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Extreme Trouble-Makers

If you are yet to know the joys of parenthood and have asked yourself what all the fuss is about and if it’s really as hard as parents make out, I’ve been thinking about the little things you may not have considered.

Tonight as I was getting the kids ready for bed I walked into the bathroom to discover my fancy makeup brush had been dipped into a pot of hair gel and then shoved back into my makeup bag so that everything was covered in a sticky mess. It’s those awkward unexpected surprises that makes the more mundane tasks, such as getting the kids in their beds washed and fed, so much more exciting and demanding.

So you have to change your baby’s diaper when you are out and about, not too bad you might think. You find a changing table, undress your darling child, and then discover their poop has squirted out of the back of the diaper and covered them all the way up to their shoulders. As you try to stay calm and start wiping and delicately removing the offending articles of clothing, your child, feeling the cool air on their nether regions, proceeds to pee, washing the poop, the wipes and the clothing into a pool of almost unimaginable poopy mayhem. I’m not making this stuff up.

Perhaps while you are waiting to pick your other half up from work, you allow your small children to play in the car to relieve their boredom. If they find your spare change stash and slot it into your cassette deck, the whole thing might need to be replaced. Replacing a fitted stereo is EXTREMELY expensive. It’s no longer picking up your husband, it’s spending hours trying to get the pennies out in new and imaginative ways, days without the car and never being able to leave any loose change in your car ever again.

Imagine a long haul flight with a child…then imagine there are actually two children…now please imagine you are traveling alone with them. Next I want you to imagine that both of them, after many many hours have finally fallen fast asleep in your lap, aww … little angels, how nice. Now…I want you to imagine that one of them opens her eyes, and a split second later with no warning, vomits at least a liter of very foul-smelling liquid into your lap. Imagine, if you will, that you are wearing a dress and that the dress catches the sick like a bowl between your legs. The sick is also seeping in its warm stealthy way around your backside and is soaking into your underwear. A member of the cabin crew passes you a handful of paper towels with a very troubled and sympathetic look on his face. Your children are both crying. You have to get off the plane with all your stuff, a very sick child, and only half an outfit on, having had no choice but to take the dress off, rinse the rest of your clothes off whilst wearing them in that tiny airplane sink, and put your cardigan on backwards to hide the fact that you are not wearing a top.

You move house, you set up your children with something to do and install your beloved cat in one of the bedrooms, you set up her litter box, her food and her water. When your beautiful, relatively well-behaved 3.5 year old girl asks if she can keep the cat company, you of course say yes. When you go to check on her, you discover she has mixed the kitty litter into the water bowl making a slippery cement which she has then thoroughly pasted all over a chest of drawers, that stuff is extraordinarily hard to clean up. Moving house isn’t just moving house when you do it with kids.

So when you see a friend frazzled from the demands of parenthood and wonder if looking after a cute little baby is really that hard, after all… you miss out on sleep all the time when you go out at night, bear in mind she may have had to change at the last minute because her baby spit up over her shoulder, it may have run down the back of her top, if she was particularly unlucky, it could have made it’s way into her underwear requiring she change every item of clothing except her socks. She may have put her shoes on only to discover food, sand, mud or soap in them. Her babies diaper may have leaked on the way soaking the car seat, she may have had to return home if she didn’t have enough changes of clothes and had to line the seat with a plastic bag till she has a chance to launder the seat cover. Washing a car seat cover is very tedious and time-consuming INDEED.

Parents reading this, I would LOVE to hear about the ridiculous messy situations you have had inflicted on you, it will make me feel less alone 😉

Oh and FYI, even when none of this stuff happens, it’s all-consuming and bloody exhausting, but you do get the privilege of helping these incredible beings achieve their potential, that is the most rewarding and terrifying thing of all.

How We Redesigned Our Kitchen

Is your kitchen outdated? No need to panic! Here are some ideas hubby and I applied in our kitchen to change its look without resorting to a designer.

A new kitchen without radical changes, it is possible, and we’re proud of it! Thanks to the advice we got from our good friend Sophie, we opted for a kitchen makeover and gave our kitchen a second life.

Here’s a website that we had a look at for inspiration: http://verycozyhome.com/ – home tips and reviews

Now, if you’re looking to do a makeover redecoration and not fully change everything, here are the working principles that we guided ourselves by.

  1. Optimize the space by relocating the furniture

Before embarking on major work, we changed the furniture around the kitchen. It will cost you nothing, except a bit of sweat! Also, you can create a new piece of furniture or highlight one of yours. The idea is to build a great line of furniture to add storage space in the kitchen.

Another idea to remember: incorporate a dining area. Either by installing a kitchen island with dining table or a bar top and cooking pans to optimize space. Or a pretty table if you have room.

What we did was to better arrange the cabinets around the room, push the bar a bit further into the living room, and create more room for the table in the middle.

  1. Remove tall furniture from the kitchen to give a feeling of space

To avoid the feel of clutter in the kitchen, you can install large shelves on the walls of wall cabinets. These shelves redecorate the walls of the kitchen without breaking the bank. They will be used as support for decorations and beautiful cookbooks.

  1. Repaint the kitchen furniture

The color of our kitchen furniture was outdated. Before thinking about completely overhauling our kitchen, be aware that there are special kitchen paints. They allow to completely cover the furniture but also show the fiber of the wood. We had a lot of fun getting the kids to paint.

  1. Refresh the look of the tiles without removing them

To change the look of the tiles in your kitchen, Sophie gave us several options.

– Paint the tiles with special kitchen paint.

– Without repainting the tiles, you can cover them with a large slate for example. That will be cheaper than to change the tiles.

  1. Repainting the kitchen walls

Repaint the walls with a color suitable for the style of the kitchen: white, gray… If you have the means, you can decorate the walls of your kitchen with a beautiful siding wall imitation: charcoal ,stone, etc

  1. Paint, cover or change the floor

The makeover of the floor can be done in various ways:

-cover it with self-adhesive imitation floor tiles to give the former floor charm.

-paint the tiles with a special paint will also be a tip to enhance the sensation of light in the kitchen. Pay attention to follow the instructions for this type of product and allow for drying time, especially if you have kids!

  1. Change some of the kitchen equipment

Putting a new countertop in the kitchen gave it a young look without totally changing the thing. Also, oiled oak wood brings a modern look to a rustic kitchen furniture like ours.

You can also replace the hood by a more modern one, and change the furniture handles to revamp its looks. That’s actually a very effective trick, more than we thought.

I hope you’re finding these tips helpful. Happy makeover!

Separation Anxiety and School Refusal: The Basics for parents and therapists

by Amanda Holly, Ph.D. & Seoka Salstrom, Ph.D.
1.  Find a support person at school:   Find a contact person to support you and your child/teen.  Facilitate a relationship between this support person and your child.  The more connected the child is to the school, the easier the transition.  Typically, this person is the social worker or case worker, but can be anyone willing to be available before and during school to help with the transition.
2.  Collaborate with support person:  Provide this person with the basics in helping your child overcome school refusal.
  • Kids refuse school for a variety of reasons.  Most common include separation anxiety, perfectionism, panic disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, and social anxiety.
  • Working up a ladder each week is okay.  Start a new challenge on a Wednesday since Monday’s tend to be the toughest days.
  • Tears are okay.  Allow the child a pass to leave class “a certain number of times’ during the day.  The support person should talk with  the child in the hallway and escort them back into the classroom within minutes.  Breaks are just to collect themselves.  Avoid bringing  them into an office.
3.  Everyone is an expert:  Allow the child the opportunity to get involved in planning entry to school, the ladder, and rewards.  Empower them them to get involved in their treatment.
4.  Offer but limit the choices:  Offer the child choices in terms of challenges.  Never offer them a choice to earn a morning off.  Create the choices in advance as children will often want to negotiate terms that may not be reasonable.
5.  You’re the score-keeper, not the referee.  Set up the plan and write it down.  The score-keeper does not argue or negotiate.  The parent’s job is to inspire and reinforce the plan.
6.  Set up short-term and long-term rewards: Make sure the rewards are meaningful and powerful.
7.  Practice going to school on the weekends:  Maintain sleep schedules and routines over the weekend.  Visit the school on Sunday mornings to practice the plan and provide reward.
8.  Don’t be afraid to skip breakfast.  Parents need to pick their battles on school mornings.  As long as their child is dressed, they’re good to go.  Put breakfast and toothbrush in the their bags if they changed their mind.
9. Skip the phone call at school:  Just like summer camp, phone calls tend to increase sadness and poor coping.  Notes from home are okay, but phone calls tend to aggravate the anxiety.
10. Make home no different than school: no playing with friends, no snacks, no TV, no computer; no Mom or Dad time.  Home should not be reinforcing in any way.
11. Give the child a responsibility at school:  Make the child responsible for raising the flag or helping a special needs child to increase their motivation.
Amanda Holly, Ph.D. and Seoka Salstrom, Ph.D. are Clinical Psychologists at the Chicago Cognitive Behavioral Treatment Center.
Chicago Cognitive Behavioral Treatment Center.

9855 Woods Drive, Suite G105
Skokie, IL  60077Ph: 847-966-9524; Fax: 847-966-9536