Self-Care is Essential for Busy Moms

By Jordan Beach, Courier & Press, Feb. 27, 2018 –

Where is the balance for busy moms?  You know what I mean, moms. We’re always chasing the perfect mix of family life, work life and “me” time.

There are so many expectations.  We tell ourselves our children should be in a million activities (that we should always attend), the house should be spotless, we should exercise daily and there should be some type of made-from-scratch organic meal on the table every night (where the entire family sits down together and eats in peace).

Let’s get real for a minute… This is no parent’s reality.  The truth is that parents feel stretched in a thousand different directions.

So where is that perfect balance, the happy place where you feel like you’re giving enough to your family but also practicing self-care?

Is it okay for a mother to leave the house and do something alone or with a friend, and if it is, why do we feel like we’re neglecting our children while we’re gone?

The truth is, there is no magic equation for time spent with family vs. time spent away to equal a happy mom; it looks different for everyone.  It is, however, important to take time to care for yourself.

So how do you make time for yourself? I’ve listed some suggestions below.

  • Make a date with yourself. Seriously, schedule a time to sit down and decide what you can do for you and realistically not feel overwhelmed by missing things going on at home.  This looks different for everyone, and that is okay.
  • Make a list of things you want to try or make time for again. Maybe you were formerly an avid reader but now fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow and have forgotten what it feels like to be lost in a good book.  Pick those books back up.
  • Contact long-lost friends and get together (they probably need “friend time” too).
  • Let your village help you. The weight of the world does not have to be solely on your shoulders.
  • Decide how often you need this time and schedule it.

The more love you show yourself, the easier it will become to take the time for self-care.  Taking time to reset and recharge will supply the energy and patience you’ve been looking for.

Life is not a Pinterest board. Things get messy and busy, and in all of the chaos it is important to remember that you’re a good mom.  Allowing yourself to reset helps you handle the messes more seamlessly.

 

Over-Scheduled Children Experience Stress

By Christine Weinzapfel-Hayden, LCSW – February 20, 2018 –

Most families have had these moments… sitting at the dining room table, looking at the calendar and trying to figure out how you’re going to map everyone’s schedule for the week.

Between practices, tutoring, homework and more, it’s tough to figure out when and where we’re going to get our children fed because no one is ever home at the same time.

For parents, the reality of trying to figure out the family’s schedule is daunting and stressful.  If we are harried trying to fit all of these activities into a day, how do our children react?

American children are overextended.  Gone are the days of coming home and playing with friends outside for hours before having dinner with the family, finishing homework and settling into bed.

Today’s children spend 8 hours at school followed by hours of practice or club activities several nights a week.  When they finally get home, they tackle more homework than ever due to higher academic expectations.

All of this stress can be harmful to a brain that has not fully developed.  So what does this mean for our children?

Children, like adults, all handle stress differently.  There is no magic number of extracurricular activities that will provide a child with the most enriched life.

The best thing a parent can do is be observant and empathetic to the child’s emotional needs.  Does your child seem stressed?  Are they asking if they can skip practices?  Do you have to drag them out the door? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, chances are your child is overextended.

So, what can you do to help kids manage their time and feel less overwhelmed?  Allow them to pick the activities that mean the most to them.  As parents, we often feel the need to expose our children to as many opportunities as possible. What is really important, though, is that our children enjoy the things they’re doing.  When a child is playing and having fun they are also learning.

It is also important that your family has time together.  When every family member is involved in different activities it makes it difficult to spend quality time together.  We need to be just as concerned about our children having time at home with their family as we are with the activities they are involved in.

The moral of the story is…You’re not setting your child up for failure if you don’t involve them in an excessive amount of extra-curricular activities.  Allow your child to express what is most important to them to narrow down their involvement.  Having fun and spending time with family is what is most important.

 

Fostering Responsibility and Independence in Your Teen

By Valorie Dassel, Courier & Press, Feb. 13, 2018 –

Being a parent is often described as the greatest joy of one’s life.  It is amazing that an experience that is often described so fondly is also characterized by most parents as the greatest challenge they have ever faced.

A wide set of emotions can be experienced on this journey, particularly during the pre-teen and teen years.  Families are often extremely busy, which can result in many emotional reactions from parents as well as teens.

If we can relate to the developmental challenges our children are experiencing, it may help us to respond in a manner that results in the least resistance and greatest gain.

There are many physical, emotional and mental changes teenagers are experiencing.  Most teens are at the developmental stage of approaching individualization.

The beliefs, values, and subsequently the choices of most pre-teens are primarily based on what their parents have taught and modeled.  As our children approach the teen years, they begin the process to become their own person with their own set of values and belief systems.

During this process parents may interpret the teen’s behavior as rebellious and disobedient.  Decision-making skills are the last skills mastered during the development of the teen brain.  As teens seek independence, they often experience conflict between wanting to have a good time and their desire to be taken seriously.

Independence for teenagers can be translated to finding ways to “belong” outside of the family.  Research indicates that parents have the most influence over their child’s decisions.  Their peers often take a close second.

Social media creates greater access and a closer bond with peers.  Now more than ever, parents should facilitate this independence while maintaining a healthy relationship.

Independence and responsibility must occur in harmony; otherwise the teen may feel out of control and act accordingly. Parents must allow consequences and use discipline when necessary to help teenagers make better decisions.

For many parents this transition can be difficult; allowing your child to fail is tough. The old adage “A mother is only as happy as her saddest child” can ring very true while we allow them to experience the pain that can go along with poor decisions.

It may also feel as though you are losing your close relationship with our children as they nurture their friendships more than familial relationships. With work and dedication, most parents find maintaining good communication and providing rules that strike a balance in time spent with friends and family often results in healthy and enjoyable relationships.

Dinkmeyer & Dinkmeyer provide good guidelines for parents to follow when deciding whether or not to get involved in a problem their teen is experiencing.  In their book, Parenting Teenagers, Systematic Training for Effective Parenting of Teens, they discuss the importance of deciding who actually owns the problem before forcing parental involvement. The following questions are encouraged to be explored:

  1. Can anyone get hurt?
  2. Are any rights being disrespected?
  3. Is anyone’s property threatened?
  4. Is my teen unable to take this responsibility?

If any of these questions are answered with a “yes,” then both the parent and the teen own the problem.  Joined problem solving and parental monitoring should be in place.

If each question has a response of “no,” the teen would own the problem and be allowed the independence to make a decision regardless of a potentially natural consequence occurring.

Raising a teenager can feel stressful and chaotic.  It is important to schedule time to enjoy each other without conversation over tense subjects.  Remember -they will quickly pass through the teen years and potentially raise a teen of their own someday!

Reconnecting Youth Helps Students Make Positive Changes

By Tiffany Harper, Courier & Press, January 30, 2018 –

My favorite program to facilitate as a Youth First Social Worker is Reconnecting Youth (RY). This program is taught in a high school classroom setting and is co-facilitated by Youth First Social Workers and trained teachers. It hones in on three major components in a student’s life:  school achievement, mood management, and drug and alcohol control.

To improve school achievement students are taught strategies to raise grades, improve attendance, and demonstrate a better attitude in the classroom.

To assist with mood management students are taught coping strategies and encouraged to share their struggles with one another in order to combat issues such as depression and anxiety.

To reduce drug and alcohol involvement, they are encouraged to place themselves in sober environments, use refusal skills, and set goals to reduce or abstain from substance use.

In the RY classroom an atmosphere is created so students can feel welcome, bond with others who may or may not have similar life experiences, and learn major life lessons that can be applied in their everyday lives.

Students are encouraged to set goals on a daily basis in an effort to improve life success. It is an incredibly rewarding experience to be involved with this evidence-based program.

Students express the most appreciation for the portion of the class called “shared agenda,” during which students share struggles and successes with each other and offer support and encouragement.

A student from class this year made some heartfelt statements during the class graduation ceremony that illustrate its direct impact on student growth and functioning:

“Sophomore year I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety after making a second suicide attempt. I felt ashamed to be depressed and I felt so different from everyone else, but in reality I wasn’t. To me RY was a safe haven, a place I finally felt like I belonged. I learned I wasn’t so different. I remember walking in on the first day thinking ‘I don’t think I belong here,’ but boy was I wrong! My classmates taught me that being sad was okay and that there is no shame in asking for help. I learned how different our lives are and even how similar. I gained friends I thought I’d never have and even some self confidence! I finally realized how precious life was, especially mine…I know that going forth in life I will be a much stronger person thanks to this program. RY taught me to love and appreciate myself and every little thing in life and that is something I will never forget.”

As teens navigate through challenges in their lives, Reconnecting Youth can provide support, bonding, and encouragement to make healthy lifestyle choices and good decisions. You can find more information on Reconnecting Youth and Youth First’s other programs at youthfirstinc.org.

Youth First Unveils 20th Anniversary Celebrations

Youth First, Inc. hosted a ribbon cutting on Thursday, February 1st unveiling its 20th anniversary celebrations. The year ahead will include an anniversary edition of the organization’s signature auction, an awards reception, and a celebratory gala. These events will honor the community that has stepped forward to support Youth First over the years and serve as a springboard for the organization’s future endeavors.

Featured speakers at the unveiling included Dr. William Wooten, Youth First founder; Carol Lynch, Youth First Board Member; Jim Back, Edward Jones Financial Planner; and Parri Black, Youth First President & CEO. The Southwest Indiana Chamber marked the occasion with an anniversary ribbon cutting and light refreshments were served.

The organization will highlight the Edward Jones Emerald Gala celebrating Youth First’s 20th anniversary on April 21, 2018, at Tropicana’s Riverfront Pavilion. Limited sponsorships and tickets are available. The gala features an anniversary edition of Youth First’s Passport to Adventure auction as well as a formal dinner, dancing, and other entertainment. This event commemorates Youth First’s 20th anniversary by honoring all of the supporters who continue to protect and heal the hearts of youth and families.

Prior to the gala, Youth First will host an auction preview and awards reception presented by Romain Cross Pointe Auto Park on April 19, 2018, at Tropicana’s Riverfront Pavilion. All are welcome to preview auction items at this reception which will also honor young people who have benefitted from Youth First’s programs and services. This event is open to the public and free to attend. The winners of the Don Mattingly Youth Award and the Carol Lynch Advocate of Youth First Award will be named.

About Youth First, Inc.: Youth First’s mission is to strengthen youth and families through evidence-based programs that prevent substance abuse, promote healthy behaviors, and maximize student success. Youth First partners with 59 schools across 7 counties to provide 39 Master’s level social workers who assess needs, develop and implement prevention plans, and connect students and their families to community resources. Youth First also offers afterschool programs involving parents and caregivers to strengthen families. For more information about Youth First, please visit www.youthfirstinc.org or call 812-421-8336.