Menifee Mom: The Approach to Motherhood is Crucial

By Karen Thomas

On a recent Monday morning, I found myself rejoicing as I sent my kids off to school. It had been a weekend filled with drama, senseless arguments, and overall frustration for me as a mother. To top it off, the house had become a complete disaster zone. With each kid I dropped off at school, I felt as if a weight was being lifted from my shoulders.

Before I could even think of tackling the chores at home, though, I needed a stress relieving run. I was feeling pretty overwhelmed, so that day I decided to listen to a podcast about motherhood as I ran. There was so much going through my mind, I didn't focus on most of what I heard. But one phrase stuck out: "Deliberate Motherhood."

I honestly couldn't tell you what the podcast said this meant, but it was such an interesting phrase it got me thinking. That morning I just couldn't wait to get my kids out of the house and out of my hair. I know all moms feel that way from time to time. Still, I wondered if I was deliberately being a mother to my kids, or if I was simply surviving each day.

I stearted looking at the day to day happenings in life, like school, homework, meals, sports, chores, shopping, playtime, etc. and all the issues that arise in the midst of it. I wondered if I use those events to purposely teach my children skills they need for life, or if I am just trying to check things off of a "to do list." Do I take advantage of teachable moments?

As I've tried to mother my children more "deliberately," I've realized that it doesn't necessarily mean making great changes to the things I am already doing. It's more about changing my attitude and sometimes my approach. I realize that even the little routine things we do are shaping the childhood memories my kids will have as adults.

When I welcome my kids home from school, by simply being sincere and taking a moment to stop and greet them, I am purposely helping them feel loved at home and happy to be here.

When we go to soccer practice, if I give them a few words of encouragement on the way or take time to ask meaningful questions about practice afterwards (and actually focus on their answers), then I am becoming a part of that soccer experience with them.

When they ask for help with homework, I can slow down and focus as I help them instead of just giving them rushed advice as I pass by.

I've found that changing my approach helps me to enjoy motherhood more and helps my kids to sense that I enjoy being a mom; that I enjoy being their mom. With the busy pace of life, it is easy to get caught up in just getting things done. If we can remember to get those things done with a purpose in mind, we are deliberately being the mom our kids need.

Karen Thomas is a stay at home mom of four daughters, has been on the PTA board at her kids' school for four years, and is a volunteer at her church, in addition to her activities as a volunteer soccer referee, a piano teacher, and a runner. Her column will appear here every other week. Comments are welcome.

Menifee Mom: More Lessons Learned From Another Shaker

By Karen Thomas

Did your family feel the earthquake last weekend? Mine did. We were all sitting upstairs talking on my bed when everything started rumbling. It was a small shaker, but it certainly got our attention!

I'd like to say that our efforts to teach our kids to "duck, cover, and hold on" were successful and everyone grabbed a pillow to protect their heads, but we all just sat there saying, "We're having an earthquake!" I know it didn't require action, but I'd like to have seen some type of thoughtful reaction. At least I can proudly report that no one panicked.

After a long quiet period, it seems the earthquake faults have awakened again. Perhaps the little shaker we had was also a wake-up call to all of us that we need to be prepared.

Though the city of Menifee isn't on top of any major faults, it does lie between the San Jacinto Fault and Elsinore Fault. Some experts say the Elsinore fault is at high risk of producing a big quake soon.

When you have little kids, preparing for an earthquake can be a little tricky. You have to find that balance between teaching them what we need to do and not scaring them so much that they won't leave your side! For the most part, though, I have found that helping our kids feel prepared eases their fears.

We found some great videos online that demonstrate what to do and what not to do. We previewed them first to determine which ones were most appropriate for our kids. It really helped them visualize what it would be like in an actual earthquake and helped them to see what they can do to be safe in different situations: Lying in bed, in the car, at school, playing outside, etc. For days afterwards, our kids would ask, "What should I do in this room if there was an earthquake?"

The USGS and FEMA websites have pages dedicated to teaching kids how to be prepared. There are even online games. The Earthquake Country Alliance outlined the following seven basic steps for earthquake preparedness:

Step 1: Secure your space by identifying hazards and securing moveable items. (Our family is reminded that we need to secure that tall heavy armoire and bunk beds in the kids room!)

Step 2: Plan to be safe by creating a disaster plan and deciding how you will communicate in an emergency. (We told our kids where our alternate meeting place is in case our home is not accessible.)

Step 3: Organize disaster supplies in convenient locations. (We have backpacks with basic food and emergency supplies for each member of our family. It is also advised that you keep a flashlight, sneakers, and leather gloves next to the bed to aid in escaping a major disaster.)

Step 4: Minimize financial hardship by organizing important documents, strengthening your property, and considering insurance. (Keeping insurance documents, birth certificates, etc . in a fireproof safe is always a good idea.)

Step 5: Drop, Cover, and Hold On when the earth shakes. (We learned that you shouldn't run outside and if you are in bed, stay there. You shouldn't run to your kids' rooms because you are likely to get hurt on the way, making you no help to them when shaking stops. And -- a surprise to me -- doorways are not the safest place!)

Step 6: Improve safety after earthquakes by evacuating if necessary, helping the injured, and preventing further injuries or damage. (In the event there is damage, you should shut off your main gas line and avoid using any electricity; a spark could cause an explosion if there is a gas leak.)

Step 7: Restore daily life by reconnecting with others, repairing damage, and rebuilding community.

I love step 7! Whenever there is a major disaster, we see contrasting images of communities pulling together and looters taking advantage of the situation. In Menifee, our citizens have shown a lot of support for others who've experienced their own personal disasters of one kind or another. I'd like to think that we would help dig each other out in a large scale disaster, too.

If nothing else, teach the members of your family to "Duck, Cover, and Hold On." It just may save their life someday.

Karen Thomas is a stay at home mom of four daughters, has been on the PTA board at her kids' school for four years, and is a volunteer at her church, in addition to her activities as a volunteer soccer referee, a piano teacher, and a runner. Her column will appear here every other week. Comments are welcome.