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If you think this is about YOU, maybe you should go reconcile with your parent and work to get back your kids instead of continuing to be a jerk. If you think I am you, or similar to you, welcome! :-)

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year, and How Are You Holding Up? Goals for the New Year

For purposes of common Society (with a capitial S), the Winter Holiday is almost finished. Most of us will breathe a sigh of relief that we lived through that!

I've only heard from one grandparent this Christmas, and we were able to settle the hash of that adult child mighty quickly, thanks to the intervention of child services and an attorney. I had my own little incident, but that was kept to the Internet and a county sheriff's office. So, Christmas stayed happy for us.

We've had a few accomplishments this year: Moved to a house that was much better for us, with public transportation, got some good test results for the kids, and I lost 18 pounds. A goal never hurts.

What are your goals for the coming year? Going to get on the weight loss trail with me? Better health through exercise? Fix the enclosed porch into a room for a grandchild? Draw up a better budget? Go to court and get this matter of custody settled once and for all?

These are all good goal ideas. But goals just don't happen. They need motivation, something to make us accomplish that goal. If we don't follow through, all we had was a wish, something we wanted and hoped we would would obtain. With motivation, w can move that wish into reality.

So, give your goal some motivation!
  • State your goal in obvious, concrete, solid words. Don't just say, "I will lose weight." How much weight? What method? Will simple dieting be enough, or will exercise be involved? What type? How often? 
  • Less is more with goals. If you have one or two resolutions you convert to goals, you're doing well. Don't overwhelm yourself with a pile of goals! 
  • Give yourself an end date. Let's use the example of the enclosed porch being converted to a bedroom. It needs to be finished by a due date. "Someday" is not a date due, but an excuse to putter. If you fritter too long, your grandchild will have spent the remainder of his or her childhood on your pullout sofabed. And if you are Grandpa, Grandma is going to get mighty tired mighty quickly of the mess you've made of the enclosed porch, when she could have converted it to a sewing room or a summer bedroom. So, the goal is, "I will complete converting the enclosed porch into a bedroom for Clarence no later than _________, 2012." 
  • Break your goal into "chewable" pieces. Most people don't pile everything from a meal into a sandwich and down it in one gulp without chewing it first. Break down your goal into what you have to do to reach it. Put it into segments, individual "mini-goals" of one to two lines each. Meeting the "mini-goals" along the way will be so much easier than trying to swallow your whole goal in one gulp (and it'll be a lot easier to digest).
  • Don't forget to factor in the cost of meeting your goal when you segment it. If you're losing weight, will you be doing that on your own? Weight Watchers? Atkins? Detox? How much is it going to set you back? Will different foods be involved? Can you take the money you spent on unhealthy foods and apply it to healthy choices? Are you finding a job? New clothes might be in order. Quitting smoking? Maybe you need nicotine gum or patches. The enclosed porch is going to require lumber, insulation, maybe a new window, maybe some new furniture, definitely paint, possibly drywall. Figure out how much you intend to pay for this, and where you plan to get the money for it. One of the fastest ways to kill a goal is not to fund it. 
  • If you need help, line it up now. Maybe you never set up your own business, but you have a friend who has. Maybe you've never hung drywall, but you know your adult godson has. Maybe you just need somebody to whom to be accountable on your weight loss journey, or an exercise buddy. Gather information, asks questions, ask for assistance- NOW.
  • Give your goal some reality NOW. Posters and lapbooks aren't just for children. Cut out some pictures from magazines, or print some pics off the Internet, or even draw your own illustrations. Spell out your main goal on a poster, in glitter, and put the mini-goals in metallic using gel pens. Take before and after photos, and print them out, either at the big-box store on professional paper, or at home using your own printer. Make your self a goal thermometer, or whizo-meter, that you can complete every time you meet a mini-goal. Have fun with this, and make it REAL to you.  
  • DON'T GIVE UP. Just because you had a setback doesn't mean you can just quit. What did you tell your now adult kid all these years about quitters, about starting over again? So you have to rehang the wall, or the woodwork looks a little uneven and has to be redone. So you gained a pound. It doesn't give you the luxury of throwing up your hands in despair and flopping your butt down in the La-Z-Boy.
Here's hoping your New Year's resolutions take on the sheen of accomplished goals through out the year! If you'd like to send me some of them, I'll be happy to post them here (anonymously of course, if that's your choice).

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Giving Season- To Yourself, Others

'Tis the season to be giving! One of the first people to whom you need to give is yourself. Why? You are putting in hours you didn't think you'd ever commit to the care and feeding of children, that's why. This is especially true if you are over 65 and this is your first year of retread parenting.

For some ideas on how to conserve energy this holiday season, see my past blog post

Now then, Retread Parent, what makes you smile and relax? Give that to yourself, at least once this holiday season. What could it be? Only you know that, but here are some suggestions to get you started on that thought:
  • Can you afford some pampering? Look into senior prices at day spas and salons. Even one afternoon on your hair, or one really good massage, can really do a lot for your disposition.
  • Don't think you can afford a new hair-do or a massage? Search the Internet or your good old-fashioned Yellow Pages for schools of beauty culture, physical therapy and massage. I have a couple relatives who are now massage therapists, and just as beauty schools need real human heads for practice under the supervision of licensed professionals, ditto that for massage. Free or low prices, supervisions, students get practice, you get some pampering- What's not to like?
  • As a rule, it's impolite to tell people what you want for a gift. But if they ask, you could say, "Gee, ya know, with the kids and all, I haven't had time to think about it. I haven't had time to breathe! And just look at my hair! I love the kids dearly, but boy could I use something relaxing." You might get a foot massager, or a couple boxes of Clairol. You might also get gift certificate to someplace nice. You never know.

As for all those stressors that pop up more so for us who retread parent, here's some tips on reducing that stress:
  • STREAMLINE. It's not about how.  There is no crime in serving latkes purchased frozen, bakery goods, pre-chopped frozen items with which to prepare food (onions and green peppers come already diced and ready to use), grocery-store deli prepared meals; for that matter, no crime in eliminating traditions you don't like, activities that don't make sense to your schedule, or stuff it's just not worth it to do. You may not be able to travel to see your sister 1,500 miles away this year. Just as when you were young and might have missed Christmas at Mom and Dad's because you were now married, you have other responsibilities. 
  • DON'T WORRY BEFORE YOU HAVE TO WORRY: I know. It sounds weird. Worry on a schedule. When I first heard it from my late aunt, I thought she was crazy. But, if you use a schedule, paper or online, and book yourself some time to worry about stuff (the adult child in this mess, how you're going to make ends meet, what to serve for dinner), you will be surprised how much stress this takes out of your life.
  • SCHEDULE. Create a flexible holiday schedule, a list, what needs to be done and when.

Now let's work on gifts for others. 

Is money a problem? It can be a lot more of a problem for grandparents and others raising young relatives. What was possibly more than enough for you barely stretches to the next week, or worse. Yet, you want to be sure those little ones, even big arrogant teenage ones, have that bright light in their eyes come Christmas morning, or on the first night the menorah is lit. Here's some help with making sure your grandkids enjoy their holidays without breaking your bank account:
  • IT'S ABOUT TIME. Spread your money and time over the year. Create your own gift certificates, with the computer or your own art skills. A promise for a real movie at a theater with all the trimmings in April when you have more money, just the two of you, can be a real boost to your relationship with a sullen teen who misses her Mom. Other gift certificate ideas can include trips to the store, picnics, zoo trips, playground time, trips to the ceramic shop, popcorn and a rented (or free library) movie at home with you, a gourmet dinner or dinner of favorite foods. Use your imagination.
  • CAN YOU OR SOMEBODY ELSE MAKE IT? Yes, it's pretty easy to make dolls, block sets, t-shirts, fancy flip-flops, and some jewelry. There are web sites out there that can also remind you how to make bath salts, soaps, candies, cookies, and a host of other things. Google, google, google. If you have more time and energy than money, this might be a good idea. If you can't do it, can you trade your time to do something else for somebody else to do it? I can't knit or crotchet well. I do have a friend who is wonderful at both, but can't do her Christmas letter or cards. It's a good trade-off, a nice shawl for doing her cards, inserting a lovely Christmas letter in there. 
  • WATCH FOR SALES, eBAY, THRIFT STORES TO HAVE IT. No joke. I once got the most amazing rocking horse at Goodwill for a certain child who wanted one. The horse is large enough for an adult to ride. It was hand-crafted, and according to the embossed stamps on the rockers, had two previous owners. Online, I saw a similar horse for no less than $250. I paid $20 for the horse, and another $10 to spruce it up. There are not thousands, but millions, of gently-used items that you would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between new and used. It's certainly a good way to acquire new family heirlooms!
  • FOR THOSE WHO NEED IT, THERE IS HELP. I've heard from grandparents who are broke, period. They've gotten the grandkids on DHS and Kidcare because that's all they can afford, not merely because of the kids' status. Free school breakfasts and lunches will be missed during the holiday break from school. Older folks such as us are losing our jobs. Toys, games and the unnecessary take a back seat to food, clothing and shelter. For these caregivers, I can only say ASK FOR HELP. It might be a little late for traditional assistance, such as Catholic Charities or Salvation Army, but start with your local house of worship. Ask your DHS case worker for any leads on this. Don't be so proud that your grandkids go hungry or cold. My prayers for all of you going through this.