Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Fish for those back to school blues

Recently I've run into a number of people sending off their first child to college - that's when it generally hits moms & dads that things will never quite be the same at home. The house gets quieter, the errands get fewer, though remaining kid(s) can expand his/her/their demands to fill the void. Don't worry - your college student will come back during the holidays, and it will seem like they never left. You'll breathe a sigh of relief when they go back to college.
     For parents who have littler ones going back to school, there will be more time during the day for work (and play - grown-up style). But most households these days have two working parents. So how to cope?
     As long as you have kids at home who are going back to school, life changes when summer ends  I was a "working mom," part time when the kids were very small, 2 days per week, then full time when they were around 10 and 11. I was lucky, I worked very close to home, and could do my shopping during lunch, take it home and put it away and be back at work. I could also call my husband, and ask him to bring home fresh fish several times a week - that was a real bonus. I was close enough to "pop in" on a regular basis, to make sure the kids were following the rules, e.g. no friends over when we weren't home. This was pre-cellphones, so monitoring their whereabouts was more difficult than it is today. Both kids often went to friends' houses after school, ones where mom was at home, and were very good about calling to tell me where they were. Here are some tips from my own experience to help you keep things running smoothly:
     1) Talk to your kids about "the rules" and why you have them. I think children respond much better to rules that are explained rather than Mom and Dad just laying down the law.
     2) Breaking the rules should have consequences - otherwise, there's no point in having rules.
     3) Eat together as a family every evening as much as possible - that's when you can tell each other what you all did during the day.
     4) Eat healthy foods - too many people in this country give their children fast food for dinner - like a pizza or fried chicken in a bucket - because it's easy. It's no wonder we have an epidemic of obesity and diabetes in the US - the expression "you are what you eat" has more meaning than most people realize.
     5) Incorporate seafood into at least 2 meals per week - fish is brain food, you can Google it, and kids' brains need a lot of nourishment as they develop. Our kids started on fish when they were babies, one of their first solid foods. We had a baby food grinder, and they got pretty much the same food we did, because we eat a lot of healthy food. Fresh fruits and vegetables, organic if available, lots of fish and occasionally some lean meat.  And our kids are definitely both brilliant (no prejudice here)...
     6) Talk to your kids quietly when you put them to bed - read the little ones a story. We used to play "The Goodnight Game," where the kids and I would share things that happened during the day - we'd each tell each other one good thing and one bad thing that happened, and one thing that we liked about each other. It was amazing what I learned about my kids during those quiet moments. And about myself. The other advantages to this - our kids never ever complained about going to bed, and they were always well rested for school. Our babysitters used to remark about how great it was to sit for kids who would cheerfully go to bed when told it was time.
     Enough sleep; good food; explained, enforceable rules; family togetherness time. Nothing hard here! Kids grow up incredibly fast - it will fly by. Take the time to make it good for all of you.

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