Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Well, this is new... #tween

I had a shocking revelation this week. My little girl is totally a tween. Almost eight years old but mature beyond her years, my creative, sporty, and sensitive child is becoming moody. She is isolating herself more. She has less patience with baby brother, who has somehow captured a hurricane in his little toddler body. She worries... a lot. She studies and writes lyrics to songs. She wants to look stylish. She wants to understand more about love and dating - but she doesn't want to ask me.

Insert mom freak out here... I have no idea what to do with this! 

I have had several years to become comfortable with little kids. My relationship with my daughter has been extra special, and I want to walk that fine line between being #1 fan and being her mom. I want her to talk to me and always know that I've got her back, but I don't want to nag when she just needs space. I want her to love her brother and play with him without a feeling of parental responsibility. It's OK for her to be the fun one in his life, and she is not less cool for hanging out with him. She's actually one of the coolest big sisters ever!

Are you stepping into the world of tweens too? Experienced moms of teens... do you have any tips for smoothing out the bumps in the adolescent road?

In the meantime, I need to study up. Here are a few expert articles that are helpful starting points to guide parents through tween years:

10 Tips For Parenting Your Pre-Teen 

28 Things No One Tells You About Parenting a Tween 
("they will Google you" - I love this.) 

Parenting Tweens section on Huffington Post

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Learning how to lose

I think it is great when children enjoy sports with a bit of competitive flair. Succeeding at a sport builds confidence and keeps our young people energetic and healthy. But one of the most important things that sports can teach us is how to lose.

If you follow BalancingMama on Facebook, you may have seen the recent conversation that came from our volleyball tournament experience. Our six-to-eight-year-old girls had their first tournament the other day to close out the winter volleyball season. The bracket was set up in a weird way, with winners moving on to the championship match and losers playing a consolation match. Not a typical tournament situation, but we all understood the schedule going into the day. Alas, our girls- team did not win their first match, so we were placed in the consolation game.

The parents decided not to play it

The parents felt like it was "pointless" to play again since we could not win the tournament. They mentioned that only first and second place would get medals... so why play that last game?

Um... because it is fun? Because the girls can get more play time? Because it is the last hurrah of our volleyball season? Because it was on the schedule and we all knew what the bracket entailed?

How about to teach our girls how to lose?

I was against leaving that day in a forfeit of the final game. My daughter wanted to play and she didn't understand why so many parents refused to stay. Yes, she enjoyed her ice cream with a few teammates instead, but we could have done that after the consolation game, anyway. 

I know in our youth sports "career", we will probably encounter poor sportsmanship often. I just wish it wasn't so. Kids need to play the sports they love because they love it. They should be proud of their winning accomplishments, but understand that losing is part of the game. There always has to be a loser. Sometimes in life, that loser is going to be you... or us. Losing teaches us how to find the good in a situation and enjoy what we can. Losing teaches us to face disappointment but contain it. To keep it within the realm of that one situation and to not allow it to take over our happiness.

In life, we will all lose somewhere. We can decide it is all pointless and go home, or we can smile and play again simply because it is fun.

Monday, February 8, 2016

What is there to do at the Children's Museum of Atlanta?

Our family received complimentary tickets to view the newly-renovated Children's Museum of Atlanta and the current exhibit, Mystery of the Mayan Medallion. As always, all opinions are 100% mine. 

 My family is new to the Children's Museum of Atlanta. I took a small toddler Amelia there many years ago, but other events, time, and distance kept us from returning. So the entire family jumped at the chance to view the new renovation and Mayan Medallion exhibit this weekend. An Atlanta attraction that none of us had really seen before? Yes! A perfect Sunday morning outing. 

With an almost 6-year age gap between my children, we were curious if the Children's Museum of Atlanta could entertain her as well as our little guy who just celebrated turning two. The museum did not disappoint! It has captivating exhibits and play spaces for all ages. (Even my husband and I played and didn't want to leave!) 

The current feature exhibit is The Mystery of the Mayan Medallion. While a bit over the toddler's head, it was a perfect mini archaeological adventure for our second grader. Andrew did enjoy running in circles through the "cave", as he called it, and peering at insect and arachnid specimens through a magnifying glass in a rotating display, before scampering off to play with the foam darts, magic sand, or to clomp up and down the piano stairs. Did I mention there is a lot of fun to be had at this museum?!

The big hit of the day for my children was the child-sized diner a'la Waffle House in the Fundamentally Food area. Kids gravitated towards this amazing kitchen where they could serve up pretend bacon and eggs, coffee, and (of course) waffles to grown-ups in diner stools or at a classic Waffle House booth. The Diner includes an interactive jukebox filled with kid-friendly music. The children of many ages seemed to play together exceptionally well, and everyone had a great time. 
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