Surviving their very first “off to school” day

Summer is nearing an end, and children are preparing to go to school or have already begun. For some of you, this is a repeat performance, but some of you are experiencing the “empty First day of schoolnest” for the very first time and entertain a profusion of ambivalent feelings. Your “baby”, who you have fed, clothed, nurtured, and loved is venturing off to a room filled with many other children of similar age, to fend for themselves out from under your protective shadow. How will this ever happen??!!

By the end of day one you soon find out that things went fairly well. Here come those feelings again. “I guess he/she doesn’t really need me anymore. I’m so happy it went well. They are sure growing up fast. That really makes me feel old.”, etc. Rest easy parents. As the leaves are beginning to turn strikingly beautiful colors, and the smells and sounds of Autumn begin circulating, so too your children are changing and entering a different but predictable and natural stage in their lives. Sure, you have looked over their every move for the past five years but it’s about time they find out how to do some of this for themselves: a process that will never stop.

Human beings are the only creatures in the animal kingdom who hold onto their young, emotionally and physically, for such a long time after birth. Most animals are born and within hours are up on their feet and moving around the immediate area and some even begin finding and eating food for the very first time. It is not a lack of mothering that this represents but a practical issue that most animals do not have permanent homes in which they will stay for a couple of years. No, they must be able to move around, looking for food sources, protecting themselves from larger predators; not held behind by a small image of themselves needing minute to minute nurturing and requiring some form of transportation.

Most animals form packs or herds because there is safety in numbers; they can and must be out in the world foraging and raising more young so that the species may continue.

It’s not that your children don’t need you anymore, they don’t need you for the same things. But they need you just as much if not more than they did as an infant. It is you who will instill values into these youngsters that they will add to their growing library of such things and take with them for ever. No small task! And by the way, look in the mirror; you’re no older than you were the day before they left for school.

Keep Them Safe and Happy this Labor Day Weekend

Summer’s over!

Keep them Safe and Happy this weekendLabor Day weekend is upon us. The days are getting shorter and the nights a little cooler. I’m even seeing a few leaves beginning to drop. Kids are back in school or will be soon. Parents are scrambling to organize fall activity schedules. Sadly many of the outdoor community pools where so many of us spent relaxed and happy summer afternoons will be closing this weekend. The pools will probably be packed with kids and parents enjoying one last blast of summer fun. Make sure your summer ends on a good note and don’t let you guard down – be in arm’s reach of your learning or non-swimmers and keep a close eye on the competent swimmers in your family. It’s been a very hot summer all over the northern hemisphere (as it was in the southern hemisphere during their summer) and drowning rates are up as people flocked to pools, rivers, lakes and the ocean to keep cool and have fun, but didn’t know how to have fun safely.

Having fun is a key point and one that can be easily overlooked with all the tragedy of drowning accidents. Kids naturally have fun in the water from the time they are put in their first bath right through to splashing in puddles, slippery slides, catching tadpoles, floating boats and swimming. Is there a person out there who hasn’t involuntarily smiled when they see the exuberance on a child’s face as they race through a fountain or splash in a rain puddle?

While water can be a lot of fun, a source of life, and a fact of daily life since it covers 70% of the earth’s surface, we must also never lose sight of the fact that water can be dangerous – drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death for children in every developed country and an even bigger problem in developing countries. Teach your child how to have fun safely – teach them water safety and teach them to swim. Don’t just put them in swim lessons in the summer, swimming is a great exercise year-round, not to mention a great way to burn off steam during the cold months and an excellent time for them to develop the swimming and safety skills in time for next summer’s fun. When you’re looking at the activities for fall and winter, add swimming lessons to the list. The only problem you will probably have is fighting with your kids to get out of the water afterwards, especially if you build in a few minutes of ‘play’ time after the lesson, but the reward will be exhausted, happy, and safer kids.

As for this weekend, remember you don’t need to keep them out of the water to protect them…just keep them within reach. Wishing you and your family a happy and safe Labor Day weekend!