clarity : my kid was bullied.


fall, muskoka

i hope everyone had a lovely thanksgiving weekend.

we celebrated up at the cottage with family. we enjoyed the warm temperatures, sunshine and time together. but, this post is not about our weekend up in muskoka. it’s about the complexities of mothering, parenting and realities of school life for our kids

fall, muskoka, fall colours

remember a few weeks ago when i wrote about our struggles with the whole back-to-school transition. i shared how bear especially was having a hard time with things. well, after some subtle mama investigating, you know the kind where you pretend to be busy with something while asking questions about school, so as not place any obvious pressure on your kid. well, after a few minutes of this with bear it all came spilling out, he was being bullied. yes, two days into the new school year this kid who has been a problem in the past was at it again.

as the pieces fell into place, i understood where my kids “bad” behaviour was coming from. once in the safety of his own home he was unloading all of the stress and anxiety building up inside of him during the school day. obviously his little brother was an easy target and bore the brunt of the unleashing. my heart broke the more i thought about those first 10 days of grade 2 for him. of course as his mama i took on all kinds of guilt, about not protecting him better, not piecing things together sooner and just feeling guilty for his pain. 

after all the necessary conversations with teachers, the other child’s parents, bear’s behaviour completely changed. he was back to his old self. the kid who is  making up his own jokes, thinking about pokemon all day everyday and building his latest and greatest lego invention!   

i’m not sure the anti-bullying campaigns at schools are effective. bear has never been up front about problems with his peers; it is always something that as his parents we have had to figure out. the school is reluctant to get involved, although there seems to be a lot of the right things being said, it’s just that nothing is being done. from where i sit there is a lack of accountability, which is very frustrating. i don’t want to play the blame game, but if my kid was doing things to hurt other’s i would want to know. right?

things at school have calmed down for bear, i think. i have asked subtle questions and direct questions, i have shared my own experiences from my school days in the hopes to keep the lines of communication open with him. he is my anxious guy who takes things and carries them inside, blaming himself. i want so desperately to take away all of his hurt, but i know that it not realistic. i have to instead teach him to stand-up for himself not by hitting back, but by using words. i have to encourage him feel confident in telling a teacher or adult if he or someone else is being bullied. these are hard things. even for adults.

DSC_0648

fall, muskoka, look out

mothering is the hardest job i have ever taken on. it is not at all wheat i expected. the deep emotional twinges of pain and love i feel for my children is astonishing. although it is difficult and exhausting, i wouldn’t change any of it. i feel like the luckiest gal around with the best set of kids ever! and, i realize my opinion is quite biased, but so be it!

xo, mama lola

parenting slump: help me!


oh world, i need some mama help!

since the boys went back to school, chaos has taken over our house. there is an unreasonable amount of whining, crying, fighting, shouting, hitting, throwing, and it’s not just coming form the kids. i feel like i am at my wits end!

i know transitions are hard. 

i get it, i really do.

but, this transition of going back to school has been so terrible and i’m not sure how to make it better. bear is on an epic roll attacking his little brother with his fists, feet and words. he’s always going on about punching his brother and then he’ll actually do it! or, he’ll start doing this hair-raising cackle, laughing at everything that lion does, which doesn’t sound so bad, but we all know that the reaction the 5 year old gives is what makes this scene unbearable. i could go on with examples of the tense fighting at our house, but it think you get the idea.

lion on the other hand does not really pick on his brother, but takes bear’s example and has stopped listening. lion now talks back in his wee sassy voice and giggles uncontrollably when he knows he’s not listening. and, as the younger brother his reactions to his brother’s attacks are loud, huge and attention seeking. exhausting.

when we’re in our moments of chaos, i try not to show preference between the boys; usually they are both responsible for some aspect of the situation. i try to touch, hug my kids, because i think that’s often what they really need from adults. especially now that they are gone at school all day! obviously if someone has hit or done some creative name calling, i will enforce a consequence. but, as attachment parents i try to still remain attached to my kids, because they don’t know how to ask for that.

anyhow…

as i write this i can recognize that my kids need more structure, more defined expectations and clearer consequences, as they seem to be flailing through this major change from summer to school.

i guess i am struggling with how to incorporate those into our new routine. i want to get away from the counting to 3 thing; it feels young for my 7 year old. i want to say something once or twice and have the kids do it (for the most part). i realize they are children and will be slow, or will have to include a song or dance with the completion of some mundane task, it’s the repetition that drives me banana’s! i feel deeply disrespected, hurt and exhausted when all of this is happening. i have tried to sit down with the kids to talk to them about all of this, but all they do is laugh, interrupt me and then things escalate and, well things end poorly.

 

DSC_0416

 

if you have any parenting advice you want to enlighten me with, please do so! maybe you have read some great reads about this very topic (she says as she peeks at her own bookshelf to see if her barbara coloroso book is there! it is!)

 

quote58

source

i know this will pass, but living in this chaos is stressful for all of us.

i want to change the present.

xo, mama lola

summah-mama burn out… i got it!


at the beginning of each summer season i have big plans on how to spend our time wisely, you know, sending kids to one day camp each for a week, visiting to the cottage, going on family camping trips, spending hours with friends laughing and enjoying uninterrupted play. i have visions of us running away from mosquitoes in the woods, jumping into the lake and swimming until our lips are blue. then enjoying time together in peace, while crafting something beautiful.

summah mama 2

well, we’ve done that.

a lot.

it wasn’t quite so romantic though.

 

there have been bumps along the road. we’ve all struggled in our own way.

what i struggle with is, maintaining any kind of self care for myself during our summer days. meaning, going to the gym regularly, blogging (again regularly), getting housework done (yup, again regularly) and so on, and so on. now let me clarify, doing housework isn’t a part of my daily self care routine, but getting stuff done around the house does keep my mind organized and sound! plus, if i don’t know where the wet bathing suits were left, then nobody will meaning chaos with ensue the next day!

having both kids around all day is exhausting to say the least. don’t get me wrong, we’ve had moments of fun at home but, often the boys revert back into their old bickering ways, antagonizing each other in every possible way! we went camping this passed weekend and DH said he loved our mini vacay, while i reminded him that a change in geography does not necessarily make a vacation for me. i am still with the kids, mothering, reminding, yelling, at them to stop fighting.

so now i am burnt out!

bear and lion

i haven’t been to the gym in weeks, which is showing on my body, but mostly i can really feel it in my mental health. all those bad feelings come creeping back in, then the bad habits start all over again, first in very subtle ways… and then i just hate myself! it is such a terrible cycle i get caught in, even though it’s also so predictable and preventable.

i know i am not alone in this…

without wishing our summer away, i am going to keep on trucking, while trying harder to ensure that my needs are met as well. i am lucky to have a hubby who supports me in my self care, although i need to be more clear with him about what that means and how he can help specifically. 

i’ve been at this mothering thing for 7 years and i still struggle with making myself a priority!


 

p.s. more pics on my INSTAGRAM! check em out!

xo, mama lola

forest school fun!


 

i often feel like the public school system here in ontario lacks a natural component to it’s curriculum. yes, they talk about the environment and spend time outside even on some pretty cold days, but i wish there was more time spent in nature, exploring the natural world around them. so when i found out a high school friend of mine, brandy, was starting a forest school i jumped at the opportunity to sign my lion up! because it’s in another city he only goes for one afternoon a week (instead of the two afternoon’s currently offered).

this smiling beauty below is brandy.

forest school 12

the kids are all between the ages of 3 and 5. the group meets and then walks along some lovely trails to their designated site. the trail is shared with dog walkers and cross country skiers.

forest school fun forest school fun

below is a picture of a quick stop for a story during our walk. here brandy introduced that days theme to the kids, as they all sat on a fallen tree and listened. none of the kids complained about stopping, about being cold, or about carrying their own backpacks. AMAZING!

forest school fun

the “classroom” site is amazing! there are several teepee/ wigwam style forts that were already built in the forest. there are beautiful tall trees as far as the eye can see. the kids are allowed to climb the forts and explore the nearby area. the kids enjoyed snack, had another story and discussed various elements of that days theme.

i love watching the kids enjoying the natural world. they were so involved in it without any effort or encouragement from adults. they recognized things differently from us grown-ups creating interesting discussions about why things are the way they are.

kids are so open and free.

forest school fun

forest school fun, forest school fun forest school fun forest school fun

on the day i was volunteering we focused on our senses;  we listened for birds, tasted snow, touched sticks and looked for interesting things in our environment. brandy encourages the kids to explore, question and get right into things. she follows the kids’ lead on things making the learning about them and not about what she assumes they might be interested in. so awesome!

the peace and calm of the forest school is what i really noticed. classrooms in buildings are full of posters, art, colours, shapes… there are almost no blank walls, everything is covered with some kind of stimulus. here in the woods the stimulus is not garish in colour or forced down the children’s throats. the natural world invites them in, gently stimulating their senses and enticing them for deeper learning. even though the kids explore the same forts, the subtle changes that occur over time is what makes outdoor learning so amazing.

below are pictures of the ice experiments the kids had created the previous thursday. they poured water in containers with some acorns and leaves to see what would happen. we hung them in the trees so the sun could catch them. so lovely!

forest school fun, winter expriment forest school fun

if you’re curious and interested in brandy’s beautiful school, wildflowers forest school, check out her facebook page HERE. there are lots more pictures and tales of the adventures they get into! currently, there is no website, but it’s in the works!

xo, mama lola

self care & mothering: the honest truth.

self care & MOTHERING

 

when i had wee babes i was running on empty. i was tired, depleted and exhausted for years it seems. my kids were needy the way kids are, and i remember people constantly telling me to work on my self-care to help feel re-energized. so, i tried that. i’d join the gym, change my diet, go out with friends, i even hired a baby-sitter and implemented a weekly friday-night date night with DH. but, i still felt empty and tired.

 

lion & bear

 

now that my kids a older (4 & 6) i have 20/20 hindsight. it’s not self-care that got me through those years and it wasn’t the lack of self-care that made my days difficult to manage… it was the simple fact that i’m a mum.

children are an enormous amount of work, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

 

i look back on those years with my two babes and wonder how i ever survived. how i mothered at all while sleep deprived, with headaches, hungry, angry, all the while feeling under appreciated and invisible. i tried to do everything the right way; we were avid cloth diaperers only doing laundry in the cheap hours and never using the dryer, i exclusively breastfed, carried my babes and toddlers (sometimes both at the same time!) i cooked and baked everything from scratch, i took my kids outside in all kinds of weather and in canada that can mean lots of layers on most days! i’m not sharing this as a way to brag or seek attention, but as a way to acknowledge that no matter how a mum mother’s, no matter what the choices she makes for her family she is going to be tired. and, yes she needs self care, but there isn’t enough time or space for good self care when the kids are little. the wee people take so much that it’s impossible to recharge yourself completely or effectively. regardless of the age differences in kids, the number of kids, every mother is going to feel guilty that they are not giving enough to one or all of her children at one time or another. oh, the weight of a mother’s guilt!

 

once all of the kids are out of babyland it is easier to create better self care routines, but only because the constant need for mum’s decreases with age.  children become more self-sufficient and independent, and all of those skills no matter how small, like putting on their own shoes, doing up a zipper, brushing their own teeth or my fave, wiping their own bums… all of those seconds and minutes add up in a day to less actual hands on time.

and, by hands on i mean literally touching! babies and toddlers need to be touched A LOT, and i remember at the end of those long days when DH would finally walk in the door feeling slight relief that he was home to carry, cuddle, or change a diaper. but, if DH tried to touch me, even to rub my achy back i would run screaming from the room, because i just wanted to be left alone, untouched, on the couch or wherever in my own space! sounds absurd, but i know many of you reading this are nodding. you know what i’m talking about!

bear & lion

mothering, parenting is about giving. giving, giving, giving all day to these little, adorable people who just take. all they know how to do is take. they don’t know how show gratitude or acknowledge all the energy we as parents pour into them each day. but, there is hope… i am now talking to you, mum of tiny baby with a toddler hanging at your feet… there is hope. as your kids get older they will one day say “thanks for making this udon soup for dinner, it’s my favourite”. just like that out of no where, and don’t get me wrong, sentences like that happen rarely, but my point is that they do. a school aged kid will show gratitude on their own initiative, will (sometimes) help put groceries away when you ask, will always run and give you a hug after school because they missed you and are so happy to see you. happy to see you because there has been a solid number of hours of separation, of distance and space. those hours are golden. for you and for them.

bear & lion

i want to apologize to all my friends who i have kept telling to work on self care. how completely arrogant and cocky of me! it’s so easy for me to sit here in an empty house and preach about making time for yourself, when it’s the new norm for me. it’s easy for me suggest going for walk alone or joining a book club, when the truth of the matter is mothering wee people is so bloody hard that all you mum’s really need is to be heard. to be understood and validated that, YES, feeling chronically sleep deprived is awful, depressing and scary at times. that holding one sided conversations all day every day with a baby starts to make you feel crazy. that having these beautiful people to care for is also incredibly lonely.

 

i’m sorry for being a know-it-all bitch to you.

 

i remember so well how i felt. self care, i finally understand will not take away your twitching eyes, exhausted back or feelings of utter exhaustion. self care can help you cope in the moment, but only time will truly take away those feelings of depletion. that all being said, i do still encourage mum’s to do things for themselves, ask for help and support, and let the house be a mess. get a massage or whatever, because that hour away is golden too.

 

hang in there mum with very little people. babies all eventually grow into toddlers who will in turn eventually grow into kids. they learn to walk, talk, sleep, poo in the toilet and become better at expressing their needs. mothering is always hard, but at least as the kids get older you get to sleep more!

bear & lion

kids will always need their parents, their caregivers, and as mother’s we will always need our kids.

trust me, things do shift.

xo, mama lola

lion started kindergarten.


oh my, what a huge milestone we have reached as a family, but really it’s one our littlest has achieved with such confidence and joy. yes, as a family we got to this goal, but really it’s our lion who has started school with serious zest! i’m so proud of him, i could burst! as a teeny baby, as soon as lion became aware of his big brother he has been working hard to catch up to bear. he has always wanted to do and be just like bear, in that adorable little brother way, which as his mum is heartbreakingly cute to see.

first day of kindergarten
now, that he gets to go to the same school as his big brother… HUGE! from the get-go lion has been brave and eager to go, marching confidently into the kindergarten classroom forgetting to even say bye to us, his bleary eyed parents! here in ontario kindergarten is all day, every day and to acclimatize the newest students they start off with only two hours of school on day and then they get a day or two off, go for a full day, more days off and then they go full steam. it’s called staggered entry and for younger siblings it can be confusing and difficult, because their older sibs are still going to school, going through those routines and so lion’s start to school was kinda long.

 

and, my lion still naps… yes, still at 4 years of age! so, i only send him 3 days a week. i did the same with bear as well, as i think all day, every day school for such little people is too much to handle. on the days lion does not go to school he plays in the morning or goes to swimming lessons and then crashes for 2-3 hours.

 

first day of school

his teachers have shared no concerns and say he is a pleasure in the classroom. one of the teachers was bears teacher for two years and she remarked that it is incredible how different my two boys are! and, it’s true. bear struggled greatly with transitioning into school and i think he was quite jealous that his brother was allowed to stay home with mum, while got shipped away to some scary new place. (read more about bears first days of school HERE) lion now has a huge advantage being the little brother, as he is already very familiar with the school routine. he knows what drop-offs in the morning and pick-ups in the afternoon look like, he recognizes some of the teachers, he has been inside the school a million times over the years and he has his big brother at school down the hall. these are all huge advantages that bear never felt, making him anxious and scared at school often.

 

DSC_0684b

 

i am so proud and excited for my kids this year. they are happy,  they are growing up and experiencing new adventures together, which is what i always wanted for my kids!

 

xo, mama lola

end of school year.

i realize this is kinda late, as school ended a few weeks ago now, but here i go anyways…

DSC_0915bb

my oldest, bear is now 6.5 years old and he just finished senior kindergarten. it’s off to grade 1 in the fall! it’s not a huge accomplishment or anything, but things will be shifting for him as he leaves the kindy yard and switches over to the “big kids” side, as the faces and friends in his class will change. leaving kindergarten also means less play, more structured learning and new teachers. all of this new stuff will for sure trigger his anxiety as he learns to navigate through all of it. actually, i think he’s already anxious about the transitions that are upcoming. transitions, big and small are a struggle for him and the looming changes in september are no different. i have planned a pretty relaxed summer with lots of free time to play alone or with friends. he’s going to one camp this summer for 5 days where he’ll be learning about all kinds of nature things! i’m hoping he can chill te next few months before we step back in to the school routine.

DSC_0939bbb

 

my youngest, lion is now 4 years old and he is entering school system officially in september. he finished a year of pre-school, which was all montesorri based play-learning so going to junior kindergarten will be a shock to him; at school all day, having to toilet alone, learning to eat lunch with his peers and just navigate the day-to-day routines of the school day will be quite stressful. although he doesn’t struggle with anxiety like his brother, entering school will be a hurdle that will exhaust him deeply. the kid still naps about three days a week!!! that’s why i’ve decided to only send him part-time to school. it’s what i did with bear when he was starting school and it worked out really well.

 

i’m hoping that my assumption that i know my kids best, and know their needs best is true. especially when it comes to their education and experiences at school!

 

but, here’s to a great summer! i am so proud of my guys forall they have accomplished in their learning this passed year!

xo, mama lola

mothering. harder than it looks.

we’ve been experiencing some tricky parenting times. there has been so much going on in our lives recently, and those busy times have taken a toll on our family dynamics. honestly, things have turned to$hit!

 

bear has been a lot to handle. his behaviour has been out of this world difficult. our mornings and evenings have book ended our days with all sorts power struggles masked under screaming and shouting and lotsa tears (and not just his)!

DSC_0730b

DSC_0729b

when i am tired, i can lose my temper quickly, reacting poorly to the situation at hand. heading into this busy week i made a conscious decision to stay cool, offering instead extra love in hugs and kisses and other positive reinforcements. i have focussed on the beautiful, funny, intelligent and creative choices my kids have made, instead of attacking the ugly, messy and unsafe decisions. somehow doing that is harder for me, especially when we are all tired and feeling maxed out. i realize now that sometimes it’s as though i’m waiting for my kids to screw up, instead of expecting sweet success from them. i know that is a horrible thing to admit, but i think it comes from my own habit of yimmering on about stuff that doesn’t deserve my constant attention, rather than focussing on things that do.

DSC_0733b

so, once i incorporated extra hair tussles, tickle times and just gentle loving touches into our day, we all seem to have cooled our jets and changed our attitudes. there has been an obvious decrease in the general volume at our house, which in turn has decreased tensions and tears. dear hubby suspected a while that a lot of bear’s “acting out” comes from good ol’ fashioned sibling jealousy and i think he is right. sibling rivalry is a powerful force, often appearing at the least obvious of times.

 

i wish, as a mama to these amazing boys, that i would just always remember to give more during the most trying of times instead of pulling away. when my kids are being jerks all day every day, that is when i must shower them with kisses and pull out some great thing did in between all the jerkyness, and focus on the good.  i know to some this may seem so obvious, and as i sit here and type this, it does seem so freaking obvious, but in those dark days of chronic power struggles it is impossible to see, never mind put into action.

 

i am only human and i too make mistakes when it comes to mothering stuff. i am constantly learning and trying to remember to be stronger and turn the volume down and to just SHUT UP sometimes.

 

this is so much harder than i ever could have imagined.

 

 

xo, mama lola

this moment.

as inspired by souleMama; one photo from our week, no words, only an image to sum up our time as a family. one that captures a moment in time and is a visual reminder of where we were at this time in our lives.

this moment

please feel free to leave a link to your this moment from this past week in the comments.

xo, mama lola

a winter hike to kick off march break!

it’s march break here in canada! a week off from school, which actually makes my life a titch busier, but i am glad to have a break from the confines of school and the rigid structure it brings with it.

to really kick-off this break, the kids and i went for a hike in beautiful weather with friends. it was the most perfect day; the sun shone, the temperatures felt practically balmy and there was no wind. kinda perfect in every way!

we went to a local conservation area and explored this old mill. kids loved it. then we kept trekking along, enjoying the sights until we reached our destination…

DSC_0296b

DSC_0297b

DSC_0304b

DSC_0306b

this awesome CAVE!

the kids all explored the various crevices, holes and rocks. every few seconds someone would exclaim “oh wow, look at this”! i just love to hear kids excited about things in nature and their environment. and, as the kids get older they really do know so much more about the world, than i give credit for.

DSC_0310b

all explorers need to refuel after extensive research, so we had a cave picnic before heading home!

we nibbled on cheese n’ avocado wraps, apple slices, raisins, nuts, cheese and juice! yum! i find packing snacks is crucial to surviving any kind of outdoor experience with the kids. they’re blood sugar crashes so quickly!

DSC_0314b DSC_0313b

we were all exhausted after our exciting hike! but, it was that good kind of exhaustion, you know, when you feel inspired, energized and calm. this winter i have found my mental health teetering on the edge some days, but when i get outside and fill my lungs with fresh air, and especially get to soak up some priceless vitamin D from the glorious sun, it really helps soothe my mind.

what are you up to this march break?

xo, mama lola
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...