19 Ways to Prepare For The Dreaded Teen Years

19 Ways to Prepare For The Dreaded Teen Years

Picture this…your daughter has made it to her senior year in high school, she’s confident in herself, is a straight A student, top of her class, successfully juggles work, sports and school, everyone loves her, she has a good attitude, is ambitious, well rounded, and responsible.  It’s basically everything you could ever hope for your daughter to become.

So why do we cringe then when people ask us, “so are you ready for the teenage years?”  Why do most of us dread these years? Well we can’t help to feel that way when we hear stories like “my daughter committed suicide, my son is getting into fights at school, they are being bullied, my daughter is pregnant, my kids rebel at us every chance they get, getting into trouble with the law, and of course, my kids have major attitude.

BUT…..What if there was a magic pill that we could give to our kids that will guarantee they turn out like the perfect angel we envision them to grow up to be?  Hah! Fat chance right?

The truth is that we can’t guarantee our kid’s teen years will be smooth sailing. Obviously we all know that much.  As parents, we have the best of intentions for our kids. So if there is no magic pill, what would be the next best thing? A friend recommended, “Taking off to Hawaii for a few years to meditate and find enlightenment while the husband stays back and holds up the fort”.  Sigh…if only that was reality.

In all seriousness, I do believe we as parents, can make or break these teenage years.

As a parent who has yet to go through this phase myself, there is tremendous value in learning from parents who have survived the much dreaded teenage years.

So I hope to share some advice that I have collected and some “things I would have done differently” from other parents that you and I may be able glean from to help us to best prepare ourselves and our kids through their adolescent life as best as possible.  The more we know, the better we can prepare.

  1. Always listen listen listen.  Have a lot of discussions and talk with them about everything.  Praise them when they share with you “So glad you were able to tell me that” So the communication ways stay open.  You want them to come to you when they face a tough choice. Also have many talks about sex. Made huge difference in late teen sand early 20’s.
  2. Set clear expectations and boundaries so that you can give them their independence and room to make mistakes and learn and grow from it
  3. Teach money and responsibilities at an earlier age
  4. Be more open minded
  5. Encourage them to make their own decisions so they would become independent & self determined individuals
  6. Don’t lecture, preach, or nag, but rather listen and guide them.  Respect their thoughts
  7. Earning money to get what they wanted.  Saving more for it makes the appreciate and value life more.  Teach then they can do and become who or whatever they dream, when they get out in the world, but for now do what I say when you’re under my roof
  8. So I can pass on my bullet proof vest, cape, safety goggles and box of tissues and tell all of you to hold on, be consistent, set boundaries, learn to deflect the eye roll, monitor social media and communicate with your child as their parent
  9. Too many outlets these days ie via social media so it allows them to avoid the issue instead of facing it.  Social media makes heightens peer pressure, low self image and self esteem because it’s so easy to see your friends and compare yourself, even though it is all a facade.
  10. Don’t fight with them to get your way.  Work on compromise and problem solving with them.  Let them take the lead on coming up with a game plan because that’s the only one that will work
  11. Don’t give them everything they want, make them earn it themselves
  12. Let them fall down a few more times in life.  I look back and think I didn’t prepare them well enough for disappointment in the real world.
  13. Set expectations but let them create their path (earn money, behavior, respect, set goals etc)
  14. Provide structure and keep them busy in their younger years with activities so they have less opportunity to get themselves into trouble or associate with the wrong friends
  15. Be 100% open and honest
  16. Instruct them that they always have choices, but consider the consequence of each decision
  17. would be more hands on with their goings and not so much freedom.  Talk more
  18. Never be so busy that you don’t have the time
  19. Teach them to be a leader and not a follower.

All of these pointers are so important!  Boy do we have a lot of work to do ahead of us to prepare.  The one thing I have been hearing being repeated multiple times is to do whatever you can to make sure the line of communication is open.  The last thing we want is for our kids to shut down and feel like they can’t come to us to discuss their problems.

If you have read this far, you’re probably thinking, “sure…easier said than done!”  No doubt about it. All we can do is our best and hope for the best. What I do know for sure is that the earlier we can incorporate some of these skills and values into our kids, the easier it will be when our kids become teenagers themselves.

Among all the dreaded stories are the ones that give us new parents the hope that our kids will turn out ok.  That we can trust them to make good and safe choices. Stories that inspires us to strive to experience the same kind of relationships with our kids and stories that we can look forward to for ourselves as well.  So there is light at the end of the tunnel when you hear comments like these:

“I have 3 teenage girls 14, 16, 18 and 22 year old son.  I am loving this stage of life more than any other stages so far”

“I’m loving the teen years so far!!!…I have 2 teenage boys, they’re like little men, with their own opinions and jokes!  Fun time for sports”

“It has its definite stresses but I love it!  The conversations are awesome”

“It is so fun to watch them grow into the adults they will be, and the conversations we have now I wouldn’t trade for anything”

So let’s get out there and raise our kids to grow up into strong, independent, and successful men and women of the future. Let’s not dread the teen years but instead, look forward to them and make them be the best years we possibly can.

graduation

Image by greymatters via Pixabay

Stay Prepared for Life’s Accidents

Bumps, bruises and owies – oh my! Parenthood is never boring. Be prepared with a first aid kit designed exclusively with you and your kids in mind.  Check out PreparaKit.com for kits and tools created for busy parents who want to be ready for the unexpected.

My Top 7 Must Have Baby Items

My Top 7 Must Have Baby Items

One of the most exciting things about having a baby is all the new and cool baby products that you get to start shopping around for.  It is so fun, and overwhelming at the same time, to walk into a baby store and seeing aisle after aisle of things to get.

But it quickly gets very overwhelming because you start asking yourself, “Do I need this?” or “Which one should I get”.  You could literally spend an entire day in the baby store adding things to your registry.

Most physical and online stores with registries have recommended lists to help guide you.  If you google baby registry items, you will get plenty of articles listing out their most favorite products, including this article that you’re reading.

There are more and more new products coming out everyday.  Many of which I come across either in the stores or from other moms using it and then say to myself, “I wish this was around when my kids were babies”.

Below is a list of practical items that I either couldn’t have survived my kid’s younger years without or that I wish was available because it could have solved a problem I was dealing with on a regular basis.

A Co-Sleeper or Bassinet

Yes, they only use this for a short period of time but the first few months is when it’s so worth it to have.  It makes it so convenient to have them by your side for the first few months. I remember being able to just open my eyes without getting up and still being able to see my baby.  It’s comforting to know they are within arms reach at all time. Plus, its a time saver when you think about how many times you will end up having to get out of bed to get to your baby…and when you’re already sleep deprived, you need all the extra minutes of sleep you can get.

This HALO Bassinest Swivel Sleeper not only can be adjusted to the height of your own bed but it also swivels so you can position the baby closer to you if needed.  Definitely an upgrade to the regular Co-Sleeper I used.

A Sound or White Noise machine

We used a white noise machine every single day when the baby sleeps.  It helps to even out the noises that are happening around them. Babies get easily startled when they hear a loud sudden noise and you definitely don’t want them waking up from their beauty sleep.  Especially when you’re also trying to catch some zzz’s with them. Having the consistent even noise helps drown out the outside noise.

Having one while you’re traveling is also a must, especially when you’re visiting family because conversations do tend to get loud.  Nothing makes a family visit go south than spending your entire time dealing with a cranky baby because s/he didn’t get their full naptime in.

The machine we used was the Soundspa Lullaby and it lasted us a pretty long time.  Looks like this is a newer version from the one we used back then. Having options to choose from is always helpful so the Skip Hop Moonlight & Melodies machine wasn’t around when we needed it but it came highly recommended by other moms.  It also has a portable version to travel with, which is nice.

BabyDam Bathtub Divider

This was something I wish was available when my kids were younger.  The regular baby bathtub got too small really quick and I ended up having to use the bathtub for them but it wasted so much water.  Having this Dam would have been so useful. You can adjust it and just fill up a portion of your tub with water instead of the entire tub.  Such a neat idea!

Owlet

As a new parent, you hear plenty of stories of SIDS and of course, get very paranoid about it withy your own child.  In 1994, the American Academy of Pediatrics coined the “Back to Sleep” term to raise awareness for their safe sleep recommendations.

With innovative technology these days, there are products like the Owlet Smart Sock Baby Monitor that brings somepeace of mind to parents.  When I first heard about this, as a nurse, I thought it was a little overkill actually. But I could definitely see the usefulness of this, especially if you have a preemie baby. 

I came across another similar device called the Cocoon Cam Plus that came highly recommended by a handful of other moms who have used it.  Since these baby monitor are larger ticketed item, I always find it best to compare multiple options.

Nokia Thermometer

I love this thermometer.  After using different types of thermometers in the home as well as when I was caring for patients in the hospital, I have found this to be my all time favorite and it is what I currently use now.  It is accurate and it works by just scanning the forehead.  Yes, it is a little pricier for a thermometer, but IMO it’s worth it.

This is great for 2 main reasons.  1) You don’t have to worry about bacteria collecting on the tip because it doesn’t touch the skin at all and 2) You don’t have to wake the kids up during the night to recheck their temps because they won’t even feel a thing.  Plus, all the recordings gets synced to an app where you can check previous temperatures. Very useful to track when the last time medicine was given as well.

NoseFrida Bundle Kit

Now these weren’t around when I really needed them so I had to resort to the regular bulb suctions, which I found to be ineffective the majority of the time.  The hospital ones definitely worked a lot better than the store bought ones, but unfortunately, they aren’t for sale.

These NoseFrida at first glance seems very disgusting but other moms seem to rant and rave about them.  I would definitely try this out over the regular bulb suction if I had to do it all over again because the regular store bulb suctions are worthless.

Baby First Aid Kit

And last but not least, we had to mention our very own PreparaKit Baby First Aid Kit that we put together for moms.  It’s a very popular item for baby shower gifts as well as registry items on Amazon. We’ve had many compliments on how easy it fits into their diaper bag and how useful it has been having it on hand.

I hope you have enjoyed some if not all of these recommendations.  To make things even easier because that’s what we’re all about, simplifying and making things easier for our PreparaMoms, I took the liberty of creating an Amazon Registry that includes all of these items in one place so that you can view them and quickly add them to your registry if you so desire.

What’s your must have baby item?  Please comment below.  I’d love to know about it!

Send or share this to a friend if you found it to be helpful in anyway.

 

 

 

*As a side note, when you click some of the links on this site and buy, I may receive a small referral affiliate commission.  When I suggest certain products, it is because I have personally had good experiences with it and/or I have researched it or it came highly recommended from other moms I know.  We do thank you for your support.

PreparaKit is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Welcome to School Age Life…Let the Real Fun Times Begin

Welcome to School Age Life…Let the Real Fun Times Begin

have to admit that so far, I am enjoying this age the best.  Both our kids now fit into this age group and even though there are still constant battles and daily struggles, we are loving the ability to travel around and do more family activities together where everyone can participate.  The best part is that you can travel without having to pack so much stuff.

Whether you’re a stay at home mom or a working mom, we all still face similar challenges but ultimately, we all have the same goal and that is to ensure our kids are safe and that we create the most optimal learning and growing environment that we can to the best of our abilities.

Juggling between school activities, extra-curricular activities, household chores, family and friend events and even personal time feels at time to be impossible.  We do our best, do what we can and that’s all what it boils down to most days.

Setting routines during this time is the one thing that will be your saving grace and help you keep your sanity most days.  The earlier you can do this, the better it will be. There are always days where it’s just impossible to stick to that routine but that’s ok.  If the routine is already ingrained in their minds, it will be a lot easier to adhere to overall.

Set up morning, afternoon, night, and weekend routines.  There will be a lot of trials and errors until you find what works best for your family.  These are some of the routines we have set in our household (that did not happen overnight):

Mornings:  Kids wake up, brush their teeth, get dressed, make their beds, come downstairs and get their backpacks ready for school, unload the dishwasher, eat breakfast, and off to school they go.  Not every morning is perfect and neither are their beds sometimes. But the repetition of that routine is more important than perfection.

Afternoon/Night:  Come home from school, eat a snack, homework, dinner, shower, special time, bedtime.  Depending on extracurricular activities that occur will dictate the order and time to devote to each activity but overall, the kids know what to expect.  We also give them a heads up so they are mentally prepared to transition to the next activity, which I believe is helpful and creates less resistance.

Weekends:  The only routines we have around this are getting their laundry done, folded and put away, cleaning up their rooms before any screen time or before we go out anywhere.  Again, if there are events scheduled, it may not necessarily get done in that order but the goal for the weekend is to get those done before the new week starts.

Putting these types of routines into place will help you get through your day tremendously.

As parents who grew up not having any opportunities to participate in sports or extracurricular activities, we work very hard to allow that for our kids.  This is the perfect time to allow them to explore what’s around them so that they can figure out for themselves the things they enjoy and don’t enjoy.  Our goal is to expose them to as many new experiences as possible.

Image by uvmybry via Pixabay

This is also the time when they are really settling into their own opinions and personalities.  Their independence. Which means it’s very important to establish rules and boundaries and responsibilities.  We talk alot about good and bad choices. Let them do as much for themselves as possible. I’m a firm believer in promoting their independence as a life skill so that they don’t need to rely on others as they get older.

Unfortunately, this is the time when the kids also start being exposed to things around them that we may not necessarily want for them.  Things like peer pressure, bullying and negativity. The one thing we feel that is very important to establish early on is having that line of communication open.

We are still working on this on an ongoing basis but the gist of it is that our kids need to feel comfortable with coming to us with their problems and questions. If we get this into place right, it will positively impact them later down the road when the problems and questions they have will be more complicated.

This example I thought was great came from a class I had taken in the past:  Kids get sort of a “get out of jail free” type of deal.  If they did something wrong, they can freely come to us knowing that they won’t get punished or disciplined.  It is to promote them being able to come to us to talk about something that is hard for them to share. The process is not that they get out of trouble per se.

This is meant as a teaching moment and they need to be able to communicate and understand the what and why of their actions as well as provide a solution or future actions of handling it.  Repetitive bad choices of course is a different course of action but hopefully with certain measures in place, they will start to recognize and make those better choices.

At this age, as much as they feel they are independent and feel like they know what’s best for them, they don’t of course.  They need to know there are rules, boundaries and that they are old enough to be responsible for their actions. Some days, it’s a constant power struggle but we’ve quickly learned to pick our battles.

There are things we’ll let them get away with and some things that are absolute nots. It is not ok to slam doors but it is ok to be upset or sad about things. It is not ok to hurt others but it is ok to take out your emotions in your own room.  It is ok to voice your own opinions but it’s not ok to be disrespectful.

They need to know and understand and have respect.  If these aren’t set early on in their life, it will be very challenging to get them to follow the rules.

This is also the age where they become very aware of their own body parts and how it’s changing.  Kids need to grow up knowing that these changes are normal and to not be ashamed of their bodies.

Coming from a Catholic asian home, things like puberty and sex education was never discussed.  Falling into the same lines of open communication, this is also another important topic to add to that.

We bought books to help us open up that line of communication. It doesn’t have to be a full on “this is how and where babies really come from” conversation but an introduction to it that is appropriate for their age.  I bought a book called “It’s Not The Stork!” that we read together as a family.

Image source: Amazon

In my opinion, I’d rather that they learn the right facts from us first, rather than their friends and peers.

One final thing we also want to impart on our kids is to learn that money doesn’t come from trees.  Money is not a privilege. Money is earned through work. We’ve made many bad financial decisions and we want to make sure our kids grow up making good decisions with money management as well.  We allow them to earn money through various jobs they can do around the house.

They feel very proud when we take them to the store and they pay for their own toys with their money. They will also spend it very fast but that’s ok.  It’s an ongoing lesson on them figuring out what’s worth it to buy and what’s worth it to save for. We have them split up their money they receive as gifts into different portions. Some to reserve to spend on anything they want, some to save, and some to donate or give to those in need.

Things aren’t perfect.  Things don’t always go as planned.  Different challenges will come and go.  There’s the famous line in Forrest Gump that goes, “Life is like a box of chocolate, you never know what you’re gonna get”.  That speaks truth in so many ways. All we can do is equip our kids with tools in their belt so that they can tackle all the challenges that will come their way in the next phase of their life.

Preparing for Toddler Life: What’s it Like?

Preparing for Toddler Life: What’s it Like?

Oh the wonderful toddler years.

These are the years when it does really start to get fun.  The little ones are turning into tiny human beings with minds of their own and with no worries in the world of their safety or the world around them.  They are curious explorers and can very easily get themselves into a heap of trouble in a blink of an eye.

They’re old enough to walk and run around everywhere you go but not old enough to understand why they shouldn’t stray away or do certain things.  If you were worried about them getting into stuff when they started to crawl, take that and kick it up a notch or two because now it’s everything they did, but now on steroids.

Bumps and bruises will start happening when they start walking and climbing everywhere.  For this very reason, we were inspired to create a cute, simple and easy to use first aid kit that can be thrown in a diaper bag or purse so moms can quickly grab a bandage to take care of the boo boos.  You would be amazed at how quickly the tears go away once a bandage is put on.

Now they are bigger and can access even more things around the house like opening up cabinets to play with whatever toxic cleaning materials you have in there. They think it’s fun playing with the medicine cabinets, the toilet, your dirty shoes all the way to any makeup or markers you have laying around.

Image by yohoprashant via Pixabay

Everything that you have been dealing with in year 1 continues into the toddler years.  Things like lack of sleep, staying on top of household chores, and the normal day to day kid activities.  Except now, you are doing more things during the day. You’re taking them out on playdates, introducing them to new kid activities, enrolling them in different fun toddler classes, getting them to try new foods and perfecting the art of saying “no” to them a million times a day.

Our saving grace was that we were able to sleep train our kids to have them sleep through the night before they turned 1, which helped us tremendously.  This, I believe hands down, saved our sanity because we weren’t sleep deprived. Which meant we had energy to run around chasing after them.

Now lets not forget about the dreaded potty training age where you do everything in your power to convince them to pee and poop in either the real or fake potty.  When bribing or praising doesn’t work, you will resort to begging and as hard as you try, but after the 100th time of cleaning the sheets and/or carpet, there may even downright be some yelling out of pure frustrations.

It was not easy.  Waking up a couple times during the night to change wet beds and giving them a shower because they are soaked in pee.  Changing clothes and cleaning up wet spots all day long.  As difficult as it will be when you’re actually in the moment, it is best to train them only when they are ready for it.  I definitely learned this the hard way.

Now if there’s anything to prepare for during these years, it would be the wonderful phase we call the terrible 2’s and even worse, the terrible 3’s.  They will get what they want, when they want and will show you who is in charge. To them, the word “no” actually means “yes, keep doing what I’m doing”.  They will test your limits, so pick your battles to keep your sanity because at the end of the day, you will be physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted!

If they aren’t already in daycare, they will soon be entering preschool.  Be ready for constant runny noses because being around lots of other kids in close quarters means more germs are being spread around and your kids WILL bring the bug home.  Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do with this one. The daycare can be the cleanest with the best sanitizing policies in place but at the end of the day, there’s not much they can do to control germs from spreading from one kid to another when they are in such close quarters with each other and playing with the same toys throughout the day.

Gone are the days when you can just take off to the grocery store to pick up a thing or two.  When you have no other choice but to take your little ones with you to run errands around town.  It’s much easier to do this with a newborn than a toddler, that’s for sure. What used to be something that would easily take you just a couple of hours will now take you half the day to do if not more.  You now need to count in time to feed, diaper changes and/or potty breaks. If you’re lucky, you can get through all that without any temper tantrum outbreaks. No more leisurely strolling down the aisles.  It’s get in and get out ASAP.

If you have read this far, you are probably thinking something along the lines of “holy smokes, I am so not ready for that!’

There is good news.  You will have your good days.  All it takes is to watch them sleep so peacefully that will melt your heart and soul and you will forget everything that happened that day.  Some days they will say the darndest thing that will have you laughing like crazy. Or the days when they show you their work of arts, smiling from ear to ear.  You will be one proud mama. But best of all, when they climb into your lap and all they want to do is just snuggle and give you hugs and kisses. Those are the best.

The best advice I and some other moms who have survived the toddler years can give you is the following:

  1. Know that there is light at the end of the tunnel.  The terrible 2’s & 3’s will pass. They will learn how to pee and poop on their own time.  They won’t remember when they fell and got hurt. They will get sick, but they will get better.
  2. Set up routines for everything.
  3. Go on playdates.  You need social interactions as much as they do.
  4. When going on errands, pack a small bucket of toys to keep them entertained.  Pack plenty of snacks.
  5. Have a fully stocked diaper bag
  6. Shop online whenever possible.  It will save you so much time.
  7. Find ways to include your child in household chores when they are able.
  8. Add some fun into their clean up process like using “a clean up song”
  9. Let go of being a neat freak or hire a housecleaner if you can.  The house will get clean…eventually.

Just like the newborn phase, there’s nothing like going through this phase yourself to be able to experience and appreciate all the wonders having a toddler can bring and quite frankly, some of your most very challenging years.  Get ready and buckle up. It will be an amazing ride.

Maintaining A Level Of Closeness With Your Children

Maintaining A Level Of Closeness With Your Children

Today’s society keeps us on the move.  It has made us believe that multi-tasking is a good thing, never being present in the moment…always thinking about what’s next on the to-do list.  Because of this mentality, the family has started to sever and become distant.

How many times have you been at the dinner table or seen people at a restaurant on their phones instead of engaging and communicating with each other? It happens so often that there are commercials about it.

There are a few ways to keep the family close and not allow this epidemic to take place in your life.  

1.  Get Back to Family Time– make a day of the week that the family gets together without any devices and catch up on what’s going on in each other’s lives.  

2.  Take or Update the Family Photo– If it’s been years since you’ve taken a photo together or if you’ve never taken one at all, this would be a perfect opportunity to do that.

3.  Cook Dinner Together– For many cultures, the kitchen is the place that brings people together.  Involving the children in cooking safe meals or even just helping to set the table is a wonder way to have everyone involved.