on the rise. With the implementation of the Common Core curriculum in many of our schools, the enactment of universal academic standards of performance, as well as the invasion of social media on the social development of our children, not all kids can handle this pressure. Many children develop somatic complaints associated with going to school. Common complaints include stomach ache, headache, generalized aches and pains, and/or trouble sleeping. But how do you know whether your child’s complaints are age appropriate or something to genuinely be concerned about?