Happiness Isn’t Measured in Glitter

Happiness Isn’t Measured in Glitter

By Jana Cunningham

As I browsed through Instagram and Facebook this past St. Patrick’s Day, my feed was littered with photos and videos of green pancakes, green milk, green beaded necklaces, green decorations covered in green glitter and green gifts, as if it was Christmas. Although I found this strange (because until that moment, I had no idea St. Patrick’s Day was celebrated this way), I was most shocked by the elaborate leprechaun traps and the staged mischief (footprints made out of construction paper, toilet water dyed green, green writing on the walls, etc.) this little guy got into.  

Three short years ago before I became a parent, I had no idea how many hours I would need to dedicate to ensure my child felt the magic of every holiday, including St. Patrick’s Day, apparently. Halloween is no longer about school parades and trick-or-treating, it’s a month-long celebration with festivals, corn mazes, over-priced pumpkins, endless crafts, parties, and trunk-or-treating. Valentine’s Day isn’t about bringing a paper-wrapped shoe box to school to collect store-bought cards, it’s about expensive home-made cards with tulle and glitter, daily love notes taped to the door, heart-shaped everything and ornate boxes with engines and AI features. (I may be exaggerating, but you get my point.)

I’m not saying that some of these activities aren’t fun – our local park puts on an adorable over-the-top Easter Egg hunt each year that I love to attend. However, it’s the pressure to participate in all of the activities, the pressure to spend my paycheck at Michaels on craft supplies and the pressure to make everything memorable just so I can forget to tape love notes on my daughter’s door that leaves me feeling like a failure.

In the age of social media, it’s easy to get caught up on what we “should” be doing to make holidays special. It’s easy to forget that some parents are naturally crafty and enjoy doing these sorts of things, but there are also parents who run to grocery store after work on Valentine’s Day and frantically search for the last remaining mini mylar balloon – who cares if it says “I Love You, Dad,” toddlers can’t read. The latter are the posts we don’t see on Instagram.

It’s the greatest feeling in the world to see your child experience something new and magical and it doesn’t matter if it comes from an expertly crafted Easter Egg basket that shoots glitter filled with hand painted Faberge eggs or a store-bought cleaning bucket filled with pink plastics eggs. Each one is memorable and fun. We all have different parenting styles and levels of craftiness and hopefully our kids will appreciate that – and hopefully we can appreciate it in each other as well.

So, whether you trapped a leprechaun this year or did absolutely nothing, remember your child’s happiness isn’t measured in glitter.

Celebrating Love

Celebrating Love

By Sharon Bates

As parents, life can become so hectic we easily forget what ignited the very relationship which created today’s reality of having children together. Good thing we have Valentines Day to remind us!

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Valentines Day. Although I’m a huge fan of Love, I didn’t appreciate the pressure women in particular would put on men to “do it right,” and “make it amazing.” That being said, if I happened to be in a relationship at the time, I would usually make it known that I wasn’t a fan of the holiday, saying, “please don’t bother.” And of course, being the sweethearts that men are, they always would anyway. Then… there was John.

It was Valentines Day 2012 and I had a strong feeling that my fiancé, John, who knew my feelings about Valentines Day, yet still enjoyed celebrating, had also been so busy with work that month that he completely forgot to do anything about it. I knew he’d kick himself for not doing anything, so I took it upon myself to finally do something special for a change.

On my way to see him at his event that evening, I stopped by a Whole Foods and purchased two Valentines Day cards and two different, special craft beers. (This was in California, mind you.) I picked one card for him, and one for him to give to me. I’ll never forget that night. He took a quick break to sit in the car with me and chat. I surprised him with the idea and we signed, then exchanged our cards and beers, and shared a beer together. It was such a blast. Really, what ended up being so interesting about this “save,” was that I discovered, when picking the card for him to give to me, I had a chance to playfully help him express his love, but in a way that I’d especially love to hear it. It made me vulnerable, and it was totally fun at the same time.

I know I scored major points that night, and my husband will forever bow to my feet for having his back, and being so graceful about it. And, I will say, the creativity that I used that Valentines Day opened something up for me, too. Now I approach Valentines Day as not just a “show-me-how-much-you-care Day,” but as a day to be in-Love again! And I feel like John picked up on this vibe, too.

Since then, we don’t usually celebrate on the 14th; we both feel it gets too crazy with reservations and dinner. We now pick an evening in early February, and either treat ourselves to a super fancy restaurant or go somewhere interesting and gaze into each other’s eyes, getting present to how much fun it is to be a team. And, by the way, if you’re not on a “team” right now, use this holiday to express your love to those who play a part in making your life work as well as it does.

So, here I am wishing you a fantastic Valentines Day 2019, and supporting you to give it your best shot and get creative, meanwhile having zero expectations.

Here are some fun ideas, on ways to celebrate:

• Write a love letter.

• Make a “love jam mixtape” CD of songs that express your feelings.

• Design and create your own card.

• Cook a romantic 4-course dinner.

• Take a walk around the block, holding hands.

Cheers! …And Happy Valentines Day!

Trick or Treat?

Trick or Treat?

 

Halloween is just around the corner, and if you’re anything like me, you’re terrified. I consider myself to be somewhat of a “health nut,” which looks like me giving out small water bottles, when kids come to my door trick or treating. (When I was little, it was the dentist next door, that handed out toothbrushes. At least, I’m not that bad. I know…But, I’m close.) I won’t even let my 2 year old son, John, attend friends’ birthday parties – what my husband and I call “sugar fests.” So, we obviously are very committed to creating healthy habits for our young one. However, I do frequently ask myself how long can this last?

Then, little John has had a few beginning cavities. A combination of genetics, dried mango treats, night-nursing, and not brushing his teeth nearly as often as we should have. Our bad. Now, we’re on top of it. But, it’s not just tooth decay that has us take things so seriously. Consider the physiological impact sugar has on our bodies: “A high-sugar diet impacts both physical and mental health. The roller coaster of high blood sugar followed by a crash may accentuate the symptoms of mood disorders.” Psychology Today / 4 Ways Sugar Could Be Harming Your Mental Health

So, it seems like, I either take on the challenge of carefully managing little John’s unnecessary sugar intake, or try to tame the dragon. I’m not sure which one is easier, but I feel like I know which one is healthier.

Back to Halloween! Although, we don’t plan to go trick or treating just yet, I still wanted to interview a couple parents that offered some great solutions for handling the abundance o’ candy situation, and I wanted to share:.

Carolyn, a mother of two, had a practical approach. She said, “We let them have 2 or 3 pieces when they got home, then they could have 2 a day….. then they were sick of it and we’d throw it all away! Lol! …And of course we raided it! …We traded for toys once, but that didn’t stick.”

Michael, a father of three, had a playful approach. He said “You’ll have to ask the girls about The Candy Goblin coming to our front porch on Halloween night- he would take half of the candy gathered by trick or treating, in exchange for a gift of a toy, or music etc.
And whatever was left, I let them eat it at their own pace- [our son] might gobble his and make himself sick- Rose would make hers last until Christmas- either way, I let them figure it out.”

If you have anything to add to these suggestions, by all means, please e-mail me. sharone.biz@gmail.com I’d love to hear about your ideas.

Happy Treating!

Sources:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/where-science-meets-the-steps/201309/4-ways-sugar-could-be-harming-your-mental-health%3famp