Facebook DOs and DON’Ts for Teens

monalisaduckfaceiscontagious-24924Last week I shared my teenager’s birth story with you and mentioned that she was getting a Facebook profile. After sitting beside her through a few of her first sessions, it took less than five minutes for me to jot down a list of what-not-to-do-on-Facebook for teens. You adults know all these already. I have only made things easier for you by gathering them all in one place.

1. Don’t ask me what the plural for “status” is, because I still haven’t nailed that one down to something I can live with.

2. Don’t  jump at attention bait. There will be those friends who leave vague statuses, (statusis? statii?) in an attempt to get you to feel their pain or ask what’s wrong. If you read, “I hate my life.” or “People can be so mean sometimes!”, stay out of that mess. It’s a trap.

3. Don’t become attention bait. Facebook is not a place to cry for help or vent. It is not a diary and certainly not a place to complain about your parents, your life, your body, or Facebook itself.

4. Don’t use a duck-face or gang signs in any pics. Ever.The sad thing is, I had to explain to my daughter that duck-face is ugly and ridiculous. I really don’t think she ever believed me. She has seen people she thinks are cool do it, therefore it is cool. It is up to moms to break that horrible cycle. You may think gang signs are not a problem in suburbia. Wrong. Parents must warn against virtually all hand gestures because they are most likely gang signs, ignorantly copied by unaware young people. No one in your little part of the world needs to know that you are representing for the West side, little thug.

5. Do learn how to kick someone off your feed. If someone is violating any of these rules or just getting on your nerves, no need to unfriend. Just hover over their name, look for the check beside “show in newsfeed” and uncheck that sucker without a shred of guilt. It is the key to Fb happiness. Anyone using profanity or posting anything Mom doesn’t like gets unchecked without discussion.

6. Don’t watch videos with vague titles shared by unlikely sharers. If your bff’s mom shares a video with a title like, “You will never believe what happened next!” absolutely do not watch it. Move along.

7. Don’t take selfie after selfie and then post them one after the other. Along with this goes, don’t change your profile pic too often. Once a month is a good guide to how often people want to see your giant pic in their feed. They will hide you if you overdo it because they know about #5.

8. Don’t share too many pics from sites with names like OMG or ILoveCatsAllDay, or whaaat?.com. People assume you love your sister, hate Mondays, or whatever unnecessary information comes from these posters that will also get you hidden from their feed. hate mondays

9. Do use punctuation and correct spelling. Save that awful shorthand kids use now for text messaging. Also, get off my lawn. Stand up straight.

10. Don’t choose “public” as a setting for anything. If there is a tiny globe on your timeline, you’re doing it wrong.

11. Do carefully consider before making a nickname middle name. Your friends on Fb tend to associate the name they see by your pic with you without even realizing it. Do you really want to be Claire LuvsSoftball Blanton to people, possibly forever?

12. Don’t like your own photos or statuses. (spell check is fine with “statuses”) You are awesome and your pics are awesome, but you are required to act like you don’t know that to get by in polite society. Your mother, however, can and will like everything likeable you post. Get over it.

I know you other moms have more advice to offer. What would you add to the list of Do’s and Don’ts on Facebook?

Growing Weary

Yep

I have tried to explain to my friends who still have toddlers how much different life is when everyone is your house is older than five. The change sneaks up on you til one day you look up and smile, realizing you have had a complete thought, a complete meal, or best of all, a complete night’s sleep. Your brain is freer, your body is less tired and your whole system is less stressed when the little ones around you are not as prone to kill themselves or someone else all day, every day. One day, you actually forget what all the stress was about. It’s true. Even more true if you are staying at home with them all day.

When I think back to the days of endless spills and crying and bodily fluids and sleep deprivation, I feel so tired for the ones going through it now. It is just plain exhausting. I remember if I try. I was a walking biohazard for years. I think I sat on a couch nursing for an entire year of my life, with all the chaos swirling around me. I think I did – it’s kind of a blur.

I have noticed a disturbing trend among mothers and how they deal with this stress. I’m afraid when it all becomes too much for that mother who so wanted to stay home and raise her little one, she escapes back to the work place. Let me be clear, I’m not talking about going to work to pay the bills or to keep up your skills or any of the very valid reasons women have for going to work. I’m talking about the woman who chooses to stay home, but is just plain wearing out. When she feels like life is not rosy at home like she imagined,

This what going to work feels like - in comparison.

she begins to wonder if the pressure of being worried,  tired and unsure of what she is doing can be outsourced to others who seem to know more. When you are new to mothering, daycare workers seem like effortless experts. It is tempting to go back to doing what she knows how to do well at work, for a fixed number of hours a day. And getting paid? Who doesn’t want to go back to getting paid?

I know a lot of moms think they will go back temporarily, until that magic someday when all is right with the world and they can try staying home again. Then they slowly get stuck needing that paycheck to pay the bills they have and they secretly think they don’t have what it takes to be a full-time mom anyway. Everyone supports the usual choice to work, but it is much harder to find people who support her right to “sit home all day” or “struggle financially” or “shelter her children from the real world”. So, even though she wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, she lets that dream die. She is weary.

This is the most annoyed she ever got.

When I had only one child, I lived 20 minutes from everything and everyone. I had no television and no car. There was no internet or texting. My husband worked all day and my friends were all at college. We were even without a church for a time. I read a lot of books and talked on the phone a lot. (It had a cord and everything.) I was basically Caroline Ingalls as to isolation, but without her grace and patience. My daughter was easy to raise and our schedule was regular. I was lonely and poor, but I had no options for work. I only had a high school education so any money I could make would be lost to daycare anyway. I got weary of the isolation and repetition of my days, but I had no options. I know I would have caved to the lure of a paycheck or a car of my own or a group of friends at work in civilization. I was forced to stick to my dream of being a full-time mom. For that, I am grateful.

folding is overrated

There is a reason the Bible talks about the older women teaching the younger women to be happy at home. It doesn’t come naturally to our restless spirits. It is a skill that develops over time. Women who leave work to stay home with their kids are surprised by how difficult it is and often say work was much easier. Without support, the weariness can win out, leaving a desire to escape it all, even to work at the place she thought she wanted to leave. A professional, successful mom once told me, she couldn’t wait for Mondays, when her nanny comes and she goes back to work. I looked at her in stunned disbelief, but when I thought about it more, I could see that her weekends are probably a time when she feels out of her depth, from lack of practice and experience with her own children. It is a sad truth that can play out if we don’t stick to our desire to stay home, even when the times get really rough.

the harvest

I was inspired by this verse:  Galatians 6:9 Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. It doesn’t say, don’t grow weary because it is a sin, or don’t grow weary because that is for losers. It offers the long view we all need to see us through. The promise. In due season, we shall reap. The sowing is tough, no doubt about it. But the reaping, the stage I am beginning to see now, is more than worth all the isolation, financial struggle, and missed sleep. For those of you who want nothing more than to be at home and raise your children, do not lose heart. Press on and keep the reaping season in view, knowing you are raising His child.

Rethinking Sleepovers

Seems harmless enough, right?

My memories of sleepovers are probably like yours, eating, laughing, gossiping and not sleeping. I’m not sure why I loved spending the night somewhere other than my home. I sure don’t like any bed but my own now. But, back then I was willing to lay on a hard, cold floor, staying up all hours and having a great time.

Recently my husband and I have started wondering if all-nighters are good for our kids. Physically and emotionally, they are a mess when they come home from eating junk, drinking caffeine and missing several hours of sleep. At first we would allow them to sleep over on the condition that the parents of their friends insist that they sleep. We later found that our kids would fall asleep at a reasonable hour, only to wake up in the wee hours and the parents in the home would have no idea that my child and their child were awake for hours while they slept.

My husband asked me this question, “Would you let our child go play during the day at a house where the parents were asleep all day?” The answer was no, of course not. I know my children could stay up much longer than I could. They will outlast the adults every time. Even for our fairly sheltered children and their sweet, fairly innocent friends, we have found  that the middle of the night is when they will try out bad words they have heard, misinform each other about the birds and the bees, and ruin everyone’s sleep for a month with a ghost story that is not easily forgotten.

During waking hours, children do not feel as free to speak about what they shouldn’t. If the adults are sound asleep, this gives them a freedom they never have any other time. At one sleepover, my son’s friends had a very deep religious discussion that led to him crying and doubting God’s existence and the truth of the Bible. This was among Christian boys, nine and ten years of age, who are parented by good people. They were just airing all their

I can only hope they are scared and not fascinated by what they are looking at.

questions, but without an adult present to help guide them through such a tough topic. During the day, the mom or dad would be able to intervene and bring some truth to these common questions.

Because of our experience, we have put a halt to spending the night with friends for our kids. We started to feel like we were leaving them on their own in places where they would not feel comfortable enough to wake an adult if they needed one, or to call us in the middle of the night. This leaves us feeling like we are leaving our kids to fend for themselves any hours they are not sleeping and not under the care of an awake adult.

We have lived in this town long enough to know our kids’ friends well, This is not about being concerned about the character of the kids or their parents. We already knew that the parents we leave our kids with are great people that we trust. But even the best of parents can not supervise while they are asleep. This is more about not trusting children to be left to their own devices. It was a tough call but one I feel like we had to make.

I would love to hear from other moms on this topic. This is new for us and it is hard to explain to our friends and to my kids’ friends. What rules have you made for sleepovers at your house? Do you feel completely comfortable leaving your kids with their friends? What age did you start with sleepovers for your kids. Do you get up in the night to check on kids at your house? Let me know how it works for you in the comments section below.

The Importance of Protein

I take these with me if I go out of town.

We all know that children need sleep, play and food. If you haven’t properly provided these things for your child, their bad behavior is pretty much guaranteed and you need a time-out. When we think of which foods our kids need, we always think of vegetables because they are important. But the experts will tell you fat and protein are key when feeding a growing child. Protein fuels growth and I have found it helps tremendously with mood.

My kids are tired of hearing about protein. If they are having a breakdown, I check for what they have eaten first. Our breakfast here usually consists of Thomas’ bagels. They use soy flour to add protein to a toasty breakfast that contains 10 grams of protein. That is more than eggs and toast. If you add milk, you get about 10 more grams of protein and your child is good to go.

Protein helps regulate blood sugar. This means it will keep them feeling full longer.  A carb-heavy breakfast will vanish too quickly, leaving your child in a blood sugar slump that makes for a cranky kid who is trying to face the most hectic part of their school day.It also helps to balance carbs and protein. Any sugar you allow them will be processed better in a body that has had some protein as well. Below is a chart for protein needs of school-aged children.

the good stuff

Ages 1 to 3 – 1300 calories and 16 grams protein
Ages 4 to 6 – 1800 calories and 24 grams protein
Ages 7 to 10 – 2000 calories and 28 grams protein

Protein awareness is helpful with everyone in the family. I have found it helpful to keep my lips together until I put some food in them. Low blood sugar is an ugly thing. Here, we try not to discuss anything we may be upset about during food prep time. It’s amazing how much the moods will change once the food is consumed and the levels are up. Isaac, 9, is so in tune with his bagel/protein intake that he sees the need for protein all around him. Once, after watching Moses kill the Egyptian on Prince of Egypt, he said, “He needs a bagel.” It warmed my blueberry-bagel-loving heart.

Besides bagels, Thomas’ bagels only by the way, protein is found in meat, fish, rice and beans combos, dairy products, eggs, and legumes. Be aware of how much protein you are offering throughout the day and you will notice the happy level going up as their bellies stay full and their moods improve.

Battling Your Child’s Cough

Oh no. Here we go...

When I think about what it would be like to have more kids, coughing is second only to morning sickness on my “con” column. The helplessness I feel while they suffer with a cough is one of the worst feelings. This is the time of year when the sicknesses really kick into high gear. I am so relieved to finally have all my kids past the age of constant sickness and the chain of contagiousness that bound us for so many fall and winters. Even now, we still battle coughing from time to time. In order that some good may come from it, I will pass on to you what I have learned in my passionate fight against coughing.

A humidifier  – Winter air is dry and whatever you use to heat your house makes the inside air even drier. This of course makes coughing a big problem. We use sonic, cold mist humidifiers all over the house. In my experience, humidifier are a must. It is best to use them consistently, not just when someone is sick. This article says that  the flu is actually more easily transmitted in dry air. That alone is reason enough to make sure your home is humid all winter long.

Decongestants – Sometimes, your child’s cough is from congestion in his or her nose. If you listen for a moment, you can see if he/she is struggling to breathe. If this is the case, don’t use cough medicine, use a decongestant. Over-the-counter decongestants are no longer recommended for children under age four. There are natural alternatives available at the drug store. No cough medicine will help a child who is suffering from a post-nasal-drip type cough that comes from a stuffed-up nose. That brings me to my next point….

Avoid using cough medicine – Keep in mind that I am not a doctor, only a mother of six. I have what I call my Theory of 10,000 coughs. If your child has a cough, not due to post-nasal drip, then they need to cough until they are done coughing. Each cold comes with 10,000 coughs (this is a totally uneducated guess) and your child will not stop coughing until they have reach the 10,000th cough. If you stop the coughs with a suppressant, you are only prolonging the time it takes to cough it all out. I know your child needs to sleep and you do to. Do what you have to, but remember this theory and use the suppressant sparingly.

Sitting up – This probably doesn’t need saying, but make sure your child is propped up if they are struggling with a cough. Teach them to do this themselves. Sometimes, this step alone will stop the coughing.

a spoonful of sugar

Honey – If your child has the eye-watering, tickle kind of cough, a teaspoon of honey is good for soothing it. (Do not give honey to children before their first birthday due to the chance of botulism spores in honey) Hard candy or lozenges help too. Even lollipops or gum will help if you are desperate enough to get them out of bed and get out the candy.

An ounce of prevention – I am a big believer in boosting up the vitamins this time of year. Gummy vitamins, Flintstone vitamins, whatever you can get into them is good. I especially believe in the power of zinc to ward off sickness. I take a zinc supplement as soon as I feel the first tickle of a cold and I usually fight it off. When one of my kids get sick, I make sure the others are getting their zinc right away. My kids are old enough to swallow a pill in the tiny dose of zinc I give them. GNC makes tiny doses of zinc and Zicam sells zinc in various forms, some especially for children. Be careful not to give zinc to a child with an empty stomach. It can cause nausea if they have not eaten beforehand. Here is a chart of zinc dosage from the Mayo Clinic Website:

Persons U.S. (mg) Canada (mg)
Infants and children birth to
3 years of age
5–10 2–4
Children 4 to 6 years of age 10 5
Children 7 to 10 years of age 10 7–9
Adolescent and adult males 15 9–12
Adolescent and adult females 12 9
Pregnant females 15 15
Breast-feeding females 16–19 15
all children must wash hands before returning to play

Hand washing – My kids have to wash their hands whenever they come in the house. They can leave the door open or track in dirt, but they must wash their hands. The adults and older kids have to do it too. It has become a habit for all of us, so much so that we all feel germy when we come in from anywhere. Being a little nuts is a small price to pay to keep sickness from cycling     through all eight of us. Sickness would make me nutty anyway, so we just wash a lot.

So, take a deep breath of moist air, pop some zinc, and settle into a healthy winter. I hope what we have learned can help you go through the    winter with happy and healthy family members. What have you learned in your battle against coughing? Please share anything that might help us in the comment section below. Thanks!