Monday, May 20, 2019

Preparing for puberty early

My son and I were returning from the shoe store, when he asked me to give him an overview of what happens during puberty. I am starting to get used to these moments with my son - he likes to ask questions while we are in the car. From his perspective this makes a lot of sense: He doesn't have to have his parents looking directly at him, he has a captive audience and he can get all his questions answered.

So, we talked about puberty during the 20-minute drive home. We talked about the way each gender experiences it, the physical and emotional changes, the age of rages it could occur in, and how everyone goes through it. We ended with a reminder that when he is going through puberty he can always talk about what he is experiencing and ask questions when he has them.

I was prepared to have this conversation. I've been frank with my son about sex and anatomy for several years. I figured that if I am not squeamish about the topic and use the same tone and confidence I use when I am teaching him how to cook, then he will always feel comfortable asking me questions when he has them. (Hint: It helps to use the correct anatomical terms.)

I am sure that more talks about puberty are coming. I read a helpful reminder that some children go through puberty much earlier than we realize (with some girls starting at age 7.) While that is difficult for some parents to think about, this made me remember that my little boy is quickly growing up.

What tips do you have for helping your child prepare for puberty? Tell me in the comments.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Planning the family vacation

As an adult, I am in awe that my Mom was able to plan so many great family vacations without the use of the Internet. I know she didn't use a travel agency, but did she use the phone book? Those brochures you see at rest stops? I don't know. But off we went - to Disney World, Williamsburg, state fairs and to caves.

Of course, she did most of the family trip planning, and then just told us where we were going. I guess with the ease of vacation planning nowadays I feel obligated to include my son in the decision. For the past few years, my husband and I have invited him into the room with us when we view potential vacation destinations. While we are still making the final decision, it is interesting to hear his preferences and what he thinks he wants to do.

I asked him once if he wanted to go visit caves...he said no.

It turns out that more and more families are planning trips with input from their children. I like knowing what my son wants to do, and we are able to have more discussions before the trip about shared activities and alone time. In all, I think it makes for a better vacation.

I wonder what type of "useful" input I would have given my Mom all those years ago while she was planning family trips. Like a lot of children, my brother and I really wanted to go on Family Double Dare. Maybe she knew that and maybe that is why she made sure she was in charge of the plans.

Do you include your children in vacation planning? Tell me about it in the comments.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

A prescription for outdoor play

Whenever we go camping with the scout pack, I lose my son to the woods. Actually, we lose all the campers to the woods. They find a tree or a pile of rocks to make into a fort and the adventure begins. We have to call them away from their play to do the scheduled activities like rock climbing and fishing. They like those things too, but as soon as we are back on site, they run back to the woods.

While we have woods near our home, there isn't a band of children for my son to go exploring with. I often wish that we had a park in our community to encourage him to meet more children from the neighborhood. Maybe I just need to do more research.

Or maybe the research has already been done. Doctors are using apps to recommend local parks for outdoor play as a part of overall wellness, so I am sure I could find something similar. I am not surprised that playing outside has become a prescription of sorts - the fresh and sunshine is good for the whole family.

On my part, I think I just have to schedule it into our free time. It feels a little funny to schedule time for outside fun, but it is better than missing the opportunity.

How much outdoor playtime does your family get? Tell me in the comments.

Monday, May 13, 2019

The end-of-school year rush

This time of year - the time between Spring break and the last day of school - means one thing for parents everywhere: This is the time of year when we are inundated with requests from the school. Did you buy a yearbook? Pay for that end-of-year trip? Do you understand the end of grade testing? Here's a signup link for a party/competition/event. Do you have time to volunteer as a proctor or at the dance? We need something for the classroom tomorrow, can you supply it?

The flood of requests come in, and I can't help but think that at least a few of the events could have been held before Spring Break. It's almost like the school is in a rush to do as much as possible before that final bell, and they need a lot of help to get to the finish line. While I understand that teachers have to be flexible with their lesson plans when students need more time to master a lesson, I wonder if they are taking on too much as well.

Like a lot of parents, I try to answer the school's call for help. But I realized some time ago that I don't have to answer every request. (Madness lies that way.) Instead, I've adopted a more laid back model: If we can supply something quickly, we'll do it (hello, online payment system for yearbook dues); if schedules have to be re-arranged to accommodate a request, then we'll pass (I can't take off work with little notice). Because if I am stressed, then my son will definitely pick up on that.

And the last thing I want is for him to feel stress around the end of the school year.

Are you fielding a lot more end-of-year requests from the school? Tell me about them in the comments.