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Are You Letting Parenthood Get In The Way Of Personal Goals?

 

Parenthood can take a lot of time out of your life, but that doesn’t mean you should give up everything for your children. It’s important to still have time to yourself to try and achieve the things you want, not just for your own sake but for the sake of your kids too.

Following personal goals will give you a sense of fulfillment that will allow you to enjoy time with your kids more rather than wishing you were doing something else. It can also be inspiring to your kids – if they see you striving to achieve personal goals, they’ll be more inspired to follow their own aspirations.

Here are a few common goals that people often give up on when having kids, as well as advice on how to chase these goals whilst juggling the responsibilities of parenthood.

You can still get still get an education

Pursuing an education could be something that helps you to get a career or it could be something you simply want to do as a personal challenge. Whatever the case, it’s never too late to go back to school and follow your ambitions (even if you have kids of your own in school!).

You can attend classes and lectures if you want, but if you feel you’ll spend too much time travelling or don’t want to be surrounded by young people, you can always consider an online course. These allow you to study in your own time – you’ll still have deadlines for essays and assignments, but you don’t have to attend classes at set times. Many parents find that this is the best suited form of studying for them as it allows you to set your own hours around your kids.

Studying with kids isn’t easy and you’ll need some self-discipline. It’s worth scheduling study time each week and possibly getting someone to babysit the kids (this could be a partner, family member of professional babysitter). You may want to set up your own study area to take you away from the distractions of home life, or you could try studying in the library or a local coffee bar to get you out of the house.

You may even be able to involve your family such as getting your kids to quiz you (you can quiz them in return or help with their homework). Help your kids to understand the importance of education so that they don’t resent your time spent studying.

You can still chase that dream career

Certain careers can conflict with having a family. This includes jobs with long or unsociable fixed hours, as well as jobs that may require you to relocate.

Nowadays, many jobs are becoming more flexible. A lot of jobs are now hiring remote workers – which means you can effectively work from home and set your own hours. In cases where this isn’t possible, employers may still take sympathy if you’re a parent and may be able to set hours around your parenting duties such as picking up kids from school and possibly not working weekends.

Many access courses that allow you to get into certain careers can now be taken online too. If you’re looking into how to become a police officer or how to become a nurse, you’ll find that there are now even courses leading into these professions that can be taken online. This means that you don’t have to travel away somewhere to get necessary qualifications or training.

When it comes to dream careers, vacancies can often be competitive, and you may feel that parenthood holds you back from being able to give your all to a job. Whilst you may not be able to work the hours that other people can, there may be ways that you can use parenthood as an advantage when applying for a job. Many employer hire parents because they offer stability (they’re less likely to quit at a moment’s notice) and because they have proven ability to deal with responsibility. You may also be able to use your role as a parent to show that you have skills such as patience and the ability to multi-task.  

There are sites that can offer support for parents trying to chase their career goals. Consider using these resources to help you achieve that dream job.

You can still travel the world

Ever wanted to go travelling? There’s no reason why you can’t explore the world with your kids – plenty of families do it.

You will have to save up more money and backpacking may not be so easy if you’ve also got to pack items for your kids, however you can still go to all the same destinations you would have before. Obviously, certain destinations and activities aren’t going to be very child-friendly, but you may be able to compromise and do some activities for you and some activities for your kids.

If your kids aren’t in school yet, it could be the perfect time to go travelling – you can choose any season to travel and spend as long as you want. If your kids are in school, you may be restricted to school holidays. This means that you may not be able to spend months travelling, but there’s no reason why you can’t still go away for a few weeks.

There are many sites and blogs that can offer advice on travelling with kids. Travelling with infants can be tough but it is possible – you may just need to rely on an infant carrier rather than a pram and plan to visit places where you can buy baby supplies when you need them. You can take a travel cot with you or plan to stay at hotels that offer cots.

You can still take up a new hobby

Parenthood shouldn’t get in the way of taking up new hobbies and interests either. Whilst kids and work may take priority, you can still find ways to fit hobbies into your weekly routine. You may have to simply schedule time for them and get people to babysit for you.

Alternatively, there are many hobbies and interests that you can do with your kids. If you’ve always wanted to learn an instrument, why not do it with one of your kids – there are group lessons that can allow you to do this. Similarly, there are many family-friendly sports such as cycling, badminton or even martial arts.

You can still pursue fitness goals

If you want to lose weight, bulk up or train for a run, you also shouldn’t let parental duties get in the way of the exercise goals. Becoming a parent is no reason to stop being active and there are plenty of ways to still get your training in.

There are plenty of exercises that can be done with your children. When it comes to exercising with infants, why not try a baby aerobics class? Alternatively, you could try simply going for walks with your baby in an infant carrier. As for toddlers, you could invest in a carriage for your bike and cycle with your kids in tow. Meanwhile, when it comes to older kids, they may be able to exercise with you – going for walks, going swimming or simply playing games in the park could be enough to get your exercise in.

It’s possible that you may also be able to turn household chores into exercise. Hoovering the home could be a great time to try some lunges. You could also try doing some squats as you’re washing up. Actions such as scrubbing meanwhile can give you a good arm workout – it could be worth getting down on your hands and knees with a sponge to clean the kitchen floor rather than using a mop.

You could even exercise at home when the kids are preoccupied or asleep. There are plenty of exercises that you can do in front of the TV – these can be a great of combining leisure time and exercise. Alternatively, you could invest in a treadmill or a home exercise bike.

All in all, there are so many opportunities to find exercise. The physical demand of raising kids can make it difficult to find the motivation to then go for a workout, but if it’s something you’re passionate about you’ll be able to find the energy to do it.

Do you have a teen driver? If so, you need to check out the Drive Safe Challenge website

 

Passing a driver’s license test is a milestone for any teen driver. But, while teenagers gain a new-found sense of independence when they’re issued their license, parents are often left feeling a mix of excitement and anxiety.

The worry isn’t unfounded – teen drivers are the most inexperienced drivers on the road and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that the leading cause of death for teens is motor vehicle accidents. So, how can parents help keep their young drivers safe on the road? The best answer is education. Fortunately for parents, Mercury Insurance has created the Drive Safe Challenge website, a comprehensive resource designed to aid parents in teaching teens collision avoidance techniques and safe driving practices. The site also includes statistics, driving tips, a driving contract and more.

Many states require teens to have a minimum number of supervised driving hours and to complete a driver’s education course before they’re eligible for a license. New York, for example, requires teen drivers to finish a minimum of 24 classroom hours and 24 hours of behind-the-wheel instruction.

Currently, all 50 states have a graduated driver’s license program limiting driving privileges for teens. Most include a learning stage, an intermediate stage that limits unsupervised driving in high risk situations like driving late at night, and a full privilege stage. These restrictions have a positive effect: states with stricter guidelines for young drivers have seen a reduction in crash rates as reported by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Parents can work to reinforce the good driving practices taught through formal driver’s education by spending more time in the family vehicle with their teen. Providing guidance while teens are behind the wheel and leading by example are important aspects of driver education. The more driving practice your teen driver receives, the better. Visit the Drive Safe Challenge website to learn more about how you can help keep your teen driver safe on the road.

*This is a sponsored post. The opinions expressed are that of the author’s and do no necessarily reflect my own. 

 

Know the facts and SHATTER THE MYTHS about drugs and alcohol

 

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of National Institute on Drug Abuse for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

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I know being a parent is a tough job. Being a parent to a teen/young adult is even harder.

I have two teenagers, ages 17 and 19 (almost 20). The teen years are not easy at all. There are plenty of days I wish I could go back to dealing with their “terrible twos.”

When you have teenagers there is so much more you need to worry about, and plenty of discussions to be had with your teen about curfews, friends, dating, school and more serious issues like sex, drugs and alcohol.

When I was a teenager my parents didn’t talk to me about drugs and alcohol. I guess they assumed that I knew everything I needed to know from my peers and from school. Little did they know my peers were the worst influences on me. I was attending keg parties when I was only 15 years old. In hindsight, I was not too smart to do that at such a young age, especially knowing what I know now. I made extra certain to share all the facts with my kids to aid them in making smart choices.

January 23 – 29, 2017 is National Drug & Alcohol Facts WeekSM (NDAFW). It’s an annual, week-long observance that brings together teens and scientific experts to shatter myths about substance use and addiction.

NDAFW is sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), both part of the National Institutes of Health.

I wish they had something like this when I was a teenager. This event didn’t launch until 2010. Thankfully my kids were able to participate in school activities during the event.

The purpose of the week-long campaign is to SHATTER THE MYTHSTM,SM that kids might have about drugs and alcohol. Most of what they know about drugs and alcohol comes from their peers, movies, television, the internet and music which often objectifies drugs and alcohol and makes them look “cool” and fun to do.

These events connect teens with experts and scientists so that teens can ask questions about drugs and alcohol and receive the REAL facts about them. It’s a safe place for teens to ask those serious questions without the fear of being judged or getting lectures on why they shouldn’t use drugs and alcohol.

Since its inception, the number of community-based events held has grown dramatically, with more than 2,000 held last January throughout all 50 states and several international sites.

I visited the NDAFW website and learned some facts about drugs and alcohol that really made me think. For example, I read up on e-cigarettes, which seem to be very trendy these days.

Did you know…

  • 9.5 percent of 8th graders used e-cigarettes in the past month. – I was shocked when I read this.
  • Twice as many boys use e-cigs as girls. – This fact didn’t surprise me.
  • 30.7 percent of e-cig users started smoking within 6 months; 8.1 percent of non-users started smoking within that time. – My daughter knows a lot of kids who smoke e-cigarettes. She said they are not addicting. This scary fact proves that she’s wrong.
  • Manufacturers don’t have to report e-cig ingredients, so users often don’t know what’s in them. – That is scary! You have no clue what you are actually inhaling into your body. Why would anyone want to take such a risk with their health?

One important resource that NDAFW utilizes is the “National Drug & Alcohol IQ Challenge.” This is a 12-question multiple choice quiz that teens and adults can take in order to test their knowledge about drugs. If you are a parent you can take the IQ Challenge and share your results with your teen. It’s a great way to start a conversation about drugs and alcohol.

I would encourage all parents and guardians to take the “National Drug & Alcohol IQ Challenge.” I thought I knew a lot about drugs and alcohol, but I still got several wrong (I did fairly well). I plan on requesting that both my teenagers take the quiz too so we can discuss the results.

Check to see if there are any events going on locally for National Drug & Alcohol Facts WeekSM. If not you should check out their website and find out how you can get involved.

The website is also a valuable resource for talking to your teen about drug and alcohol facts. It’s an important discussion all parents should have with their teens.

 

Take the IQ Challenge!

 

Kimberly

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Applying Strengths-Based Parenting During Your Child’s High School and College Years

 

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Your children’s high school and college years can be some of the most exciting, challenging and stressful — yet rewarding — years of their lives. New opportunities for growth, exploration, and developing professional and personal relationships are seemingly everywhere. By seizing on the wealth of opportunities available during these special years, your children will be one step closer to blossoming into happy, healthy independent adults who can create fulfilling lives for themselves.

While it may pull on your heartstrings to see your little ones who used to toddle across the kitchen now forging a path for their future, this exciting phase lets them uncover their true talents and allows them to shine. In Gallup’s StrengthsFinder 2.0, talent is described as a natural way of thinking, feeling or behaving. A strength is the result of taking that talent and with investment — skills, knowledge and practice — using it to provide near-perfect performance in a given activity.

Our children do best when they get to use their strengths every day. Likewise, when parents apply their own individual talents and strengths, parenting becomes easier and more fulfilling, which affects their children’s fulfillment too.

As tough as it may be, it’s important to give your children the independence they crave during these formative years. If they elect to drop a class or activity that is not a right fit in favor of one that fosters their creativity, trust their instincts and that they are using their natural talents to the best of their ability. Focus on creating a positive, supportive environment where your children can apply their talents and build them into strengths.

When was the last time you really listened to your kids talk about their passions and started a conversation about developing those areas? At this age, they need to know what steps to take to determine which opportunities are available and how to seek them out.

The Gallup Student Poll has studied nearly 4 million responses from high school students to help educators build focused education that will engage students today and make them ready for tomorrow. Gallup’s Student Poll measures four areas of student success: enthusiasm for school, hope for the future, a knack for entrepreneurship and an understanding of finances. For parents of high schoolers, talk with your children to gauge how they are doing in each of these areas. Maybe you will spark an idea for a side business based on their passions that they can start during summer break. A little extra spending money goes a long way during these busy years filled with after-school activities, homecoming dances and prom.

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Of note to parents of older children, the Gallup-Purdue Index studied 30,000 U.S. college graduates to measure the degree to which students were engaged in their work and thriving in purpose, social, financial, community and physical well-being. The study concluded that those who had the following six experiences (Gallup’s Big Six) fared better later in life than those who didn’t have these experiences:

  1. Had a professor who made them excited about learning
  2. Had professors who cared about them as a person
  3. Had a mentor who encouraged them to pursue their goals and dreams
  4. Worked on a long-term project
  5. Had a job or internship where they applied what they were learning
  6. Were extremely involved in extracurricular activities

Stay involved in your children’s progress, and keep tabs on whether the Big Six are showing up in their lives. Pay attention to how they use their strengths in important interactions, whether it is developing a rapport with an internship coordinator or making a positive connection with a student adviser. Remaining focused on these key points allows you to be your kids’ biggest cheerleader and main support system for their long-term success. Our future doesn’t depend on everybody being the same; it depends on all individuals applying and sharing their unique talents, their blessings, their beliefs and their passions.

Take heart, new college parents. The holiday break will be here soon, and that means more opportunities to practice using your unique parenting strengths by touching base and really listening to how all those important new life experiences are going for your children as they navigate campus life.

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About the author:

Mary Reckmeyer, Ph.D., is the Executive Director of Gallup’s Donald O. Clifton Child Development Center, which has received national attention for excellence in early childhood education and helped parents and children build their lives around strengths. She has studied talent-based interviews of thousands of individuals, including children, teachers and parents, and she helped create the Clifton Youth StrengthsExplorer. Reckmeyer also coauthored How Full Is Your Bucket? For Kids. She and her husband have four children.

What Parents Want for their Kids

 

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When I would ask new parents what they wanted for their kids I would get a few awkward seconds of blank faces. I judged that these parents were so busy producing and nurturing their children they hadn’t given much thought to the subject. But the same parents usually recovered to tell me, “I guess we want our child to be happy.”

Wow, think of that! Not riches or status or achievement, but happiness. Perhaps these parents were telling me that happiness is independent of riches, status or achievement. And doesn’t that reflect a general feeling in our society? We all know some rich and famous people who are miserable. But happiness, that nebulous mental state, appears to be where we would like our kids to be. We all know when we’re happy and conversely when we’re not. And we all know children who appear to be happy and others who we describe as “troubled.”

The secret wish of parents during pregnancy is that they have healthy children without birth defects to disrupt a normal life.  There’s always a breath of relief when a physically healthy baby is born. Step One: a success. Such parents usually mark their blessing, then forget about their past worry and move on.  Now for Step Two: to see if the child is not impaired mentally. And that usually takes more time. If steps one and two provide disappointing results, generally the parents are so consumed with health issues that the more distant goal of life happiness is removed from their equation.

Only after attending to diapers, pediatricians and what seems to be an endless litany of parental duties is there time to think about the future. And when parents eventually turn their attentions to the future this issue of happiness comes to their minds. The big question then is — is happiness just a foggy concept or a real state of mind that can be achieved, and if so, how? And equally important can parents play a role making happiness a reality for their kids?

People who haven’t given this idea much thought will probably be naysayers. But those who have, I would suggest, will be more proactive. What makes parenting of human babies so much fun is that it isn’t like salmon eggs hatching a river and letting  the salmon fry just go their own way. Quite the contrary, nurturing human parents play an essential role in bringing up their kids. And they can teach many life skills.

They probably can’t teach them to be happy, but they can set the conditions in which they will grow into happy individuals.

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About Roger E. Herst

Roger E. Herst, author of “A Simple Formula for Raising Happy Children” (rogerherst.com), is an ordained Reform rabbi with MBA and doctorate degrees. A father and grandfather, Herst regularly engages with parents in the form of Platonic dialogue – a cooperative Q-&-A approach meant to stimulate critical thinking – to yield logic-based solutions for raising happy children.

Teens and Drugs: Don’t Look the Other Way

 

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Many people use prescription drugs for relief from chronic pain, depression, anxiety, and ADHD. Unfortunately, many people abuse these drugs and then find themselves addicted. Some of these abusers take more than the prescribed dosage. But, more often than not, the abuse comes from people who do not have a prescription at all.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, of the number of abusers, teens and young adults between the ages of 18 to 25 rank the highest. In a single year, 2014, over 1,700 died of an overdose. This figure does not include young adults that required medical treatment or a hospital stay. If you see a change in your child’s behavior take notice and act without delay. The sooner he/she gets help at a recovery clinic, the more likely positive changes will be permanent. Pinnacle Peak Recovery, an Arizona drug rehab program lists a number of programs that use proven treatment modalities like CBT, DBT, EMDR, and Experiential Therapy that can help your teen if they have an addiction problem.

Drug abuse is on the rise. And for teens, the probability of having someone approach them is more common than you think. Dealers are in middle schools, high schools, and colleges, often disguised as friends. And what they’re pushing often originally comes from a pharmacy shelf. Of these prescription drugs, the most common on the streets are opioid pain relievers, ADHD and anti-anxiety drugs. The reason they are so available in colleges is that students are under a lot of pressure to get good grades. The ADHD drugs help them to focus, making studying easier. The problem is that they soon begin to rely on them for daily use.

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Teens and young adults want to fit in with their peers. If approached at school or a party, many will try them just to look cool. Some may never take a pill again, but others now contact the person who introduced them to get more. Despite your best efforts, any child can find themselves addicted. This is a serious matter. They are taking something their body doesn’t need and may lead to serious consequences down the road.

If you suspect your child may have a problem with drugs, don’t ignore it. Take the time to sit with them and discuss the dangers of using these types of medicines. If they admit that they have tried but are not using, keep an eye on them. If you observe changes in their behavior, grades and appearance these may all be cause for alarm. Since prescription drugs are only safe when monitored by a doctor, teens and adults are at risk.

If you discover that your teen has a drug problem get them help fast. Along with rehab, you should also keep your child in counseling to uncover the underlying reason for the abuse. While some do it just to experiment and get high, others do it to avoid their life. Getting the proper help can mean the difference between a life of dependency and a bright future.

You love your children and want the best for them. But, sometimes despite your efforts, they get into trouble. A child hooked on drugs could lead to deadly consequences. This is a growing problem across the United States. It’s not partial to any economic or social group. Educating your teen before they reach puberty is a step in the right direction. Keeping them busy with sports and after-school programs will also help. It may just give them the confidence they need to say no to drugs.

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