To Be or Not to Be a Stay At Home Mom

Thirty-two years ago, I can remember being faced with the decision of whether to be a stay at home or working mom.  I started working and tried staying at home for a while, and decided to go back to work.  I know many young parents face this decision.  My daughter has chosen a different route and is a stay at home mom.  She is doing a wonderful job and I asked her to share her challenges and joys of being a stay at home mother.  

So here they are by Megan Honeycutt Berg:

Being a stay-at-home mom is a great adventure.  The ups and downs of every day are enough to give you quite a few of gray hairs.  Some days I sit back and look at the little person I created and think, “Wow, I did a good job,” until I see that same little creation throw my phone into the toilet or draw on herself with a pen.  As a stay-at-home mom, I have the 1451576_10200841259376829_2015779913_n amazing opportunity to not miss a thing in my child’s life (the good, the bad, and the ugly).  First steps, first words, the sweet cuddles during the day, potty training, temper tantrums, eating the dogs’ food, and decorating the walls with poop are all a part of my daily life.

The joys far outweigh the struggles, but there are many struggles.  Whether my child is at school or at home, she has to learn.  The difference is that I am in charge of what she learns, and when she learns.  The weight is all on me.  Children learn at their own pace, but I feel that my child has to be on the same level as children her age in school.  This struggle is also seen as a joy because I can watch her little face light up as she realizes that she has learned something new.

Staying at home with my daughter has given us a bond that I cherish every day.  She is my best friend, and I am hers.  Although, trying to have a full conversation with a 3 year old can be interesting.  I wake up to her smiling face every morning and know that we get to spend the entire day together doing exciting activities.

1926863_10201614181499399_1920399702_nI love spending time with my daughter, but nap time is heaven!  I need alone time.  Having alone time is tough.  During the day I am everything to my daughter.  I am her chef, chauffeur, maid, playmate, teacher and mommy.  I would like to pass some jobs out to my husband when he returns home, but my daughter doesn’t see it that way.  I cater to her every need during the day so why would it be any different when her daddy gets home?  Unfortunately, there isn’t a switch that can be flipped on and off when this mommy needs a break

 Having the privilege to be a stay-at-home mom is one of the most rewarding experiences I have had.  I witness the little giggles, big smiles, learning experiences, and every temper tantrum.  There are good times and difficult times, but combining them all is what makes great memories and we get to make them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

As you can see, there are many challenges and joys to staying at home as there are if you choose to work outside of the home.  Mothers need to make the best decisions for their children, husbands, and themselves.  There is no right or wrong answer.  It has to be what best fits your family!  Just remember that whichever you choose, enjoy the ride!

Norma Honeycutt, Executive Director

Norma Honeycutt, Executive Director

Norma Honeycutt is the Executive Director of Partners In Learning Child Development & Family Resource Center. Norma is one of the states strongest advocates for children with special needs serving on boards and commissions including the North Carolina Child Care Commission, Rowan County NCPreK Advisory Committee, and Rowan County Local Interagency Coordinating Council. Norma is also a CBRS therapist and facilitates support groups, activities, and other programs for families of children with special needs.

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Learning to Self-Regulate Starts Early On

“I hate you!”  That’s what my granddaughter told her mother recently.  “You’re the worst Mom in the whole world, and I hate you.”  Hurtful?—Yes.   Disrespectful?—Absolutely, and both these points were addressed once my granddaughter was able to calm down from her highly, emotionally-unregulated state of mind.   The outburst was caused by a misunderstanding between my granddaughter, her classroom teacher and her mother.  Cecilia was supposed to go into the after-school program while her mother volunteered to work the “drive-line” during after-school pick up time.  Instead, Cecilia was directed to the drive line for pick-up as was her typical daily routine.  When her mother did not arrive, Cecilia remained in the drive-line alone and was then sent to wait in the office.  She became scared, yet held herself together until she was reunited with her mom.  When they got in the car, Cecilia, age seven, lost control of her emotions.

Self-regulation is a learning process.  Until a child has the ability to self-regulate, cognitive learning cannot take place.  Many parents do not realize this, believing instead that a child’s cognitive knowledge is the key to success for a child entering elementary school.  In reality, a child who enters kindergarten knowing how to count, write their name and recite the alphabet but is unable to follow directions, maintain composure and control his or her actions will probably not be successful academically.  Therefore, social-emotional development is AT LEAST as important as cognitive development.

Cecilia is an emotional child.  She has always been an emotional child.  Fortunately, she is very mature in many other ways and is able to self-regulate most of the time, though she is still learning and will continue to learn this skill throughout her childhood.  She will need to depend on the help and support of the adults around her to achieve this goal.

Katherine Generaux,Community Inclusion Specialist, Partners In Learning

Katherine Generaux serves as the center’s Community Inclusion Specialist. In that position she has been effective in modeling appropriate interactions with young children with special needs. Her ongoing presence in the classrooms modeling best practices for infants and toddler is resulting in additional experience while making a positive difference in early childhood programming. She is very aware of what is developmentally appropriate and engaging with the children. Her birth through kindergarten degree and experience are evident in her service to children and families.

Everyone Needs Privacy, Even Your Child…

I can remember way back when I was a very little girl having a “junk” drawer. This was my special place, no one was allowed to open it but me. My mother never went in it, my sisters were told not to and Dad couldn’t have cared less about it. Many parents struggle with the need to protect their child while still respecting her right to privacy. When safety is paramount, however, a parent needs to learn how to give her child space within established bounds and without compromising trust. This seems trivial, but a child’s need and privilege for privacy is important and should start to be taught even at birth.

One may ask how you teach child privacy at birth. During a diaper change of course, this is a daily opportunity to begin teaching mutual respect and privacy. When you pick up your child let them know “I am picking you up, it is time to change your diaper. Here comes the wipe, it is cold. I am going to clean your bottom now.” This doesn’t seem like much and to some may even sound ridiculous but consider if it were you, wouldn’t you like to know what is going on with your body before it happens?

Showing respect for the privacy of your child at the earliest of ages will set the stage for the rest of their life. Allowing that “junk” drawer or box for all of a child’s special secret stuff will let them know that you respect their privacy, this in turn will teach them that you too have private spaces, places and times that NO CHILDREN ARE ALLOWED.

1. Teach your child that it is okay to say “no” to an adult, even you. Respect your young child’s right to privacy when she wants to use the bathroom by herself or go into a dressing room alone. Even a young child values modesty and privacy. Help your child to understand that parents, teachers and doctors should always ask permission before touching, examining or looking at her in a way that might make her feel uncomfortable.

2. Discourage your child from locking her bedroom door. Many children retreat to the comfort of their bedroom in order to be alone. Make a deal with your child that if the door is closed, no one should enter without first knocking.

3. Work to make your child feel safe. Children will often keep secrets if they feel their safety is threatened. Likewise, they are more likely to keep secrets if they feel that mom or dad might get mad. Explain to your child that secrets can be hurtful and damaging and that while you might not always like what she has to say, you are always available to listen. Also explaining that if you ever feel their safety is threatened by someone or something that you may have to break the privacy contract to keep them safe.

4. Once children reach the teen years there can be varying degrees of the amount of privacy a parent allows depending on the child. James Lehman, MSW says, Privacy is a Privilege, Not a Right If you have a teenager who meets her responsibilities, comes home on curfew, is where she says she’ll be when she said she’d be there, is hanging out with the people with whom she said she would be hanging out, and you have no reason to be suspicious about anything, I suggest you stay out of her room. And I think you should tell her that, too. You can say something like, “I’m not going to interfere with your privacy, because you’re doing so well. I have no reason not to trust you.” That way, she knows she’s being rewarded for her behavior—your lack of interference in her personal space is a direct result of her actions.

However, your kids should know that if they violate the trust and honesty, one of the things that’s going to change is that you are going to be watching them more carefully. And yes, that might mean going through their drawers or closet or looking through their email. But that’s the price they pay for being dishonest and untrustworthy. We all have to learn in life that losing someone’s trust is a very powerful thing. People get fired from their jobs because they’ve done something that violates their boss’s trust, like stolen something from work or used drugs or alcohol while on the job. Trust is not something that can be taken lightly, both inside your home and out. It’s not spying when you decide you have to take extra steps to keep your kids safe from what’s going on in the outside world and from their own poor decisions, especially if you have other children in the home.

Deborah Howell is the Assistant Director for Partners In Learning.

 

Deborah Howell is the Assistant Director of Partners In Learning. Her education includes an associate’s degree from Rowan-Cabarrus Community College in early childhood education and a bachelor’s degree from UNC Greensboro in human development and family studies with a concentration in birth-kindergarten. She also holds a master’s degree at UNCG. She also serves as a CBRS therapist for the center.

Parents, you’re not alone!

In researching parenthood, I stumbled across an article “Parenthood in America” by Marc H. BornsteinIs. Even though this article was written in 1998 there are still some truths today in 2013. I like the way Bornsteinls states, “Despite the fact that most people become parents, and everyone who ever lived has had parents, parenting remains a somewhat mystifying subject about which almost everyone has opinions, but about which few people agree.” I believe that this is very true. Issues arise today concerning who is responsible for children’s behavior or the lack thereof. I wholeheartedly believe that parents are educators who teach their children how to develop mentally, emotionally, socially, physically, and spiritually. At the same token, it takes a village to raise a child.

A child is most supported when they have a positive home-environment and community, a thriving school system, and balanced church. When a child is lacking in any of these areas it has the possibilities of producing negative behaviors, unhealthy decision making, and most importantly could lead to an imbalanced life. This dead-end could be alleviated when a child is properly nurtured by its support systems. Parenting will not always go right and it won’t always go wrong. It’s a skill set that must be embraced by the parent themselves. I believe parenting has to be an ability that each individual parent offers instruction innately by allowing others to assist in contributing to their child’s growth. For example once a child is enrolled in school, further development is given and this is from their teacher, not the parent. I am another example!

As a child, now an adult, I was raised by a healthy family, outstanding school system and a great church. I have not made the best of choices, but I overcame them all. When I made bad decisions I was able to lean on the shoulder of my parents, mentors and or friends that had my best interest at heart. Every child and adult need someone to go to motivate them in time of tough decisions or when in trouble. I do know that I would not have succeeded this far in life, had I not been around loving, caring, respecting, motivating, positive and supportive parents, an outstanding school system and trust worthy community leaders as a whole.

Now 27 years old, I have developed my own family, motivation of achievement, self-confidence and worth. My husband and I work as a team to raise our children based off our own morals, values and beliefs. Now that I have been working with children and families for seven years, I do my best at offering support through embracing their personalities, interests, and abilities. Giving these children the understanding education they need to get the basics of life to establish their own self-esteem, moral and ethical values so that when they arise to adulthood they too can be self-starters and achievers.

Michelle Macon is the Program Coordinator and Family Support Advocate for Partners In Learning.

 

Michelle Macon has been with Partners In Learning since 2006 and serves as the Program Coordinator and Family Support Advocate. She holds an associate’s degree in early childhood development and a bachelor’s degree in birth through kindergarten education. She is a mother of two children and has experience working with infants and toddlers.

Environmental Impact On Behavior

Each year, Partners In Learning offers a Disabilities Simulation Forum.  We invite members of the community to experience what day-to-day life might be like if walking, manipulating objects, processing information or coping with sensory overload imposed challenges for an individual.  It is one thing to understand what it might be like to have a disability intellectually, but a whole different understanding is acquired when a person actually experiences the challenges of the disabilities, even if it’s just for a few minutes.  The sensory stimulus overload simulation is my creation.  I bombard participates with noise, smell, bright lights and invite them to sit on irritating-textured chairs while they attempt to construct a puzzle.

While some people are hypersensitive to environmental stimulus, ALL OF US respond to environmental stimulus, whether we’re aware of it or not.  For example, have you ever gone into Walmart without seeing at least one child having a behavioral meltdown?  Think about it; the florescent lighting, the crowds, the noise and the volume of visual stimulus provides sensory overload for most of us!  As classroom teachers and early interventionists, we are very aware of how environment impacts behavior.   Bright primary colors might be conducive in some environments, but if you want your child to take a nap or fall to sleep at night, I suggest walls painted in soft blues or greens.  Over time, children generally mirror the noise level in their environment.  I know one teacher who talks so softly that children lean in to hear what she’s saying.  Her classroom is filled with natural lite, and she responds to a child’s upset with calmness and care.  She has created a very peaceful learning environment.

When your child is exhibiting challenging behavior, be sure to look at environmental factors that me be impacting the behavior.

Katherine Generaux,Community Inclusion Specialist, Partners In Learning

Katherine Generaux serves as the center’s Community Inclusion Specialist. In that position she has been effective in modeling appropriate interactions with young children with special needs. Her ongoing presence in the classrooms modeling best practices for infants and toddler is resulting in additional experience while making a positive difference in early childhood programming. She is very aware of what is developmentally appropriate and engaging with the children. Her birth through kindergarten degree and experience are evident in her service to children and families.