adult children, clarity, family, life, marriage, responsibility, school

The 3 R’s of Summer

School’s out for summer… We are always asked by administration to relax and rejuvenate over the upcoming months and prepare for our return in the fall.  I have always worked long hours in the summer, finding ways to supplement our family’s income and get ahead financially before the winter months hit. Last year was one of my most difficult years at my school job, digging deep to find strength to be patient and kind to someone who didn’t show the same respects to me. This summer I have made a conscious decision to work less hours and spend time focusing on my own well being. I will work on things in my home that I have put off for too long and I will find ways of managing things I haven’t had time to manage that feel messy.  I will spend my time this summer with the 3 R’s Resting, Relaxing and Rejuvenating myself.

I have had a realization that the things I will accomplish are going to be more valuable than money this summer.  Our youngest child will be flying the nest in September and my husband and I will be legit “Empty Nesters”. This moment has been on the horizon for some time now and I need to mentally and physically be stronger than I have felt in recent years.  I need to slow down and simplify our life.  I began this process by signing-off of my FaceBook account and taking a hiatus from social media.  That began with seeing a video about the Millennium Question and how social media is affecting our children in this generation, I felt by setting an example to my children may be one small step in awareness to its negative affects.  I feel like so much in this world is OUT of my control right now that I NEED to have some things IN my control… those things being my home, my finances, my health, my own, as well as my husband’s overall well-being. I want to get back to cooking healthy meals and exercising, finding order in our home, getting our finances on track and planning our future.  I want to feel strong mentally and physically. We also cancelled our Direct TV account a month ago.  I just couldn’t watch the news anymore… the negativity, the hatred, the sadness… it was all taking a toll on me. I look forward to slowing down and rejuvenating myself over these summer months.

I will begin with today. We had house guests over the 4th of July holiday weekend, a full house. Orchestrated dinners and gatherings for days… constant energy dedicated to the enjoyment of others.  Today is the first day since I finished my school year that I am not making lists, preparing my home and spending money for the enjoyment of others.  That is honestly what I do ~ I can feel that my husband is becoming exhausted of this ~ I hadn’t noticed this until pretty recently ~ that at the expense of me, at the expense of us, we cater to other people’s needs. Our oldest son came home for a much needed vacation after putting in long hours at his job. He graduated college a year ago, got an internship just out of school and landed a full time job after the internship… we are very proud! Well… we have an annual 4th of July party since he was a young boy… 4th of July is my husbands birthday and we have always celebrated big… he came home to the familiar stress of pulling this all together… House prep, yard prep, food prep… a LOT of work!! I felt terrible, his vacation days leading up to the party were lost to this preparation and the day of the party, and then the clean up… this has also become very “old” to my husband… cooking and cleaning to have a party for him and his birthday has lost it’s splendor.  It is in moments like this that I have clarity for how it is time for us to concentrate on us more.  We are learning that the moments we get with our children these days are fewer and fewer and we need to embrace them differently now. Our time together is becoming scheduled and dictated by jobs and adult responsibilities, we need to use the days wisely. Acknowledgement of a problem is always the first step…

I have taken today to gather my thoughts and rest. Tomorrow I will begin making lists of things I want to accomplish in the days and weeks ahead. Next week I will put it all into action ~ I feel fresh and excited for what’s ahead.  It’s all part of my journey… I deserve the time needed to feel refreshed… I will embrace the 3 R’s of summer ~ Rest, Relax, Rejuvenate.

“Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is relax.”  ~ Mark Black

 

 

adolescence, communication, expectations, family, identity, marriage, raising kids, respect, school, self esteem, teenagers, toddlers, trust

All we expect is respect.

It seems to me that kids have a lot of expectations put on them today.  Expected to perform at high levels in school, in sports, and basically in life. When raising our children, my husband and I tried not to put a lot of expectations on them. We have found a foolproof way of transitioning through each phase of our children’s lives with just one thing expected: respect. We certainly didn’t set out 22 years ago as parents with any theories or agenda… we have navigated ourselves along with one simple basis for everything. Our three children, now 22, 18, and 17 were raised with my husband and I nurturing them, guiding them, and respecting them. We in return felt we deserved respect and used it as the foundation for each and every stage of their lives.

When they were young, even before the age of 2, our children were taught to understand respect. Even without language yet, there was unspoken communication happening. When they were told not to touch something, but they did anyway and looked to us for a reaction, we were teaching them then how we would handle such things. We were being tested, this set a basis for our forever relationship. If we were to say “no” to something, the follow through we exhibited was crucial to our bond and our trust. If we had not stayed true to every word we uttered to them as toddlers until this current day, I believe the trust and respect we share today could not have existed. Our oldest son said something to me once… I remember the exact spot we stood in the hallway by the kitchen, at the age of 16, towering over me… he said, “Mom, I don’t always like what you say, but I trust it.” That coming from my oldest child, at my first attempt at parenting a teenager, was a monumental moment for me. I knew in that moment that all the years of being true to my word was helping us in one of the hardest transitions of life.

We have honestly displayed to our children since day 1 of their lives that all we expect is respect. When they became school aged children we did not put great emphasis on grades. We did not have expectations set for how their letter grades on report cards should look. Our marks were always based on respect for teachers and authority at school. By learning that we had expectations of certain behavior at school the grades would easily follow. When they would uphold themselves a certain way and respect the school and the classroom, they learned respect for themselves and the learning happened.

When it came to sports we didn’t have expectations of how they would perform on the field or the court, it would be expected that they respect their coaches, the officials and their teammates. Their performance level would grow and grow due to them respecting themselves and others, and always working hard.

Our children’s social lives have always been nurtured as well. We have always put great emphasis on respecting relationships and friends. We have always welcomed their friends into our home as family members. I believe my marriage of 22 years is stronger everyday because my husband and I respect what each of us do financially and emotionally to contribute to the growth of our family. Our children are witness to that and it helps them to be better people.

Our society today puts so much emphasis on the wrong things. Raising children with morals and values and to have self respect will equip them for most anything. I am blessed to have been a stay at home mom until our youngest was five, caring for other people’s children to help out financially. If people could find ways of putting more effort into their families we would have stronger communities and stronger communities translates into even bigger successes for our entire culture. When people begin to realize that emotional wealth is more important than financial wealth. Our children’s well being should mean more than the car we drive or the house we live in.

When paying our monthly bills, I often strategize with numbers in hopes of paying more monthly to the principal of our home mortgage to pay it off earlier. To do this we would need to cut money in certain places, it’s always the “extras” that would have to go first. The “extras” in our life right now are weekend social expenses … that translates into our weekend trips to watch our son play football at college, visiting our daughter away at school and treating her out to a nice dinner, and/or the expense of buying pizzas and drinks for our 17 year old to host friends over for game night in the basement… Each and every time I consider cutting those expenses I know that we are doing the right things with our money. The investment in our children’s emotional well being far outweighs any desire I may have to cut some years off of our mortgage. What I see these days are bigger homes, fancier cars, fancy vacations, and kids who feel lost and disconnected. I have a strong wish for things to be different for future families. We need to get back to simpler times, less material things, and family togetherness.

I believe if all things could begin and end with respect we would all be better off. The definition for respect is ‘a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.’ Kids can learn to respect their peers, their parents, and most anyone. Teaching people to set aside ego and find things they admire in others can boost self esteem enormously. In today’s world we have to be careful to teach our children that you don’t respect someone just because they are your authority, respect is earned. It is important to learn respect for yourself as all other relationships hinge upon the one you have with yourself.

Finding ways to show our children they are special and important is the key to them learning to respect themselves and others. When we take time to really be present in their lives, they feel it. Being at sporting events, plays, or concerts… anything that is important to them makes them feel they are important. Photographing them at special times and just ordinary times shows them we care… then looking through old photos together bonds us and helps them to grasp the beauty of moments past and those yet to come. We always have had grand birthday parties, celebrating them and finding great joy in their existence!! We still have grand birthday parties at the ages of 15, 16, 17… Everyone loves a party!

We have found ways in our lives to honor and respect our children and they in turn learn how to do the same for us. Children have their own sets of woes and worries and when they do not feel like they are ‘less than’ just because they are ‘kids’, they feel respected. Let’s face it, the problems and obstacles they encounter each day are all relative to the ones we face.

“The family is the nucleus of civilization.”  ~ Will Durant

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