School-to-home communication: Taking the stress out of everyday life

If your home is anything like mine, the mornings are definitely the most stressful part of the day. Trying to get everyone out of the house on time is always a challenge. It doesn’t help that my young son suffers from selective hearing, when it comes to subjects such as showering or cleaning his teeth. It often feels as if the only way I can get him to move quickly is by saying the same thing again and again and again or screaming like a banshee!

Life for us busy working mums can be a real juggling act and I am sure I am not alone in thanking God for the wonders of modern technology. How would we cope in a world without microwaves, dishwashers and automatic washing machines? Fortunately for us, new inventions come along all the time to help make our lives easier. One of the best examples, I have come across recently, is ParentMail, a school-to-home communication system.

In the past, schools relied on letters being sent home in book bags to communicate with parents – but this only worked if parents remembered to check their child’s bag regularly or, even less likely, the child remembered to hand the note over to whoever picked them up from school.

Thanks to ParentMail however, schools can now communicate with their pupils’ parents via a range of Apps.

As well as sending out emails about school news and events, ParentMail also allows schools to text more urgent messages to parents. E.g. my son’s afterschool football club was cancelled the other day, due to a teacher’s illness. I was sent a text from the school in the morning, which then gave me plenty of time to arrange for someone else to pick him up.

Thanks to ParentMail, keeping on top of all aspects of my child’s education has never been easier. There is also an App, which allows me to fill out and return permission slips online and even book a slot at a parents evening.  Just this week, I did exactly that. All I had to do was open a link to an online booking form, fill out my name, email address and telephone number and then my son’s name and class. This then gave me access to a list of all the slots my son’s teacher still had free. I ticked the time that was most convenient for my husband and I, and within a few seconds received an email confirming the date and time of the appointment – brilliant and so simple!

And, as if this isn’t enough, ParentMail can also help schools collect, track and bank parent payments via its +Pay App. This is an absolute godsend in my house, as I rarely have any cash on me and can never find my chequebook. With +Pay, schools inform parents by email and/or text about items they need to pay for, be it for school lunches, tickets and events, school trips or fees and other subscriptions. Parents then log into their school’s ParentMail account and settle bills online by transferring money straight into the school bank account.

With internet and mobile communications technologies now very much a part of our everyday life, ParentMail provides a service which helps make everyone’s life run more smoothly – I for one am a fan.

This article was written by Amanda Walters, an experienced freelance writer and regular contributor to Huffington Post. Follow her here: @Amanda_W84

I Feel Invisible

Well, not me.

My daughter. The tween.

Says she feels invisible at school.

While driving down the road my daughter and I have most of our random conversations.

It seems, as of late, that is the easiest place for her to open up with whatever may be on her mind.

She is 10 and will be 11 in October. The tween years.

That middle stage of childhood. The testing  years of trying to find yourself and who your real friends are.

Picsart App The Daughter

Apparently at this age, everyone is dating. So says the daughter.

Of course, she isn’t allowed to date per say. While it’s fine with me for her to crush on a boy in school and say maybe that they are boyfriend and girlfriend. Dating? Like actually spending time together outside of school that isn’t a birthday party or something, is not happening.

While I thought she would be fighting me on this. She isn’t. It seems Ki has learned to trust my rules and instinct, even if she isn’t 100% in agreement with me. The agree to disagree technique works well for us because she understands my logic with rules.

Back to the story of feeling invisible….

Beauitful Daughter

Ki has this one friend. Apparently no more than one. While this is okay with her most times, there are times where it bothers her.

The thing is that Ki is who she is. She has her faults, everyone does. Ki is an individual who does not fit into any particular clique at school.

Many girls are now forming these cliques. You have the girls who can do whatever, who have minimal if any parental guidance at home. You have the girls who are below their age in maturity and emotional aspects, while also have stricter rules than I have in my home. And then you have girls like Ki,she is encouraged to be herself, find who she is and what works for her and also has set rules. So Ki essentially has this Mom/Best Friend relationship with me and in turn the kids do not think that is so cool.

Ki wears clothes that may not be the hit style this year. Ki is super intelligent, a high honor roll student. Ki is goofy, silly and loves to read.

Upon our discussion of Ki feeling invisible, I knew I had to redirect that negative feeling into something positive. After all, that is how I roll. I took a moment to ask questions as a way to open Ki’s eyes to the fact that she isn’t invisible to her peers.

First, I asked if she gets picked on? Ki replied no. I also asked if she still has only “one” friend as she has told me in the past months. She confirmed, yes.

Okay then. My conclusion was this and is what I told my daughter,

If you have no one picking on you and yet no friends as you think, then maybe it’s not that you don’t have any friends. Sure you don’t hang out and talk a lot with these other girls, but they don’t pick on you. These are girls who are aware of who you are and I bet they have a respect for you. While you all don’t play or hang out like you used to, you all are not fighting and name calling either.  This, my daughter, is called respect. So while you feel invisible, you are not, in all reality you are respected. That is the correct word to give this situation. And you need to stand tall & proud that your peers respect you.

After I said this to Ki she started to take in just what I had said to her. Ki verbally, out loud, while riding in the car with me started processing her thoughts in response to my citing that she is respected, not invisible. And then I could see a beam of happiness across her face, she was lit up, it sunk in and she was like “Wow. Thanks Mom. You may be right!”

School Vacation is Ending, Back to the Real World

I have had such a blast on school vacation week, but it’s time to get back to the real world of balancing mom and work. I had such a great time bringing my kids to the Montshire Museum of Science on Friday, we learned while having fun and I will be sure to share more pictures during the upcoming week.

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Yes, that is my loves hanging outside before we went into the museum and is now my favorite picture of the happy munchkins together.

While school vacation puts a toll of how much we can all handle each other, I can honesty say that there really wasn’t too many challenges that arose in parenting and hanging out with my kids during the week. My youngest has been testing my patience lately and one day while in the pet store watching the turtles, the worker says to me “wow, you are a really patient mom”. I had to think because sometimes after a long day with my youngest I wonder if I am patient enough, so to have someone say that was a wonderful feeling.

Montshire Museum of Science

The kids laughed, we played, we colored, we did two day trips and another couple of trips to the pet store just to watch the turtles mostly. We just had a wonderful week and even though I had a fantastic time, I am ready to get back into the normal schedule and routine of school and work. Since my ex husband got a new job, he is closer to our town, which means he can have our youngest longer. I will now have two days a week to work and three part days to work. I am excited to be able to increase my work load and hours now.

Montshire Museum of Science Moose

There have been so many positives from this past week to mention, but just let it be known, I had one amazing school vacation week with my kids, and when the boyfriend and his kids were around we had fun too. It’s just been one of those weeks to remind me I am truly blessed and should be grateful for what I have in my life because what I have in my life is love and happiness no matter what!

Did you all have school vacation this past week? If not, when do you or did you have it? What did you all do during school vacation?

Trying to Get Back on Schedule

I have to laugh at myself because I am often saying how I am not routine driven, that I am a free spirit and not a planner but then things happen to mess up my normal schedule or routine that set me off for a loop, taking me a long time to get back on track. It even goes so far as to make me tense, the shoulders get hard as boulders and my mind is completely frazzled. But I am not routine driven like my middle child, nope nope nope!

I lied. I am.Totally. 100% routine driven.

So when the school had a water pipe burst sending water through my sons school and they had no school for a week? I was home with my sons for a week, full time, trying to figure out how in the heck to work around two boys who were with me 24/7 that week, minus their few hour break with Dad a couple mornings.

Next there was Nemo who dumped us with snow. No school happened one day because of that.

Then there has been a change of schedule for the boys Dad, he is training on days for a couple or few weeks. This means the boys no longer are gone for 1-2 full days a week, but rather 1-2 evenings for just a few short hours a week. This is nuts.

I work days. I used to work nights, but I just can not seem to have the focus and drive I used to at evening hours. That is why I switched up my routine and work from home schedule to be morning hours! Now, here I am trying to figure out how to juggle my schedule around since school is back in session but the visits with their Dad has changed …

It’s always something around here, but I know I will get through this. I have been working in between the times the kids are in school, in between activity drop offs, in between sleep hours, in between visits. This all adds up to an hour here and an hour there, but at least it’s more than not working at all.

I can not wait for school to be steady again, but voila there is end of February one week long vacation from school coming up, just when the ex gets his second shift schedule back, my kids will be on vacation.

Every day I’m shuffling…

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Kids Who Prefer One Parent Over the Other

I firmly believe that every child, even as an adult, has a favorite parent, not really because they are their “favorite” by normal definitions, but because it’s the parent that they can relate closer to, maybe it’s the parent they are just more comfortable talking to, or maybe it’s the parent who is more fun. Whatever the reasons, I firmly believe we all have that “favorite” parent and my kids are no exception.

The older two kids pick and choose, having moments in their lives when they favor Dad over me or me over Dad. There isn’t really a rhyme nor reason to it, it’s just how it is. And that is okay. The youngest, however, is a Daddy’s boy big time. That is by far his favorite parent. It’s not that he doesn’t love his Mama, because I know he loves me very much, but for some reason he is just more of a Daddy’s boy. And that is okay.

Even though I am okay with that and can accept it, I will admit it can hurt my feelings at times. Such as when I go to the school and am waiting outside so happy to see my little boy after a couple of hours away from him and he doesn’t appear to return that same level of feeling. Preschool is new this year, so being apart from my youngest for a couple of hours four days a week for school is hard on me at times. I miss him.

Sadly, most days it doesn’t fully appear that he misses me. At the school when the children from his preschool class walk out of the school doors, each runs happily to their parent(s). Excited to see their parents and talk about their wonderful time at preschool. My son, does not do that. There is no big happy smile to see Mama. There is no big hug.

There is a back pack thrown at the ground or at me. A serious look. And off he goes running for the car if I don’t get his hand quick enough. It does make me a tiny bit sad, but I know when we get home he is smiling, telling me all about his day. Happy to curl up on the recliner with me and share what happened in school. I just wish he was like that right after school. He is not. And it hurts my sensitive heart to not have that happy, excited to see his Mama child after preschool lets out.

Does your child have a “favorite” parent? One that he/she seems to prefer over the other?

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