Parenting

Volunteering at your child’s school. Why is it important?

I always teased her, “What are you doing now?” SHE’S involved in practically everything! Her husband and I have an ongoing joke, “all that’s left is the janitorial position!” Then one day SHE asked me to volunteer at the book fair at the same time SHE was so we could be together and maybe grab some lunch before the kids got out of school. I knew it was time for me to do a little something at my child’s school, so I signed up to volunteer. I never thought that this was going to be a life changer for me. Read on...I’ll tell you why!

 

She looked at me and said “mommy

you’re here!”She was so excited! 

 

We picked the lunch time hour to volunteer. My daughter knew I’d be there. I was excited to see her during school hours but didn’t think too much of it. The bell rang...all the kids flooded into the library. Here came Olivia....running in, arms out and with that sweet beautiful face. She looked at me and said “mommy you’re here!” She was so excited! All her friends ran in after her and gave me hugs too. I just wasn’t expecting all of this. I was the familiar face they needed to see that day. My daughter was on cloud 9...her mommy was there. She went about searching for the best book to buy and kept looking back, probably to make sure I was still there. When it was time to go back to class, she gave me the biggest hug and with tears in her eyes she thanked me for being there but also didn’t want to leave me. By the end of that week, I had volunteered a few more times. I formed a relationship with the office staff, the Liberian and other parents and teachers. By the end of that week, SHE took on the role to run our Book Fair moving forward and appointed me as her co-leader. All of a sudden I was getting fingerprinted to be an official volunteer at my child’s school and I was reading books and helping out my daughters class every other Wednesday!

I mean what is happening? I never thought I’d be “that mom”...like what does that even mean anyways? “That mom?” A mom who is involved in her children’s school life? A mom who is now taking pictures for the class and yearbook, hosting and speaking at her first fundraiser. Oh “that mom” huh?

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Well, I don’t know what came over me but I know it’s all because SHE knew what was best for me the day she dragged me along. 

Who is SHE, you ask? SHE is a mama friend I met when our kids were in kindergarten together. For the last three years, our friendship grew and became stronger. Sometimes I forget it’s only been 3 years! I am most grateful to her for getting me involved even when I fought it. This is probably a good time to ask me why I avoided all of this so much! I mean who really knows why...I just felt like it was just more stuff on my already very full plate. I always just thought those few hours alone without the kids could be some time for myself. Boy was I completely wrong! Oh silly mommy, those days of alone time are far and few these days...

SHE always said “I love volunteering because my kids love seeing me here”. SHE is so right, dang it (Please don’t tell her I said that)! Seeing my child’s face when I walk into her classroom, or surprise her with a big hug on her lunch break. Seeing how her friends react to me being there, the staff and other parents. 

If your schedule allows it, I highly recommend volunteering at your child’s school. If even just for field trips (which you can plan ahead). When I worked full-time, field trips were all I had. I’d do my best to be there for those and Olivia loved every second of it. I know it’s not easy...especially if you work full time, Monday-Friday. I consider myself fortunate because when I did work full time, I worked retail...which meant I could have days off during the week and just work weekends. Now, I work part time and I’m so grateful for that because it allows me more time to be active in my child’s school, something I never got to do before. Quite honestly, I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be working part-time...so I’m making the most of it! 

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Aside from the good vibes my volunteering brings to my children, it also allows me to feel safer and more comfortable with my child’s school. Being involved now allows me to be in the loop, it allows me to be familiar with the staff, fellow moms and people walking in and out of our campus. I’m suddenly recognized now by other students, “Hi Olivia’s Mom” and I’m on a first name basis with the school staff. Next year, Aleena will be in on all of this too! That’s when this might get a little out of hand LOL!  

Being involved also allows me to understand our school better. Who runs things? Where do we get funds from? Who’s pays for this and that? Why is parent support so critical? It allows me to understand the importance as well as appreciate fundraisers and extracurricular activities to raise more funds for our children and our school. It gives me and my children a sense of pride in our school.  

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Do what you can. Do what makes sense for you. Whichever way you can be involved is going to be something special for your child. If you can attend Field Trips, great! If you can  volunteer in the classroom, awesome! Heck, if you can help the teacher by taking some papers home to sort through and staple...do that! No matter how big or small, volunteers are always needed and appreciated. 

 And, lets be honest here? Everything we do, we do for our kids. They might not always tell you directly how much they appreciate it but I can hear it in my child’s voice when she is talking to her friends. She has this sense of ownership and pride when she talks about mom being involved in her school activities. I know deep down inside, it truly means the world to her, even something as simple as stapling some papers for her teacher.

I still want to find balance between my #momlife and my personal life. Many times, mom life exceeds personal life and well...it is what it is right? While SHE wants to tap into as many things as possible, I’m there to rein her in a little bit and when I’m tapped out and want to drop everything I’m involved in, she’s there to remind me why it’s so important. I guess that’s what friends are for, especially when their both moms. We balance each other out...

There SHE is....LOL 😁 

There SHE is....LOL 😁 

To My First Born Child...

I took a picture of you today, you were helping dad work on his car and I asked you to smile for me. You posed for the picture like you’re a pro at this! That photo took my breath away. I realized (after staring at the picture 20 times) that my once baby girl was now a beautiful young lady. I guess I never noticed it before, in my eyes I will always see that sweet blonde little baby laughing and giggling with me. Sucking her thumb when she was exhausted. Wanting to sleep next to me first before being put in bed. I will always see my first born, my first love, the one who made me a mother. I will always remember leaving the hospital without a clue…but somehow figuring it out with you. You were my trial and error. You were my mistakes and my biggest accomplishments. You were and are everything I am today.

To my first born,

With you I learned the most about myself. I learned how strong I was even when I was beyond exhausted. I found emotions within myself I never knew I had. I felt love, fear, sadness and happiness all at the same time. I learned what unconditional love meant. My love for you made my love for your father grow deeper. The way he looked at you, made me fall in love with him all over again.

When you were sick, I was sick with you. When you were sad, my heart broke into a million pieces. Oh but when you’d smile at me….that beautiful big smile of yours, you will always be a ray of light.

Sweet child of mine, the day we made you an older sister…I knew you’d be a good one but I never knew you’d take your new role so seriously. You fed her, you rocked her, you watched her grow. You sang to her and told her stories. You POTTY TRAINED her!

In a blink of an eye this cuddly, affectionate little girl has become a determined, funny, Miss Know-it-All. Sometimes you give me a glimpse into the future, you ten years older and me pulling my hair out!

As I look at the photo of you AGAIN, I notice that same baby-face looking back at me, telling me that everything will be just fine. All the worries I once had for you, you’ve surpassed with flying colors. Now, I know my worries and sleepless nights will forever continue…but I will take it a day at a time. I will savor every second with you and your sister. I will take more pictures and capture these memories because it all passes so quickly.

I want you to know just how proud I am of you. You’re creative and caring. Your energetic and smart. You’re hilarious and stubborn. I love everything about you even when you’re being dramatic and sassy and you talk way too much! I love that you are motherly and loving. I love that you love to read! Honestly, you’re just a mini me and everyone knows that!

I want to thank you for all that you have given me. Everything I have learned and continue to learn. I also want to apologize because I made mistakes and I made them with you. You are my first born, my first time for everything. You paved the way for your sister.

Always remember that I always had the best of intentions and I gave you all of me, every single time and I will continue to do that.

Olivia FAITH, the day you came into the world, changed my life forever. I wish I could freeze time and keep you and your sister little forever.

I want you to continue to love wholeheartedly. Always say your prayers and put God first. Be kind and stay humble. Continue teaching your sister everything you know, minus the eye-rolling please! Be the best version of yourself and chase those dreams!

I love you beyond words little one. You will always be my first. You will always be the one who made me a mother.

With All My Heart,

MaMa

7 Tips for Picking the School That's Right for Your Child.

Isn’t it crazy? It feels like just yesterday we brought this sweet child home from the hospital and now here she is about to start school! How quickly the time passes…

The time has come to start looking more closely at your child’s future. Finding that “perfect” school for your children is yet another roller coaster of emotions. Will it be the right fit? Will he/she be happy? Will they do well and make friends? Will I be okay letting them go? The answers to all your questions may never be 100% to your satisfaction but we can at least find some comfort in the information we have gathered. Here is a checklist of things to help you chose the right school:

1). Understanding your child

  • Figure out what is best for your child. What does He/She need more of? Perhaps they need something more structured? Maybe a school that will work on his social abilities? Maybe your child needs something that is academically more challenging? Does your child have a learning disability or require an extra push? Are sports and a sense of belonging to something important to your child? These are all important factors in picking the best place that best fits your child. Not all schools are tailored the same. A school might have a prestigious name and background, but it might do nothing beneficial for your child. Remember this is their future.

2). Private or Public

  • Of course if we’re talking preschools, private is usually the only option. Unless it’s a TK program or a government funded program, at least to my knowledge. Since preschool is not mandatory, it’s considered daycare. But, we still have to pick the right one!

    • The biggest factor for us when deciding on keeping Olivia at her private school or switching her to public was money. At the end of the day, you have to be honest with yourself and what is realistic for you.

    • Evaluate the pros and cons of both sectors. Private schools give you smaller classes, more one on one. They might specialize in a particular lesson plan. Are you choosing it because of religious affiliations? Maybe that’s the most important for you. Private schools may or may not have teachers with actual teaching credentials, just ones who focus on subjects they know. Private school classrooms may offer better textbooks and technology (for the most part) but with that, comes a hefty tuition. What are you comfortable with? For me, what I enjoyed most was how safe and secure I felt at the private school. Knowing my children were/are in a smaller more tight knit community (my views on this shift a bit, keep reading) meant the world to me. Public schools have their own pros and cons to say the least. Are you ready for a huge school for your little tiny human? Eventually, it doesn’t feel so huge anymore, but you know what i mean! Consider that there will be larger class sizes and limited access to learning materials (depending on the type of school and how it’s funded). On that same note, public schools may offer more extra curricular activities that a private can’t. Will your child get the attention you think they need? Its all part of the process of elimination.

3). Make a list of all the features you want the school to have

  • Are you looking for a specific extra-curricular activity?

  • Does the school offer after-school programs? Sports, clubs etc.

  • Does the school feel safe and clean?

  • Does the school offer programs such as; music, arts, computer lab and library time?

  • Convenience? Is it near your home? Can you volunteer your time?

  • Is it a supportive environment?

***This list can go on. You have to figure out what are your must haves***

4). Collect as much info and visit schools

  • Ask around. Ask neighbors. Go in and talk to the principal. Try to get as much information as possible. I prefer more honest and candid opinions versus just what I read online.

  • Set up a time to go visit these schools. This way you can see things in action. You can talk to students and staff (if they allow it). You can get a more visual one on one observation.

5). Test scores

  • Though I don’t think these scores are an accurate representation of a school and everything it may have to offer, it does help you to see how well the students test and score academically.

6). Apply to many schools

  • You are not limited to just the school you are assigned to. Of course, I’m referring to public schools. You can go to any private school, no matter how near or far. In our case, we were linked with a school we absolutely did not want our children to attend. We asked around and did our research on the schools that were up to our standards. We applied to all of them.

  • Here is where it becomes a bit tricky. By applying you are entering into a lottery. Hoping and praying that they pick your child’s name. That is why applying to as many as you can is a plus. For us, if Olivia was not chosen for any of the lottery schools then private is where she would continue. We would find a way to afford it because the school in our neighborhood was not an option.

  • Don’t panic, they will call. You have to believe it will all work out. The school we were hoping for called us the very last week before school started to tell us Olivia was chosen. I screamed so loud, I felt like we really won the lottery!

7). Trust your gut and go all in!

  • Soon as you step foot into a place, chances are your gut is telling you yes or no. There is a reason for that. Go with it! Don’t second guess yourself because that only makes this process harder.

  • Get your children involved. Take them with you. Let them get a feel of their new school. This will only assure them that their best interest is your priority.

I would also like to add that when you finally do find the “perfect” school for your child, remember that its just as much your job as it is theirs to make friends and get acclimated. Drop offs are great and convenient but make it a point to go on campus and meet new moms. You’ll be surprised on what incredible friendships can be formed there. You have one major thing in common with these parents, your love and concern for your child. What an incredible feeling it is to know you have a team of moms/dads who love and support your children like they are their own. Put yourself out there as much as you can. Get involved and be present. Find a group that you can connect with. I can’t tell you enough how blessed I am for the group of moms (and dads) I have in my life. They saved me time and time again when I couldn’t make it to drop-off. When I’ve had to rush in the mornings. When I needed something picked up or dropped off because my kid was sick.

Our first two months in public school were awful. Olivia cried everyday, she was angry and bitter and frightened. I cried just as much soon as she walked away. She had to make new friends all over again. She brought home those same feelings of withdrawal and unhappiness. Making home life unbearable at times. By the grace of G-d, I was sent a group of women who somehow felt my agony and my desperation. I had found my group, my safe-haven. We were all new to this world. We all felt a certain way. We came together and made each other stronger! Open yourself up. Knowing you have a trustworthy team looking out for you and yours make this whole process so much easier.

We have all come through for one another in some shape or form. We’ve been together since kinder and its been one hell of a ride. I’m grateful beyond words…

Good luck and stay calm. Everything always works out in the end.

XoXo!