Thursday, March 19, 2009

Vacations With Gen Y

As the kids go through the school years, vacations or vacationing becomes more of a challenge. What's the challenge? For the kids, being able to TAKE a vacation, but from a Mom's perspective, take a vacation as a family.

First, there's sports. If your child is an athlete you're screwed. Not really, but from a vacation vantage point you are. As a friend of older kids than mine once said, if your kids play hockey or a winter sport, forget taking a family vacation from November through April until they graduate! Just forget it! If your kid isn't an athlete, you still have to juggle the family calender, especially if you have more than one child. For twenty years we lived by the school calender(s), going on vacation when the schools' said it was vacation.

Now that two are out of college and in the "real world" and two are in two different colleges, our "vacation" schedule has taken a significant hit or shift. It's virtually impossible to vacation as a family during the "school year." Different vacation schedules. Oh yes, they all have Thanksgiving Day off and Christmas Day and New Year's Day, but that's about it. Then there's the geographic consideration and of course they all live in different states, so who's going to travel where? Who's going to pay for it? Do they even want to take those precious "vacation days" with their parents, I mean really....Well, they do if you're paying and they do if you pick a neat spot to spend some time together. It doesn't have to be anything over the top, but preferably where the sun shines, where there's lots to do, and everybody gets their own bed.

It takes work to plan a family vacation with kids that all live out of the household. What seems to work is summertime. It seems that everyone's got summer fever and the thought of being able to have a change of scenery is welcomed by all.

The other vacation factor that looms is the "significant other". Those kids of yours that have a boyfriend or girlfriend. Pretty soon, they're asking if those people can be included, thus the dynamic shifts. Is that such a bad thing? Absolutely not, but it's different. It makes the vacation accommodations more challenging, where's everyone sleeping (that's a whole other blog)? It makes the interactions between siblings change a bit, between parents and kids, parents and sig. others....Again, not a bad thing, but a change.

Every mother that I speak to relishes the times when she has all of her own kids under the same roof at the same time....listening to the banter, sharing stories, giving advice, listening...these Moms are the ones that are almost "empty nesters" (one high schooler still around) or are empty nesters. We all feel like it's a gift being with our family, so a 'family vacation' takes on a whole new meaning than when they were younger and around all the time. You've "worked" for it and planned it and when they all can come, take their "coveted vacation time" with their FAMILY, well there's no better gift! That's all I need!!!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Can I run something by you?

or "Do you have a minute?"  Don't you just love when they call and ask you that?  I LOVE that! That is code for: I want to talk and I want to talk to YOU.  

Let's talk about some of the things they run by you:

What classes should I take?
How do you make that chicken you cook?
Should I take vacation days to fly to that wedding or should I take the red-eye so I don't "waste" a day?
I've got this roommate dilemma...
How do I hang a mirror?
What should I give her for Valentine's Day?  
How many deductions should I take...what exactly are deductions?
How do I find a "primary care physician?"
A group of us want to go into the city, do you have any ideas about where we could stay?
I've been trying to get a job this summer and nothing's working out?
What kind of olive oil do you use?
My shirt has turned pink, what did I do wrong?

The list is endless and that's a good thing!

Of course many of the inquiries can be answered very quickly and succinctly, but lots of them involve conversation and if we know what's best, loads of listening.  That's right, that's what's best.  I know there are times we're desperate to just tell them what to do.  But we can't.  We need to let them work through some of these things...we can certainly "guide them" and offer thoughts and ideas, but the days of "telling them what to do" are least for those of our kids that are now in college and have graduated and in the working world.  Now those of you that have kids in high school, you have control, you "own" the keys (if you get my drift), so you still have real control, but in some ways you need to start letting go.

(If you haven't read, take a look at:  "Letting Go: A Parents' Guide to Understanding the College Years" by Kevin Levin Coburn and Madge Lawrence Treeger.  It outlines the four years of college and gives you a "heads up" as to what to expect.  As several have always said :  "we're only as good as the information we have" so gather lots of information!)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Acceptances/Rejections: Colleges/Jobs

It's that time of year.  Thick or thin envelope?  But guess what?  No more thick and thin envelopes.  It's almost all on email now or on a website.  What's up with that?  I know what's up with that....but I used to enjoy holding the envelope up to the lightbulb trying to read through the exterior to see what that infamous letter said.  You can't believe it?  Believe it.  Guilty.  I know, pathetic right?  Well, I have this "thing" about allowing my kids' privacy so I don't open anything addressed to them (at least not intentionally).  So when it's college acceptance time, same rules apply.  But that doesn't mean a mother can't be curious.  So there'd I'd be trying to "see" anything I could through that envelope.  Talk about wishing I were Superman!  Well, it's all you're leaning over your child's shoulder (if they let you) as they type in their password and waiting, waiting....and then there it is....either...Congratulations!  Or "due to, we've had an unprecedented number of applicants... blah blah blah"....That's when your inner cheerleader comes out, you're either jumping up and down (literally or figuratively) or you've launched into a "boost them up dialogue", telling them there are other schools, great schools and it will all work out, or there's doing a gap year, or OK there probably is grabbing the box of kleenex, giving them that Mom hug, and being their biggest shoulder to cry on.  But once you've validated their feelings and maybe even yours, it's back to being Mom and shoring them up (is that correct English? hmmmm....).
On the summer job front, or the job after college front:  Same kind of deal, but now is different from last year at this time. As parents we're telling our kids they need a "plan", there's no "hanging out" for the summer.  The reality of the economy is setting in for everyone and it's becoming more and more clear for our kids on college campuses.  They may live in a "bubble", but conversations are shifting.  They've been talking to their friends or reading Yahoo news, or their college "Daily" and they're also experiencing first hand what's going on "out here."  We've been talking to them all along, (but as is the case in general, it sometimes takes these other sources until it "sinks in") we've told them they need to get a summer job, but as resumes have gone out or they've contacted last summer's employers, the responses have been mixed, but mostly "Sorry", they're not adding summer positions or taking any interns, or not paying summer interns or...  So now we're saying they've got to come up with a plan on how they're going to spend their 2 1/2 - 3 months.  We can talk about what that "plan" might look like, but back to the topic at hand, this "rejection" experience is not such a bad thing.  Our kids have been a part of "everyone's a winner", we've spent a lot of time and energy over the years cushioning their blows.  Maybe it's that inner cheerleader thing, or maybe it's just that we're their Moms, but the fact is, we need to continue to support them, emotionally support them.  These are tough times.  They need our support and our bolstering them up.  We'll offer them advice, continue to help them, if asked, but after all, they are becoming more and more independent.  And they need to be.  But if their asking?  :)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Reactions from the Peanut Gallery

OK, we all have them...the Peanut Gallery...those loved ones that 'chime in' about anything or everything you're doing.  Well, my Peanut Gallery has been reacting to my blogging and here's a sample of some of their reactions:
"HAHAHA.  First of all, I'm VERY impressed that you figured out how to start a blog.  Second, I really don't want my problems displayed all over the Internet.  As you always said to us, don't say anything you wouldn't want on the front page of the newspaper.  Third of all, I just told two friends and they said "Great, she can be part of our mom bloggers tours."  I must say I do like your URL, that's impressive and I can't believe it hasn't been taken!  OMG, I can't believe you're blogging!  What are you going to blog about?"-kid
"Mom!  That's awesome!  Write like you talk and it will be great!~"-kid
"HAHAHAHA....really?  Mom, what are you doing?  Are you kidding?  First Facebook and now blogging?  You're SO happening!  HAHAHAHA"-kid
"That's great Mom."  Followed by an email with a link to a "branding" site.  And I'm very appreciative, this is a steep learning curve for this Baby Boomer!
"Yuck, I don't like this.  I feel like it's spying..."-sib (fellow Boomer).
"I'm proud of you!"-husband, yes, there is one....several comments have included that I 'look' like a single mom.  Nope, happily married for 27 years!
My bff sent along the link to the "Meet the Millennials" site, really interesting demographic stuff, and shared in a neat way.  Thank you!
Now I'll confess, "the word" is not really out, but it's seeping out.  What with all of this interconnectedness, seeping is a good way to describe it.  So the Peanut Gallery will no doubt be chiming in as the days unfold.  So chime away! 

Friday, March 13, 2009

Communicating with Gen Y/Millennials

Boy, has it changed!  Remember when we were in college and we used to call home once a week?  And that was from a phone booth in the dorm, or a "hall phone" and if you were lucky, maybe a phone in your room.  But we sure got the lecture, that phone calls were expensive and to "keep it brief" etc.  MAYBE you'd write a letter or two to your parents, they'd write you, certainly, but the communication flow was limited and it was separated by days or even weeks....well those days are over!  Even in the short time from having our eldest in high school to when our youngest was just there (6 years between them)  Here's the difference:  we'd always have a "sense" of what was going on.  That's because they didn't have cell phones of their own and they'd use the land line, imagine that?  You could hear this side of the conversation or bits and pieces and you'd sense when there was movement or when there was going to be movement.  You might even know where they were headed before they told you.  Assuming of course that they'd tell you where they were going and with whom...  6 years later, it's all done on cell phones and/or the computer, and there's NO talking, it's just the tap tap tapping of texting or IMing.  It's like stealth bombers, one minute they're in their room and the next minute they're on the move and you're yelling after them, "where are you going?..." Since they've been in college, it's shifting daily!  Our daughter and son (year apart) started out their freshman years with phones (landlines) in their rooms.  Answering machines included.  They also got cell phones, and the "family plan" was just rolling out.  So I would talk to my kids daily.  Really.  I'd often get a phone call between classes.  As one or the other was walking to and from class.  Conversations would be brief, mostly an update on the roommate situation or a social highlight or an exchange about something going on at home...and if there was any "business" item that needed to be discussed you had an answering machine to leave a message on, "call home" or leave it on their cell.  No letters.  Maybe emails, and now... texting! With kids working and their personal email usuage left to the evenings and kids in college, neither of whom have land lines in their rooms and our recent grads don't have land lines in their apartments...the way we seem to be communicating is by text.  And for the record, my kids tell me, and their friends agree, that contrary to popular belief, kids don't text in abbreviations, they text in "full sentences", so there's none of this "r u" stuff.  It was popular in the IM days when they were in high school, but I'm told that the Gen Xers are the ones that run with the abbreviations..."Mom, there's T-9!"  And who knew what that was until I asked for a demonstration.  So try texting with T-9 or maybe you have a Blackberry or an iPhone, so you too can text in full words and maybe even full sentences.  Though texting isn't nearly as satisfying as a conversation, it's something, and after all, something is better than nothing!  I understand that high school kids use Facebook to communicate with each other, they don't even know each other's email addresses.  It's either that or texting on their cells.  As parents, it's best to keep up.  I know many of us are so reluctant to "go there."  But we've got to "get with the program" if we want to be able to communicate with our kids.  

Thursday, March 12, 2009

New at this!

New at blogging that is...
Been a Mom now for 25 years...and as my mother always told me, "once a Mom always a Mom."  A little about my credentials:  we have four kids.
One girl
Three boys
The girl is our oldest and she's 25.  The boys' line up is: 24, almost 21 (May), and 19.
The two eldest successfully graduated from college (Univ. of Colo. and Princeton), both in four years! and are now working and living in Boston.  Our daughter has a roommate, her "bff" from grade school and our son has two roommates, both guys all connected via Facebook and "six degrees of separation."  More on that later.  The younger two are fully ensconced in college (Colorado College and Stanford).
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