Being Nanekia…Do Not Apply Pressure!

jesus-hilario-h-311382-unsplashHey Hotties! The school year has officially started for most (YAY!) This summer was amazing the kids and I had a great time on some great adventures. As most of you know Anissa has started kindergarten and Jamiel is a freshmen in high school. Yeah, yeah, I know the spacing, but you know I like it spicy and the way to keep it that way is to spread them far apart, just joking that’s life. Anyway that’s not what this post is about. My son is attending a great private school, that has a high moral and educational code, they are expecting students to excel in all areas of their lives and become productive members of society. What parent doesn’t what that for their child?! I knew this was the place for my son and we have been excited all year for his start, that was until the first week of school.

Jamiel is my calm child, he doesn’t stress too much, he goes with the flow. So imagine my surprise when I caught him up late one night in a panic. His eyes were red, he had a strained look on his face and he was grabbing his stomach. My immediate response, food poisoning! As I begin to feel his forehead and ask about his other symptoms I realized it wasn’t food poisoning, Jamiel was stressed. In my mind I was thinking we are just the first week in, how can you be stressed already. I didn’t want to make light of how he was feeling, so I got him some water and asked if we could talk. (I always ask my kids if they want to talk I don’t assume they are ready just because I am.)

I took a look at what was on the screen of his laptop and there was this overwhelming schedule, something completely new to him, new teachers, new concepts to learn, new school, new people. While this could be the possibility for each school year, something was very different for him this time around. In his words, “I’m a young adult now people expect me to be responsible all the time, to know things I don’t really know, to perform. I’m always hearing how as a young black man I have to do more, HOW DO I DO MORE?!” I felt bad cause honestly I didn’t have an answer for him, I’m still trying to figure out how I can do more and I’ve had almost 40 years to do so. In the first week of school he had 3 quizzes, 2 papers, football practice, a football game, his chores for home,  and time for a social life, for someone who hasn’t had to jungle this before this was a huge shock to his system. He went through several conversations before we narrowed down his real concern, would he be a disappointment.

Jamiel’s disappointment statement hurt my heart, why would he ever think he was a disappointment. then I remembered a conversation we had earlier this summer. School was never hard for me, I didn’t have to study, I could read something one time and just know it. Jamiel had the same ability in middle school but high school is a whole new ballgame. His confidence was low, how do I help him regain it?

  1. We made a schedule for him to stick to and added the events to the calendar on his phone with reminders. There is time for studying, homework, and time each night to ask me questions about what he may need help with.
  2.  He signed up for tutoring, it’s available free through the school so why not utilize the resource.
  3. We are reading for fun a book together, to expand his horizons. We’ll be able to discuss with each other, hopefully helping him to engage in this conversation will give him with the confidence to engage in class.
  4. I’ve put the tribe on notice and asked that they pray for him and send him encouraging words. I am a firm believer that the people in your child’s life should speak excellence over their life.
  5. Going to bed on time. As much as he wants to be up playing Fortnite, he realizes that he needs rest.
  6. I’ve realized that I want him to do well, to succeed, but not at the cost of his mental health. Open communication about the pressures he feels will always be a constant in our home.

It’s important that we listen to and not just talk at our children. Their feelings matter and we need to watch the pressures we apply. What do you do when you notice your child may be a little stressed? How are you helping to alleviate that stress?



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Why Won’t She Sleep?!

anissa sleepEverybody tells you to sleep when the baby sleeps. That’s the advice new moms get when they have a fresh bundle of joy, but what are you to do as a seasoned mom with a 5-year-old who doesn’t sleep?! I was seriously starting to believe that Anissa was sneaking energy drinks before bed. I’d heard start a routine, once she gets use to the routine she’ll be asleep in no time. So what did I do, I set the alert on my phone to start our routine, 1. take a bath, while in the bath read bedtime story, 2. lotion up give a gentle massage while helping put them to bed to help them relax, 3. Lights out no distractions, turn off the lights, tv, tablet, whatever, they should be in a completely dark room and in about 10 minutes they’ll be sleep. THIS WAS ALL A LIE!

Now what I wrote above may work for some, but it did not work for my youngest precious gift from above. She would sleep for about 20 minutes and then be up late into the night TALKING TO ME WHILE I WAS TRYING TO SLEEP. At first I blamed school, her nap time was too long so of course she wasn’t sleepy, then I blamed all the other people in the house, they were too loud, they kept her too excited. I felt like I was never going to sleep again. I think an adult lacking sleep is worse than a kid who gets no sleep, I was beyond cranky at work. So what’s a mom to do…settle in and just accept that sleep and I are no longer friends OR take action.

I studied this little girl. I needed to know exactly what she did prior to our routine so that I could see if there was something I could use to help me. I discovered her playing with her dolls in her room, that was it. By the way she’s a really good teacher and excellent doctor. At my wit’s end and needing a nap I talked to my sister, and she made a good point. In the summer time when we are able to go outside and play then come in and do our routine we didn’t have this sleep issue. In the winter time though, we are semi stuck in the house not able to enjoy getting out and putting our energy into running around playing. **LIGHT BULB** I’m always tired after my workout, I get in the tub, which relaxes me, lotion up then off to bed, pending Anissa’s chats I can sleep all night. YAY!! So instead of working out with the ladies 5 times a week I found a similar video on YouTube, comparable to my dance class and Anissa and I dance for an hour. Once that hour is up I strike with the routine. At first  I was skeptical, this was not going to work and now I would be sore and tired. BUT it did, she worked out hard, she loves to dance and before I knew it she could hardly make it to the bath before showing signs of sleepiness. This has gone on for a few weeks and I’m so excited.

So that’s what worked for me. Have you had this issue or know of someone who did? What techniques did they use? List them in the comments in case I need a back-up.


Being Nanekia…Confession: I’m Tired!


tired 3Recently I was on a call with another mom and she was having a breakdown. She was in full “Incredible Hulk” form.  I told her, let me have it, get everything off your chest, just release and let it go.  I mean she was going through it.  From trying to get her one child help because of a learning  and behavioral issue, watching as her teen child was coming into her own and testing the waters, trying to maintain a relationship with a significant other, keeping up with household bills and duties, working, assisting with her parents, the list just went on and on.  When she was done, she laughed, she said none of her feelings even matter, that she have to grin and bear it because that’s what a good mom is supposed to do.  I listened and gave some encouraging words and offered to pray with her.  When I hung up I immediately went into the bathroom and looked in the mirror, I was in crisis mode.  Little did I know that those same emotions she’d just expressed were peaking from underneath the phony smiles I’d placed on top of them and were about to be unearthed.

We all go through it. Times when our lives appear to be overwhelming, moments that we don’t want others to see because we may appear weak.  For me personally (here comes transparency), I feel like I never have time to be in my breakdown moment, I can’t own it, I can’t fully express it.  There’s too much to do and me having a moment is at the very bottom of that to do list.  I know multitudes of moms who are holding it together with emotions busting out of seams, just because they feel as though if they break down, 1. They’re a bad mom, 2. No one will care, 3. They could be doing something else.  I’m sure all people go through the same things, but I’m speaking from a mom’s perspective.  When your child has a temper tantrum what do you do?  More than likely you are ready to console them, help them go through these emotions so that you both can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Who helps you, when you breakdown?

So today I confess, I am tired. Tired of bottling up my emotions, tired of holding it together, tired of fake smiling, tired of being tired.  What am I going to do about it?  I’ve invested in a box of Kleenex so if I want to cry I can, I bought some wraps for my hands so I can hit the punching bag (yes, I own a real punching bag- therapeutic), I’m taking the “S” off my chest to realize that I am human and that’s okay.  Moms, we have to learn to self sooth (learned that in my self-care group, shout out “The Renaissance Suite”).  We have to let loose these emotions so that we can heal and become better not only for our families, but for ourselves.  So, are you ready?!  Go ahead have your moment!