By: Meg Cowan (Guest Blogger)
We are excited to have a college student guest blogging for Our Circle of Moms on the problems that our kids face when they head to college. Check back for her next post in June.
This past August, I left my home state for college in South Carolina. I was moving entirely away from everything and everyone I knew for the first time. I was excited. Still, I felt twinges of anxiety without having a support system in place. Out of everything, I felt the most anxiety about living with eight total strangers for the foreseeable future.
Fears of my female roommates plagued me. I had heard the horror stories. Unfortunately, it is likely your child will not like their roommate or suitemate. If your child’s roommate or suitemate ever insults your child, steals from them, threatens, or hurts them, you should encourage and help your child get out of that living situation immediately.
There will certainly be disagreements about quiet hours and complaints about whose turn it is to take out the trash, but this is normal. My advice when dealing with roommates is, firstly, to pick your battles. For example, the thermostat temperature is not worth a huge fight. When your student first moves in, recommend they work together to collectively pick a temperature the thermostat should stay at, having it err on the side of being too cold. That way everyone can wear however many layers they feel comfortable in. You can always add more layers, but you can’t necessarily remove more layers.
One piece of advice to give your kids about living with others that you may not think of is to be considerate about having people over. If your child has a significant other who is over all the time, this can be disruptive to the others living with your child. Whether it is a significant other or just a hookup, no one wants to have a stranger sleeping over in his or her room every night. Encourage your child to give their roommates’ warning if they are having someone over, especially if they will be spending the night.
Another roommate problem students commonly run into is that their roommates do not clean up after themselves. As parents, I recommend teaching your child how to clean and the importance of cleaning up after themselves. They can also set guidelines to at least keep the common areas clean. My roommates did not seem to realize that if they would clean their shower and toilet then the mold they were disgusted by would disappear. Several of them did not even know how to unclog a toilet, leading to a tense situation where eight girls were using one bathroom for an extended amount of time because they were unwilling to take care of the situation. It was disgusting and went on long enough that I even offered to buy these girls a plunger. Teaching your child how to do basic cleaning chores, such as doing their laundry and unclogging a toilet will make their life and the lives of those living with them more enjoyable. However gross tasks like unclogging a toilet are, your child should be able to be responsible and mature enough to do it, for the sake of the entire living group.
Living together with strangers in a completely new environment is stressful, but throughout college these tips will make your child’s life with roommates easier.
By: Sue Anganes
My life has revolved around caring for my six kids for the last thirty-two years. My youngest is now sixteen. In a certain sense, I should have realized this a long time ago, but I am just now figuring out that I need to take care of myself. I don’t mean getting my nails done or refurbishing my wardrobe—that would all be fine, but I mean taking care of my health.
I have always been relatively healthy and never needed any daily prescriptions for medical issues; but recently, I started falling apart. I was exhausted all the time. I couldn’t do any type of physical activity without exhaustion afterward. The breaking point was a few months ago when I had a horrible flare-up of pain in my hands, wrists, and elbows. It came on overnight; and by morning, it was obvious something was not right. I couldn’t brush my hair, type, open a doorknob, open my car door, grab my steering wheel, or pick up my grandson. It even hurt too much to push an elevator button with my index finger. I couldn’t sleep because even if I moved a little, the pain would wake me up.
After a week of suffering, my husband FINALLY convinced me to see my doctor. My doctor did some labs and then sent me to a rheumatologist. More detailed labs were ordered, and I had x-rays and an MRI done. It was determined that I had arthritis. From the looks of it, I probably had it for a long time. The doctor put me on a medication, and guess what, I feel FANTASTIC! I really feel so much better. After being on the medication for about six weeks, I have tackled painting some bedrooms and painting a family room and hallway. I’ve started walking again and was able to do some spring raking. I still have some pain, but it is nothing like what it was to begin with. I feel like I have my life back. I have so much more energy now that I’m not trying to physically drag myself out of my chair.
Why did it take me so long to see a doctor and get myself help? This was an issue for me for a long time before the horrible flare-up. I think that I have been so busy taking care of my home and family that I kept putting my own important needs to the side. I also felt guilty admitting that I had pain, since, as I have mentioned before, my two youngest sons deal with a rare disease that causes them to be in pain every day, and I have a daughter who has had arthritis since she was seven years old. I didn’t think that I had the right to complain. Foolishly, I also thought that if I didn’t acknowledge that there was something wrong, that it would go away. Silly? Yes! I should have addressed the problem long ago.
The past few weeks, I have felt better than I have in years. I am enjoying my walks outdoors, and I’m so very thankful for taking care of myself for once and feeling better.
By: Michelle Johnson
I am three months into motherhood so I am still learning everything and will be for the next 30 years. But what I have learned is that I’m always exhausted!
I hate admitting that because we had such a hard time conceiving Micheala and had a few miscarriages along the way. During that whole time, I kept thinking that once I became a mom everything would be perfect. That we would be this beautiful, happy family and I’d be able to dress this little human in cute clothes and teach them all of the hundreds of things that I’ve learned in parenting books. I had ideas about how I would do everything from cloth diapering to handling their crying.
Enter reality. I quickly learned that I knew nothing. Who has time for cloth diapers? I will gladly pay for disposable if it means less laundry and less mess. Gladly!
And I said I wasn’t going to pick up my baby and bounce her or drive her around in the car to quiet her crying or get her to sleep. Wrong. You can find my husband and I bouncing and driving at all hours if it means a couple hours…or minutes…of peace and quiet.
I haven’t had time to get my hair done since before she was born and I haven’t even had the energy to care. I’m sure at some point I’ll be able to see through my bleary, exhausted eyes and actually panic at how ragged I look but right now what I’m noticing is my beautiful, tiny daughter. And when we go out people don’t even seem to notice that I’m in sweats and a stained tee, they only see the chubby baby cheeks and small baby feet.
So I may be tired and exhausted but I’m so very blessed to call this precious bundle of pure joy mine.
Now excuse me, she just woke up and started crying again so it’s time for a car ride…
By: Susan Turk
Between work, sports, church and all of the other thousand things it seems like my family is running to and from every day, dinner can be impossible to get on the table in a timely manner. That’s why I love these mini pot pies! They are so easy and can be ready in about 20 minutes. The added bonus is they’re delicious enough that the whole family wants to eat them and they’re the perfect portion size for my kids, who often have bigger eyes than stomachs.
– canned biscuits (I like using the flaky layer kind when I have them)
– 1 can of cream of chicken or cheese soup
– frozen mixed vegetables
– pre-cooked canned chicken, drained
– spices to taste (garlic, pepper, salt)
1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F or the temperature directed on the biscuits you’re using. Grease muffin pan.
2. Press the biscuits into the muffin pan, leaving some of the biscuit hanging over the top.
3. Mix the can of soup, frozen vegetables, canned chicken, and spices together in a large mixing bowl.
4. Spoon your mixture into the biscuits that you have pressed into the muffin pan.
5. Fold the top of your biscuit over the mixture
6. Follow the baking instructions on the back of your biscuits, usually 12-16 minutes or until golden brown
7. Serve and enjoy!
By: Amy Dienta
Special needs parenting is not for the weak. It takes patience, love, support and time. It’s making decision after decision about things that are out of your control. It’s coordinating a million things and picking up a screaming child on the floor because the design of the bagel bites box changed. It’s like bullfighting at times. I saw a study that being an autism parent is comparable to the PTSD of a soldier returning from war.
I want to let you all know that it’s ok to take a break from being a parent for awhile. All Parents, especially parents of special needs children, need the support of others. Someone to say, my child painted with poop on the wall today. Or my child did this in school today. Someone to cry to when it gets so hard when you tell your child to stop eating markers for the 500th time or clean that poop off the wall again!
I recently lost someone I cared about and who has a special needs child to suicide. I’m not saying the child or the special needs had anything to do with the suicide; but please, don’t ever be afraid or let social stigmas stand in the way of you getting help if you need it. Help comes in many forms, such as time away from the kids, a therapist, a trip to the salon or talking to another parent at the park.
Please make sure you have a support system in place for yourself and your child. Your spouse, your parents, your relatives, other autism parents, the children’s teachers, your child’s and your doctors and specialists should all be a part of your web of support.
Another thing that helps is finding something that soothes you: wine, chocolate, a good book, exercising or a cup of coffee. When you feel stressed out, do one of these things and relax. Take a few minutes and get some time to recoup. Put on the TV or give your child their tablet and let them watch it. Breathe and calm down.
If you see another parent stressed out, try to see if you can help them. You never know how a smile or a joke can help them make it through their day. Offer to babysit a friend’s children if the parent needs a minute off.
The stress level of a special needs parent can be overwhelming. If you have supports set up, when you need them they will be there for you. Don’t ever forget that you can do this, and you are strong and can handle anything life throws at you.
In honor of Autism Awareness month, Burlington Parks and Recreation will be hosting a Light it Up Blue event! Amy Dienta, one of our bloggers, will be one of the speakers. There will be games, crafts, pizza and fun for the whole family!
Please join in on the fun!
By: Christina Neil
My husband and I celebrated our 5 year anniversary this weekend, and for the first time in three years, we were able to leave children and work behind and just enjoy our time together.
Honestly, I felt guilty dropping my 3-year-old daughter off with her Aunt Ali before hopping on a plane for a much needed long weekend away. I didn’t feel too guilty for long though as we enjoyed a romantic weekend in Myrtle Beach, SC. It was a welcome reprieve from all of our winter weather. Of course, it was still too cold to go into the water but we enjoyed walking along the beach and waking up to beautiful sunrises outside our beachfront room.
But strangely, the activity that reconnected us most wasn’t those moonlit beach walks or classy, romantic dinners; it was our visit to Medieval Times.
My husband saw that there was one nearby and had enjoyed it when he’d gone as a kid so he convinced me, a skeptic from the start, to go.
For those unfamiliar with Medieval Times, it is a combination of a dinner and jousting show. You get separated into teams to cheer for individual knights. You eat all of your food with your hands.
To me it sounded weird and childish–and it was. But it was also super fun! We got to yell and cheer; I was even thrown a flower by one of the knights. We also bought an axe for my husband’s man-cave. It sparked conversation and laughter for us. We got to forget that we were adults with responsibilities for a few hours and just be kids again. We got to be carefree and enjoy our marriage and each other.
By: Amy Koehler
Get up, get the kids ready for school/daycare, go to work, pickup kids, make dinner, get kids ready for bed, pickup the house, fall asleep, repeat.
It’s a stressful cycle. I love my kids and want to spend time with them while I still can, but some days I don’t have any energy left.
Enter coloring books. One night while I was trying to keep the kids distracted while I was getting dinner into the oven, I sat them down with their coloring books and once everything was in the oven, I joined them.
Coloring the flowers, princesses and cars was easy; it was relaxing; and—best of all—my kids loved that I was doing it with them.
Now it’s something we do together on a regular basis and I’m starting to understand why they sell so many adult coloring books.