Posts Taged parenting

Takeaways from Visiting My Sons at College

Some of you have entered a new season of life with a child off to college. We had our oldest attend Western Washington University in Bellingham and then our younger go out of state to University of Colorado. Both had great college experiences with a few growing pains along the way. We visited them at school a few times a year. I typically visited more often on my own than with my spouse due to his work schedule. Now that they have both graduated, I’d like to share some of the highlights I gleaned through the years.

Scheduling my visits
  • I always tried to arrange visits around their schedules. We engaged in parents’ weekends the first year and then scheduled for alternate times in the future due to all the popular restaurants and local hotels being booked.
  • My comfort level was typically a good visit every six weeks. Sometimes I’d visit them; sometimes they’d come home.
  • I kept my out-of-state visits to 3 days and anticipated for a few hours of his time each day. If there was more, that was a bonus. I was content to read, go to a museum, or bike the area solo while he headed back to his campus life.
Bring a touch of home
  • I would bring a favorite or two from home, be it some freshly baked cookies, Confectionery Store (at University Village) gummy bears, or some new athletic socks and boxers. I’ve made lasagnas in Pyrex pans that would never return from Bellingham. I’ve brought Juanita’s Chips as my carry-on because evidently the corn chips are just not as good in Colorado.
  • I’d make notes on my phone about the latest news in the neighborhood and in the family, and I’d catch him up.
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When Your College Kid Is Home for the Summer

The stacks of boxes and bins, bags of clothes and bedding, and random loose items like lamps and rolled-up posters can mean only one thing: your college kid just got home for summer break! While parents (and maybe the siblings) are thrilled to have all their chicks back in the nest for three months, there is a new family dynamic that will definitely take some getting used to. Your “child” has now experienced nine months of independent living, and any expectations that this summer will be like their high school summers may be quickly dashed.

It’s a new normal in your parent-child relationship—and it is definitely on the positive side. Your student is a young adult now, even if they still have “-teen” as part of their age. They’ve experienced huge personal growth and will likely not be the same person they were last September. Their sense of independence is high right now, and you need to respect that. That being said, they will be living in your home, and they need to respect that. Here are our tips on finding a balance and making this transition smoother for everyone.

Give Them 48 Hours to Decompress

Empathize with them about finals being exhausting, packing and cleaning their place being a pain, and not seeing their college friends all summer being a bummer. Let them sleep in till noon, raid the kitchen, and not unpack or do laundry. For 48 hours. Then give them a good, strong nudge to put away all their stuff and ease themselves into the rhythms of home.

Talk About Expectations

Don’t expect that they’ll be home for dinner every night, or that they’ll be up early having breakfast with you. Assuming they are working, volunteering, or interning during the summer, they will be setting their own schedules. College kids don’t necessarily adhere to a daily routine that you may think makes sense, but if it works for them, let them do it. Clarify that it’s not your job to wake them up to go to work. If they stayed up till 3am bingeing Netflix and slept through their alarm, their being late for work is not your emergency. It’s tough love, but if they expect to be given freedoms then they should be accountable for their schedules.

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15 Summer Essentials to Keep in Your Car

Summer is the best season for spontaneous good times in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. The greater Seattle area has a wealth of unique and amazing places to discover, whether you’ve got a detailed day planned out, or you’re going to meander through a park or neighborhood. Keep those spur-of-the-moment trips carefree (and less stressful) by keeping these essentials in your car. More time for sun and fun, and less time running to the store or looking for things.

  1. Sunglasses: Keeping a couple of pairs doesn’t hurt, because someone will always forget theirs.
  2. Sun hat: Keep cool. Sunstroke and a sunburned forehead are not fun.
  3. Sunblock: Protect your skin. Beware of the expiration date and note that sunscreen may degrade faster if kept in a hot car for a long time.
  4. A beach towel: Always handy to wipe off dirty children (or pets), or to be used as a makeshift blanket.
  5. A sweatshirt: Weather can be unpredictable and the nights cool off quickly!
  6. An outdoor blanket: Can be used for picnics, the beach, and to keep warm after the sun goes down.
  7. Reusable shopping bags: They are not just for the grocery store or a stop at a farmer’s market. You can use reusable shopping totes to haul beach toys (anything really) in a pinch. Include an insulated bag for even more versatility.
  8. A BPA-free water bottle and a non-melting snack: Disposable water bottles shouldn’t be stored in a hot car as they can release dangerous chemicals into the water. Granola bars, nuts, or crackers are examples of healthy non-melting snacks.
  9. The Discover Pass: The $35 annual pass allows you access to state parks for two vehicles.
  10. An extra pair of shoes and socks: A hike with children may turn into a dip in a river…
  11. A small first aid kit: Always have some adhesive bandages, anti-bacterial ointment, and pain reliever. An instant ice pack is really handy for bumps and bruises.
  12. An activity book: A coloring book or Sudoku can help pass the time in the car. We also like to have playing cards.
  13. Toilet paper or flushable wipes: Love the hike, don’t love the facilities. Best be prepared. Also stops bloody noses.
  14. Hand sanitizer: See above.
  15. Feminine products: Just in case someone is caught off guard.
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Your Graduation Party Planning Guide

Do you have a kiddo graduating from high school or college soon? Congratulations! This is definitely something to celebrate—it’s a major milestone for you and your soon-to-be-grad. If you are considering throwing a graduation party but feel bogged down by the details, use our planning timeline and checklist. It will help you organize a fun event while keeping your frazzle-rating at a minimum.

Four Weeks Before the Party

  • First, set a date and time.
    • Make sure it works for your grad and your immediate family, as well as a few extra-special people that you or your grad would really like to attend.
    • If you can, find out from your grad’s circle of friends if anyone else may be having a graduation party. You may try to minimize conflicting party dates/times if there are other parties.
    • Keep in mind that it doesn’t need to be the weekend of the graduation ceremony. In fact, it may be easier to do it a week or two after.
  • Next, decide on the location. Whether you do it at home or at a venue, both choices have their own sets of pros/cons.
    • Home considerations include space limitations, doing the shopping and cooking, set-up and clean-up, party rentals such as tents and tables/chairs, and possibly catering services.
    • Venue considerations include a higher budget, reservations and a deposit, minimal set-up/clean-up, limited menu options, and more rigid party hours.
  • Create Your Guest List.
    • Be sure to include your grad’s invitees: friends and their parents, teachers, coaches, tutors, bosses, the family they babysit for, etc.
    • Go ahead and invite friends and family who don’t live nearby. Even if they can’t make it, they can still send a card or present.
  • Send out the invitations. Evite or Paperless Post are both free and easy for sending electronic invitations.
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Streamlining the Morning Lunch Crunch

Streamlining the Morning Lunch Crunch

When my eldest daughter was in kindergarten, I was a class helper. She sat next to a sweet boy from Japan, whose lunches were a daily source of amazement and envy—from the kids, as well as me and the teacher! He had a three-piece stainless bento box, and each layer contained beautifully-prepared food that looked like it should be on display somewhere: sushi rice shaped into animals or cars; carrots or apples carved into rosettes or spirals; bits of dried seaweed carefully cut into whiskers, or grass, or decorative stripes; tiny bite-sized cookies in ethereal shapes and colors. I’d glance over to my kid’s turkey and provolone sandwich, banana, and goldfish crackers, and wondered if I should be making more of an effort.

Fast forward many years, and I can’t even do the math on how many school lunches I’ve packed for my three children. I never did make anything remotely close to that boy’s lunches; my need to sleep in a little later (we all know even that extra 15 minutes helps!) overruled my desire for Instagram-worthy lunches. I have, however, been able to streamline my routine so the lunch-making portion of my morning takes just minutes. The key thing is to do as much as you can the night before…crazy simple!

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Do You Know Your Mommy Bandwidth?

Can you tell when you have exceeded your bandwidth? We moms do have limits too.

Bandwidth – “The energy or mental capacity required to deal with a situation.” Oxford Living Dictionaries

I don’t need to write about all the different demands on a mom’s time and energy. You already know all about that. You are deep in it every-single-day-of-your-life, just like all of us. After all, you are the person keeping the family going. Sometimes things go along relatively smoothly. Other times, well, things can get a little crazy.
For example, I left the house today to go to an appointment and two blocks from my house I realized that I had automatically started driving to the kids’ school. A few minutes later I made another wrong turn, my inner autopilot taking over once more. This hasn’t happened before. Sure, I’ve

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