HOW TO MAXIMIZE YOUR FACE TO FACE ‘IN PERSON’ TIME WITH YOUR TEEN

Two of my teens are in boarding school and I hadn’t seen one in six weeks. So last week, I made a six hour trip to see my daughter. It was well worth it- we had breakfast, attended church together and it was a time to correct anything that wasn’t in place, as a mom.

How many of you have tried to resolve a problem or close a sales deal remotely and didn’t see an end in sight until you made a trip to meet the participants or parties involved? ‘Face to Face’ will always win over ‘virtual’ or ‘remote’ in parenting, long distance relationships or in resolving conflicts or in nurturing relationships.

At the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, many individuals and organizations relied on remote media or video conferencing tools, such as Zoom, FaceTime, Microsoft Teams, as a way to stay in touch with their colleagues/team members, family members and loved ones. Today as the pandemic lingers, we are quickly finding out that these remote tools can never replace ‘face to face’ or ‘in person’ communication. Parenting is the same way, the more face time you get with your teen/ children, the greater the impact of your parenting on them.

Teens especially don’t like to bother parents with their issues. This means, as a parent, a conscious effort of initiating conversations with them is required. Sometimes when teens say “don’t worry about it,” It may mean… “back off now but check with me later.”

How do you make the most of the ‘face to face’ time with teens that live outside the home?

  1. Schedule it: Never mind that your daughter or son says “don’t worry about coming to see me.” Simply schedule the period of visit and inform them that you will be coming at a specific day and time to visit. If you can not make the visit, you could buy train, bus, or air tickets for your teen(s) to come home
  2. Make it memorable- bring along a friend or a partner, their dog or home made cooked meal on your visit or, perhaps, pre book tickets so that you and your teen can watch a movie or a game while together. This allows for more bonding time.
  3. Quality versus Quantity: it doesn’t matter if you can only spend a few hours or a day. Quality time with your teen for one day packed with memorable activities is more worthwhile than spending seven days with no fun activities.
  4. Be consistent. Your face to face (in-person) time with your teen shouldn’t be one off but regular. For instance, my teens’ dad and I made a rule that either of us must see them every 6 weeks. If we can’t make it, then we have to rely on close friends or family to make that trip for us.

The time we invest in our children now will yield positive results in the future. The time that we feel that our children are grown or adults isn’t the time to take a break in modeling good character or stop being dutiful parents; Parenting is a life time contract and responsibility.

Dear parents, barring real limitations that may exist, nothing (neither the pandemic that still lingers, absence of your residence’s proximity to that of our teens,’ or even push backs that you may receive from our children) should ever stop you from achieving a flourishing ‘face to face’ time or relationship with your children.

WHY YOU NEED YOUR ‘ME’ TIME

WHY YOU NEED YOUR ‘ME’ TIME.

My mom and dad are over at my place this weekend so that I can get my well needed break. I can count countless times when I had to rely on people in my tribe to fill in to take care of my child(ren) while I went away to spend some ‘me’ time.

By ‘me’ time, I mean a time to get away from ‘work’ or my child(ren) or my base (house) so that I can learn more about myself (introspection), or a time to enjoy nature or do my hobbies far far away from the pressures of parenting (self care) or simply jet away to celebrate small wins like anniversaries, birthdays or special occasions of other family members and friends (travel).

We learn more about ourselves during our quiet or less interrupted moments- when no one is in our vicinity. While in the shower, cooking, driving alone , lying awake in your bed, or simply being away from your neighborhood to visit friends can be the ‘aha’ moment you realize you have to start doing something differently or perhaps stop a bad habit. You will be surprised what you learn or find out, when you have your solitary moments, far from the noise or buzz of the world around you. For me when I am tucked away in my ‘world’ with absolutely no noise, I am able to clear my head and gain a better perspective of how to continue my ‘parenting’ journey ahead or tackle a challenge that I may be facing. I will say to you: try introspection to gain a better perspective.

Self care is so vital for improving or ensuring our mental health. Sometimes parenting can stressful. Take a break, ask for help, do your hobbies like reading, gardening, lying down on the couch while you watch Netflix, surfing social media to take away useful lessons from posts or stories, getting a manicure or pedicure to look pretty, going shopping, listening to music or do just anything wholesome that you enjoy. For me Friday evenings are my best days as I keep sight of the weekends, which I try to keep ‘free’ and ‘light,’ and especially after a hectic work week. When you take care of your self, you will have regained strength to parent better. It also shows your children the importance of rest during work. Remind them- all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. I mean, we have break time in school, lunch time at work, there is absolutely nothing wrong with ‘mommy’ or ‘daddy’ time

Travel is top on my list when I need to have my ‘me’ time. Every two to three months, i try to go away from where I reside . It doesn’t have to be expensive- you can take a train ride from Lagos to Ibadan, visit an aunt or uncle in the next city to yours, or do a 3 hour road drive to the mountains. When you travel, you find out something new about the world around you, gain a better appreciation for people that don’t look like you or act like you, and broaden your views about life and the role that you can play to touch the lives of others and make the world better.

Dear friends, if you are not clocking your ‘me’ time, the clock is ticking and today is definitely not late.

Your Empty Nester experience doesn’t have to be bad…you can flourish

A few days ago, I was chatting with a childhood friend, whose kids have left home for college. She is considered an empty nester since she doesn’t have have a child physically at home to look after any longer. Since I am not at this stage yet, I asked my friend how her empty nester experience was going. She sent me a ‘laugh out loud’ 😂 emoji and replied- It is an interesting experience and a very nice stage of marriage. “It’s just that you have so much space and time to see all the things you didn’t notice before. What you decide to do about that will break or make your marriage stronger.” This got me thinking- how can parents, single or married, make the most of their ‘ empty nester’ experience.

During this stage, many parents, especially mothers, feel a sense of helplessness because they feel that they no longer have control over the activities of their children. Other parents feel a sense of guilt of not having done a better job at raising their children. While these feelings and emotions are normal if they go on only for a short period of time, they should never put you into a state of depression. If they go on longer, please see a doctor. I offer some tips on how we can flourish during this stage of parenting .

  1. Start planning early for a positive ‘empty nester ‘ experience- don’t wait till you get to this stage to start living your life. As you raise your children, you should endeavor to live a life beyond your kids or your office job or profession. Learn a new sport or a new skill. Spend your leisure time doing something you enjoy or feel a sense fulfillment with. Gardening or Golfing are great examples 😆
  2. Expand your circle of friends and relationships. Form relationships that will build you up personally and professionally. If you are married, you and your partner can decide to share friendships and activities with other couples to help strengthen your marriage. This might be a great time to mentor others too or possibly adopt other children.
  3. Be patient with your partner, if married. Some couples might need to regain a better understanding of who their spouse is because they have lost the deep connection and bond they once had and that was shifted to the children. Sadly, this is the stage when some couples get divorced. Obviously, there are justifiable reasons why divorce happens but I want to share what my childhood friend shared during our chat and when we talked about divorce that occur after twenty years of marriage, which seems like a long time “We must keep committing ourselves to love and cherish and protect each other. If it is your child that starts to exhibit some unwanted behavior will you divorce him/her? The same love that we have for our children should be the same we have for our spouses. Of course it’s not easy if the issues are serious, but God’s grace abounds.” Some people may not agree with the point of loving our spouses like we love our children but i get her point. Love covers a multitude of sins. It truly does but it is also easier said than practiced, let’s be honest. This is where I will say again ‘God’s grace abounds’ because having a lasting marriage takes a lot of commitment patience, perseverance and prayers from both parties. I’ll state here that staying on in a marriage where emotional or any form of abuse persists isn’t advisable.
  4. Volunteer: if you haven’t started, you may want to start giving of yourself now by your service to others. “As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands — one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” — Audrey Hepburn.” “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” — William Shakespeare. Volunteering could serve as a hideout for coping with loneliness when the kids leave home. It could also offer some benefits to your mental and physical health.

As parents, we will all get to the empty nester stage, if we haven’t experienced it yet. It can certainly be an interesting and positive experience instead of a bad one, if we start planning now.

WHAT YOU LEARN FROM MY ‘TINY VEINS’

WHAT YOU CAN LEARN FROM MY ‘TINY VEINS’

Last week, I had to get my blood drawn as part of a routine medical checkup and went through what I have endured for the past decade and more- a longer than usual wait time at the laboratory or hospital. Drawing blood from someone with normal sized veins typically takes 5-10 mins. For me, my veins are tiny and this process takes about 30 mins to complete but only after i would have been needle-poked at least 3 times in different areas of my arm or the back of my hand and at least 3 or more phlebotomists have taken their turns in finding a vein. ‘Tiny veins’ are not always visible and when they are found, within a few seconds, they disappear. It also means they requires a special kind of needle (tiny ones called butterfly needles) to draw out blood from the veins when they are found . I am not sure why I have tiny veins but it is something I have lived with and gained control over as the years have gone by.

Mine is ‘tiny veins,’ what is yours? Whatever it is that makes you feel uncomfortable now and then, causes people to stare at you, puts you in an unhappy state when ever you see it or think about it, or seems like a ‘thorn in the flesh,’ should never break you. Know this for sure- you are wonderfully and fearfully made. God took his time to ensure a carefully crafted final product- YOU. You were made uniquely like no other. Which means, there is absolutely no one else like you.

Since I can’t do anything about my ‘tiny veins,’ I don’t think much about it until it is time to do a blood draw or go to a lab. I am also quite open and talk about it i.e. before a blood draw, I give the phlebotomists heads up by telling them that it will take time to find my veins. In those instances, I think being open about this situation has helped the people that I tell to be emphathetic and patient towards me. It also gives them access to help me. In my case, they allow me to get hydrated, put a warm compress around my veins are with me every step of the way to make the experience less stressful.

Today, If you are feeling gloomy about a condition that you have no control over, remember my ‘tiny veins.’ They are tiny and elusive but have taught me mighty things that I can’t explain in detail, like being patient in mundane situations like getting a blood draw or starting up conversations with strangers and just reading up about my body and health and how to take good care of it. What ever you do today, smile when you remember what my tiny veins reminds you of.