Family Coach. Mom. Teacher. Lover of Life.

Posts tagged ‘Family’

My family is in a funk

IMG_2601I picked up my 14 year-old from the bus stop, something I do on occasion [read: when I am procrastinating getting important work done].

She asked, “how was your day, Mom?

Bad. How was yours?

What did you say? (she’s clearly not used to that answer)

I said it was bad. How was your day?

What happened?

Well, I just told a phone rep that I hope she has a terrible, horrible, awful day.”

It is true. I was talking with an American Airline rep, the third time this month to attempt to utilize a companion ticket; something I had tried two other times to redeem with no luck. This time I not only had no luck, but she told me I was irresponsible and that I needed to take responsibility for my own incompetence. So I lost my cool and told her I hope she has a terrible, horrible, awful day. It might sound bad, but truthfully, I wanted to say worse.

This came a day after Sofia was home sick for two days with the flu, after Fiona spent a day in such a bad mood she nearly lost her chance to be in the same house as her dad, and after a few months of my husband hating his new job.

Yes, the Allen family is in a funk. What do you do when the whole family is feeling down and out? Well, I tried to schedule a fun weekend get away, but AA totally let me down (and called me irresponsible). So nix that idea. But I have to do something. We are all really bummed, and it is time to make a change.

My good friend and colleague, Dr. Debra Farr, did research on this. Sort of. Her research is on the importance of family vacation on family cohesion and bonding. Her research, in a nutshell, says vacation and family fun is really good for a family. And in reading her paper, I am once again reminded of the importance of leisure, family togetherness, and simply having fun together.

We are a family that is often focused on fun times, but in all honesty, our funk has led to lethargy and than has lead to a lot of screen time for each of us. Don’t get me wrong…I LOVE SCREEN time. My children come by it naturally. I would watch TV all day if I could (even though it makes me feel kind of crappy). My favorite is watching TV all together, cuddled up on the sofa as one big happy family.

Screen time, even screen time spent together, is not really helping us feel better. In fact, it could be contributing to our funk. Research shows that too much screen time makes you tired, grumpy, and depressed. Yikes. That sounds familiar.

So, if I were working with my family as a family life coach, I might think the answer would be simple. Turn off the screens, go out and bond as a family. If only I had the energy to get off the couch, turn off the TV, and get the family out of here, I’m sure we’d all be better off for it. Like I say, do as I say, not as I do.

I ran this idea past the family, and they were against the idea of turning off the TV and doing something. Anything.

So what did we do? We got up, went for a walk, and then came home to brainstorm where we might go next on family vacation. Looks like UK, Hawaii, Norway, or Toronto are the winners. Fingers crossed we figure out how to get that amazing vacation to become a reality soon. In the mean time, just dreaming about and planning our dream vacation made us all feel a tiny bit better tonight.

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Back to School! Podcast 6

The Allen kids are back in school this week. Unlike times in the past, back to school is changing, especially for college students. The days of going to a brick and mortar school for the first year of college is no longer the only option. Is doing a non-traditional option, such as community college or even doing early college high-school a good option? We will tell you our opinion in this week’s podcast.

Book reviewed: College (Un)Bound: The Future of Higher Education and What it Means for Students by Jeffrey J. Selingo. (2013).

Article reviewed: How to Make Stuff in Wired, March 29, 2011. http://www.wired.com/2011/08/big-diy/

A story about Limor “Ladyada” Fried, the first woman on the cover of Wired and one of Fiona’s role models.

Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 6.12.44 PM

 

Key words: back to school, college alternatives, welding, early college, kids

A Word from My Daughter

I write a lot about my 13 year-old daughter, Fiona, and her struggle with mental illness. She actually does a lot of writing herself, so today I share with you something she wrote for her school newspaper.

green ribbon

Ribbons

By Fiona Allen

About 40,000 people will commit suicide this year. That’s the same amount of people that will die of breast cancer this year. In fact, it’s predicted that by 2030 suicide deaths, which are most commonly caused by depression, will outweigh the number of deaths from stroke, cancer, accidents and even war.

Today I am here to talk to you about mental health awareness and the lack of it. We talk about breast cancer often. You probably know the awareness ribbon is pink. Right? But can you guess what color suicide, mental health or self-harm ribbons are? Not very many people talk about mental health or suicide. The ribbon color for suicide is yellow. The awareness ribbon color for mental health is green, and the awareness color for self-injury is orange.

The reason that we don’t have much awareness for mental health issues is because it’s taboo to talk about mental illness in our society. Is also seen as “not a real issue”. Mental illness is an illness just a serious-if not more serious-than other illnesses that receive a whole awareness month.

Kids all around us that are our age are suffering and dying from mental illness on a daily basis. In fact about every 15 minutes somebody dies from suicide, and that does not include the kids who are passing away because of anorexia or those attempting to kill themselves. It’s a scary thing to look at. It’s scary to think about too, but I challenge you to look at it and to make a stand about it.

If you suffer from a mental illness you can get help and get treatment. If you’re feeling like you’re going to kill yourself please, PLEASE call this number-it’s the national suicide prevention lifeline 1-800-273-8255.

Talk to your parents or another trusted adult about your feelings. I know it’s so hard because I’ve been through it before myself. But I know you can do this.

I would like to challenge all of you guys out there to spread awareness for these horrible disorders. I challenge you to wear a ribbon or a shirt that’s one of these colors (yellow, orange or green) every Tuesday. In our school we need to not only stand up against bullying, but we also need to stand up for mental health disorders.

I also challenge you to try to make somebody feel better. Be kind. Be friendly. Just try to lighten up someone’s day. And I challenge all those folks out there that are suffering to stay strong. You can do this. I’m so proud of you.

Citations:

http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Cancer.org

http://www.save.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.viewPage&page_id=705D5DF4-055B-F1EC-3F66462866FCB4E6

Using technology to engage families.

One of our VIP Dads using social media in a parenting program.

One of our VIP Dads using social media in a parenting program.

Greetings from Portland, Oregon where I’m about to do a seminar on using social media to better reach families at the Oregon Parent Education Conference #OPECConf. I did a similar seminar last week in South Carolina for a group of Adlerian psychologists. I’ve done this seminar enough to know that there are the lovers and the haters of using technology to reach families. So I have a few questions for you to consider if you are thinking about using technology to engage families. Question 1. Who DOESN’T use Social Media?

Clearly, early everyone uses social media! Every generation is using the Internet/SM in some capacity. Check it out here: http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheets/social-networking-fact-sheet/ Question 2: Are current and future parents online? YES!

  • 95% of young people use the internet.
  • 93% of young people have a computer or have access to one at home.

Here is the capper:

  • Parents prefer participating in activities with their kids that involve older media
  • Namely, families love love to snuggle up and watch TV together for family time.
  • Teens (73% of them) are spending more and more time on social media.

I know, I know…enough numbers. But the truth is, I love watching TV with my kids. They love watching any screen time. It is common for me to hear my 13 year old posting comments on Instagram on a minute-by-minute basis. Another truth is that many of us get our information online, and much of that is from social media. I follow many parenting education programs on FB and Twitter, and I know many other parents do so as well. Here is one more truth.  If we want to better reach families and help educate them on family life issues, we must use technology (especially social media) to engage families. That can look different depending on what you do or where you do it. And it might mean a strong learning curve for us (hence the webinar). But in the end, we need to reach parents where they are. On technology. And if we are PARENTS, we need to be a bit more selective about where we get our parenting information. But that is a blog for another day.

Cheap Thrills

Cheap Thrills

I just realized why older adults are the people I most often see at cultural events (I mean from what I remember from my younger years when I actually attended cultural events) (yes, younger years meaning BFS) (Before Fiona and Sofia). Once the kids leave the house, all the free entertainment is gone. Just think about it; have you ever averaged the amount of time you spend (ergo the number of dollars you save) seeing shows, listening to songs, critiquing art and even cheering for your favorite team all for free in the comfort of your own back yard?

Take tonight, for example. Tonight’s shows included a humorous film about ADHD (were I got to practice my cinematography skills), an interpretive dance about the fear of the wild (see video of take 4) (never mind, apparently I’m a bad cinematographer because there are no videos on the disk), a song by Adele, and a neighborhood flashmob. Even better, several of those were repeat performances, so I got to watch them over and over and over again.

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Scary Sofia’s Cat Dance

I’d say each show averaged 10 minutes. Of course that is front to start. If I add in all the redos that allowed me to watch each show from the beginning to about mid point (you know, the point where a mistake was made, causing the whole show to begin again), I would guess it was closer to 25 minutes per performance. In total, I probably watched a good hour or so of performances in just one night. And that’s just for the ones I finally agreed to watch. I can’t tell you how many times I said “not now”. I can’t help think about the savings, though. If I paid for that entertainment, well…OK, I wouldn’t. But let’s just say if did…for cheap entertainment, that is at least $10 bucks worth a night. So for a full week, I’m probably getting about $70s worth of culture. For free.

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Best of all, I get to see the performance in my sweat pants and tee shirts.
Fiona’s art show

Thanks, girls, for giving me culture and helping me save money (unless I account for the money I spend on all the lessons you have taken in preparation for these events, which I’m not counting tonight). I feel so much better now about your eager invitations to “watch me, watch me, watch me Mom!, can you watch me now, how long before you can watch me, look at this, did you see this, mom, come here and look at this, mom…….”