College Mom 101–Surviving the Semi-Empty Nest

collegemom101

In May our oldest graduated from high school, and a few weeks ago he drove off to college. I cried both days. A lot.

But then, like the strong-willed German that I am, I bucked up and got over it.

Because my kid going to college is not about me.

I had my chance. I went to college. I loved college. I *might* have loved college just a wee bit too much.

This time, it is his turn. And he does *NOT* need me hovering over him like a creepy helicopter, and he does not need me looking over his shoulder like a stalker.

So here, my friends, is a brief primer on sending your child(ren) off to college. (You may just want to Pin this or bookmark it for later–the time WILL come!)

collegemom101

  • Learn what parts of the college experience are for parents to join in with, and which ones are not.
    For example, the “college visit” is a great activity for parents to join in on–and you should! The admissions staff is used to answering all of your questions. There is often a separate “parent orientation” (I suspect that this is scheduled to get parents out of the way during student orientation–far too many heli-moms would be tempted to follow Junior around taking notes.) Move in day is a fine time for parents (but check with Junior first–some kids prefer a more laid-back move-in day minus sibling entourage and weepy mom.)
  • Have “the talk”. Not *that* talk. . .that should have happened years ago. Now, this talk is about all of the what-ifs. What if the roommate is an insufferable jerk, what about sick days? Is skipping class a good idea (no!) What about parties? How often to come home? How often will you text or call? Will junior have an allowance or need to get a job? And, importantly, have a talk about credit, and the wise use of it (very sparingly). We found College 101: Campus Life for Christians to be very helpful.
  • Keep Move-In Day Brief. Help Junior unload the car, but resist the urge to unpack the socks and underwear and put them away. Introduce yourself to roommate and parents, but do not share baby photos or embarrassing stories. Take Junior to lunch and to one last minute fridge stocking trip to Target and then leave. No tears. Just a simple goodbye. There are so many activities that first weekend of school, and Junior needs to feel free to partake (or not) as much as he wants and not worry about entertaining his grieving mom (and yes, grief is a great word to describe that feeling).
  • Take advantage of technology. It is much less embarrassing for Junior to text back and forth with you than to field awkward phone calls (plus, kids can tell if you are crying on the phone). Take advantage of messaging on Facebook or Twitter, or take a leap and learn to Snapchat! If your college has a parent organization, join up and get to know other parents going through what you are going through.
  • Don’t forget the care-packages. Everyone loves mail, and Junior is no exception. Time a package to arrive around the end of the first week. Remember that a care package is for roommate and suitemates as well, so double up on the goodies. After that, set aside all of the treats that you buy by habit and accident and ship them off every few weeks.
  • Remember whose college experience this is. (hint: it is not yours–no matter how much you miss dorm life) Yes, you feel like a piece of your heart has been ripped out and transplanted across the state, but Mom, you raised Junior for this! We raise our kids to leave the nest. They will make mistakes, they will call you in a panic, they will make fun of you with their roommates. This, Mom, is part of college life.

You’ve got this, mom. You worked really hard to have the happiest baby on the block, now step back and let your child be the happiest co-ed on campus, knowing that he is loved, supported, but most of all, not smothered.

Newborn Twins: Seasoned Mom Advice

Nothing can truly prepare you for newborn twins.

Nothing.

When the girls were born, I was already a mom four times over. I had successfully kept four little boys alive, and yet, I was totally unprepared to bring a set of twins home from the hospital.

In some ways, it was like starting over again.

Well, I’m a survivor of sorts. The twins turned three on Monday. Somehow I’ve managed not to ruin them beyond repair.

I admit, a lot of what got me through my early days of twin parenthood was the help and support of the multiple community. I have several moms of twins in my city that I could see face to face and were so happy to see me cart around my two pink bundles of joy. I also found many, many supportive multiple moms on the internet.

If there is something I learned about multiple moms, it is that they are so happy to share what works or does not work. Most of the moms I met had twins at least a few years older than mine. So I knew that twin motherhood was survivable. So, I asked my online tribe the question,

“What bit of advice do you wish you had been given right before your babies were born?”

You see, there is a lot of advice that gets thrown at a pregnant woman throughout pregnancy, but that last-minute pep talk? Those are the words that stuck with me. I still remember my friend Kathy telling me the day before my induction, “I wish someone had told me how much fun this would be!” Those words stuck with me. Because Kathy was not a mom of adorable five-year old twins, or fully grown adult twins. Kathy had given birth to her twin boys just three months before I had my girls. While she was still “in the trenches” she was finding the fun and joys in twindom! What an encouragement!

Amber’s advice really resonated with me. Giving birth to twins was a very humbling time. I am a strong, determined, “can-do” woman. I don’t complain much. I power through a lot. But having twins brought me to my knees. Two newborn babies crying at one time are very overwhelming! I learned that when people asked how they could help me, I had to give them a way to help! Other moms cooked for our family for weeks after the girls were born. Women came over to clean my house. For some women the thought of being waited on like this  sounds heavenly, but for this control-freak mom it was humbling. I had to accept help, because I needed help. My friends pitching in was a necessity, not a luxury!

My friend Krystle wrote, “It will be nothing like you expect.” I know that this is true, as I met Krystle online and was a long-distance breastfeeding and all around moral support person. When one child at a time is all you know, having twins really can turn things upside down!

Laura (with twins a year older than mine) writes,

“you will have those moments when you break down and cannot handle it all. It is OK and it is OK to ask for help. This is not a sign of weakness. Also, if the help that is being offered is not what you need and you need something else it is OK to say “thank you for the offer but what would really help is …”

Susan wrote,

They will BOTH learn how to drive AT THE SAME TIME. Talk about sticker shock All joking aside, it is a learned process and it is just like mothering one child. Always ask for help and advice when you need it.

Nicole advised, “Organized chaos will become your new normal, try to enjoy it when you can because the first year is a blur.”

Eileen remembers,

Write every thing down! I forgot which baby I feed at what time and who had pooped all the time! I eventually figured out that I needed to “chart” things! It really helped when the needed medication.

And sweet Nicolette, who took her lunch break to come and hug me while I was a weepy mess when Emily was in the NICU, knows all too well the joys and frustrations that multiples bring. . .her triplets are 14! She said, “Hang on ‘cuz it’s going to be a wild, wonderful ride!!!”

All of these moms are so, so right.

Forget the advice about schedules, and color coding, and all the other stuff that will get thrown at you! Just remember to accept help, set aside your expectations, write things down, and enjoy the ride!

What advice would you give a brand new twin mom right before her babies are born?

 

 

 

 

How To Share Your Proud Parent Moments

family I’m a mom to six awesome kids. I’d like to say that they are awesome due to my superior mothering, but that would be a lie. In many ways they are awesome in spite of my many flaws! I’m usually pretty careful about bragging about my kids, in public and on this blog, partially out of a sense of humility and partially because I don’t really want to sound like a perpetual annoying Christmas letter.

At the risk of sounding like a braggart, I think that we need to spend more time building up our kids, by praising their childhood achievements.

The temptation is to bemoan our kids, and point out the very burden of raising them. Trust me, I know. A quick glance through some recent posts would lend you the idea that my girls only cry and fight and that my sons sit around and make messes without cleaning them up. While this may be true at least part of the time, most of the day I am super proud of my kids!

Lately I’ve been shouting from the rooftops that my son who has always struggled in school is now earning As and Bs! The really awesome thing is that the more I praise this achievement, the harder he works and more responsible he acts.

I have a sporty son too. He is way sportier than Dakotapastor or I. Now, he may or may not be the most athletically gifted kid, but what he does have is a great attitude towards sports. He sees the sports he participates in as entertainment. He does not need to win to have fun…though winning is fun! His good sportsmanship is something to be proud of, and I let him know this all the time.

And those toddler girls? They are starting to talk! And the more that they talk, the less they cry…and that, my friends makes me a happy and proud mama!

Here are some tips to share your pride in your kids.

Don’t be afraid to brag at home.

The dinner table is not a Christmas letter. There is no shame in playing up everyone’s strong points around the table. When you have dinner as a family (and I hope that you do), spend a little time sharing achievements. Teach your kids to “toot their own horn” when needed. Let them know that the things that they achieve are worth being proud of.

Let your kids “catch” you bragging on them.

Next time you are talking with your friends and the kids are within earshot, take a moment to talk up some of your children’s achievements. Trust me, they do hear, and it will make them feel great!

Don’t stop documenting milestones with the baby book.

We tend to obsessively keep track of the baby and toddler years. Find a way to document elementary and high school milestones as well, either with a scrapbook, journal, photo book or even a blog.

Teach your kids to watch out for other people’s achievements.

Have your family cultivate a culture of encouragement in which you point out and praise other people’s achievements! The more they praise others the prouder they will be of themselves.

Older kids are harder to praise.

Sometimes it takes a “captive audience” to praise teens for their achievements. They tend to be more self conscious and are not fond of talking about themselves. Take advantage of times driving them around town to let them know just how very proud of them you are. Or, every once in a while, write them a note and leave it on their bedside table or desk. They may not look like or act like your approval matters, but it really does!

Chime in! What are some of your kids’ latest and greatest achievements? Do you have a special way to mark them? I’d love to hear from you!

This post was sponsored by Electrolux. The Electrolux Perfect Steam washer gets your clothes cleaner than any other washer2, keeping kids looking their best, so parents can focus on the moments that count. Kelly Ripa and Electrolux want to know your proud parent moments. Visit facebook.com/Electroluxto share your BEST moments and enter for a chance to win a new laundry pair.


[1] Based on AHAM washability test protocol for leading brand front-load washers with normal cycle times less than 60 minutes.

[2] NO PURCHASE OR DONATION NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.  Sweepstakes ends  6/26/12.   Full rules available at facebook.com/Electrolux.