Category Archives: Positive

15May/18

I did NOT see that coming! Mother’s Day 2018

My youngest daughter provided me with a brand new, unforgettable Mother’s Day experience this year!

The day before Mother’s Day was wonderful.  I volunteered at the MS Walk in the morning with my Girl Scout troop.  When I got home, my older daughter had finished the laundry and washed the dishes!  Then I got to volunteer with my younger daughter, helping the local Food Bank collect food from the National Postal Workers Food Collection. 

When we got home, the dog had already been fed.  We were off to celebrate a former babysitter’s graduation from college.  This meant that we not only got to celebrate but also that I didn’t need to make dinner (happy dance)!  To wrap up this great day, my family went to the Wind Symphony.  This is always wonderful, but this time they featured Rhapsody in Blue, one of my favorite classical pieces. After the show, we enjoyed visiting with a few band members (my daughters’ music teachers) and some close friends. But the day was not over yet.  I was treated to my daughters playing, or attempting to play, duets with new music they just bought that day. The evening lasted much later than planned, but I couldn’t interrupt the joyful sound of music and laughter coming from the other room!

And then Mother’s Day happened. 

M in ambulance

In last week’s post, I wrote how often times Mother’s Day dreams and expectations can be derailed. This is especially true if we do not make our wishes known or have unrealistic expectations.  I knew that this year I would be spending most of my day at the soccer field.  I decided not to plan or expect anything other than some time with my family.  My husband had a game at 11 and we did not have enough time to get home for lunch before my daughter’s team warmed up.  And while it wasn’t a fancy Mother’s Day meal, Subway was still lunch I didn’t have to prepare (another happy dance).

The first game went as well as can be expected in what my husband refers to as the “Old Man’s League.”  There were no major injuries or fights, so we consider that a win!  And my husband’s team did actually score one goal more than the other team, but it is really not about winning for most of the players in this league. It’s about not getting hurt, having fun/exercising, and then hanging out with adult beverages after the game.  Yes, in that order.

The second game, my daughter’s game started and the teams seemed pretty well matched and determined to win.  Towards the end of the game, the other team was up by 1.  Then we heard some thunder and I glanced up to see the lightning in the far distance. When I looked back, Megan was down.  She started to get up and then rolled over back onto the ground.  It looked like she was holding her arm.  Not the arm she broke (humerus bone) playing soccer in the Fall 2016 season, the other one. 

She didn’t get up and the coach was called.  She appeared to be talking but was not moving.  I know they were telling her to be still, but she wasn’t moving her legs at all.  No words can accurately describe the feeling of watching that from a distance.  My stomach varied from butterflies (maybe it was nausea?) to what felt like crushed glass rolling around.  My heart was in my throat, my breath being held and my brain was screaming for Megan to at least move a little so I would know she was going to be OK.  Someone from the other team left the sidelines and went to help and then my husband, who had been standing down at that end of the field went on. I  waited for them to call me over

After what seemed like an eternity, I didn’t wait for the call and I went out.  They thought at that moment was that she had possibly pinched a nerve in her neck.  She could move all of her extremities, but her entire left side hurt. I had a flashback to the season where she was kicked in her left leg and ended up with nerve damage.  She was eventually diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.  It wasn’t pretty, but it was much better than what was flashing through my mind moments earlier on the sideline.

Mother’s Day 2018 was not at all what I expected – but I did get to spend a LOT of time with my younger daughter.  We experienced a lot of “Firsts” together.  We had our first ambulance ride.  Megan had her first IV, visit to the ER, her first CAT Scan, her first CT arterial Scan and her first MRI… she also got to spend 9 hours in a C Collar to prevent her from moving her neck while the trauma team tried to figure out what was going on.  Megan couldn’t eat or drink until the results came back.  Besides the uncomfortable C Collar and a sense of restlessness from lying around and only being able to see the ceiling for hours, not being able to eat and drink was probably the hardest part for her.  She hadn’t eaten since noon, just played most of a tough soccer game and was very tired, hungry and thirsty.

Hospital Humor

Hospital Humor

After checking into the pediatric wing of the hospital at 1:30 am and waiting for the trauma doctor to bring results, the collar was removed and Megan was allowed to eat and drink.  We celebrated with chicken strips and fries at 2:30 am.

The good news, ALL SCANS were within normal range.  They aren’t really sure what happened or is happening, but there was nothing that the trauma doctors and neurosurgeons could see that scared them.  Megan was to remain under close watch for 24 hours.  It seems as if my soccer player has a common football injury known as a “stinger” (brachial plexus injury).  It will be a bit of work (PT) and a while before she is back to her active self again, but she should be fine.

As I sit in the hospital waiting for the final doctor visit and our release papers, I will gladly admit, I did not see that Mother’s Day adventure coming!  I am so grateful for Megan’s health and lack of severe injury.  I am grateful to the doctors, nurses, and hospital staff who provided excellent care during our 23+ hours with them.  I am grateful to the concerned parents and players on both sides of the field. I am also grateful to the EMTs and Firefighters who took care of Megan on the field and kept a sense of humor (taking the picture in the ambulance) so I could remain composed and so Megan wouldn’t be as scared.

I was held together by our extended family and friends who continued to text and support us during the wee hours of the morning.  It helps that my sister’s family lives in a time zone that is 9 hours ahead!  And even though I am not proud to say this, I was also grateful that my daughter could text and connect with her friends through social media.  It really helped distract her, although my arm did get tired holding the phone in a position over her face so she could see it.  Megan was not able to see the TV with her neck in the C Collar so her friends provided entertainment and support.

So parents, please hug your babies of all ages close tonight.  Everything can change in a second.  I know I talk about the Self-fulfilling prophecy a lot.  Look for the good in your child(ren) and you will find it.  You will also find more of the good and less of the other stuff if you are actively looking for the good.  It’s in there!

Going Home!!!

Going Home!!!

TUESDAY FOLLOW UP

Since I didn’t get a chance to post this on Monday, here is a brief “Follow Up.”

We haven’t heard anything about Megan’s lower body – and now that I can stop and think things through a little more clearly, I’m realizing they didn’t do any lower body scans.  We’ll follow up at her doctor’s appointment on Friday.  However…

Amazingly as of today, the Tuesday after Mother’s Day, Megan is back at school! She’s using crutches and has access to an elevator.  She is still very weak on her entire left side, but her arm is much stronger. She is able to use crutches to and from classes as long as she rests during class.  I’m on call for when she needs to leave early.  She will be missing the Biking Unit in an elective class that she is re-taking because she missed it last year when she broke her humerus… but she IS up and moving!  We are so thankful!!!

08Jan/18

4 Resolutions to be a Better Parent in 2018

If you are looking to improve your parenting, you are not alone.  It’s one of those areas that anyone who is trying to parent continually works on, sometimes daily, even those of us with fancy academic degrees and lots of experience.  What is beautiful about improving your parenting, is that your kids benefit, too.

As with any resolution, it is important to honestly examine where you could be doing better.  What are areas you feel you need to improve?    If we’re being honest…  I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions in the ‘typical’ sense.  My resolutions tend to be ‘Enjoy Life More’ or ‘Eat More Chocolate!’  So, maybe this blog should be called “4 Non-Resolutions to be a Better Parent in 2018.”  Or maybe my first parenting resolution should be to make a resolution?

All kidding aside, I do try to create a list of goals for the year that I re-visit often.  Once I have this list, I pick one goal – just one – to start with.  I tend to go with something that is just out of reach, but highly achievable so I won’t fail…  Some people have criticized me for not making “real” resolutions, but I find that success leads to success.  If I can accomplish something almost “do-able” then I can accomplish something else.

This is true when you are working on your parenting skills, too.  You might have a long list of things you want to work on and that’s ok.  However, if you choose one that you are pretty sure you can do without a huge amount of change or effort on your part, you can be successful.  Then you can move on to being successful at the next skill and the next skill.  Maybe a more challenging skill won’t seem so hard after all of the “do-able” improvements are taking shape.

Here are 4 parenting resolutions, or non-resolutions, to get you started in 2018.  These are areas that many parents express need improvement in their lives. I’ve included a few suggestions with each to help you be successful.

1. Connect With Your Child.

When you are with your child, be WITH your child.  Give them your full attention.  Listen, respond, engage.  Give them the attention they long for.  Put down your phone, don’t let email or Facebook interrupt your time.  You don’t need to spend hours with your child every day (unless you can!).  Even 10-15 minutes of quality time, focused completely on your child, will make a huge difference in your parenting over time by decreasing arguments and increasing your bond.

2. Let It Go. 

Take time to think about the things that are most important to you and those that aren’t.  Are you concerned with what others think about your parenting? Let it go.  Please don’t compare yourself to anyone on social media.  People tend to only post the perfect side of themselves, so you don’t see the sink full of dishes or the toys strewn all over the living room or the crying child on the floor kicking his feet in the air…

Are you concerned that your child doesn’t measure up to developmental achievements?  Let it go. Children develop at their own pace… in ages and stages, not according to a set schedule.  Kids tend to walk, talk, read and write when they are ready, not necessarily when the book says they should be.  My mom once said, “she won’t be walking down the aisle with a pacifier in her mouth.” You can substitute any word you need for pacifier (i.e., diaper, training wheels, etc.).

Focus on the things that are most important such as connection, sleep, healthy food, and being a good person who is kind and cares about others.

3. Yell Less.

This can be a tough one when you are feeling overwhelmed and are at your wit’s end.  And I haven’t met a parent yet who can claim he/she has never yelled at his/her child at least once.

Easier said than done.  Remember the last resolution?  Let it go.  Think about what is important.  It is nice to get out of the house and to school on time – especially if you’re concerned about what other parents think when you show up late.  However, you, or your child, might be having an off day.  It’s better to slow down and be a few minutes late than to constantly yell at your child.  Yelling can cause lower self-esteem and behavioral issues in children.

Ground yourself.  You’ve probably already heard that you should take deep breaths or count to 10 to stop yelling.  Try focusing on your feet being on the floor while you do this.  As you lower your stress-response, you will be able to respond better, in a calmer manner.

Please note – it’s still OK to yell if your child is in immediate danger.  If you don’t yell often, this might scare your child.  If you yell all the time, this might not phase your child.  In case of danger, be ready to act, too, not just yell.

4. Take Care of the Care Taker.

I talk about this a lot.  As parents, we are constantly taking care of others.  Parents give so much of themselves, especially if they have young children, and are often exhausted as a result.  Constantly taking care of others while forgetting to take care of yourself causes resentment and burnout.

Remember how I said that kids benefit from our working on our parenting skills?  While all of these resolutions will benefit your child, taking care of yourself provides one of the biggest benefits to your children.  When you take care of the basics (sleep, nutrition, and exercise) you feel better and can be a more effective parent.  Things that might bother you when you are stressed out and overwhelmed are less of a big deal when you feel somewhat ‘human.’  When you take care of your emotional self (getting together with friends, doing meaningful things, being creative, spending time alone), you enjoy your life more and model being a happy person for your child.

You Can Do It!

Which one of these resolutions seems like it will be easiest for you to be successful? 

Can you schedule 10-15 minutes of special time with your child this week and next? 

OR Can you try to figure out what is most important and what are things you can let go – and then work on actually letting one of those things go this week?  Does your child really need a bath and shampoo every day, or can they get by skipping one this week to spend special time with you? 

OR Will you set up some kind of system to yell less over the course of the next 48 hours? 

OR Can you schedule a date for yourself (with your spouse, a friend, or even with yourself!)?  One moment that you write in your calendar, in pen, to take care of yourself…

Remember, mistakes happen.  Mistakes are actually a great opportunity to model for our children that we are all human.  We can pick ourselves up, learn something, and try again.

I know you can do this.  Pick one resolution above and go for it!  Here’s to your small successes leading to more success!

 

 

As always, I am here to help you on your parenting journey.  Whether you gain insights from my blogs and emails, sign up to get my (almost) Weekly Tips (hey, I’m a parent, too!), or you’re looking for more personalized parenting advice and direction.  I am excited to welcome and interact with you.  I am here to encourage and help you to be the best possible parent you can be.

16Jan/17

You’ve Got This!

Focus on the Positive

Part II

Last week I wrote about the self-fulfilling prophecy: “You will find what you are looking for.”  So why not look for the good?!  I invited you to take some time to really stop to notice all the things your child can do and some things about him that make you smile.

This week, I invite you to focus on your parenting through a positive lens. Being a parent is one of the hardest jobs in the world.  And I bet, that even though you might not always feel that way, you are doing a pretty good job at parenting.

Stop and think for a moment.  What is one thing that you are doing right as a parent?  Do your children know that they need to stay buckled in their car seats to be safe? Are your kids going to bed nicely at night?  Do they enjoy grocery shopping with you because you keep them engaged?

We are very hard on ourselves as parents.  It’s so easy to dwell on the mistakes and regrets.  It’s easy to freak out in the moment instead of looking at the bigger picture.  Sometimes we need to stop and think if this will actually matter a year, or even a month, from now.

As a parent, it’s also easy to assume that every other parent has their act together.  I used to giggle inside when people assumed that because I was so involved and organized outside my home that the inside of my home was just as organized and spotless.  To be honest, the organization part isn’t bad, but even the few years that I had a maid didn’t seem to keep my home spotless!  I was spending more time playing with my kids than washing baseboards so that made it OK for me.

Think of this as permission for you to spend a few minutes as you are getting dressed in the morning, or ready for bed at night, to pat yourself on the back.  Think about some of the things you have done as a parent that have been successful.  Be specific and authentic with your thoughts.  Some days, that might include a sentence like: “My kids are still alive today!” and that’s OK.  The fact that they have made it this far with your help and guidance, is an accomplishment.

Congratulations!  Raising a child isn’t easy and you’ve made it this far.  There will always be ups and downs, but focusing on the positive will improve your outlook and spill over to make the downs not dip quite so low.

09Jan/17

Focus on the Positive

I am a strong believer in the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy:

“You will find what you are looking for.”

So why not look for the good?!  Focusing on the positive is the foundation of all the work I do with parents.

We get so caught up in our day-to-day activities that we often forget to look at all the great things that are happening around us. Unfortunately, our brains are wired to notice the negative.  It is simply easier to focus on what is going wrong. Taking note of the negative does help prevent mistakes from happening again, but it can be a real downer! Rather than dwelling on what could be better or what you should be doing, why don’t you pay attention to the things that are already going well.

Your mind is an amazing entity. Look for the good that is happening, think positive thoughts and you can transform your life.

I know, you’re thinking, “Sounds great Dr. Renee, but HOW can I do this?”  The fact that you are interested in learning more, indicates to me that you are already on the right path.

Start by looking for the good in your child. I know this is hard when you are exhausted and stretched beyond anything you ever imagined parenting to be. But I promise you, it is worth it.

Take a few moments as you get dressed in the morning, or ready for bed at night, and think about your child.  What are some of his positive qualities, traits, and abilities?  If you are feeling a little more ambitious, pick an entire day to try to look for positive things your child says or does.

Positive things can be something as simple as ‘sitting in a chair for an entire meal.’  Even if he’s strapped in a high chair, your child is sitting and not climbing/fussing to get out. Maybe your daughter smiled at you this morning. Maybe you took a few seconds to notice, and really enjoy, the sweet, little hand holding yours as you walked to the car. What about how he played with his friend and shared his toys? Or how she called a friend who was feeling lonely or looked sad at school? Open your eyes and look for the positive.

I am often asked, “Should I tell my child about all of these positive things I am seeing?” Then almost immediately, there will typically be one of two follow-up questions: “Will this boost his self-esteem?” or, “Won’t all that complimenting go to her head?”

It is OK to comment and praise occasionally, especially if you can point out a specific behavior/action and you are being authentic. However, just spouting off compliments all day could backfire. Your child might come to expect your input on everything in life (= not be able to think for himself).  Or she might begin to tune you out well before she hits the pre-teen years!

Focusing on the positive is more for YOU than for your child. Trust me, your child will benefit because your upbeat mood will have a ripple effect. Focusing on the positive is really more about a mind shift for you. It will help you find ways to be happier and feel a purpose as you go through the everyday tasks and necessities in life.

Stay tuned for next week’s blog. It’s Part Two of Focus on the Positive and it’s going to help you even more with your ability to parent.