Communicating With Your Child – Nanny 911 Parenting Series

**This post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**



barbara - communicating 2a A big part of the Nanny 911 book (and philosophy) is communication. Nanny 911 frequently speaks about communicating – with your spouse, and with your children. Not only will open communication help solve problems now, it will also set a great foundation for your little ones to grow on – all the way to adulthood!

Think about all the times you’ve had a conflict, whether at school, work, or even at the grocery store. Communicating effectively most likely could have not only solved many of those issues, but prevented them. Not many people put the effort in to learn how to communicate.

3 Communication Tips for Kids of All Ages

Be consistent (Nanny 911 Commandment #6), and receptive. Like I tell the little ones, “put your listening ears on”. Sometimes, as kids grow into teens, they start to shut down and refuse to communicate with us as parents. Many times, that happens not because they’re “just teenagers”, but because we have taught them that we don’t want to hear what they have to say. I know it’s easy to say that we do listen to our kids, but in this day and age of cell phones and social media, many parents miss the mark when it comes to looking their kids in the eyes and giving them their undivided attention. If this is you, don’t fret – it’s something you can easily fix, with a little work.

1. When communicating with children of all ages – yes, even teens – look them in the eye. This is so important. Put down the phone and give your child 100% of your attention. If you don’t, you’re teaching them two things:

1 – The phone is more important than they are.
2 – If they misbehave or act out, you just might get mad enough to put the phone down and give them the attention they’re craving.

Put extra effort into spending time with your kids, no matter their age. Read to your kids, or have them read to you. Set up a sensory bin, or even a water table, and get down on their level to have a little extra play time.

2. Babies and Toddlers: When babies do something like bite or hit, use communication to redirect. Obviously you wouldn’t put a baby in time out, but talking to them and explaining things as if they know what’s going on is what you want to do from Day 1! They will learn about expected behavior, and your responses, much faster this way.

With babies and toddlers, instead of saying “no hitting!”, I like to say “gentle touches” and show an example. Or, “hands are for loving, not hitting” – with another example. For older kids, “Use your words” instead of hitting.

I’m a preschool teacher, so “teacher” mode is something that sticks with me. As a preschool teacher, I try to only use positive language. Meaning I don’t say “no running”, I’ll say “walking feet”. This is because when you say “no running”, an image of running goes through their mind! Forget the “no” part… they’re gone! 🙂 If you say “walking feet”, then they’re picturing a set of walking feet and will hopefully comply. We know this concept from when the librarians in school would say “inside voices” instead of “no yelling!”. It works!

3. All ages: When discussing behavior with your child, don’t interrupt. Let them speak their piece – in a respectful way – and then repeat or at least acknowledge what they’ve said. I love that the Nanny 911 book has several examples of real conversations with kids of all ages to demonstrate exactly how to do this. Show your child you love them, but also tell them. Tell them you’re listening, then show them by putting your phone or other distractions away.

Communication is vital to a healthy relationship with your kids, but it does take some work – especially if communication isn’t something you were taught while growing up. When your kids understand that you’re listening to them, they’re more likely to listen to you. Practice makes perfect, though, so just keep working towards a positive and open line of communication in the family.

 

Check out the rest of my Nanny 911’s series (coming soon!):

 
Staying Consistent With Parenting
 
Getting on the Same Page as Your Spouse with Parenting

 

Keep on saving!  :o)
--Barbara

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

The Naughty Chair and Why It Works – Nanny 911 Parenting Series

**This post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**



barbara - naughty chair2You’ve read the 11 Commandments of Nanny 911 and are well on your way to understanding how to get back on track with your kids. You’re working on being more consistent, but the consequences you’re giving out either don’t fit the “crime” or aren’t effective. Now what? Cue the Naughty Chair.

If you’ve watched Nanny 911, you’ve seen the nannies use the Naughty Chair, and you’ve seen how effective it can be! The Naughty Chair isn’t fit for kids of all ages, nor is it fit for every child, but it’s a good option if your kids have become out of control and you’re looking to start reinforcing the rules and Nanny’s other commandments to get your house back in order.

Having household rules and enforcing them consistency is key to getting unruly behavior back in line. Don’t let things get to the point of you being angry when you’re sending your child to the Naughty Chair (or other consequence). Handle it firmly, calmly, and rationally. Remember commandment #8: respect is a two-way street. This doesn’t mean you should be a pushover – it means quite the opposite! Don’t yell. Don’t be mean. Be firm. You’ll earn your child’s respect, they’ll know you mean business, and you won’t feel guilty afterwards like you do when you lose your cool.

It’s important not to overuse the Naughty Chair. Give your child a warning in an authoritative and firm voice, explaining which behavior you want them to stop. If your child continues this behavior, you take them to a designated chair (you could use a step, too), and explain – briefly – why they are in time out. Quickly walk away, setting a timer for their time out. A good rule of thumb is one minute per year of age. If your child moves from the chair, they go back and the time starts over – without any talking, haggling, arguing, etc from you. Some kids have a rough time standing in a corner or sitting in a chair, so if you want to create an “area” rather than one tiny space (to avoid power struggles), that works, too. You know what will work best for your child.

Staying put in the discipline area is important. Remember: start the timer over if they throw a fit, move out of the area, etc. The more consistent you are, the faster they will learn how to behave both in the Naughty Chair and in every day life!

Once the timer goes off, explain the situation – what happened, why they ended up in the chair, and how they will end right back in the chair if they do it again. At this time your child should apologize, if they did something like hit you, etc. Last but not least, give them a hug and tell them you love them. At this point, you move past the bad behavior and start fresh.

Don’t make the mistake of giving warning after warning after warning. Give a warning, clearly and firmly, and then if the behavior repeats or continues, off to the Naughty Chair they go without any fussing from you. Treat it as a simple fact of life, rather than a big ordeal. It is what it is. You do the crime, you serve the time – and then we move on.

The Naughty Chair is used when rules are not followed. It is a time out for both Mom and child, because heaven knows we all need a break sometimes, too! If you overuse this form of discipline, it becomes less effective, so keep that in mind.

Do not negotiate or engage with your child when they’re in time out. After the time out has finished successfully, that is when you can talk about the behavior and why it was unacceptable.

At the end of the day, remember to focus on the positive as much as possible. I know it gets frustrating, and I know it can be tiring – but focusing on the positive is going to get you much better results. I promise! 🙂

If you’re looking for even more parenting tips, be sure to check out the Nanny 911 book on Amazon.

 

Keep on saving!  :o)
--Barbara

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

11 Commandments of Nanny 911

**This post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**



barbara - commandments 2aNanny 911 is a popular television show that gives us a peek into the lives of other families, most notably ones with out of control kids. Every time I see the show, I learn something new. Sometimes, it’s learning what I’m doing “wrong”, and sometimes it’s just breathing a huge sigh of relief that my kids aren’t those kids. With that being said, I think there are many things we can learn from Nanny 911 so let’s talk about the 11 Commandments of Nanny 911.

The Nanny 911 book is much more in depth than I could be in this parenting post series, so be sure to check it out from your local library (or buy it on Amazon), and follow along on this journey!

  1. Be consistent. When we say “no” it needs to mean “no”. The same goes for “yes”, obviously. When you’re at the park and you give a five minute warning, set a timer because “five minutes” should mean five minutes. After the five minutes is up, don’t let little Johnny talk you into “just one more time down the slide” over and over again. It’s a trap! 🙂
  2. Actions have consequences. Be clear on the expected behavior in your home. Whether you use a behavior chart, a consequences jar, or some other type of tracking system, make sure it’s clear and consistent. Reward and praise good behavior, focusing on the positive as much as possible. Follow through with consequences for bad behavior, without feeling guilty. Our children need us to follow through, be consistent, and teach them that bad behaviors do have consequences. Better for them to learn from us than from the judicial system 15 or 20 years down the road.
  3. Say what you mean and mean what you say. This goes along with being consistent, and teaching kids that actions have consequences. Think of your words carefully before speaking them – especially with kids that like to jump to the worst conclusions right away. Keep your tone light and positive, unless you’re disciplining… then speak in a lower tone and be firm. We want our kids to understand that they can trust what we say. If we say something, we follow through. Period.
  4. Parents work together as a team. Be a united front. We’ve all heard it before, but putting it into action can be tough – especially if your parenting style is completely different than your partner’s! It is vital to show that united front to the kids, though, so don’t discuss (or argue about!) their behavior and consequences in their presence. This can lead to many issues, such as the kids trying to pit Mom against Dad or going behind the other parent’s back to get a lesser punishment.
  5. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. This repeats the third commandment, but it’s important. Don’t promise the world when you can’t deliver it. If you say you’re going to take them to the park, take them to the park. I realize that emergencies happen and things do come up, but make it a priority to keep your promises. This will build trust and respect, and help improve your relationship with your children.
  6. Listen to your children. In this day and age, everyone is glued to electronics. It’s sad, really. Look around at any restaurant, park, or public place, and you’ll see kids that can barely talk just plugging away on an iPad. You’ll see parents completely ignoring their children, and teens tuned out more than ever before. Kids are being ignored in a huge way by this generation of parents, and the behavior of the children is reflecting it. When your child needs something, when they ask a question, when they want to talk to you… look them in the eye, and listen. Don’t just nod and smile and glance at them out of the corner of your eye from Facebook. Really, really look at them and listen. Acknowledge their presence, and acknowledge their feelings.
  7. Establish a routine. Children (and many adults!) thrive on routine, rules, and order. It makes us feel secure and lets us know what’s coming next in our day.
  8. Respect is a two-way street. So many parents are quick to spout off, “respect is earned, not given!” … but they forget that respect is a two-way street. We have to show our children respect, to teach them by example. Set an example so your children know what’s expected of them and how to act.
  9. Give positive reinforcement. While it’s easier in the short-term to focus on the negative and just send them to their room or whatever else, the truth is, positive reinforcement works much better. Children thrive on praise. Praise the process rather than the result.
  10. Manners are universal. The easiest way to impress someone is to show them how well-mannered your children are! This one takes a lot of work, laying a great foundation, but if you lead by example, it’ll stick!
  11. Define your roles as parents. As a parent, it’s not your job to be your child’s friend. It’s also not your job to define who your child becomes. They will grow into themselves and learn how to define themselves as individuals. We are meant to prepare them for the world, not hold their hand until they’re 30. 🙂

What do you think of Nanny 911’s commandments? Would they work in your house?
barbara - 11 commandments2
Check out the rest of my Nanny 911’s series (coming soon!):

 
The Naughty Chair and Why It Works
 
Communicating With Your Child
Staying Consistent With Parenting
 
Getting on the Same Page as Your Spouse with Parenting
Keep on saving!  :o)
--Barbara

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

Advice for My 6-year-old Daughter, For the Teen Years and Beyond

**This post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**



For some reason, today I felt just a little extra whimsical while watching my daughter.  Like many mothers, I’m sure, I catch glimpses of her older self throughout the course of the day, and today -for a fleeting split second- I saw my little girl all grown up.  I’ve already shared my wishlist for her, but here is my collective little nuggets of advice for my daughter.

Advice for My 6-year-old DaughterAdvice for My 6-year-old Daughter,
for the Teen Years and Beyond

 

Don’t be a mean girl.  Ever.  But don’t be mean back to the mean girls – how else will they learn kindness if it’s not extended to them?

Love yourself, on the inside and the outside.  Treat your body with respect now, and it will thank you in kind as you get older.  Learn now how to take care of your whole self.

Be kind but firm. [Read more…]

Keep on saving!  :o)
--Barbara

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

My Wish List for My Daughter

**This post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**



 I came across this post, from an old blog I created about and for my daughter.  Unlike my actual daughter, this blog’s been neglected for about three years, but I wanted to breathe new life in to this post, as I still feel it’s relevant to her -and to daughters and children everywhere.  What’s on YOUR wish list for your children?
 My Wish List for My Daughter

My Wish List for My Daughter

October 2, 2010

My Dear Carol,
As your mother, I wish for you many things in this life.  Above all, I pray daily that you live an exceptionally long, happy, healthy, meaningful, and purposeful life.  I wish this for you, and any siblings you may have.  I hope to help make those things attainable for you, with these things I wish for you:
[Read more…]
Keep on saving!  :o)
--Barbara

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

Painting with Nature

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painting with natureNow that fall is upon us, it’s no longer uncomfortable to be outside, so we can now start enjoying the outdoors!  This is the perfect time to engage in family walks – not only is it great excercise and a great way to bond as a family, but it’s also an opportunity for ART!  Painting with nature is fun, easy and very educational for the kiddos! So how exactly do you paint with nature?

Perhaps enjoy a fall picnic with your kiddos, and then take a walk with your kids and start looking around (make sure you take a bag or bucket with you to carry your items) for items that have a different texture. Look everywhere and keep your mind open because anything goes when painting with nature! Make sure you talk about the texture and color with your kids! There are so many ways to learn during this activity. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Ideas for Painting with Nature

  • Corn Cob (there are 3 ways you can paint with corn cobs: the husk, the cob with corn on it and the cob with the corn taken off)
  • Acorns
  • Wildflowers
  • Leaves
  • Walnuts (These work well in a bin with your child holding the bin and rolling them around in the paint)
  • Pine Needles
  • Pine Cones
  • Rocks
  • Sticks

Get your work station ready and your supplies out. It may be better to have this activity outside if you are able to otherwise just cover your table with a trash bag or some other kind of covering to try to contain the mess. Washable kids paint is always best that way they can paint their masterpiece and not worry about messing up their clothes!

Set out different colors of paint for them to choose from. I find that small bowls work well but if you have a muffin tin that actually works best. You can put many different colors in the tin and you only have one thing to wash….. not counting your child. 🙂

Set out all their nature “paintbrushes” that you collected and let them start painting. Refrain from showing your kids how to do it… instead let them figure out how it works. All kids will work differently when painting with nature. Some will dip and drag the items and some will dip and roll. Some will even paint their hands instead! There are no right or wrong ways with this activity so just let them have fun and enjoy it.

Painting with nature can be a really fun activity and what better way to spend time with your child than by taking a fun walk and creating something from it! Make sure you let your kids create their project all by themselves without instructions from you. It will teach them independence and they will sure be proud of something that they created themselves. Try joining them and making your own masterpiece it really is a lot of fun!

Let me know what items you end up using when painting with nature!

Keep on saving!  :o)
--Barbara

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

Saying Goodbye to Kindergarten

**This post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**



Saying Goodbye to Kindergarten

It seems like it was just last week I walked my little girl in to Kindergarten.  And yet now, in a blink of an eye, she  was saying goodbye to Kindergarten.  While I knew she was more than ready to start Kindergarten, I still knew this year would be filled with many “new”s: she started a new school, venturing away from the preschool where she was already well-known; which also means she made new friends, whom she embraced with her big heart and they she; new teachers, all of whom she seems to like, her classroom teacher the most!

In the last nine months, she’s become an even stronger reader, mastering even more sight words, gained more confidence as a reader, began to experiment with spelling, finished writing her own book, began formerly learning Spanish, learned how to skip count by 2s, 5s, and 10s, learned how to add numbers in her head, almost mastered shoe tying (gonna keep that on our summer checklist!), and grew by leaps and bounds in ways I never imagined!

I’m not sure what it is about Kindergarten in our present culture that invokes such sentimentality, but I will gladly testify to its strength.  We weep when our babies start Kindergarten, whether they do so as the king of the hill in a preschool setting, or as the littlest guys in an elementary school setting.  We weep because Kindergarten signifies that our little babies are no longer our little babies, and that, with each step they take towards their school, they take a further step away from our safe and comfortable arms, away from our safe world where we can control and protect them.  They take a step further towards leaving the proverbial nest.

Saying Goodbye to Kindergarten

My little girl can now be considered what she calls a “grader”.  Wow.  How on earth do I have a first grader on my hands?!  That I’m not sure, but I do know that, as I watch my little girl grow up -a girl with a heart bigger than any ocean- I’ll mourn the loss of each previous stage, watching small slivers of her childhood slip away, while also celebrating the little person she is becoming.  And she is quite a cool little person.

So, here’s to a wonderful year in Kindergarten, to all the excitement this summer may hold, and to the wonders that await us next year in first grade.

Saying Goodbye to Kindergarten

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A Message from My Daughter

A-Message-From-My-Daughter_profile.jpg
Kindergarten Readiness

Kindergarten Readiness

Starting Kindergarten

Starting Kindergarten

Keep on saving!  :o)
--Barbara

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

RaceTrac Fresh Food for Families On-the-Go *giveaway*

**This post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**



RaceTrac-Fresh-Food_kids-in-van_650x300

This post was written by me on behalf of RaceTrac, for which I receive a form of compensation; however all opinions and bad puns are completely my own.

Hail to the Chef (Not Me!):

RaceTrac Fresh Food for Families On-the-Go

This weekend it became official: I am now a double soccer mom.  Yep, I’ve now got TWO kids playing soccer.  And I drive them there in my minivan.  In the suburbs.  OTP, even.

So we are always on-the-go.  Whether it be driving to or from school, preschool, the gym (dear Lord thank you for the gym!!), soccer practice, Daisies, Irish Dancing, church, or -what’s that place called?- home — we live in our van these days.RactTrac-Fresh-Foods_Soccer

(Truth be told, I’m writing this post from the comfort of my van right now, while my son snoozes and I wait in carpool line.  I may also be jamming out to Foo Fighters and Imagine Dragons at the moment, but I’ll never tell…) [Read more…]

Keep on saving!  :o)
--Barbara

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

Signs of Kindergarten Readiness

**This post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**



Kindergarten Readiness

My daughter starts Kindergarten in less than a month.  While I am not ready to let my baby enter the big world of Kindergarten, I am confident I have paved the way for this milestone, and am certain she is ready.  …but what exactly does “kindergarten readiness” look like, really??

Whether you’re sending your first or fifth child into kindergarten, it’s never an easy time. You have a lot of pressure on your shoulders to make sure your child knows certain concepts before you send them off. There are some things you can start doing now to prep your child for Kindergarten in the fall.

Signs of Kindergarten Readiness

  1.  Letter Sounds – Every child entering kindergarten should have practice with their letter sounds. You’ll want to start teaching them their letter sounds by making sure they know the alphabet first. Knowing the alphabet plus their letter sounds is one way a kindergartner starts the reading process. You can help your child learn their letter sounds by repeating them on a daily basis, using flash cards, hands on activities, and even playing educational computer games.  I started each of my kids with a simple ABC puzzle, and as they placed the letters in the puzzle, I would help them identify the letter, and it’s sound.  “Oh, ‘t’ says /t/ like ‘turtle’.”
  2. Reading & Writing – Kindergarten is all about learning to read and write. There are so many activities your child will do in kindergarten to help them learn these skills. However, there are also several things you can do as a parent to help prep your child for learning these skills. The number one thing you can do is always read to your child at every chance you get. Secondly, let them explore with writing. Their words might not always make sense, but they will increase their knowledge of writing as well as get their writing form down.  My daughter loves writing messages right now, and I interfere as little as possible with spelling.  We go through each sound and she writes out her words sound-by-sound.
  3. Independence – If there’s one thing your child needs to learn for kindergarten it is about independence and self sufficiency. While it may be common for you to help them with things now, it’s important that you let them learn how to do things on their own. To help make your child a little more independent, let him or her do small things on their own. You get to decide what the independence factor is as it’s your child, but it is time to loosen the reigns just a little bit.
  4. Relationship Building – For one of the first times in your life, you will be sending your child off to make his or her own relationships. Your kindergartner will form a bond with their teacher and classmates. You can prep your student for this by allowing them to be in situations where they can make friends on their own. You won’t always be there to help them make friends, so it’s important to let them learn to create this bond on their own.

These four tips will help your child learn a few basics before heading off to kindergarten. Just remember that it’s not just about the academics, but the social and emotional growth as well. What tips would you add to this list?

 

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Keep on saving!  :o)
--Barbara

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

Stick Figures, Hair Clips, & a Message From My Daughter

**This post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**



A-Message-From-My-Daughter_banner

The other day, I took my daughter to the gym with me.  Not for any super-compelling reason, other than convenience and lack of child care. My daughter is five, going on fifteen, and isn’t interested in playing with the “little guys” in the kids zone, where her 2-year-old brother goes.  So, got the green light from my instructor ahead of time to let her come with me to one particular class I take, Les Mills Body Combat.

What happened in the 48 hours during and then following that class, and the lessons *I* would learn continue to surprise me, even as I type this out.

I prepared her for the class, letting her know that it would be similar to the gym class she got to try out at UFC Perimeter Gym, but with grown ups.  I assured her she was welcome to join in with us, and that it was ok if she didn’t know all the moves.  None of us did, really.  But I also comforted her with the iPad (don’t judge me!), a pad of paper, and her markers.  On the drive over there, I tried pumping her up, getting her excited about doing “mommy’s class”, without trying to push her too far.  She seemed on board.

However, once we got in the room, and other people started coming in, her shyness kicked in, and she only wanted to set up camp and draw and play on the iPad.  Fine.  Mommy needed to workout, so I went about my ways, while keeping an eye on her.  She occasionally came over to me, to ask random questions, really just needing reassurance that I hadn’t forgotten she was there, and giving her attention.  I came over to her in between each track, grabbing a sip of water, planting a kiss on her sweet little noggin, and showing interest in whatever she was working on at the moment.  I continued to lightly encourage her to get up and try the moves, if she wanted.

Long story short, she hopped up a handful of times to try to participate.  The moves were complicated, and intimidating at any age.  But she tried.  She ran a lap with us, and the instructor gave her a high-five as she passed, just as she did for everyone else in the class.  She ran in place, holding my hand.  She attempted to do lunges and other complex leg moves.  My heart grew full watching her.

She was doing what her mommy was doing.  She was imitating me.  I was her role model.

During and then after class, she showed me two pictures she drew.  Both were stick figures of me kicking and punching, like I did in class.

A-Message-From-My-Daughter_Stick-Figures

She was watching me, her mother, work hard.  She was watching me, her mother, keep going, even if I wasn’t perfect.  She was watching me, her mother, do something to improve my health and fitness.  She was watching me, her mother, and taking notes.  She was watching me, her mother.  Period.

The following evening, which happened to be July 4th, I gave the kids a bath, put them in their PJs, and we whisked them out to see the local fireworks.  They’re kids, and they need to make memories.  After she got her PJs on, she insisted on taking out my hair clip and using it in hers.  I instead offered her a smaller one that would fit better in her hair.

A-Message-From-My-Daughter_Hair-Clip.jpg

She wanted her hair clipped up in the same manner I had been doing this summer.

She was watching me, her mother.  Again.

After securing her hair in a smaller clip, she held her head up, chest out proud and said “now we’re twins, mommy.  HAIR TWINS!”

That’s when the emotions began to overwhelm me.  I am my daughter’s role model.  I am my daughter’s example of what a mother is, what a woman is, what a girl is.

I.  Am.  Her.  Example.

I honestly just assumed, since she is such a daddy’s girl, and seemingly only has eyes for her sweet daddy, that she wasn’t really paying much attention to me.  That she was more apt to imitate him, not me.  Boy was I wrong – this couldn’t be further from the truth.  I’m getting a message from my daughter, loud and clear: daddy may be her prince and hero and ideal of a perfect man in her eyes, as he should be.  But, just as I viewed my own mother through childhood’s eyes, I am her image of beautiful.  I am her image of all-knowing.  (Yes, she’s told me she thought mommies are supposed to know everything about everything.)  I am her image of perfection, period.  She doesn’t see my flaws as flaws, but just part of my perfect-in-her-eyes package.

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It is up to me to show her what’s important.  Our mantra for several months now has been “pretty isn’t important“.  But those words mean nothing if my actions and my example don’t mesh with that mantra.  I have this amazing, bring-me-to-my-knees humbling privilege of teaching this smart little girl to love herself, to love herself enough to take care of herself.

It’s my job to BE the good example.  To live my life in an exemplary manner.  My words need to match my manners.  So while I serve my children milk and water, while I sip on (WAAAAY) too much soda or sweet tea, she is seeing my actions.  Although she’s not interested in drinking either, she’s taken a sip here and there, almost as if she wants to like them, because she sees her mother drinking them.  Or worse, when I serve my children a balanced dinner, yet sit down with nothing in front of me -or with some quick crap I grabbed from the freezer- she is watching me.

By the same token, she also sees me with a stack full of books at my bedside table.  She sees me reading frequently, and sees the spark in my eyes when I do so.  She sees me get up in the morning, and put on my workout clothes.  She sees me scrutinize and compare at the grocery store, coupons in hand.  She sees my husband and I discuss our meals if we go out, searching for good coupons or Scoutmob deals.  She sees her parents say prayers before meals, attend Mass every week, and putting our strength and trust in God.

My daughter needs to see me mess up, and watch how I keep trying, how I don’t just quit.  My daughter needs to see me defend myself, and not get pushed down and cower in times of adversity.  My daughter needs to see me handle adversity with strength and grace, with poise and self-assurance – even if I’m secretly cowering in my proverbial boots.

She has asked already if she can come to class with me again.  I will make certain she can do so at least a few more times before school starts back.  I will hold my head up high, knowing my example during class is shaping a little girls’ mind, a little girl’s schema for persistence, hard work, and self-confidence.  And perhaps I will even set us up with matching hair clips.

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Keep on saving!  :o)
--Barbara

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