Q: I have two young teenagers. We were so excited to be out of school for the summer. They are great kids, but half way through the summer break- we are driving each other crazy! They are too old for camps, but too young for jobs. I need to think of something to keep them busy that is well suited for their ages. Any suggestions?
A: Students need a break to recharge and renew- especially teens. They need “down time” to “just be”. And for young teens this down time can be tricky. Many businesses won’t even consider hiring anyone under 16. And most camps are geared for elementary school aged children. This can mean lots of hanging out time for young teens, but too much unstructured time can be an invitation for a less than ideal break.
Finding a balance is key– structured time and unstructured time. (more…)
It sounds like your teens have the unstructured time all figured out (most teens do). They just need the balance…
In addition to conquering the not so very popular summer assignments, summer is a great time for a teen to explore some volunteer options. Many organizations need the additional help during the summer months and usually welcome young teens! (Some require that an adult tag along.)
Your teens could volunteer at a couple of different organizations. If they find an organization isn’t a good match for them, then the volunteering ends with the summer. But perhaps they will find an organization with which they connect enough to want to continue during the school year. Many high schools require students to perform community service hours- your teens would have a head start!
Summer break should be fun and recharging! Finding a balance helps to make it all possible.
Q: My 10 year old is going to sleep away camp next month for the first time. He is very excited, but I am very nervous! He will be at camp for 3 weeks and during that time we will have no contact with him, other than letter writing (which I doubt he will do!) How will I know if he is having a good time and how can I stop being so nervous?
A: Going to sleep away camp is a big deal! Your son has every right to be excited! Camp can be a wonderful place. I spent most of my childhood summers at a phenomenal camp in the NC mountains. I made some lifelong friends (my best friend- I met there!), created incredible memories, but I can assure you I didn’t write many letters home. I was too busy doing!
Many years later I was on the other side of the camp adventure. My children were headed off and I was the one with the nervous feeling! (more…)
My children were the third generation in my family to go to this camp and I was still nervous! Why? Because I want the very best for my children and the outcome of their camp experience was out of my control- for the most part. I wrote them letters (and received a few hastily scribbled lines) and was excited for their adventures!
Many camps have daily blogs and post daily photos on their websites. (These photos should not be public. You should get a private access code.) But don’t spend too much time analyzing photos of your child. (Didn’t he wear that shirt yesterday? He is wearing a sweatshirt, maybe he is getting sick.) Just enjoy the tiny glimpse at your son’s adventure. Also, don’t panic if you don’t see a photo of your child EVERY day. He is still having fun, but it is an almost insurmountable task to get a photo of EVERY child EVERY day.
If you have reached your wits end and really must have reassurance that your son is doing well, call the camp. Not your child- the camp. You can leave a message and the appropriate staff member should give you a call back. Unless it is a true emergency, do not expect to speak with your child. Let the camp staff member handle the communication. It is their job and speaking with your child might trigger homesickness- even in a child who isn’t homesick before the phone call!
I’m sure you have done your research before selecting your son’s camp. Feel confident in your selection! Tuck your nervousness aside and feel confident. Your confidence is contagious. And so is your son’s enthusiasm! Get excited! Sleep away camp may be some of your son’s favorite childhood memories!
Q: My children are old enough to help out at home with some of the daily chores. They share a bathroom so I thought this would be a good place for them to start. It would really help out, but I don’t want them to inhale all those harsh chemicals. Do you know of any cleaning products, which are safe for children to use?
A: You are absolutely correct; helping with household chores should be everyone’s responsibility! If every member of the family does a fair share, it helps daily life run more smoothly (and maybe eliminate some stress too).
It sounds like the children’s bathroom is a great and logical starting place for your children’s’ involvement. And by having them accept cleaning responsibility for a space they use, you may even see them decide to take better care of their surroundings. It is easier to clean a bathroom counter if it isn’t piled high with cosmetics! (more…)
Here is a fantastic, harsh chemical free cleaning product that is safe for your children to use. And it really cleans!
Child Safe Cleaner
1 cup of hot water
1 teaspoon of liquid dish soap
4 Tablespoons of white vinegar
Mix all ingredients in spray bottle. Spray mixture on bathroom surfaces (shower, tub, sink, counter, toilet, etc) to be cleaned (if cleaning a mirror or glass, skip the dish soap). Let sprayed mixture sit on surfaces for a few minutes then wipe clean.
Involving the whole family in taking care of the home helps to make it even more of a home.
Spray bottles for everyone!
Q: My brother is gay. He and his “partner” have been together for almost 10 years. I don’t have a problem with their relationship, but I’ve never explained their relationship to my children. My three children are now 9, 7, and 6 years old. They adore my brother and his “partner”! How do I explain to them that their favorite uncle is gay?
A: Our children look to us as role models: How do we handle situations? How do we treat others and ourselves? How do we accept or judge? If you really think about it- that’s a lot of pressure! But at the same time it is a wonderful opportunity! (more…)
Explaining to your children that your brother is gay? How would you explain his relationship if he were not gay? Exactly! You wouldn’t. If you are comfortable with the relationship, then I’m not sure there is any explaining to do. (If you are uncomfortable, then that is another topic all together!)
Children are far more open, accepting, and less complicated than adults. Chances are it never even occurred to your children that there is anything to explain. They have accepted your brother as their favorite uncle! I don’t think they bestowed him with the title of Favorite Uncle based on whether he is gay or not. And having a second uncle in the relationship may be an added bonus!
If your children ask, “Is Favorite Uncle gay?” Then all you need to answer is, “Yes.”
Q: My young son’s school sells ice cream pops during lunch several days a week. It is a fundraiser for the school’s PTO. I have no issue with helping my child’s school, but I don’t want to do it by purchasing ice cream. We try to limit sweets in our family and ice cream during the school day does not support our efforts. The problem is our son whines and begs to be able to purchase the ice cream- like everyone else. UGH! It puts us in an awkward position and makes our son feel left out when we say no. The school year is almost over, but I want to make sure we have a plan in place for next year. Any ideas?
A: The budget for schools has gotten smaller and smaller. And many schools are dependent on the parent organizations to help offset this shrinkage. In many cases these parent-based organizations choose to have on going fundraisers like the ice cream sales at your son’s school.
Because they work!
Children want the ice cream. Parents want to keep peace and harmony. Boom! “Here is another dollar for ice cream.” It is far easier for busy parents to give in to the purchase of ice cream than it is to work out a compromise.
Knowing why fundraisers like ice cream sales are popular may be helpful, but that doesn’t solve the whining and begging that plague your family.
You are absolutely correct, you need to get a plan in place.
Here is a compromise suggestion that just might be a workable plan.
Say, “Yes” to ice cream.
Okay, not every day or even every week, but say, “Yes”. (Already you are a hero!)
Every month let your child select which day he would like to purchase ice cream. Circle the day on the calendar; call it ice cream day, whatever you need to do to show your child you will remember, but stick to the selected day. “When do I get to buy ice cream?” “Let’s look at the calendar and see which day YOU picked.” This reassures your child that the purchase will happen and reminds him that he was in charge of selecting the day.
You can support your child’s school in ways other than participating in on going fundraisers, but purchasing ice cream once a month on a predetermined day may be a compromise with which everyone can happily live.