Tips for Parents: Spring Break Edition

If the phrase “spring break” enlists more panic stricken thoughts of how to afford a Florida beach vacation for the whole family or last minute day camp ideas than thoughts of an actual break, then you’re in good company. For many parents this time, once looked forward to for months, becomes a chore. Lots of families opt for a big vacation, while others may be more comfortable staying at home. Depending on what suits your family best, either option can be a good one. So…

If you’re planning the big vacation:

  • Think realistically about what your child likes/doesn’t like and age appropriateness of activities. Just because he loves watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on TV, doesn’t mean he won’t have a complete and total meltdown at the sight of a real-life Mickey. Also, if you’re planning a trip to Colorado with your 3 year-old, maybe don’t expect to be able to go on that 10 mile hike you and your spouse did for your wedding anniversary that one year. One last thing in this point: save the innocent fellow passengers on an airplane as much pain as possible if you plan to take the aforementioned toddler on a ten-hour plane ride. Bring an iPad (don’t forget the charger), coloring books, his favorite lovie, travel games, and literally anything else you can possibly fit into a carry-on in order to keep him (and you) happy.
  • Even though Spring Break is a time to step out of the same ‘ole routine, don’t take that idea too far. Kids still need rest time! They can’t be expected to go, go, go all day and then make it through dinner without either conking out right there at the table or having one of those famous meltdowns. Bottom line- make time for nap time.
  • Allow for exploration! Especially if you’re kids are older and assuming you’re traveling to a safe destination, there’s no reason to hover over them every second. No, I’m not suggesting you should let your adolescent go into town for the night by themselves or even with a friend or sibling. But letting them walk down the beach to find some cool shells or allowing them to stand in line for a rollercoaster while you sit in the shade isn’t a bad thing and inherently builds confidence by fostering their independence.

If you’re planning to stay home:

  • Don’t panic if you don’t have every second of every day jam packed with fun activities. For most kids who are already over-booked with school and karate and swimming and baseball during a non-break day, sleeping in, staying in your PJs, having a movie marathon, and ordering pizza can be a blast.
  • Take a day trip! With places like Kemah and Galveston right down the road, there’s no reason why you can’t “go on vacation”. Get a few day passes to Schlitterbahn or check out Pleasure Pier—it won’t break the bank and your kiddos won’t go stir crazy after PJs and pizza day gets boring.
  • You don’t have to get out of the city to break out of that same ‘ole routine. If your go-to field trip with the kids is to the neighborhood park, try a different park… it’s that simple! Take them and some of their friends to the IMAX at the planetarium, let them have ice cream before bedtime (if you can handle that after a day in the museum district)—anything to mix it up a bit and make it special for them.

Whether you’re traveling to the happiest place on earth or staying at home this Spring Break, just remember this: make memories! Thinking back on some of my family vacations, I don’t remember the hotel rooms, the restaurants, or all of the tours we took. What I remember is laughing until I nearly peed my pants because of some lame inside joke my mom and I came up with while I was keeping her awake in the hotel room, my sister laughing so hard that milk came out of her nose in the middle of the fancy restaurant, and trying not to chuckle at all the naked statues we saw in that one museum. Chances are, your child won’t remember how much money you spent or any facts about the tourist attractions you visited either. What they will remember is spending time with you, so make the most of it whatever you do!

Are You Wasting Your Emotional Energy?

So I’m going to talk about famous people for a bit.  Just bear with me.

As I was watching the news on Tuesday morning, a story about the rivalry between Kanye West and Taylor Swift (both current pop/R&B icons) was brought to my attention.  The segment focused on a speech given at the Grammy Award Ceremony by T. Swift.  A portion of the speech is below.

“There are going to be people along the way who will try to undercut your success, or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame, but if you just focus on the work and you don’t let those people sidetrack you…”

Evidently, Swift was responding to a lyric in one of West’s new songs where he supposedly tried to take credit for her success.  I understand that she is standing up for herself, and encouraging young women to persevere.  However, both of these celebrities continue to hold power over one another by constantly talking about each other publicly.  The news anchors reminded me that this all started back in 2009!  That’s 7 years ago people!

SERIOUSLY!?   How often do we waist emotional energy focusing on grudges or past hurts?  Holding grudges will steel your joy and, frankly, it’s a terrible waste of emotional energy– energy that we could be using to grow, discover, process, relate, connect, and practice vulnerability.  Yes, working through horrendous hurts and pain takes time and work.  Some of my clients have experienced things that make me weep if I dwell on them and these experiences will never disappear.  Experiences change people.  But, if we are able to spend the time and do the work (hard work) of confronting our pasts honestly, then we are able to experience a new sense of freedom and peace that is life-giving.  We are able to focus on what we desire to focus on- healthy relationships; and stop focusing, all the time, on those who have injured us.

If you are allowing a past experience to rule your mind and heart, reach out and seek help. This takes an extreme amount of courage, but sometimes (a lot of times) we need a professional to walk alongside us and teach us how to move forward in a healthy way.  Whether it’s sexual, physical, verbal, or emotional abuse, trauma, or relationship issues, something that happened as a child, or 3 years ago, don’t waste any more precious time.  Make an appointment with a counselor today.

Happy Birthday To Me!!!

It’s my birthday!!! That’s right. Today is my birthday and I’m going to treat myself, like I always do on my birthday. I loooove celebrating my birthday.  I throw my own birthday parties, take the entire week off of work and splurge on myself. I treat myself to things I usually don’t do…… ultimately I truly enjoy my birthday.

In looking back to how I’ve celebrated in the past, I now see that I’ve celebrated so much on my birthday because I celebrate myself so little the other 364 days of the year. A one-time quick celebration doesn’t actually help the 70 hour work weeks and constant stress.

But this year, I don’t feel the need to take a full week off of work or disengage from the norm in order to relax or celebrate. I’ve been thinking about it and I believe it’s not because I don’t want to enjoy my birthday. Believe me, I love me some me and I love celebrating me! But I think the reason I don’t feel the need to retreat is because I’m actually taking pretty good care of myself.

So what is good self-care? Most people can’t answer that because we are too busy living our lives to take proper care of ourselves. The best way to implement good self-care is with consistent daily habits. Here is a list of some good ideas for self-care. These ideas seem very simple and you may be tempted to roll your eyes or move on to the next blog because you don’t need to read this. But there’s a reason I’m writing about this. Because as simple as it may seem, we just don’t do it. So here goes……….

1) Eat food that is good for you. Most of us cringe at good food because we automatically assume that we won’t enjoy it. Eating is one of my favorite hobbies but I have slowly made changes that have been extremely beneficial. A small change like juicing in the morning for breakfast or snacking on almonds instead of candy can make long-lasting differences.

2) Work-out. Exercise is one of the most underrated types of self-care. Just a quick walk in the morning or at lunchtime can help clear your mind and help with chronic medical problems. We all know that exercise releases endorphins but research also shows that exercise increases production of serotonin and norepinephrine which reduces depression and stress.

3) Go to bed. Getting good sleep is an important goal. If you’re consistently getting less than 7 hours of sleep then you are sleep deprived. Make it a point to stop whatever you’re doing and go to bed early. Or close your office door for about 15 minutes and take a power nap.

4) See a doctor. We make sure that we take our kids and our pets to the doctor but we don’t see the importance of it for ourselves. It is important to set aside time to get the medical attention you need. Prevention is much easier than treatment.

5) Unplug. Some people have a weekend away with no electronics which is amazing! You may not be able to do that but simple strategies like screening your calls, turning off your computer and phone for an evening will help you to unplug and unwind.

6) Compliment yourself. Take time out of your day to really appreciate your physical beauty, accomplishments, values and talents.

7) Do something fun. That might be reading a book, going to a museum or splurging a little on yourself. Life is too short not to have a little fun!

8) Take time off of work! ** this is my favorite one** Statistics show that Americans use only 50% of their vacation time. I hate to burst your bubble, but you are not that important! If you skip a day at work, the sky isn’t going to fall. And you’ll probably be more productive in the long run if you take time off occasionally.

If you’re doing all of these, you are taking very good care of yourself. If you’re not, then pick just one to start with and go from there. Remember, how you treat yourself sets the standard for how others will treat you.