Wednesday, September 19, 2012

How I survived the teen years and beyond........

I am no parenting expert, nor do I claim to be.  I'm  just going with it, day by day. I am at the point now I have a 21,19,17 and 14 yr old..This is what I have learned.........

1. You are not their friend!! 
The sooner you realize this the better. This means they don't hang out with you and your friends, and you don't know every detail about them or their friends.  You are the parent, and teens need parents not friends. Set clear boundaries and stick to them.

2. As they get older, like senior year and turning 18, you are more like a guide. Hopefully by this time time you have set clear rules and boundaries and they can start policing themselves. Like what movie should they go see, where are they going, who with and what to do. Start letting them make decisions sooner rather than later so they aren't soooo indecisive when they hit college and hopefully won't feel the need to rebel or do things "just cuz they can "

3. Parenting is a journey with an uncertain destination. 
We can't count on our kids not getting in trouble or making bad decisions just because we are good parents.There is no formula that will assure us our children will follow what we feel they should do, or whats right for them. Its their life, they decide who and what they will be when they grow up.

4. Dating. 
I don't think we should just prepare our children for the "one" . I think they should date around and get to know different types of boys/girls to even figure out what type of person they are attracted to. I think real dating like alone time should wait until junior/senior year. They can play their little games at school, go to some dances and proms, but probably junior year a real boyfriend who comes over and they go on real dates like the movies and then come home. Of course you know your child best, how responsible and mature they are and what they can handle. 

5. They should work close to home.
Just in case you need to check on things or if they need a ride etc. Also they should come home from work then go out. For example, no working 1/2 hr to 45 minutes away, changing at work, or someone's house, then going out. That would mean some days you didn't see your kid until midnight! Even if you never check on them, they need to know you CAN and WILL if necessary.

6. Don't waste your time with lectures and stories of your life thinking they care. 
They don't. Tell them things on a need to know basis. They will just use it to embarrass you or manipulate it for their benefit to just do what they want.For example, mom you smoked when you were my age, I'm sure you had sex before marriage, etc. Again, yes you know your child best and what you think they can handle. Just keep in mind, good kids make bad choices sometimes too.

7. Even college kids should be home by 10pm during the week and 12midnight on the weekend. 
Nothing good happens after midnight.  Of course this is subject to change, depending what is going on, how your child is adjusting, and how responsible you think they are. Keep in mind, my perspective is i still have young kids at home, my house my rules, and  you will not just come and go,this is not a hotel.

8. Back to dating.. You don't need to see your boyfriend/girlfriend everyday. Date on the weekends. Protect your relationship, your integrity and your purity. Limit alone time. At the very least have self respect. If he/she really loves you he won't take you away from your family, make you do things you wouldn't normally do or aren't ready for. These things should be discussed at the beginning of the relationship and if purity is something of importance to you he/she should respect that. Yes maybe a little "old fashioned" but as you are well aware of, there is PLENTY of time for all that. How about becoming all you can be, then settling down when you are both ready.

9. When they do move out try not to nag and make it harder. 
They like to live in fantasy island where things magically work out. Just tell them what you think once and say now you can not come to me later in life and say you never told me or didn't try to save me etc. For example sometimes kids move out on a whim with an I will show you attitude and not plan anything. Of course it is only a matter of time until money runs out and they are homeless. LET it happen. Real life, you wanted to be an adult, now you can act like one.

10. Don't talk bad about your husband/wife to your kids. 
Make sure you talk about love, how he makes you feel, his character etc. Make sure they know what to look for in someone. Someone who loves them for who they are, makes them feel safe, loved, and protected. To a certain extent, keep the fantasy alive of happily ever after. Maybe they will find it. It's not for us to choose for them.

Friday, September 7, 2012

What I do to save money

Money saving tips 

I have been blessed to stay home all these years raising my children on one salary. Times are tough, and it's not easy. I would have to say one of the hardest things to keep in budget is food. It's soooo expensive, and you NEED it! Here is what I do. I will keep it simple, so I don't bore you to death.  If you disagree, that's fine, just keep it respectful, this is my story.

I coupon. Not extreme, but when the weekly ad comes out, I look at it, see what is on sale, plan my dinners for the week based on the sale, and if I'm lucky I have coupons to match. Where I food shop, you can earn points to save money in gas. My mom and I use the same card and she helps me build my savings, which works out great since I drive a Suburban!
We don't always have meat with dinner, we eat leftovers, and sometimes it's just pasta, or Mac and cheese, or sandwiches and soup, and the kids fave pancakes for dinner.

My kids don't get allowance. I'm pretty "old school" as my oldest puts it, and you behave, and do chores because you're supposed to, not because you get paid to. 
My kids don't get a cell phone until HS. It works out since so far one is getting her own plan, and we pass phones down. For ex drama queens first phone was a pink razor. Over the summer her sister gave her, her old phone. No data, just a phone with unlimited texting.
We don't give presents throughout the year. Sometimes, depending what they choose for their birthday, their present is the party.
We make homemade gifts, regift, or sometimes we just cook each other something special.
Christmas they get gifts, but obviously having so many kids they get 4 presents each. 
We rarely go out as a family. Sometimes we have a girls day, boys day, or just take a couple kids out. Mc Donald's ends up being a big deal, since it's so cheap.
For as long as I can I shop at used clothes stores. Especially for the twins! Toys, clothes etc. then when they are older I always ask family to get them clothes for their birthday and Christmas. Usually at Christmas my mom buys them their own name brand hair products! It's such a big deal to them, it's awesome! I shop at kohls when I have a % off of at least 20% , and they buy the clearance clothes.

I always plan ahead. At the end of each holiday, Halloween, Christmas etc...when everything goes on clearance I buy it. Even if I don't have the money, I find it somehow, since I know when the holiday comes up, I won't be able to buy at full price. For ex. Halloween is coming up, and I got costumes already at the end of last year. I'm not concerned with what the new trend is, and neither are my children. I also keep the costumes, they play dress up throughout the year, and on Halloween pick one to wear trick or treating.

Haircuts for the girls are like twice a year, my boy like every month, but I can get his cheap like $8!

The sports or extracurricular activities, are just the ones the school offers. I don't think kids need to be involved in 100 activities! They are kids, and around here, kids play, and use their imagination.

So it might seem a little different, or boring, but I tell you it's the complete opposite! First of all kids know  what they live, so they don't expect anything else, since no one else had it. Second, we are a party in ourselves! No matter what we are doing, it's a blast! We BBQ, swim, play games, watch movies, go to the park, and the library. I'm one blessed mama! :)

Feel free to ask any questions, or share your money savers! :)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Unrealistic expectations

Unrealistic expectations

We all have them. We like to think we don't, but we do. I never understood what it means to expect nothing, so you won't be disappointed. Is that even possible? I don't think so. Even when I don't think I'm expecting something, when nothing happens I feel let down. I think this is the major problem in all areas of our life. From marriage to parenting, to friendships, and even the expectations we put on ourselves.
Marriage, at first seems so romantic, and exciting. It's like squeeee! We are in love and going to live happily ever after. The expectations here really are so numerous I will only touch on a few or else I would write a book! The main one is how EASY it's going to be, and how my husband knows me so well, he will meet all my needs. At first you think you will FEEL in love all the time. That is until you realize wow, my husband is so annoying. It could be from the small things like, leaving a wet towel on the bed, to much bigger issues, like money, working etc. throw a few kids into the mix, and wow, suddenly all hell has broken loose! Don't even get me started on the snoring! Seriously though, marriage, is work. You need to work at it EVERYDAY! Problems won't magically disappear, and men are not mind readers. Keep the lines of communication open and explain what you want, need and how you are feeling. Men process very differently, and have no clue what you mean if you say something like, sometimes I don't know who I am, or that you're overwhelmed, or just can't seem to get a grip. Explain what you mean, and what you need help with. Men like to feel useful, and that they can fix the problem.
Ah, parenting. Again the expectations are almost endless. I will just share my own. I really expected children who would listen, were well behaved, didn't fight, and appreciated the wonderful life I gave them, not to mention would understand all I've sacrificed having them. Yeah, that sounded a lot better in my head!  Very unrealistic I now realize. Kids are just little people, who we have to teach and guide, and eventually let go into the real world. It plays out so different then you think when you are rubbing your pregnant belly! I have finally come to terms with the fact, I shouldn't expect my children to be thankful for the life they have. All they see are rules, and limits, and boundaries and what they need to be doing.
Friendships are probably the hardest for me. I don't think I have a lot of expectations, but then I obviously do since I am ALWAYS let down. I guess I just don't think it's too much to ask for someone to care about me, the way I care about them. Or be there for me when I need them. Sometimes I think it might be the kids, or I have a very involved husband, but then I think that's just BS, since if you're my friend, you should be MY friend. Not based on my parenting, or what kind if wife I am. Why do you care anyway? Maybe that's the real reason I don't have friends, I'm not looking for you to tell me what I'm doing wrong, I just want you to be there with me, going through the journey together. I think for me it's that I have a strong personality, and people don't want that, they want fluffy rainbows, and that's not me.
I probably have the highest expectations on myself. I fall short EVERYDAY! There is just not enough time in the day to do everything I ideally would want to accomplish. I have come to realize the most important thing to do is take care of myself, and not feel guilty about it. The kids, and my husband need a healthy mom and wife, and I don't mean just physically. When I'm tired, I sit down. When I don't feel like cleaning I don't. Some nights, they have sandwiches for dinner, and you know what? It's ok.....those unrealistic expectations we put on ourselves don't need to be there. Doing just enough, is ok too. :)

"Being in control of your life and having realistic expectations about your day-to-day challenges are the keys to stress management, which is perhaps the most important ingredient to living a happy, healthy and rewarding life."
Marilu Henner
What unrealistic expectations did you have?