Monday, January 16, 2017

Well, What About Socialization?

 Why is it that once you have kids, the question "well, what about socialization?" pops up all the time?  It's like once a kid is over four months, this all that people care about.  What classes are they going to be in? Are they going to do ECFE? Are they going to day care? How are they going to learn socialization?

Once you get closer to three years old, then its all about school.  When are you going to go to school?  Are you in school yet? Where are you going to go for preschool, prekindergarten, and beyond?  If you say you aren't sending them to preschool or prekindergarten, then you are constantly asked, "well what about socialization?"

Now that my oldest will be four in a few months, he is eligible to go to prekindergarten in the school district.  Not a requirement by any means, but we can go through the early childhood screening, looking at school options, and picking them out.  We've been asked a lot lately, as we've decided not to send him to prekindergarten, "well, what about socialization?".  It's almost as if people assume you need to be in a school building, a classroom filled with others that are only your age, and have to have a teacher in order to have socialization.

I am pretty sure we will continue to get this question a lot once people find out what our school choice is.  But I am saving that for another blog post.  For now, is about the socialization aspect.

So, what about socialization? In my best Inigo Montoya voice...
Image result for Inigo Montoya "I don't think that words means what you think it does

Can you honestly say you know what socialization means?  Take a moment to look it up.  I am guessing you will find yourself quite surprised by the true meaning.  And also find the actual word you are looking for.

More often than not, people want to know about socializing.  Which is not the same as socialization.  Socialize, meaning to mix with others socially, is really the question people are wanting an answer to.    What people really want to know when they ask this question, really is "well, how are your children going to have playmates?" This concept, the concept of socialize, is just a mere aspect of socialization.

Socialization, meaning the process by which individuals acquire the knowledge, language, social skills, and value to conform to the norms and roles required for integration into a group or community, is something that is learned throughout life and from those who are a part of the person's life.  You don't need to have a school building, a classroom of kids the same age, or a teacher to do this.  This is something that can be taught by parents and others through day to day life.  Now remember, a community is a family, a town, club, city, or organization.  Even a group of friends can be considered a community. If a child is learning to fit into their community, then socialization is happening.

So you see, kids don't have to be sent to a school to learn socialization.  Even more so, when someone asks the question about socialization and you answer with a simple, "you don't need a school to learn socialization" you usually end up with a response of "well, yeah I get that" or "I know that, but..." and the answer seems to trail off.  It's as if it has become common place to ask the question and people have become so set in the ways that looking past what has always been done may not be the best reason any more.  Or more likely, they really aren't looking for an answer...especially if it doesn't fit in with their line of thinking or their way of doing things or how others around them do the same things.  Fear of being judged because of the what a family member decides or friend decides is really what it comes down to. 

There are some many other ways to get socialization.  Church, grocery shopping, going out to eat, play dates, visiting museums, classes out in the world around you, helping others, interacting with other age groups, sports, clubs and organizations, the library, even going on a walk around the neighborhood. The list goes on and on.

There is so much more to socialization and kids learn it through seeing others in their community.  They learn it from their parents to start.  Then it continues as the kids grow and their world around them expands.  Their knowledge, skills, and values build and grow as they do.

So, the next time you ask the question, "well, what about socialization" be sure you are ready for the answer that is given to you.  If you honestly know or get it, then you don't need to ask.  If you are just saying "yeah, I know that" or "yeah I get that, but..." then take the time to listen to what the person is answering back with.  Take the time to learn and understand, don't just ask because it's become common place or to say something about it.  If you don't want to listen, then don't ask the question.

My children are learning socialization through their every day and day to day living.  They learn it from us, their family, and friends.  They learn it through their neighborhood and church communities.  They learn it while running errands and while out on adventures.  My kids are not at a day care, they are not in a school.  They are around all ages.  They are growing their knowledge, social skills, and values. I have great faith in the community around us and them, that they will continue to grow all these things and more.

Well, what about socialization? Yeah, my kids are doing just fine in that area.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Checking it Out ~ The Library


The library really has so much to offer year round.  However, we've had a tendency to utilized it the most during the colder months and rainy days.  I need to get better at making the library visits more of a priority.  My oldest loves to read books and would read all day long. My youngest is just getting started in sitting long enough for one story.  Added bonus if there is a play area for them to explore and meet other kids.

Beyond the books and play, the story times are great.  Well, at least at the library closest to us.  A good morning song, letter of the week, action songs, stories, puppets, good bye songs, coloring sheets, and stickers.  Keep it moving, keep it short, keep the kids engaged.  A great win for everyone and an awesome learning experience.

I was skeptical of story times at first because of two libraries making it tough to sit through one.  The first time we ever went the good morning song involved greeting each of the nearly 30 kids that were there by name.  My son didn't make it very long and ended up falling asleep in the car ride home.  We left before they were half done with greeting each kid.  The other time we tried a story time was at a rather large library, however, we weren't there quick enough (and by quick enough, you had to be ready to run into the story time area to claim a spot) and there wasn't enough room in the space they used.  We were turned away, very disappointed.

However, we just happened to be at the library near our new house to see what it was like and it happened to be a story time day.  My son decided to join in and it was fun for everyone. We try to go to the library at least once a month, but I want to make more of an effort to go on the story time days more often.

Since moving, I've recently noticed we have 10, yes 10 libraries that are within 7 miles of our house.  So, we are going to spend the next several months going on a library treasure hunt to try out all of those libraries and see what they have to offer.

Before we know it Summer will be here and we can utilize the Summer reading programs.  These are great, even for the little kids!

My oldest did the reading program the Summer he turned one.  Each day we read, he colored in a part of a picture and once filled out, he could exchange it for a prize.  We ended up with egg shakers, some really cool books, and a CD that both kids love to listen in the car (and now some songs skip a smidge).  Older kids get chances to get state fair tickets and more.

The library is one of the best free resources out there.  The only cost is the time you invest into going and reading.  Everyone can and does benefit from it. Both my kids have a library card and get to check out books.  Yes, even my one year has his own card.  He had it shortly after he was born.

So, who else is ready to go on an adventure? Check out your local library.  What fun things do they have to offer?

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Being Okay With Staying Home

My oldest working on the letter S and my youngest just exploring crayons and stickers
Being okay with staying home.  This phrase has two meanings.  The first has to do with making the decision to be a stay at home mom.  The second has to do with staying home and not going out for the day.  For now, I am talking about the latter.  Being okay with staying home and not going out for the day.

From the time my oldest was born, I've watched other moms go one of a few ways.  Either they stay home all day long, fill their and their kid's day with so much stuff they are always busy, or a mix of the two.  I will admit, at times I've tried to fill our days with more stuff than maybe I should have.  And there are times when I've looked at the others and wondered if maybe I wasn't doing enough. 

The Summer before my youngest was born T and I spent most days out on adventures.  Every morning he would ask where we were going or if we could go somewhere.  Some of the reason was because I wanted to pack in as much T and I time before his brother arrived. Another was because he would ask where we were going.  Lastly, our house was up for sale, so many times we had no choice but to be out of the house and we were trying to visit some of our favorites before moved to a new area.

After my youngest was born, we were still trying to go out and do something. Looking back, I often wonder if it was more for my sanity than anyone else.  But I know that some of it was to keep with something consistent for my oldest that he was doing before his brother arrived and also to give him activities that were more focused on him.

Moving forward, I would still have a hard time with staying home.  I am not sure why though.  It is still a mystery to me and I am extremely curious as to the deeper side of it.  I almost wonder if it was a way for me to get out of my own head.  Or to try to keep up with other moms out there.  Fear is a very powerful thing sometimes and it pulls a lot out if you let it determine what others might think.

That being said, when I look at things, our calendar is probably the most empty of most of the moms I know.  And yet, our weeks fly by as there is always something we are going out to do.  I am not saying that having activities and play dates is a bad thing, but I wonder if sometimes we over schedule our kids with out of the home activities and classes, that they get lost and so do we.

And while they enjoyed their time, I enjoyed the chance to drink a cup of hot chocolate (that was still hot) and begin to write this post.
The thought came to me today about staying home while talking with my oldest.  He said he didn't want to go anywhere today.  If there is one thing I've learned in nearly four years about my kids, and well a lot of kids, is that they too need down time.  When we take the time to listen, they can be honest and real. There is a reason he was saying he didn't want to go anywhere.  Not to say that later in the morning he got upset when he decided to want to go somewhere, but  a three year old can and does change their mind a thousand times a day.  But after I said we weren't going anywhere, told him he had said he didn't want to go anywhere, and explained why we didn't have the time at that point to go, he continued on with the activity he was doing happily.

Normally, I go stir crazy staying at home all day long.  It's not as bad in the warmer months of Minnesota as we can break up the day by going on walks and going outside to play as well, but in the cold months that is not always as simple of a task.  Especially now with two kids, getting bundled up in full outdoor gear takes more time than we have to play or it's just too darn cold out.  However, in the past, I would find a reason to leave the house, even if it was to just wonder around Target. 

After having two holidays in a row and pretty much staying home for each of the extended weekends, my thoughts and feelings have changed. It took going through New Year's weekend though to begin feeling okay with the idea of staying home and not going anywhere.  Now, that's not to say we didn't go a few places, but the majority of the days were spent at home.  So, today, when we opted for staying in, I felt oddly, but refreshingly at ease and comfortable.

Going forward, we will still have activities and play dates outside the house, but I am also going to better utilize what we have right around us and plan for staying in days.  I think in the long run, we will all benefit from it.

Would love to hear your thoughts and comments. What are some of things you and your kiddos like to do when you stay home or have a stay in day?

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Hello 2017!


Welcome to 2017!  The calendar says its a new year and a new year means many things.  It means that some of the things we enjoy keep on going into the next year, but it also means a time for change.  Usually the end of a year and the beginning of new is the time when many of us re-evaluate where we are at, look at where we want to be, and put into motion the steps it will take to get there.

The start of a new year, many create resolutions for the new time.  They may start off strong, but it quickly fades as the months pass by.  Soon they are forgotten about until we round the corner of Thanksgiving and head into Christmas and realize that those resolutions we were so set on come back to face us.

Now don't get me wrong, I am all about setting goals.  But setting a goal takes much deeper thought and planning in order to achieve.  In order for there to be success, one must figure out the in between steps in order to complete the goal.  I will set a goal, then break it into smaller chunks and figure out what I need to do in order to reach the mini goal.  I also set small rewards for making the mini goal. With each mini goal completed, I get one step closer to my main goal.  This allows me the time to fail, pick myself back up, re-evaluate, and try again.

I prefer to set goals throughout the year based on where I am at.  However, at the start of a new year, I do something different.  I set a one word mantra to carry me through the year.  Each year, I pick a new word for the new year.

I got the idea almost six years ago.  After the loss of our daughter, I found a wonderful mentor to help me through my grief.  I took an illuminate class which utilized photography (something I enjoy doing) and journaling (something else I enjoy doing) to help work through the grief of the loss.  The creator, Beryl Young, created the class after she had experienced the loss of her daughter and used the camera to help her through her grief.  At the end of the class our last task was to reflect on the year and determine a one word mantra to help carry us through the next year.  Every year since, I decide on my word.

Some years it comes to me easily, some years I start with one and then it changes part way through the year, and some years the changes in life throw me off that I never end up picking a word.  The latter happened to me last year.  It wasn't until August when I settled on the mantra "Just Breathe". 

This time around, I took to my mentor and followed the route she went in creating her word for the year.  I used Susanna Conway's "finding your word".  It came in five emails over fives days.  Each one helped to work towards finding your word.  After that and taking some time to reflect, while letting the ideas resonate in my head for awhile, I came up with my word.

My 2017 word is "Be".  On the surface it may not seem like much.  However, when you put such a simple word in front of another word, it fills with so much more meaning.


You see, "be" takes me to where I want to go. This is a short list of where putting into life's daily motions can make such a big difference.  It stirs inside of me and reminds me of so much. I choose to carry this word with me and see where it can lead me.

Maybe this year is your year to try something different.  Maybe this year instead of a list of resolutions, finding your one word mantra is more what fills you and fits you.  So, if you look past the resolutions and past the goals, what would your one word mantra be for 2017?