Our 2015 March Break

A little photo montage of some of the activities we did during March Break:

Advertisements

My Friday as a SAHM

Today, I felt like “Suzy Homemaker”. Seems to happen on Mondays or Fridays in my world. Nothing much of note, just your typical Stay-At-Home-Mom stuff:

  • folding three loads of laundry that have been piling up all week, and putting them away
  • doing two other loads of laundry
  • sweeping and wet Swiffering the downstairs
  • two loads of dishes
  • cleaning the kitchen
  • dusting
  • baking a pumpkin loaf and pumpkin muffins.

IMG_00006852

Needless to say, after picking the kids up from school, I was exhausted, so after giving the kids their after school snacks, I had my first chai of the day…with some of the pumpkin loaf of course. 😉

IMG_00006853

Honestly, after dinner, I napped a bit on the couch. Then I packed their overnight bag for them to go to their dad’s for the weekend and we headed to the pet store to pick up some food for our cats.

IMG_00006851

Then dropped my kids off at their dad’s, even dropping them off about 10 minutes earlier than usual as it didn’t take as long at the pet store as expected…despite my daughter wanting to bring all five kittens home with us. No! Two cats are enough! 😉

Now, I’m sitting back, drooling over Shemar Moore watching Criminal Minds, with a cider, getting ready for a very busy weekend. So really, not an “exciting” day, but a productive one, where I feel blessed being able to look after my family.

Melatonin = Bad Parenting…??!

images

Earlier this week, I jokingly stated the following on my Facebook Page: “Umm, my son has fallen asleep on the floor, wrapped up in a blanket. Anyone willing to come help me pick up my 100lbs ‘baby’, carry him up the stairs, and put him to bed? He’s in melatonin state. Anyone? Nope. Oh well, thought I would try. 🙂

Surprisingly, it sparked quite a bit of conversation back and forth. One person shared with us that she’s been called a bad mom for giving her child with Autism melatonin to help him calm down enough to sleep.

Whenever I’ve encountered that type of “feedback”, I calmly ask them how much sleep they got last night, the night before, and each night for the last week. Usually, they will say anywhere from 6 – 9 hours. I then explain to them that without melatonin, my son’s natural sleep pattern is he’ll finally fall down (and I mean literally fall down) and go to sleep around midnight (after an 8pm bedtime routine), sleep until about 2am, and then he’ll be up for the next day. Most times, it’s enough to stop them from questioning my family’s need for melatonin.

Other times, they will make the comparison between his sleep pattern and being the parent of a newborn. I will ask them how they felt when they had a newborn. Exhausted. Yes, and when did your child start sleeping through the night? Usually I get an answer of anywhere from 1 – 3 years old. I then remind them that my son is 8 years old and if it wasn’t for melatonin, he probably wouldn’t have slept more than a couple of hours per night since he was born…and without naps either. I’ve never had anyone question beyond there.

I personally always look at these types of conversations as an opportunity to raise awareness about Autism and special needs in general. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes there are conversations where I’m tempted to lose my patience/temper and tell the person off, but I don’t…unless they are stopping me from ensuring my kids are safe, then all bets are off!

I just keep reminding myself that, when I was pregnant with my kids, EVERYONE had an opinion of what was best for me during my pregnancy, until I laughed and told them I was having twins. Rarely did anyone know what to tell me other than some distant person they heard of who had a horrible multiples pregnancy and birth. I would respectfully tell them that I didn’t want to hear about worse-case scenarios because if I wanted to focus on that, all I had to do was pick up ANY book about pregnancy. That’s the ONLY information out there – doomsday information about giving birth to twins.

Then EVERYONE had an opinion about everything baby-related: cloth diapers (nope), breastfeeding (yes…for a year!), immunizations (yes), baby carrying (nope), co-sleeping (sometimes), feeding routines (yes), strict bedtime routines (yes), etc.

Then EVERYONE has an opinion about preschool and school-ages: daycare (yes), work outside the home (yes…for a while anyway for me), homeschool (nope), after school activities (yes), have assessments done for potential diagnosis (yes!!!), etc.

I’m still confused by why people believe there is only one way to raise a family…their way.  The old saying “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” is true. If your family is blessed with special needs, then you know what is best for your family; if your family is blessed without special needs, you still know what is best for your family. Why on earth would you be telling the other family how to best raise their family???

Everyone is an expert…in raising THEIR own family.

#StepMom Magazine – August Review

August 2013 Cover

In the article “Stepmother Stereotypes: Who Made Up All This Wicked Stuff, Anyway?“, I was reminded of my first “role” as a stepmom. I was the evil stepmom in my highschool’s musical “Into the Woods”. When I became an actual stepmom when I got married, I joked about being an “evil stepmom” but never really thought of where this stereotype came from. According to this article, it can be dated back to 17th and 18th century Europe. So many women died from illness and/or childbirth that the fathers had to remarry quickly since there wasn’t childcare back then as we know it today. This lead to lots of opportunity for strained relationships as I would imagine, most times, the children hadn’t emotionally healed from their mother’s death.

Carrying a Torch: What to Do If His Ex Hasn’t Moved On” was never a concern for me, and in case my ex’s girlfriend is wondering…trust me, I have moved on…happily so! 😉 The author lists 5 behaviours the mom does that may lead the stepmom to believe the mom hasn’t moved on, including the obvious “she’s admitted it”. The other behaviours focus on the amount and topics of communication. It then becomes your partner’s responsibility to put a stop to the communications and set up boundaries for their new relationship. Your role is to work on your inner monologue, and trust your partner.

In the article “How Does Your Garden Grow? Use the 4 Ps to Help Raise Hearty Flowers and Happy Families“, makes the connection of how tending to a garden is very similar to tending to your family. Both require planning, preparation, perseverance (lots of perseverance sometimes!), and patience.

The Mommy Club: Why Your Stepchild’s Mother Doesn’t Consider You A Co-Parent, Another Mother or A Bonus Mom” states that it’s not personal as to why the mother doesn’t see you as being part of the parenting unit. “It’s hard enough for many of them to work with their ex-husbands, let alone someone who is not related to their children”. Completely understandable. I know my ex-husband’s girlfriend is involved in my kids’ lives but I don’t see her as being part of the parenting unit…but they also don’t live together and in fact, live in different cities so she’s not involved on a daily basis.

Lessons Learned: An Interview with Diane Greene” shares Diane’s journey. She and her first husband married, had one child and divorced after 5 years, and her second husband passed away when she was pregnant with the youngest of her two children with him. Her third husband had a daughter from a previous relationship, so that’s when she became a stepmom.

The Ever-Present Loyalty Conflict – Why Being a Stepmother is a Call to Sainthood” discusses that the relationship between stepmother and stepchild(ren) comes down to a loyalty power struggle they feel between their mother and accepting the new stepmother. The best way to overcome this is to accept it, don’t take it personally, and don’t compete with our stepchild(ren)’s mother. It just can’t be done.

This month’s contribution to the monthly Emotional Intelligence and the Stepmom series is called “Choosing Optimism: 5 Simple Steps to Help You Start Looking On the Bright Side“. I’m intrigued to discover in this article that there’s a science called “Positive Psychology”, and that the research in this field has determined that “optimistic individuals have a better quality of life, more life satisfaction and even live longer than those who take a pessimistic outlook”. Beginning by identifying your thoughts and self-talk. Then follow five “simple” steps in choosing an optimistic approach:

  1. Give the benefit of the doubt
  2. Get curious instead of making judgement
  3. Make up a different outcome
  4. Change your expectations
  5. See the current situation as temporary.

Personally, I try to see the positive in situations…sometimes too much so. Admittedly, some days are harder than others. But on those days, I choose to “fake it until I make it”. 🙂

Prenups are discussed in “Gold Diggers: Are His Kids Afraid You’re Only In It For His Money?“. My parents were adamant I sign a prenup before we got married. I was shocked as we didn’t have anything. My parents pointed out that he had a child from a previous relationship and large debt, and I had family heirlooms to lose. Honestly, I signed one just to stop my parents from nagging me about it. Fast forward a few years, the prenup was part of our Court proceedings when we separated and got divorced.

Meghan was given a year subscription for her review of the StepMom Magazine.

The new September StepMom Magazine is available online here: http://www.stepmommag.com/shop/

To Diagnose or Not, That is the Question (#SpecialNeeds)

 

With the return to school, our kids have started with new teachers and potentially new classmates, so it’s our time once again to help the new teachers and classmates understand our special children. This year, I’ve been hearing more parents talk about whether or not to tell the school, teachers and friends about their child’s diagnosis or special needs. Personally, my belief is to tell…tell everyone! The more people who know about your child’s needs, the better they can help support you and your child.

 

My son is “fortunate” to have just one diagnosis: Autism. Although Autism is trying and testing some days, it’s a very simple and relatively understood diagnosis, and one that has a lot of supports in place in the school system, and the medical community. Don’t get me wrong, I need to stay on top of everything to ensure he gets the support he needs to succeed in school, and later in life.

 

Friends of mine are constantly searching for a diagnosis for their child and they are frustrated. Every new specialist they see offers a new diagnosis, which negates the diagnosis they received from the previous one. As a result, they can’t get the appropriate external support for their child.

 

I’ve heard others recently whose children are at the age of starting school and they have an Autism or Aspergers diagnosis for their child, and are really wrestling with whether or not to tell the school and the new teacher of the diagnosis. When they ask me, I give them a very simple answer: TELL THEM!

 

Others wrestle with whether to tell their own family and friends, fearing those friends and family will treat them and/or their child differently. My harsh opinion is to cut those friends and family. Being a parent is stressful enough, let alone a parent to a child with special needs. Having friends around who aren’t willing to understand your child isn’t helpful to anyone involved.