Tuesday, August 25, 2009

When they speak...Listen

Just one morning, while heading off to work, I saw a little boy of about 5 or so with his mother. She proceeded to stop a taxi and then asked the driver if she could get a brief stop to a certain community to leave her child for the day. On hearing the place's name, the little boy put up a major fuss and was wailing and pulling away from his mother, all the while refusing to go into the vehicle, He kept shrieking "I don't want to go to __________, please mommy, don't let me go" to which the mother replied with a sturdy shake and many loud outbursts of why the child should not disobey or disrespect her in public. Now I'm a strong opponent for disciplined and respectful children, but I am also a firm believer in cultivating not just a speaking to, but a listening to relationship with one's child(ren). After all, an 'investigation' by the mother may have revealed exactly why the child was so hesitant and might have helped to prevent a possibly hazardous situation.

More generally though, too often we hear parents shrieking at how 'hard ears' their kids are and how they disobey their every rule. Simultaneously, you hear the everyday cry from older children "you never listen to me". What this therefore means is that many parents are taking more of an autocratic approach to communication-which is itself a fallacy, since communication is supposed to be a two-way street with feedback from both parties (mind you not at the same time, since this might only aggravate both parties further).

We at Jamaican Mommies therefore did some research to get tips on how parents can effectively communicate with their kids (Speaking and listening)and these were some of our most useful tips:
1. Invite your child to talk to you. Respond to your child's opening remark by saying, "Let's talk about it" or "You have a right to express how you feel."

2, Ask open-ended questions that encourage children to share their feelings and ideas. Ask
"What did you do in school today?" instead of "Did school go well today?"

3. Help children identify their feelings. Describe your own feelings. Instead of saying "I'm upset," say "I'm feeling sad and discouraged because I didn't get the job."

4. Talk about things of interest to your children. You can gain a new understanding into the world of your pre-teen or teenager.
?? Choose topics that everyone can talk about. Talking about the "scariest moment I ever had" or "what I want to be when I grow up" fosters involvement.

5. Spend time having fun together. You may have to re-order your priorities and drop some commitments that take time away from the family.By being honest about your own feelings and listening to your children, you can reduce misunderstanding and develop a closeness based on trust and acceptance.

Additional tips also include:

*Look a child in the eyes so you can tell when they understand... bend or sit down... become the child's size.

* Practice listening and talking: talk with your family about what you see on TV, hear on the radio or see at the park or store. (Talk with your children about school and their friends.)

*Respect children and use a courteous tone of voice. If we talk to our children as we would our friends, our youngsters may be more likely to seek us out as confidants.

*Use door openers that invite children to say more about an incident or their feelings. "I see," "Oh," "tell me more," "No kidding," "Really," "Mmmmhmmmmm," "Say that again, I want to be sure I understand you."

*Give your undivided attention when your children want to talk to you. Don't read, watch TV, fall asleep or make yourself busy with other tasks.

I'm sure when much of these tips become regular fixtures in our lives, our children may grow to feel just how important their voices are and will actually approach parents for feedback on the tough decisions in their lives.

Tips courtesy of Kid Source Online, Cornell University and Parenting Tips

Be sure to share just how you encourage a speak and listen relationship with your child(ren)

Jamaican Mommies Picnic Rescheduled

Following the big hurrah about the picnic that was to be. I have to unfortunately inform that the picnic has been rescheduled due to many last minute cancellations. However, as with all good ideas, I think this deserves another run so we can make it happen. This time I'll ask for your feedback along the way, mainly via here since it seems not many persons on the Facebook Group responds to their messages.

With My 1st Anniversary in September, Birthday in November and Kai's first Christmas in December, I know I'll be pretty busy around those times. Nonetheless, I'll give you guys the chance to propose dates and we'll form a planning committee so things can run much smoother.

So for now I'm proposing October, possibly around Heroes Weekend? or any other random weekend? What sayest thou? This time It is up to you. Suggest your dates and any ideas below so others can see. Please leave comments so I can get some ideas going

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Woot Woot..Jamaican mommies Picnic this Sunday

Since forever (well more like since I became a mother) I've been looking forward to a suitable forum to bond with other mothers and their kids without feeling guilty (Yes I feel guilty when I bombard my non-mommy friends with all things parenting related) to which I normally get cries of "Oh My God, you are such a mommy". So you can just imagine how elated I am to finally have my first Jamaican Mommies picnic. My plans always were to have something on a much grander scale, but it is always better to begin small, than to not begin at all.

So I am definately looking forward to seeing all my Jamaican mommies out this Sunday, August 23rd 2 p.m.-5p.m. (The sun might be very hot then and so we might have to take advantage of one of the many trees). I'm sure we will have tons of fun though and we should try to get together a planning committee for future 'events'. Let's also keep our fingers crossed that it doesn't rain on Saturday or Sunday.

For more information, look at our list here and look out for an update via the FB page. I can also be contacted on 307-4534 for any further details.

See you then


Monday, August 17, 2009

Home is where the heart is

Good Day to all my wonderful readers. I have been MIA for quite a bit (As it relates to posts, however, I have continued to check on my space, just to see if any comments or suggestions have been left). Hope My posts were somewhat missed? I've been quite busy to say the least, juggling work, Baby and hubby time and I have been made all the better, when after a long day at work, I can see my little sweets flash a smile that warms the heart or go in for a cuddle with Mr. Coombs. All these precious little moments have gotten me thinking just how wonderful it is to have a family and moreso to know what love is.

One of my favorite family based songs is that which speaks about a home being a place where the heart is. In fact, I totally looove the song, "Love will be our home" For in it there are so many elements to suggest that a home is not the building but the persons therein, the emotions shared, the days of laughter, the tears, the pains, the comfort. This I find to be particularly true since a house in and of itself does not make for a home. It is in fact the memories and moments that you share with those inside this building that truly counts.

No matter how your family is comprised and no matter how far away it has strayed from being ideal, I'm almost sure you have at least one favoured and/or treasured memory with the persons there. So on days when things seem like they are slipping from within your grasps or even when you look at the family next door wishing they were yours, cheer up, it could have been worse.

In fact, a good friend once said, things don't look too sloppy on your side, until you start looking elsewhere and this my friends may be more true than we'd love to believe. So keep this in mind and live each day with appreciation for the little things that make you smile. Better yet, make a list of all the things you like/love about your home and you'd be surprised at the many positives you can find.

For starters, I love when I give Kailee a bath and her face lights up like this:

I also loves when my DH (Darling Husband)embraces his inner child and gets kicks out of doing goofy things like this

I also absolutely love Movie nights (although most times I fall asleep before the movie is through), hearing Kai sing (yes she does it a lot these days, mixed with a little high pitched scream), family beach trips (One where Kailee is actually present is long overdue)and there are numerous family based moments that I love. I also live the moments where I get to spend time with my 'initial family' (Parents and siblings) and the list goes on.

So you see, there is just so much to love and be thankful for, so I charge you all to show appreciation for the ones in your life. Let them know that whether you're residing in a mansion or a shack, the building itself doesn't quite matter as much as having someone else to share your joy and pains, loss and gains, moments and memories with.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Its Back to school time: Making shopping easier

Yes, you got it right, It's already back to school time and while many parents may be slightly relieved to have their children out of the house more often, others are dreading back to school shopping. This often proves to be quite a task..But fear not, things can be so much easier once you have an organized list and schedule, the task will be far less overbearing. Paula from Organizing Tips and Thoughts for Moms has a very wonderfully useful post that will be sure to help with the back to school woes. Read on for more information about how to shop for school supplies and clothes. E how also has another interesting list here that you may want to look at too.

Plus just for laughs, check out this funny video on how kids should be preparing for going back to school.. Now we know some of the 'what not to do' things that our kids are being exposed to. It's funny and sweet nonetheless :-)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Helping your Unruly and Indisciplined Children to succeed

Recently, we spoke about preparing your child for a successful life here and one of our keen readers expressed a certain liking for the article, but said it sounded very much like the ideal situation, in terms of the children being obviously disciplined, hence making their success easier. With that in mind, we did promise another feature on "Turning your Unruly and Indisciplined (Strong-Willed) children into a success stories", so today we focus on just that.

As good fortune would have it, I have been in touch with Jane Nelsen, author and co-author of the Positive Discipline series. (you can check out all things positive at www.positivediscipline.com) and she has agreed to allow me to use this all too wonderful article on dealing with strong willed children. What this piece does is focuses on the psychological aspects of children being 'uncooperative, unruly and indisciplined' and assesses how best to deal with children normally fitted under those categories. The article offers a useful guide for parents to turn around what was once a 'wayward child' into one whom is capable of making informed choices which will in turn better their chances for success.

Check out the article here and be sure to let us know what challenges you are having with your children. We'll be sure to get local feedback as well on how you and your children can overcome these challenges.

Happy Reading!!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Preparing your child for a successful life

In a society where there seems to be many ills and negative influences, many parents bemoan the fact that their children do not have enough positive influences that suggest they'll have a successful life. While it is a constant desire to see one's child/children succeed, many lack the know-how to actually get the desired results. Many parents also expect their children to be successful on the efforts of everyone, except themselves. So they rely on the schoolteachers, the government minister, the pastor and take a very standoff-ish attitude to their child's growth and development. But news flash, it is highly unlikely that your child will be the success story you dreamed of without your CONTINUED input

So today we deal with preparing your child to succeed. Probably what may best bring the point across are real life examples. I have been blessed to know mommies who have grown kids, who are by all means successful. Let's take the case of 35 year old Char who is a single mother to 14 year old Gail. Since her daughter's birth, Char has moved beyond continuously lamenting her single parenthood and has made specific steps to raise a successful Child. From day one, she accredits her constant reading to her daughter as a key factor. She says that it is quite important to ensure that literacy as a hobby is well established long before your child is ready for Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) or even Grade Four Achievement Test (GFAT). As such, she encouraged and nurtured her daughter's love for reading by introducing her to varied books from early on, always reading, encouraging her to look up the definitions of unfamiliar words and also keep a journal to boost writing skills. Today, Gail has moved from a little known school at the Primary level to be a honour Student at Campion College. Char continues to mold her daughter for success via constant homework checks and encouraging her to prioritise, which normally means no television or internet until homework is out of the way. Char ascribes the constant will to see her child succeed as her driving force. She laughs when she remembers how she has literally gone back to school for each stage of her daughter's life- getting ready for GSAT exams and the varied projects at Campion..Today she's already seeing rewards and is now preparing her child for the Caribbean Secondary Examinations Council (CSEC) exams.

Next we have D, who is a married 44 year old mother of two, Chrissy aged 22 and Corey aged 17. Chrissy has received much acclaim in the dancing arena, representing the University Dance Society at UWI, Mona, doing varied standout performances under the tutelage of the sought after, professor Rex Nettleford and copping awards in varied local competitions to name a few. Corey also stands out in his own way as a school based athlete and valedictorian for his graduating class, with distinctions in all Caribbean Secondary Examination Council (CSEC examinations) and being hinted at as first runner up as Head boy fot his prestigious institution. By all means, they have been very successful and their mom , D, credits her children's success to the following moot points: Ensure you have Open Communication lines she quips. Make sure that from early on, the communication lines are so clear that they will feel comfortable speaking to you about ANY issue. This she says also leads into ensuring that you are able to balance being a friend and parent..Be sure to be able to reprimand your child when the need arises, yet be there for them as a source of information, comfort and one with whom they can share joys and tears, triumphs and fears. D also points to a crucial ingredient being a heavy involvement in your child's life, even to the point of their hobbies. " Encourage and participate in the activities your kids are involved in" she says. As a result, she can be found nursing minor bruises after a football or basketball session with her son or going through a dance routine with her daughter. Overall, she encourages parents to STAY INVOLVED IN THEIR CHILDREN's LIVES...Be there every step of the way, not just when they are young, be there as they get older too.

53 Year old Gwyneth, a Stay at Home mom and widower also shares the recipe to success. Her 4 grown children are all professionals in the Accounting or legal fields. She says however, that life was never easy street, but she finds dependence on God to be a key ingredient for raising successful children. She has never always been a christian, but she points out how she grew to depend on a higher being when faced with raising the kids on her own after her husband's untimely death. She points out that many days when she thought she'd never make it, she was given 'miraculous parenting' skills from above. She encourages all parents to be in tuned with their spiritual sense and to encourage their children to do the same. "At the end of the day, if you're successful and have no inner peace, it will never be truly worth it" she emphasises.

So there you have it, now you know that no matter how challenging it may be, being continuously involved in your child/children's life is worth it at the end of the day. When you follow through, the rewards will eventually come one day and remember its never too late to try to build a relationship that encourages success with your child... So go on today, give your child the essential ingredients that are needed for success and while you're at it, let us know what ways you have been trying to encourage your child/children to be successful.

Also check back for our feature on how to turn your unruly and indisciplined children into a success story.

What no one told you about being a new mom

This one is for my mommy to be readers.. (Smile Nikki). As a mother of a babbling and very active 6 and a half month older (you can never imagine how much times I have to say DON'T and NO, to which she normally smiles and continues doing whatever) I think I have a fair share of experience to say just what no one told me about being a new mom.

First off, no one told me babies make good pets (feed em, bathe em, cuddle em, take them for a walk, and occasionally let them put their heads close to the car window for fresh air and they'll be in heaven) lol. Joke aside. Not Funny!

Let's go:
No one told me I'd be shocked that I can open my legs for doctors, nurses and midwives to see ALL at once.
The pain disappears when the baby appears.
I'd ever be this in love
Live this much for cuddles
Love hearing what some would call an annoying cry
Love changing dirty diapers, wiping a messy mouth
Wanting to sacrifice my ME time for OUR time
Laugh my ass off at the simple things babies do
Go Haywire over how much she's grown
Become uber protective and proud all rolled in one
Get easily panicky by the slightest instance of any discomfort
No one told me I'd be able to selflessly care for another
Babies teach you patience

Oh and of course, no one told me that:
The vagina could stretch and bounce right back into shape
Sleepless nights are for real
It would become second nature to sense a single cry or even movement in your sleep
No matter how tiny your baby is, you'll never freak out while holding him/her
Its okay to let the baby cry
It is also okay to take 5 minute baths
If you need help, ask for it
It is okay to think the doctor is ALWAYS right
It is also okay to listen to your parents expertise too
Most importantly, it is wise to research stuff for yourself
Instincts are mostly never wrong
That whole "sleep while the baby sleeps" 'speech' is a fallacy
You learn to do EVERYTHING while baby is asleep
It is okay to let someone else keep the baby so you can go get a few hour's breather
Pumping milk and having someone else feed your baby isn't a crime.
We have more of a heartache when we're away from baby than they do.

I surely could go on forever, but all you mommmies,let us know what no one told you about being a new mom and for my new mommies-to-be, ask all the things you want to know about being a new mom.

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