Category Archives: Living

Finding Balance While Raising Five Children

Rainbow garden inspired by Lois Ehlert's book "Planting A Rainbow"

“We cannot be happy if we expect to live all the time at the highest peak of intensity. Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance and order and rhythm and harmony.” –Thomas Merton

Balance

I don’t have it right now. Which is the reason for not posting in almost 2 years.

We have five wonderful, kind, loving, smart, active, independent children. They are ages 11, 9, 7, 5 and 1. I enjoy being a parent. I enjoy motherhood like nothing else.

We recently started homeschooling again… unexpectedly. 

I am excited and scared. I have been reading everything I can get my hands on. I have been gathering all my curriculum resources.

Relational aggression and bullying are very serious social issues in school environments. Being bullied is an awful experience. It is made much worse when a school counselor exhibits unabashed hubristic bias and states they do not believe your children. Even more disturbing, they openly discount your parental observations and concerns during your first and only meeting with the school principal. The child or children are left feeling powerless, as are their parents.

This has been our very real and recent experience. Name-calling and face smacking were dismissed as just part of a game, only my child was not a willing participant and these were not one-off occurrences. Relational aggression occurred in class but moreso, in the halls. They did not see it happen, therefore, they did not believe our children.

I appreciate the tough jobs these roles entail. Relational aggression is hard to spot. It is a far better educational atmosphere to “catch kids doing good” than to actively try and “catch kids doing bad”. We all have blind spots. We all are flawed.

However, when a school counselor is so invested in their own personal narrative that they are willing to lie (yes we were lied to) and overlook a child’s suffering then parents must actively advocate for their child. Sometimes, this means walking away from an otherwise ideal educational setting. We have never felt so alone. This has been an emotionally devastating experience. When we go into something, we commit ourselves, we go ALL IN. We have never felt so disposable.

With relief, optimism and trepidation… here we are.

The last two years have been a journey in tears, joy, anger, optimism, fear, humility, hope and prayera lot of prayer. I am sure there are many other words I could use but I think I will stop while I am ahead.

I have some posts lined up for this blog I think many of you will find interesting, introspective, perhaps even entertaining. Maybe, you will be able to use my life experiences to your benefit.

If you enjoy the subjects of mothering, breastfeeding, gardening, cooking, sewing, crafting, house projects, and just the curve balls of life, then make sure to drop by over these upcoming weeks. I will do my best to keep it interesting!

Thanks for joining me.

Rosa

Resources for help with Relational Aggression/Bullying:

Kidpower Bullying Prevention

Stop Bullying

The Ophelia Project What is Relational Aggression?

Relational Aggression and Boys

What Parents Can Do When Bullying is Downplayed at School

What Does Bullying Look Like?

5 Do’s and Don’ts of Helping Kids Handle Bullying

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coping with the Post-Weaning Blues

CopingPWB2 copy

 

I experienced Post-Weaning Blues after weaning our toddler.  You can read about it here.

Ways I coped with the Post-Weaning Blues:

I communicated with my husband about how I was feeling.

Me: I feel off.  I don’t feel right.

Husband: What do you mean?  You feel sick?

Me: No, just like I am not myself.  I feel angsty and restless.  I feel like I can’t do anything right.  Everything feels hard…

Basically, I let him know how I was feeling day-to-day.  I wanted him to be able to let me know if he noticed I was doing better or worse.

I used a calendar to keep a journal of the way I was feeling during my cycles.

I entered little short notes about how I felt on the days I felt especially “off” and by the second month I started seeing a pattern around certain times in my cycle.

I lowered my expectations of what I could get done each day.

I usually have a routine I go through each day.  I started dropping things from my list of have-to’s to maybe later.  Instead of 2 loads of laundry I did 1, or I left it for my husband that day.  The sink wasn’t always empty but the kids were happy, fed and had clean clothes! Supportive husbands make all the difference.

I changed our daily schedule so that there was a longer quiet/reading time during the day for the kids so I could rest while my toddler napped.

Once 2:30-3pm rolled around I was exhausted.  This coincided with my toddler’s nap time so I made sure quiet time started promptly and I stretched it from 1 hour to an hour and a half.
Reading for the first 20-30 minutes and then the kiddos could play Minecraft for an hour or so.  I heart Minecraft.

I took long walks to help my mood and to help me sleep better.

Sometimes I would take all the kids for a mid-day walk and other times it would be alone late evening with our Border Collie.  The dog doesn’t talk and sometimes mommy really needs silence and no multi-tasking activities.

I asked my husband for extra help with everyday tasks and caring for the kids.

Me:  Are you coming home for lunch?

Husband: Why?  Do you need me to?

Me: Yes.  Bring food.

I was very specific about what I needed help with.

My husband and I share the evening responsibilities of kids and house.  I don’t do Honey-Do lists.  Honestly, I probably should, but I don’t.  Instead, I would text my husband telling him I need help with _____ today/this weekend.  Then when he got home from work or if it was on the weekend (and I saved most things for the weekend) I would ask again or remind him that I needed help with cleaning floors or the bathrooms.

I took more breaks by not worrying about getting it all done.

I finished weaning our youngest during high summer (mid-July).  It was a fairly mild one so I was able to get outside and enjoy the beautiful days it offered.  We have a pretty loose daily schedule we follow.  I modified it depending on how I felt on any given day.

The kids and I normally go outside twice a day to play for an hour or two.  During this time most days we averaged 3 and I would play in the garden while they played on the swingset or in the sprinkler.

We looked for pretty things and neat insects.  It was a lovely distraction and helped recharge my batteries-still does!  If it was an especially trying day I would send them upstairs or outside to play while I sat reading a book or an internet article.

I spent more time on anything I found recreational so I could “recharge” my batteries.  

Sometimes, all you need is a distraction from how you are feeling.  Other times you need to just be.  I have many hobbies but I felt no motivation to engage in any of them.  I needed something more passive.

One of the ways in which I really enjoy nurturing myself is by looking at pretty things.  Yes, Pinterest is good for this but so is Google Images!  I am very color-oriented so I looked at a lot of beautiful gardens and natural landscapes.   NASA has some pretty spectacular images of our universe.

Another activity I enjoy (as mentioned above) is going through our little kitchen garden (potager) and smelling all the amazing herbs.  I planted some Lemon Verbena and it really took off this year.  It smells heavenly.  They don’t call it Aromatherapy for nothin’!  I have all kinds of herbs growing but my favorites for scent are the Lemon Verbena, Rose Geranium, Lavender, German Chamomile, Lemon Balm, Greek Oregano, and all the mints.

Nature walks on walking trails are one of my favorite activities but there isn’t always time for it and the weather does not always cooperate.

Sometimes, vegging in front of the tv is exactly what you need.

This is what worked for me.

These are all ways of coping that worked for me.  Feel free to use what is relevant and toss the rest.  I work at home and we homeschool year-round so that lends me more flexibility in some ways but less in others.

In the past, I have utilized complete online curriculum programs like Time4Learning.  This was especially helpful when there was a new baby in the house.  I did not have to plan lessons but I knew all the bases would be covered.  The kids were able to learn at their own pace.  It still required some supervision and coaching but it eliminated the stress of planning for each week.

You can always supplement the curriculum with other activities as well.  I can not say enough great things about Khan Academy.  It is an excellent learning resource, especially for math curriculum for all ages, and it is FREE!   I am not getting compensation for stating any of this, it is 100% my personal experience and opinion.

Some days it was enough that all the basics were taken care of: lunch would involve a smorgasbord of finger foods (meats, cheeses, veggies, fruit, crackers), some basic lessons they could work on independently, bare minimum cleaning, and nothing else would get done.

Dad took over any kind of evening shuttling to activities, conflicts or household duties.  On some evenings I would retire to our bedroom for a couple of hours so I could unwind over an episode (or two) of “Breaking Bad” alone. (That series is excellent, right?)

The kids were always taken care of, clean, dressed, and fed with lots of hugs to connect.  Sometimes, that has to be enough.  These days are perfect for dress-up, finger foods, reading and movies together.  Don’t be afraid to take a mental health day, evening or weekend. Mommies are people with needs too!

I am very fortunate in that my husband is supportive.  It is very important to communicate your feelings and needs clearly.  I don’t know anyone that can read minds and my husband is talented but certainly not that talented.  Getting support is a need not a want.  You need this.  Frame it in those terms.

Again, my symptoms were mild.  If you find you are not able to cope or your symptoms are not getting better with each cycle please visit your health practitioner for help.  At the very least, let your family and close friends know how you are feeling.