February 22, 2013

Parental Oversharing??

I’ve been in blog purgatory for some time now. Recently there have been several articles about “parental oversharing” namely through social media and blogs. Most of the discussion stems from an article written in The Atlantic Monthly. When my parenting guru, Alyson Schafer, appeared on CTV News discussing “Mommy Blogs and Oversharing”, my heart stopped. Should I be blogging at all?

I’ve long considered as a form of story-telling, a creative writing exercise that keeps my brain cells functioning when the endless cycle of housekeeping and child-rearing starts to dull the firing of the neurons. And when one writes, they are told to “write about what one knows.” My life is what I know best and my children are the single largest focus of my life.

My blog keeps me connected to friends and family as well as a (slightly) larger community of parents. There have been plenty of days when I’ve felt isolated and frustrated and in over my head. It’s on those days that I grasp the lifeline that is other parenting blogs. I need to know that I am not alone. I need to commiserate and see that there is light at the end of the tunnel. And I hope that sometimes my blog does the same for others.

But by sharing my parenting experiences, am I in danger of harming my children in some way? I do have to remember that at some point in the future, they- or their friends- may read my blog and I must anticipate how they could react. And could this potential harm the relationship that I have with my children? Am I being too self-indulgent and at what cost?

I don’t have the answers. It is serious food for thought. For now, I will continue to write but I will remain vigilant about the effect my blog will have on my children in the future. I’m interested to hear your thoughts on this idea of “oversharing” and if you think it is a potential problem. How much is too much?

November 21, 2012

There is an “I” in “Team”!

Two summers ago, I was convinced by a mom-friend in the school-yard to try soccer (see my post here). She convinced me that it would be fun. I was skeptical but I registered even though I had never played an team sport in my life. The last time I kicked a soccer ball was in grade two. I was terrified at that first game but what I found was an incredible world of supportive and encouraging women of all ages, backgrounds and skill levels, a new-found appreciation for team sports and the “beautiful game”, a fun and easy way to stay fit and some lovely abiding friendships. I’m going into my fourth “season” (two outdoor and now into my second season of indoor soccer) in the Toronto High Park FC. In fact, I think I’m more addicted to soccer than my kids. Talk about being a "soccer mom"!

Looking to expand my horizons even further, I asked myself, “What else can I try at the ripe old age of 42?” and the answer was... hockey. God knows, I watch a LOT of hockey with my son playing at a rep level this year (five times a week). Soccer mom... Why not?

Last year on Boxing Day, I traded in my figure skates for a shiny new pair of hockey skates. I have been skating for 37 years on figure skates so how hard could it be? It was not as easy as it looks. Keeping my legs bent and my head up was a challenge. I kept trying to use my non-existent pick on my skates. And using a hockey stick and puck handling? Ummm... It was definitely time for some lessons. 

First I had to get myself outfitted in hockey equipment. Unfortunately, my son’s equipment is too small yet and my 6’5” husband’s gear is far too big. I had skates, a stick and hockey gloves so what else did I need? More than you might think: shinguards, hockey socks (which are like knit stockings), pants (which I keep calling shorts because that’s what they look like), a jill (a woman’s equivalent of a jock- see what you learn?), neck guard, shoulder pads, elbow pads and a helmet with a cage on the front. I borrowed my husband’s vintage hockey jersey from his Dofasco Minor Hockey League days. I was exhausted just putting on my equipment! But I had to admit, I looked pretty good.

I’ve joined a group of other hockey moms in a “learn to play” clinic on Monday mornings at a local arena. Every two weeks we pay a trainer from Dominate Hockey to teach us skills and run us through very challenging drills. In the weeks in between we practice what we’ve learned and scrimmage (that’s hockeyspeak for a casual game). I’ll admit that I’m pretty "unskilled". My first week out, I spent a lot of time wiping out and trying to get back up. However with practice and determination, I’ve seen improvement in just four weeks. This past week I didn’t fall at all and I might have actually shot the puck into the net more than once.

I don’t know that I’ll ever be skilled enough to join a women’s league but I’m hoping to get out and play some shinny this winter while the kids are at school and with the family on weekends. I’m actually looking forward to the cold weather and I find myself counting the days until the outdoor rinks open up. No more winter hibernation for this mama bear!

Here are some things I’ve learned:
  1. Surprisingly it doesn’t hurt to fall when you are dressed like a gladiator. That doesn’t mean that I’m any less terrified to fall.
  2. It is harder to dress yourself in hockey equipment than it is to dress a 9 year old child.
  3. Hockey equipment takes up a LOT of space in your home, especially when you have three family members playing on a weekly basis.
  4. My 9 year old is so much better than me at hockey and I have a new-found respect for his skills.
  5. It's amazing how much you can sweat on the ice. Hockey is just about the best workout I've ever had.
  6. Hockey uses muscles you never knew you had- rib muscles, sternum muscles, side of the shin muscles, foot arch muscles, muscles in your lower arms and hands. It takes me a full week to recover.
  7. It is much more fun to vocalize your efforts. I sound like Serena Williams when I shoot the puck. 
And most importantly:

        8.  There is a place for me in team sports!

Images © Treva Thompson 2012

September 04, 2012

I've Finally Discovered Child Labour!

I’ve long suspected that I am too soft on these kids of mine. I’m a stay-at-home mom with a Type-A personality who thinks that in order to get things done right, I should do it myself. And I wonder why I’m so exhausted and frustrated with the household duties? 

In the past, we’ve had half-hearted attempts at chore lists. My biggest downfall was not being consistent and insistent, letting things slide and then never getting things back on track. I often made things too complicated. Charts are great but we spent far far too much time choosing our stickers then actually getting things done.

Well, my children have had a rude awakening this week. I was inspired in part by a recent visit to a friend’s house whose dutiful children (aged 9 and 11) assisted with the dinner set-up and clearing with nary a rolled eye in sight. I was awestruck! How could I get a piece of this action, I wondered? It wasn’t long before I was dropping suggestions at our weekly family meeting and drawing up various lists of daily and weekly chores, hoping that I could get the kids to buy into a paradigm shift in our home.

When the children awoke today for the first day of school, they were greeted by their expected updated-for-the-new-year morning and evening to-do lists. The usual items were there: feed fish, brush teeth, empty lunch bag, homework, etc. But there was something different.

This year I included some fresh new items: clear breakfast dishes AND put them in the dishwasher, make sandwich and assemble lunch bag, clear dinner dishes AND put them in the dishwasher and...”daily chore: see chart.” I directed the puzzled minions, I mean munchkins, to a new addendum to the fridge clutter: a list of daily and weekly chores, divided among the three of them. I’ve kept it simple: unload the dishwasher, help with dinner, sweep kitchen floor daily and clean bathroom (with help), dust & vacuum main floor and wash kitchen floor weekly.

With some gentle and persistent encouragement this evening, I was positively amazed at what these 7 and 9 year olds are capable of contributing to the household! I enjoyed their company in the kitchen before and after dinner and was thrilled to not have to do every little thing myself. Eureka! I am kicking myself for not getting this started earlier but I am looking forward staying the course. I’m hoping that if the kids feel more like a contributing member of the household perhaps they’ll feel like contributing more. It’s a long shot but I’ll let you know how it turns out.

June 27, 2012

No More Pencils! No More Books!

Today is the second to last day of the school year. I’m sitting here, enjoying the quiet and solitude but not completely relaxed as I know that in a mere 9 hours of school, the kids will be....wait for it...deep breath.......home for the summer!
Yes, I will thoroughly enjoy the lazy hazy days of summer with them, not having to set an alarm and rushing everyone through the morning routine. Yes, I am ecstatic that I only have one more day of lunches to pack. But I know that come Monday they will be haranguing me with “I’m booo-oored!” and “What are we doing today?”. And you thinking packing lunches for three kids is hard? Try having them scavenge the kitchen all day, leaving all kinds of messes behind them and then asking me “What’s for lunch?? I’m huuu-uuungry!”
I need to psyche myself up for summer vacation. Quite the opposite of what I would have done B.C. (Before Children). I need to plan now to find a balance between down-time, keeping everyone entertained and fed and perhaps carving out a little bit of alone time for myself periodically (thank goodness for neighbourhood sitters). 
So tonight after dinner- and before the mad rush to 2 soccer games at the same time, different locations- we will sit down together. I will show them the calendar, talk about our vacation plans (some of which we haven’t revealed to them yet) and make a list of things we’d like to do. We’ll talk about screen time limits and chores (they’ll love that) and end with a big cheer for summer vacation. 
I’ll toast to that! With a cold beer in my hand.

Image © Treva Thompson 2011
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