Tag Archive: Children


1 teacherMy oldest is a kindergartner this year and I have been trying to think of what to get for his lovely teacher. Instead of trying to come up with something on my own, I decided to reach out to my friends on Facebook who are teachers and have them fill me in on what they REALLY want. The answers were all over the board, with a few surprises, and a couple of hilarious stories. I know this is not a one-size-fits-all, so if you disagree, that is fine. I am just going off the feedback I received. So here it is….But, first and foremost- they don’t want to hear from you or anyone else during their break!

The Good:
Almost every single person who replied mentioned gift cards! So, if you thought gift cards are too impersonal and you wanted to be creative- get over it. They apparently LOVE gift cards. 1. They can actually get what they want and 2. Many of them use the gift cards to buy stuff they need for their classrooms. You might not realize it, but teachers spend a lot of their OWN money on class room supplies. Giving them gift cards to Target, Walmart (boo), and local craft stores is a very popular present. Other gift cards that were mentioned a lot were Starbucks, iTunes, and bath and body works.

Also, it turns out a lot of teachers enjoy getting booze. I don’t feel comfortable sending liquor with my child on the bus, but if you have a personal relationship with the teacher and hand deliver it, this would be an appreciated gift. You could include a little note that says, “For all the times my little monster made you want to drink!” If I were a teacher, this is what I would want. 🙂

Someone shared a great idea for those of you who are good organizers or know the fellow parents well… You could all chip in and get one more expensive gift or gift card. It is hard if the teacher has 10 different $10 gift cards to 10 different stores. But a $100 Visa gift card is AWESOME!

Lastly, a few mentioned that they appreciate any and all presents (you know, those really sweet, selfless ones that think its ‘the thought that counts’.) What I took from this, is if it is something meaningful in some way or really original, the teacher will likely love it.

The Bad:
Teachers get enough strong smelling lotions and candles. They do not need more. Your favorite sent in the world might be vanilla or cinnamon, but that doesn’t mean your teacher will like it. A good quality neutral-smelling hand cream is different than passion fruit body lotion from bath and body works. Be smart here.

Ornaments, Christmas decorations, and #1 teacher swag. Unless the teacher is a first or second year teacher, they don’t want a #1 teacher coffee mug. I guarantee they already have one. And, how many ornaments do teachers really need. They have 20+ students a year for possibly 20 years! That is a shit-load of snowmen. Not to mention, how can you even be sure the teacher celebrates Christmas? You don’t really know unless you personally know the teacher. Don’t assume.

On that note, nothing religious. You might be devout, but the teacher might not be. Even if they celebrate christmas, it doesn’t mean they want a big gold cross. And, yes, even at a christian school. Unless the teacher is a nun, don’t assume anything.

Lastly, homemade treats are iffy. I would say no. 1. They probably get enough chocolates and sweets from everyone and 2. Most people won’t eat sweets from people they don’t know well. They don’t know how clean your house it, how fresh your eggs are, if you washed your hands, etc. Maybe that is over thinking it, but better safe than sorry.

The Ugly:
I should say the hilarious! Teachers really do grow to love our children and develop close relationship with them, but they don’t love your kid like you love your kid. They do not want a framed 5×7 photo of your child. (yes, that is a real story). Maybe a wallet size school picture that they won’t feel guilty about throwing away next year, but come on. Again, 20+ students a year for decades, your kid is not THAT special. That is not mean, it’s just real life.

Anything overly personal or inappropriate. One teacher friend told me that she received a bathrobe from a student. That is just weird. It’s too personal. A scarf is fine, socks are fine, a bathrobe just crosses that line.

Final Thoughts:
Take the time to write a nice thank you note. Teachers work so hard- SO HARD! They get a lot of complaints from students, parents, administrators, school board. They hear all too often that teachers are failing our students and take the blame when they are not at fault. They would love to hear that you appreciate what they are doing for your kid. They would love to hear a personal example of a time that they impressed you or made a lasting impression on your child. They would love to hear from the student how much they mean to them. They like to hear that you know how hard they work and that you appreciate all of it. Also, maybe if your kids are small, include a little question and answer. Mine and Will’s is below.

Q: What is your favorite part about Mrs. ________?
A: She always tells me what to do, and if I make her stuff, she gives me a hug.
Q: What is your favorite part about school?
A: I like walking in the hallway and seeing all the work the other class kids do.
Q: What is Mrs. ______ like?
A: She likes when we all listen to what she tells us.
Q: What is Mrs. ______ good at?
A: She is good at reading stories and teaching and telling me what to do.

Haha, sounds like Will’s teacher has good control over the classroom. 🙂

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I think, after 5 1/2 years, I have found my sweet-spot of motherhood.

I had an amazing son 5 1/2 years ago and my delightful daughter 2 years ago. I have loved them with every ounce of my being since then, but, if I am being honest, I didn’t enjoy every moment.

If you’re a mother, you know you can’t take 3 steps without a stranger telling you to enjoy every second when they are young. And, half of these women follow that up with some kind of passive-agressive threat like ‘soon he won’t hold your hand like that’ or ‘tomorrow she’ll be a high-maintenance teenager’ or ‘eventually he’ll stop returning your calls and you’ll be all alone’. Yikes! I could have done without that last one. But, they didn’t enjoy every minute and either do I.

When we first brought my son home I was terrified, I struggled nursing, and I couldn’t sit down for 3 weeks. Didn’t enjoy that.

When my daughter was young I felt trapped in my house because getting everyone out the door and ready felt like too much work. Didn’t enjoy that.

When I was on maternity leave, I would sit and pray for the time to move faster and hope my husband would come home just a little early today. Didn’t enjoy that.

I wasn’t good at bonding with babies. I was bored. They don’t talk, they don’t have personalities, I don’t know what they want…. You see, I am not one of those moms who can just stare contentedly at her baby in her arms for hours. I am not the kind of girl that goes, “awe…let me hold your baby”. I like to enjoy babies from across the room, or better yet- through photographs. It’s not that I don’t like your baby, I just don’t want to take care of it. I know some of you are thinking- That’s the best part! I get it. In Will’s terms, it’s just not my favorite.

Does that sound horrible? Am I the only one? I’m not all evil though, I swear. Keep reading…

So, back to the sweet-spot. The other morning I was home with the kids and it was LITERALLY perfect. My daughter wasn’t being a terrible two year old, my son was as sweet and affectionate as ever, no one was rushed, the sun was shining, the birds were chirping, yada yada yada. It was everything you think motherhood will be before you have children. I was helping Will work on some kindergarten prep work, sipping coffee, Ellie was dancing happily to her magnetic fridge toy and prancing around the house, I had made a healthy breakfast that no one complained about, I think you are getting the picture.

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This time, I was looking at the clock and wishing it would slow down. I knew my work day was coming and I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want to interupt the magic of the moment.

Later in the day, when I had a chance to reflect, it all kind of made sense. This is my sweet-spot. My children say funny things. They have little personalities. They play with me and each other. They are also independent enough so that I can have one G-D moment to myself now and then. Every day I think of new cool things we can all do together: tennis, foods, games, back yard camp outs (more to come on this after the weekend). It’s fun! It doesn’t seem like work any more.

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I don’t know what to expect next. I don’t know if I’ll keep finding new sweet-spots along the way; I’m guessing yes. I do know that I won’t enjoy every moment, but I will try not to feel guilty about that and I’ll be grateful for the time, and continue to love these kids with every ounce of my being.

Day-Light-Savings-Surprise

This is something I almost never do- a morning quickie. Not the cool kind, just a quick blog while my kids are happily playing by themselves. Don’t worry, the big one’s watching the little one.

If you’re a parent you know that kids do not respect the ‘fall back’ part of daylight savings. Their internal clocks usually take a week to adjust. So, it was no surprise this morning when they woke me up about an hour earlier than usual.

My first reaction was a grown up temper tantrum (you know muffled crying sounds into your pillow). But, as soon as my husband plopped my little girl into my arms and she gave me 17 kisses, I knew it was going to be okay.

I decided to practice what I am always preaching, “reframe and refocus”. Instead of being a victim to my children and their ridiculous amount of 6 am energy, I decided to see it as a blessing. What could I do with an extra hour with my kids that I normally don’t get? Normally our mornings are pretty rushed. It is hard to get everyone fed, dressed, and ready for my son’s 9 am preschool. Not today. We spent an hour just playing. Hanging out in my son’s room doing puzzles, practicing our writing and spelling, and (Ellis) trying not to be afraid of tickle me Elmo. It was glorious.

 

 

These are the moments that makes me wish I could stay at home with my kids and be there for every moment. Although there are plenty of moments that make me want to run screaming to work as well. Bottom line, I am going to treasure the times I do get and try not to throw grown up temper tantrums (you know curse words under your breath until you feel better).

The Mommy Martyr

Mommy Martyr: the woman who continues to sacrifice her own health, happiness, and therefore sanity out of commitment to her family. She is often heard saying things like, “I don’t have time to work out, I have 3 kids!” Or, “The only books I read anymore are about potty training” Or “Why would I need to put on make up? I only go to Target and then home again.”

This of course is my definition, but I think it works. And, I tell you, there are a lot of them out there! Now this is not necessarily a good or bad thing. Anyone who plans to have kids should know that raising children requires sacrifice- no doubt about it. Mother’s are in a unique position with maternal instincts, societal pressures, and a permanently guilty conscience. I believe that no one but a mom could truly know how this feels. However, the martyr identity can quickly become a problem when the Mom forgets or chooses not to care about herself. Did we get the self-sacrifice gene along with our 2nd X-chromosome?

The problem with this way of thinking implies that mothers that do NOT make every possible sacrifice are somehow not doing a good job.

I used to argue that I didn’t have time to exercise but somehow my husband was making it to the gym 1-2x/week to play basketball. Well, we both work full-time and we obviously both have 2 kids. So, why did he have time and I didn’t? He’s not a jerk who thinks he’s more important. He was encouraging me to do something.

Why are we doing this to ourselves? We are either 1- Being selfless in the truest sense of the word, or 2- Playing the victim and using our mommy-ness as an excuse. Both are unacceptable!

In the first scenario, being selfless literally means having little or no concern for oneself. Your children are going to learn about self-worth and confidence from you. Do you want to teach your daughter that her identity isn’t important as long as everyone else is happy? Do you want to teach your son that he should expect his wife to make constant sacrifices for her family? And, as I’m sure you have heard on Oprah, you can’t take care of others if you cannot take care of yourself!

In the second scenario, playing the victim is even worse. You probably don’t even realize you are doing it. I didn’t! What did I get out of being the victim? I got to hear my husband say things like, “You’re the best mom” and I heard other people say “I don’t know how you do it all”. And, best of all, I got a believable excuse! I can tell you it is a hell of a lot easier to say you can’t work out because of your kids then to actually work out.

Are you getting a little defensive right now? Do you feel like I’m oversimplifying? I probably am, but my point still stands. I said it before in my ‘grind my gears’ blog, but your life is filled with what you are committed to. If you commit to living the lifestyle of the martyr, that is what you will become. Having kids IS hard! No one is going to argue that. But, kids should also enhance your life, not stop you from living a full, happy, healthy life. Take some control make a list of things you would like to do more (i.e. read, work out, see more movies, hang out with girl friends, start a blog!, etc.). Once you have the list make a plan, ask for support, and do it. I’m still a work in progress, but at least I am moving in the right direction now.