A selection of the best strategies for anxious parents about how to manage back-to-school season
Anxious about your child’s return to school?
You’re not alone.
This time of the year, parents everywhere are stressed!
Is it any wonder? There are so many things to consider:
What new clothes does my child need?
What about shoes?
How many school supplies are enough? Or too little?
What class will my child be in, and will they be with any of their friends?
How will my child adjust?
Will my child eat his/her lunch when I’m not there?
Who is my child’s teacher, and will they like them? Will I like them?
What’s on this year’s curriculum?
It’s not surprising that moms and dads everywhere are feeling a tad anxious. After all – whether your child is going to school for the first time, or about to start high school, there are challenges to be dealt with, regardless of grade.
As a parent of four, I’ve been through the back-to-school stresses and am back in the trenches for more. With my twin boys in elementary school and my daughter in the midst of her tween life as she heads into middle school, I’m very familiar with that anxiety-stricken feeling that overcomes parents as they ready themselves for another school term.
Having learned by trial and error, there are a few simple strategies that I’ve found to work when it comes to handling the craziness of back-to-school preparation.
To make it easy, consider this post a “one-stop-shop” of advice and tips on this stress-inducing topic. Follow the links below as you navigate this exciting yet stressful time of the year and take a deep breath…this too shall pass.
Follow these simple tips when packing your child's lunchbox
School lunches can be a headache for parents who have the good fortune [*sarcasm*] of having a picky eater on their hands. Worrying about whether your child has eaten during school hours, or envisioning them hungry and miserable is the fear of many parents.
As we send out kids to school with the hopes that they’ll eat what we’ve packed in their lunches, we often spend much of our day stressing about whether they’ve actually eaten any of the various items that we’ve packed in their lunch boxes. The sheer stress and anxiety felt when we unpack these same lunch boxes at the end of the day to reveal that our precious child has eaten very little – and sometimes nothing – for a full school day is almost too much for one to bear. As a mom who admits to having just a few “issues” with food and kids [read: I’m afraid that they will starve when they’re not within the range of my gaze], finding a solution has been of pressing importance.
Surprisingly, I’ve found that trying to get a substantial, nutritious meal into your child while they’re at school isn’t completely impossible. As a matter of fact, the good news is that there are ways of getting your picky little eater to actually eat. By employing a few creative (and sometimes sneaky) strategies, you’ll be guaranteed to experience an empty lunchbox and to breathe a sigh of relief that your child has actually eaten their lunch.
I was recently asked by The Toronto Sun to provide some simple tips and strategies that parents can use to help their picky eaters to eat what is packed in their school lunches every day.
As a matter of fact, I remember walking to and from school alone, sometimes with friends of the same age, as young as eight years old. I also remember spending many days and evenings on my own over the summers, after school, going to the park, the corner store for candy, riding my bike. All my friends did it too. My parents were working, making a living. I was fine.
While this occurred in the not too distant past, it wasn’t that long ago where kids other than myself and my friends were afforded the responsibility and provided the trust to similarly live their lives. In doing so, they were able to gain confidence in their abilities. This often included walking to and from home to school and back, to the corner store, or somewhere within the vicinity close (or close enough) to home.
Now, it’s considered nothing short of child abuse to allow a kid under the age of 12 or 13 to walk anywhere on their own. Don’t believe me? Just think of Lenore Skenazy who was publicly vilified for allowing her nine-year-old son to take the train alone, or Danielle Meitiv, whose children Rafi and Dvora aged 10 and six respectively, were taken into protective custody by the authorities after being spotted walking a few blocks home from the local park.
Sadly, this event is all too common when it comes to society’s perception of what we should or shouldn’t be allowing our children to do. Despite a long history of children having considerable responsibilities at much younger ages than they do now, we have, strangely, become more worried about our kids’ abilities to fend for themselves in today’s world.
There was a time where kids were allowed to be kids, which meant going out to play and coming home when dinner was on the table. The delta between this edict and the return time could be as much as three or four hours. Oh, the freedom!
“There was a time where kids were allowed to be kids, which meant going out to play and coming home when dinner was on the table.”
Today, the thought of a child walking home alone, letting themselves into their house and staying put until mom or dad gets home puts some parents into a state of hyperventilation. I’m guilty of hyper-parenting as well but also realize that I’m not doing my children any favours by passing my paranoia on to them.
As with many parents, I’ve bought into the paranoia about the dangers of life to some degree. Touted on the evening news, online and via social media, one would think that the world is coming to an end, at least in terms of kids’ abilities to be…well…kids. These days, parents face a daily struggle to provide their children with the right balance of protection while still affording them the freedom that they require to become confident, secure adults. It’s a difficult balancing act for sure, and one that’s not easily managed.
Yet, what has changed in our society, really? Has human nature – both good and bad – really gotten worse in the past 30-40 years? Not much. In fact, there are still the same threats that we had so many years ago, if not more. “The Boogeyman” lived then as he does now; we’re just more aware of him, thanks to Professor Google.
We’ve become a society of incredibly fearful parents, much to the detriment of our kids. As a result, our children are the ones who are suffering, both from lack of experience and from general distrust. The thought of exerting any semblance of independence is quickly followed by waves of anxiety, distress and “stranger danger.”
And so, those who allow their kids any degree of freedom or responsibility are made to feel like they have somehow failed in their roles as parents. How can this be a good thing?
The very things that we hope to see develop within our children are being stifled by our (often) unsubstantiated fears of the unknown. Independence, self-assuredness, fearlessness – these qualities are left to wither and sometimes die due to our hesitance to loosen the apron strings and let our kids experience real life. While we are stalwartly determined to not let our our most precious assets venture too far beyond our purview, we are, at the same time, stifling the very real qualities that we’d hope to see in our children as they move towards adulthood.
This fact alone should give us pause to revisit what we are teaching our kids about the world in which they live. After all – our job as parents is to give them the skills to survive in the real world, to arm them with knowledge and, perhaps most importantly – provide them with confidence. All of these must-have attributes will never be realized if we continue to coddle them and refuse to let them venture beyond our line of sight.
There are still “latchkey kids” out there, walking themselves home from school and letting themselves into the house to wait for their parent or parents to come home. It’s safe to say that these children are likely less afraid, more self-assured and likely more responsible than their coddled counterparts. They’re also, sadly, more likely to be the brunt of our collective pity and their parents the recipients of our collective scorn, as indicated by the reaction to Ms. Skenazy and Ms. Meitiv indicates.
In today’s world, Helicopter Parenting is the the norm, not the exception. In spite of this fact, Latchkey Kids still exist; they’ve just gone undercover, having been forced to operate in the shadows as a result of our over-protective and fearful society. They’re in hiding with no clear indication of when they can come out of the shadows to lead the way for their peers who would likely gain so much more from the shared knowledge than they would lose. Yes, learning to be independent and following the lead of those who bravely do so, often because there’s no other choice, would be inspiring, to say the least.
For these parents who either have no choice or have the choice but have chosen to teach their kids the ropes; for those who send their children out with a key in their backpack and who say a little prayer as they leave their children to make their way in the world, I salute you. For you know and act upon what all of us “Nervous Nellies” secretly know but chose to ignore: that giving our kids the freedom and responsibility to trust their own judgement and abilities is one of the greatest things we can do to help them grow into highly-confident, well-functioning adults.
Perhaps it’s time that we collectively reconsider the effects of our parental protectiveness and look to another alternative that will ultimately help, rather than hurt our children in the long run.
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Who's listening to your baby? Parents urged to take precautions with monitor technology
Who’s listening to your baby?
Are you safe? Is your baby safe?
The intersection of technology and parenting continues to expand as we increasingly rely on digital tools to make our roles as parents easier. We use tech more than ever to live our daily lives, from watching our babies to entertaining them; from reading to our kids to monitoring them (texting and cell phones). It all seems great, right? Granted, the convenience provided by technology can’t be denied, but there is a dark side to its usage as well.
As hacking becomes more commonplace in our daily lives, the instances of our digital tools being compromised will also increase. We’ve seen a rise of incidents where personal information has been hacked via email, cell phones and cloud accounts, but did anyone really anticipate that baby monitors would be a target too?
It’s scary to think that our most precious assets could be open to being spied on, secretly viewed, spoken to by strangers, or worse.
I recently provided my thoughts on this disturbing trend in an interview on Global News. You can watch the full segment below. There are also some simple tips that parents can follow to make sure that their babies remain safe and secure.
What you do to avoid hacking via baby monitors or similar devices:
1) Educate Yourself – Make sure that you fully understand the technology that you’re using, especially in their children’s rooms.
2) Err on the Side of Caution – When in doubt, don’t. If you have any concerns or misgivings about the technology behind any particular device, don’t use it until you are sure about it’s security, or chose another option altogether.
3) Choose a Secure Password – Don’t make the password for your device too easy. Remember to use a login that is not easily-guessed, that is changed frequently, and that includes a non-sensical string of letters (both upper and lower case) and numbers. For more information on how to choose a secure password, visit this page: How to Create a Secure Password.
4) Limit the Use of Devices – The less amount of devices used to monitor our kids, the less likely hackers will be able to successfully gain access where they don’t belong.
Global News Segment – Baby Monitor Hacked!
What other tips do you have for parents who are concerned about being hacked? Leave me your thoughts in the comments section below.
Want more parenting advice and tips? Click on the image below to get your copy of my eBook today!
Traveling with kids can be stress free by following these simple tips
Us parents are a brave bunch, aren’t we? With the prospect of meltdowns occurring while we hurtle along the highway at rapid speeds, we hope that this year, it will be different.
No drama, no stress, no screaming or crying kids in the backseat – sounds like heaven, doesn’t it? For those of us who have braved the roads with multiple meltdowns happening just behind the passenger seat and beyond, we anxiously set upon each new family road trip with a silent prayer to the vacation gods that they will keep our kids not only safe but quiet as well.
As one who tempts fate yearly embarks on a road trip annually with the family on what has become a tradition, I’ve learned the hard way about what works – and what doesn’t. For the unprepared, a packed vehicle that includes three children and a lengthy jaunt to distant locales can easily turn into a recipe for disaster. Experience this scenario once and you’ll vow to never put yourself in that position again.
I was recently asked to provide my top tips and advice to the Toronto Star for an article in the newspaper’s Summer Driving Special Section. It was a (pleasant) surprise to see that it ran on the front page of the section as well as with a picture of the family packing up the car (see below).
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