Posts Tagged: Parenting

When One Parent Travels … a lot.

For the last 2.5 years, Daddy-o has been a FIFO (Fly In, Fly Out) Father. His current client requires that he be onsite during the week so as such, he arrives home on Friday nights, then leaves again on Sunday evenings. I have not written about it because I was advised not to go public that I was ‘alone’ during the week. But since I don’t feel “vulnerable”, if someone wants to break into my house based on the fact that there is no man around, they will have to get through Mama Bear first. Yeah, good luck with that.

Most of the time, I have these beauties all to myself!

So there is no ‘man of the house’ around during the week. Although an initial adjustment, we have worked with our situation quite well. Since my youngest is now five-years-old, ‘flying solo’ in the parenting department is much easier than it would have been a few years ago.

Making this arrangement work can be a bit of a trick. These are the lessons I have learned:

The FIFO parent:

  • Daddy-o was very excited to tell me about all the new and exciting things he could do now that he didn’t have the usual parent responsibilities. He got to exercise and get fit. He would tell me about his morning 1 km swims and how his post-work training sessions were going. Although happy for him, I would find myself feeling a little glum. All I could think was “and here I am, happy to get 30-seconds a day to move my bowels without interruption”.
  • Daddy-o was also excited to tell me about all the cool things he was watching on Netflix. He’s all caught up on “Lost” and watches all the amazing shows I only know about because of Twitter. The last TV show I watched was the season finale of “Seinfeld” in the mid-90s.
  • Occasionally on a Saturday, Daddy-o would turn to me and say “Wow – is the house always this noisy?” Yes. Yes, it is.

Lesson for the FIFO:

Keep on doing what you’re doing. Enjoy this time while you have it. Perhaps keeping a little bit of it to yourself is not a bad idea. It’s OK to share – but not too much or too often. Don’t go overboard relaying how much “me time” is happening.

Stay at Home Parents:

  • I know too well the temptation of handing off the kids when Daddy-o walks through the door on a Friday. He walks in and you kind of want to say, “Here you go! They’re all yours and I’m OUTTA here”. But here’s the thing – FIFOs don’t actually WANT to be away from their families. They are doing this for work. It is a sacrifice for them too and they don’t need to feel punished for it. Inevitably, the kids will feel like they are a burden on you during the week and that you only want your spouse home so that he can relieve you of that burden. That’s no fun for anyone.

It’s a tricky situation for everyone, but manageable if you have the right attitude and remember that everyone is doing the best they can for the family.

Do you have a FIFO parent in your family? Are you a FIFO? How has your family managed the transition?

 

About the Author:

Julie Cole Mabel's Labels

Julie Cole

Julie Cole is co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc., the leading provider of kids’ labels, and a proud mom of six.

Mommy, There’s A Monster!

One great thing about watching our babies grow is witnessing them become more imaginative. With that overactive imagination though can come fear of boogie monsters, dragons, ghosts, and the like. As parents, how do we deal with this anxiety in children?

Well, we can look to the SARS epidemic as an example of what to do and what not to do when managing fear.

If respected doctors tell you that there is no reason to be afraid of SARS in Toronto, but then cancel their own conference in the same city, the public deduces that if the experts think there is something to fear, then there must be.

To “less knowledgeable” children, you are the “expert” on everything. If you say “there is no such things as monsters” and then promptly check under the bed, you may unintentionally be demonstrating a reason why they should be afraid. “Heck even the experts are checking the beds and closets!”

Diminishing Fears

We cannot control our children’s fears, but how we react to them can work to either support or de-emphasize them. One strategy is to be “unimpressed” (neither dismissive nor all consumed) and talk in a matter of fact fashion. Don’t waver in your conviction that there are no monsters by saying things like, “Really? You saw a monster in your closet. What did he look like?” It is more comforting to say “There are no such things as monsters. You are creating them with your imagination. And what a wonderful imagination it is!”

Coping Strategies For Fear

Teach your children coping techniques to help them work through their fears. Try some of these responses to help them overcome their anxiety:

“I understand that you are afraid, but I know you are safe and I would never let anything harm you, so you need to think happy warm thoughts instead of scary thoughts. That will help you get to sleep.”

“You’ll have to have a little talk with that imagination of yours and let it know that it is getting in the way of sleeping.”

“When you decide it’s bugging you so much that you have to stop thinking those thoughts – I am sure you will!”

“If watching this video or movie before bed makes you imagine scary things, perhaps you would like to watch something else at bedtime.”

Watch For “The Hidden Pay-off”

Don’t give a “hidden pay-off” by giving your child exceptional service such as letting them sleep in your bed, or keeping you hostage in their room until they fall asleep. If you enjoy caring for your child in these loving ways, do it because you want to. Don’t make them create “issues” to mobilize you into this type of affection or they’ll learn to use issues as a technique to get you to care for them.

 

About the Author:

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada’s most notable parenting experts. She is the resident expert on The Marilyn Denis Show, CTV News Channel and CBC’s The World This Weekend. Alyson is an “Ask an Expert” Columnist for Today’s Parent Magazine, and sits on the Health Advisory Board for Chatelaine Magazine.  Alyson is the best selling author of “Breaking The Good Mom Myth” and “Honey, I Wrecked The Kids” and her latest, “Ain’t Misbehavin”.  She is an international speaker including the inaugural TEDxKids in Brussels and offers free parenting tips at www.alysonschafer.com

School’s Out For The Summer!

A big bag of lost and found items!


I know it’s officially summer when my son arrives home from school with a huge garbage bag filled to the top with his locker contents and all of his items that were fished out of the Lost and Found.

This year the haul included 3 thermoses, 3 winter hats, 2 baseball hats, 2 hoodies, a winter coat and a baseball glove (along with lots of crumpled up paper, old tests and some school supplies).  Yikes!  I long for the day that my son is more organized, but until then I’m glad we’ve got Mabel’s Labels on everything so that his stuff makes it back home…eventually!

Along with the warm weather, family vacations, and more relaxed schedules, I’m practically giddy about not making lunches every day. The fact that everyone’s wearing sandals and flip flops is a bonus too, because it means I won’t need to keep the sock basket filled.  Our family sock strategy consists of a basket near the front door filled with single socks. There’s no point in pairing them up because my kids just un-match them anyway. Rebels!

We’re looking forward to some fun outdoor activities and games, including afternoons by Grandma’s pool, backyard BBQ’s and evenings at our local Drive-In Theatre. Watching a drive in movie under the stars is so much fun and is a favourite summer tradition for us. There’s nothing cuter than seeing lots of little ones in their pajamas, swinging on the swing set and playing Frisbee while waiting for the first feature to start. Later they’ll be sleepy and cozy as their parents carry them straight from the car to their beds. Somewhere along the line I stopped wearing my PJ’s to the drive-in, but I think this may be the summer to revive that tradition. I’m not sure I’ll get carried in from the car, but it’s worth a try.

In addition to all the family fun times that summer brings, I love the quiet early mornings all to myself in the garden. It’s full of promise at this time of year, with lots of different vegetables and greens. This year we’ve got tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, bok choy, kale, collard greens, romaine and red lettuce. I’m hoping that when our kids are hungry, they’ll grab some cherry tomatoes off the vine instead of reaching for cookies (a mom can always dream!).

Garden Veggies!

What do YOU love most about summertime?  Any fun ideas to share? What are some of your favourite family vacations and summer activities for kids?

 

About the Author:

Karen Pearson is one of the friendly voices you’ll hear on the other end of the phone when calling Customer Service at Mabel’s Labels. She enjoys writing about her family, which includes a husband, 3 kids and a rescue dog from Greece.

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