Turn Off The TV. Family Time Is Actually Fun! And Important.

Last week was Samantha’s first week back to school, and it went really well!  She loves her new school, and seems to really enjoy going again.  I just wish her first weekend off from school had started off better.  Friday, she earned her first grounding.  Kids playing where they shouldn’t can result in broken windows.  Anyway, because of her actions, she was grounded from TV, her video games, and from going outside all weekend.

Friday night was rough because she had to deal with the ramifications, including talking to a police officer (for insurance purposes, and maybe a little scare factor).  She also had a rough time with idea of not getting to play her precious Minecraft for a whole week, or playing outside (except for soccer practice that starts today).  However, when Saturday morning rolled around, something surprising happened.

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Look at that smile! That is true happiness, right there. ❤

She played.  She didn’t whine.  She didn’t argue.  She smiled, and laughed.  All day.

Now, I am sure some people are going to think, “Well, duh!  You turn the TV off, and kids are forced to be kids.”  This is true, and unfortunately is not something we really figured out until we had to punish her more severely than in the past.  Unfortunately also, I think this is an all too common occurrence in this country.

Violence is part of our main stream society these days.  Maybe it has something to do with 24 hour new coverage, but you really can’t deny that our youth and society as a whole have become increasingly violent since video games and television were invented.  I am not blaming those things for the change in our kids, mostly, but I am blaming the parents.

I noticed something this weekend.  Samantha was happy and smiling.  My girl is generally a sweet, loving, and energy-packed girl, but looking back, I see the difference in her with TV vs no TV.  When she plays Minecraft, she rarely smiles unless she’s telling us something about it, but if she is just playing, she is slumped over, with a blank stare, and frown.  The same with television.  If she gets into a show, that same stare and frown is there.  Sure, she will laugh at a joke, but it’s mostly a chuckle, and then it’s gone.

THAT’S not my girl.  The girl we saw this weekend was her.  I can’t believe I didn’t see it before, and recognize that something needed to change.

Instead of watching TV, we played games.  Instead of playing Minecraft, she built stuff with art projects.  Instead of arguing, we actually had an enjoyable time playing some silly LaLaLoopsy game.  She even finally lost her tooth after a few months of it hanging on for dear life, and we danced and cheered.  It was fun!  She had our attention, and we had hers.  Nobody got moody with one another, except for Lauren, but that’s because she’s a sleep denier.

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Why is this such a revelation?  Because it’s not the violence in video games and television that can cause the issues with today’s violent youth, but instead the fact that they were even sitting there playing or watching them at all.  Our kids need to stop watching vulgarity and trash on the television, and instead send them outside to play in the sun and fresh air.  Instead of letting them sit all day while killing aliens in a game, give them some paper and scissors and let their imagination run wild.

It’s all about moderation.  I’m not saying all TV or games are bad, and they should be damned to hell for eternity.  What I am saying is watch that show, but when it’s over, turn it off.  Get up, and go do something else.  We love to do arts and crafts around here, or play outside, or read a book!  There is always something better than sitting on our butts all day watching mindless drivel.

It’s easier said than done, and I get that.  Parents work, kids have school, and a busload of activities like sports, dance, scouts, etc.  But unless we want to turn the violence around, and stop having kids killing because they are bored, we need to reinvest in our families.  That time is so important.  Youth is when we mold their minds and behaviors into what is acceptable, moral behavior and thinking.  If they are engrossed in the latest kill on the Xbox, then their minds are molding in a way that is just unacceptable, and scary.

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These three killed an innocent man…because they were bored.

I know, for my family, we will be turning the TV off more often.  Movie time together is great, but it can’t be a babysitter all the time.  Kids need that family time, that one on one time with parents and siblings.  It’s how they learn to love, and be loved.  I am definitely looking forward to the love that will be filling up this house once again.

Let Kids Be Kids!

It’s that time of year again: Back to School shopping.  Samantha starts First Grade next week, and decided to grow like a weed over the past few months.  I’m not sure what we were feeding her, but I would sure like to figure it out so we can stop doing that.

This is Sam. She is 6, and loves art. This came costume came from an art project we did. <3

This is Sam. She is 6, and loves art. This costume came from an art project we did. ❤

Clothes shopping is a pain for me, as I hate trying on new clothes and then subsequently feeling poorly about myself.  Clothes shopping is a different kind of pain when it comes to Samantha.  She has an issue with certain types of materials touching her skin.  They make her itchy.  Like sequins on shirts.  The inside has the stitches to hold the sequins on, but it also has the material over the stitches that is supposed to help with the itching, but really doesn’t.  It sucks because she loves shiny and sparkly, but we move on with some kicks and screams.

The other issue is the types of clothing made available for purchase.  Skinny jeans are one thing, as you can buy them a size bigger and they wont be so tight.  However, now they make super skinny jeans.  For girls as young as mine, and younger.  Also low-cut shirts, mini skirts, midriff baring tops, and tennis shoes with wedges inside them (just to name a few).  When did our little girls become young women in the eyes of corporations?  OR, when did they become young women in the eyes of society?

This is Lauren. She's about to be 1 year. She's spunky, and loves Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. <3

This is Lauren. She’s about to be 1 year. She’s spunky, and loves Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. ❤

When I was a kid (yes, I went there. I also went there up hill and through the snow…one way), we didn’t have these kinds of clothes.  Sure, in the 80’s we had bright, obnoxious neon colors, with high tops, and scrunchie socks.  However, I do not recall ever seeing inappropriate clothing for my age, or clothes that read “Too pretty to study,” or some other nonsensical crap.

Why do we want our children to grow up so fast?  When did it become OK for young girls to wear shorts so short their butt cheeks hang out, or tops so low they would show cleavage if they had any to show?  I don’t want my kid to dress or look any older than she already is, but it’s so hard to find decent clothes out there for her age and size.  I miss the cute dresses with butterflies and ladybugs.  Now the clothes have stupid saying that make girls think it’s OK to be viewed as “dumb,” or clothes too short and make them think sexy is a good thing (Not for their age!).

I want my girls to know that smart is sexy AND cool.  That their looks should not define them, and that it is never OK to be objectified.  I want them to know that they are worth the same as any man, and should be treated the same, no matter what.  I want them to know that they CAN do anything they set their mind to, and that they should never let anyone tell them they can’t just because they are women.

I want them to know all these things…in time.

Right now, can they just be little girls?  Can they continue playing with My Little Ponies or dolls, and jam to Kidz Bop?  Maybe letting them be kids is the best thing for them, instead of pushing the world and all its problems on their shoulders.  They wont be little forever, so let’s try to keep them that way for as long as possible.

How Do You Raise Maturity?

This is Sam. She is 6, and a nerd like her mommy. <3

This is Sam. She is 6, and a nerd like her mommy. ❤

Raising kids is hard, yo.  Seriously, trying to make sure you bring them up knowing respect, love, laughter, discipline, and everything in between is a struggle sometimes.  I want my kids to be happy, but I also want them to know boundaries, and when getting emotional is OK.

I have always told my oldest daughter, Samantha, that being upset is perfectly normal.  We all have this feeling from time to time, but it’s how we handle it that’s important.  I want her to understand that it’s OK to cry, and it’s OK to be angry, sad, happy, or whatever you happen to be feeling at that moment.  However, there are times when it’s not OK to get overly emotional.

For example, Samantha has this thing where she scream cries.  At just about everything.  OK, not everything, but the things she chooses to get emotional at, which does seem like everything from time to time.  She doesn’t get her way: scream cry.  Loud noises hurt her ears: scream cry.  She gets in trouble for whatever reason: scream cry.  She falls down: scream cry.  A friend wants to go home: scream cry.  I can’t tell you the number of times I got a yellow note home from her Kindergarten teacher because she was scream crying so loud another teacher had to come in and check on her.  All because a kid called her a name, or she didn’t get to finish her work, or whatever.

I mean, seriously, it’s just about everything.  I feel like we are to blame though.  She was an only child for over 5 years, and I had no intentions of changing that.  After my experience with postpartum depression, I wanted to steer clear of babies.  So, we spoiled her.  Gave her everything.  Gave into her cries.  You name it, we did it.

I wanted her to feel loved and special.  I felt as if I wasn’t doing that with the horrible, intrusive thoughts that were in my mind, and the darkness that surrounded me.  The days that I felt good, I wanted to make up for the days that I didn’t.  The days when I screamed at her for no reason, raged for no reason, or just was smothered by the darkness.  There was a reason.  It’s because PPD is a bitch, and so is anxiety and any other form of mental illness.

However, those bad days were not the real me, and I felt the need to compensate for them.  However, giving into her wants, like toys every time we went to the store, were not things that make up for bad days.  Spending time doing what she enjoys, such as art, is the way to do it.  I know that now, but at the time I felt it wasn’t enough.

So, here we are, 6 years into her life, and we are stuck.  She’s an emotional wreck, a bit immature if you will.  Now that her baby sister is here, she doesn’t get the attention as much anymore, so it seems like the tears are here all the time.  Or she is trying her hardest to get my attention when it’s not on her, whether in a good or bad way.  I don’t know what to do, really.  Every child needs discipline and boundaries, so how do you do that with a kid who hasn’t had much of it until recently?

Honestly, and this is probably my guilt from the past 6 years rearing its head, but I feel like she is not her bright, cheerful self anymore because of the change in discipline and boundaries.  How do I know if it’s just an act to get her way (which I know she does quite often because the sudden lack of tears and joyful attitude show me that), or if she really is blue about the changes in her life?  How do I fix that?  How do I show her she is still loved and cared about without giving in to her?

Raising maturity is hard work.  We all want our kids to grow up well-rounded, and functioning members of society.  So how do we get over the parenting guilt?  I know I’m not the only one with the guilt, so how do you get past it?  How do you teach your child boundaries, respect, and discipline while also showing them that they are still loved over the moon?