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Your Middle Schooler Doesn’t Need A Cell Phone

This morning I received an email from the middle school principal where Number 3 and 4 go to school.

In the email, the principal was asking for parents’ help in a number of areas. One was with fidget spinners.  They’ve become quite a distraction at school.

I’ll admit I contributed to this problem. Number 3 and 4  both have (fucking) fidget spinners. I sincerely regret getting them for the kids, especially since they don’t use them for the purpose they were originally intended. They don’t need them. At all.

And if I hate them, I can only imagine how teachers are feeling right now.

So the fidget spinners have been relegated to home. And we have already completely lost one. Thank God.

The next thing the principal was looking for help with was cell phones:

Our goal is to minimize distractions during the day. To do this, we ask students not to be actively on or looking at cell phones during the day unless they are in the cafeteria or a classroom where teachers allow it. We also ask that you refrain from texting your child during the school day.

These have also become a distraction at school.

Okay. I’m just gonna come right out and say two things.

First, middle schoolers should not be allowed to have cell phones in school. There is absolutely no reason for them. None.

They still have those “old fashioned” phones there. You know, the ones with cords attached to them? I can attest that they work. My kids use them to communicate successfully with me all the time.

Second, your middle schooler doesn’t need a phone not just in school.

Your middle schooler doesn’t need a phone at all. Period.

Yeah.

I said it.

Your ten/eleven/twelve/thirteen/ and YES, EVEN fourteen-year-old kid doesn’t need a cell phone.

But I’m divorced and my ex is an asshole and I need to be able to get in touch with my kid.

Perhaps in some cases, this is true. There may be some situations where you must be able to get in touch with your child on a cell phone because your ex prevents any and all communication otherwise.

If that’s the case, then sure. Get your kid a cell phone.

But not a smart phone.

YOUR CHILD DOES NOT NEED A SMARTPHONE.

In fact, nobody NEEDS a smartphone.

 

I don’t know about you, but I can’t stay on top of my kids as it is. Once I put a smartphone in their hands, I’ve got a multitude of new responsibilities.

I’ve now got all sorts of shit I need to monitor in addition to the non-smartphoney stuff.

There’s You Tube. Google. Those are bad enough.

Then there are a billion apps.

There are the ones I know about. Like, say, Snapchat.

Your kids are supposed to be 13 to open up a Snapchat account. But your kids aren’t stupid. They can lie, make up an age, and open an account very easily. They know this.

I know because my kids have done it. On an iPod.

But then there are the apps I’ve never even heard of.

Did you know there’s an app called Private Photos (also called Calculator%)? I just learned about this one today. Here’s the description:

Private Photo (Calculator%) app is private photos and videos hidden behind calculator. Anyone who starts this application looks at a calculator but if you put in passcode it will open up private area. All files are securely stored in the App and remain completely private and confidential.

That’s fucking scary.

I also learned about a new challenge circulating around social media now called the Blue Whale Challenge. This challenge is basically a list of fifty dares encouraging kids to do participate in risky behaviors (like sitting on the edge of a roof) with  the final item on the list asking participants to kill themselves.

This is a real thing.

A real fucking scary thing.

If you are putting a smartphone in the hands of your children, then you are opening up Pandora’s Box. And if you aren’t prepared to deal with the shit that’s gonna come flying out of that box, then don’t put your kids in a position to be exposed to it. Because once your kids finds out about it, she’s gonna tell my kid about it.

And I don’t want my kid finding out about stuff he or she has no business knowing about because you don’t want to say no to your kids.

I know it sucks to say no. I know kids are relentless.

Trust me, I know it’s no fun to hear But I’m the ONLY ONE in the WHOLE SCHOOL who doesn’t have a cell phone/Instagram-Facebook-Twitter-Musicly account.

I guarantee you are not the only whose middle schoolers don’t have cell phones.

I guarantee that because my kids don’t have them. And they won’t have them until they are mature enough and responsible enough to own them.

When will they be mature enough and responsible enough to own them?

When they can pay for them.

If my kids are not responsible enough to earn the money to buy their own phone and pay the monthly bill, then they are not responsible enough to deal with the contents of Pandora’s Box.

We so easily confuse wants and needs with our children.

Your child may want a cell phone.

But your child does not need access to Google twenty-four hours a day.

Your child does not need to be able to text her friends constantly.

Your child does not need  Snapchat or Musicly or Instagram.

In fact, your child does not need any apps at all.

What does your child need?

Your child needs human interaction.

Your child needs to learn how to hold a conversation.

Your child needs to learn how to make eye contact.

Your child needs to learn how to communicate with their friends and people in general the old fashioned way.

In person.

Crazy 8 Sale On Now!

 

 

 

The Not Your Average Mom Mission

editor’s note: I am in the process of giving my website an overhaul. I’ve revised my “about” page which will be  published when the new site is up.

Until that happens, I wanted to share the new and improved version with you here. Check it out!

Welcome to Not Your Average Mom.

My name is Susie, and I’m 47 years old.

I am a mother, stepmother, wife, divorcée, blogger, swim coach, inspirational/motivational speaker, Positive Discipline parent educator, mental health advocate, failure, and success all wrapped into one.

I live in Connecticut with my husband and our big a$$ family.

Our kids range in age from 5 to 19 years old.

They are smart, funny, gorgeous, talented, inspiring, motivating, challenging, frustrating, infuriating and exhausting. (Sometimes all in one day. Or hour.)

Our life is not usually as pretty as this picture.

Almost never, really.

And that’s why I started this blog in 2012.

Because being a mom can be really fucking hard, and because there aren’t a whole lot of people out there being honest and realistic about what motherhood is like.

Five years ago, I noticed there were a lot of blogs and websites and Facebook pages and Instagram accounts that showed perfection.

But they didn’t portray (or even address) reality.

So when our youngest was about fifteen months old and I was in the thick of it, I resolved to create a place, and honest and relatable place where moms (and dads) could come when they were feeling alone or overwhelmed or like they were failing or when they just need a break.

And I decided to write about the stuff that most people don’t want to talk about. The stuff that most people don’t want to admit. The stuff that people are thinking but are too afraid to say out loud.

You know, the stuff most people wouldn’t dare post on Instagram or Facebook.

When I first started writing, five of the kids were under seven years old and I pretty much told stories.

I wrote a lot about the disasters. This is the infamous powdered sugar incident of  2012.

 

I wrote about the meltdowns.

I wrote about the messes.

 

I wrote about the boxes (and boxes) of feminine products the kids went through.

 

Because if you can’t laugh at the shit that happens once you become a parent, well…

Then you’re fucked.

Oh yeah.

If the word fuck bothers you, this is probably not the right place for you.

If you are looking to judge, please go somewhere else.

If you are looking for perfection, um, I can give you The Pioneer Woman’s website.

She’s pretty perfect.

(But she’s not really perfect. She just shows you the stuff that is).

Which brings me back to how Not Your Average Mom came to be.

About six months after I started the blog, the Sandy Hook shootings took place. I live about ten minutes from Sandy Hook, and at the time, Number 4 was a first grader, the same age as the children who lost their lives that day.

It hit very close to home.

And that’s when I felt it was important for me to write about my battles with mental illness.

This consequently led to me writing about pretty much anything I felt like writing about either for selfish reasons (because it’s therapeutic for me) or because I thought by sharing my stories, I might be able to help someone else.

So I wrote about my experiences with depression. I wrote about miscarriages and divorce and being in an abusive relationship and about how I think being married is way fucking harder than being a parent. I shared my weight loss ups and downs. Our financial difficulties – filing for bankruptcy and almost losing our house to foreclosure. Having to ask (a lot of) people for help.

And I wrote about this stuff because I knew I was not alone. I knew there were other people out there feeling the same way (but who thought they were alone in their experiences).

Every time I wrote about any of these topics, I received emails and messages from both friends and strangers.

Thank you for making me feel normal.

It’s like you are living inside my head.

Thank you for reminding me it’s okay to not be perfect.

And that’s when I really knew that a place like this is important. A place that reminds people that perfection is unobtainable, and that all of us, to varying degrees, are fucked up.

Now that the kids are getting older (the oldest is out doing his own thing and the youngest in is kindergarten), the stuff I write about is changing.

The oldest kids don’t really want to be talked about (why you rarely see Number 1 or 2 mentioned). A pre-teen eleven-year-old is a little – okay a LOT — more self-conscious than a three-year-old. So I respect their privacy and their requests to be kept out of things. (You know — like that other Osbourne daughter that nobody ever knew existed).

Five years later, there aren’t as many powdered sugar incidents, and almost all the kids now know what “those things that look like tiny diapers” are actually for.

As life changes and evolves, so does Not Your Average Mom.

My goal now is to do more than tell stories and share experiences.

I still tell stories.

But I also share what I’ve learned that works and what doesn’t work. I share my successes and my failures. I encourage people think outside the box. I encourage moms to not give a flying f*ck what other people think, and to do what they need to do in order to take care of themselves, their children, and their families.

Being a mom is never going to be easy. You don’t have to have seven kids to know that.

And my mission here now is to make momming easier.

To help you enjoy the highs of parenting while more more easily navigating the lows.

To celebrate the successes and support each other.

To give the finger to mom guilt.

To find ways that work better for each of us.

And to not beat ourselves up when we make mistakes, but learn from them and move forward.

Because we all know that life is like a roller coaster.

And if we’re going to be on this roller coaster together, we might as well do whatever we can to make sure we enjoy the ride.

 

 

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Lessons from Howard and the Gilmore Girls

I’ve always hated winter.

And as a result I’ve hated fall, too, because things start dying and it’s getting colder and it’s just a constant and looming reminder that winter is coming.

But last year I came to the realization that if I keep going this way I’m going to be hating half of my life.

And that’s no way to live.

Plus, in the past couple weeks, two things have happened.

I’ve always had a dream to have a beach house on a tropical island or at least down south. And one day, when all the kid are older and done with school, I’d move to that beach house full time and live out the rest of my days in flip flops and never ever be cold again.

And I’ve also become obsessed with @earthyandy on Instagram. She’s this young mom with two cute kids and a hot husband who lives in  Hawaii and she posts incredible pictures about her perfect vegan life and her perfect family in a perfect paradise.

Don’t get me wrong. I know her life is nowhere as perfect as she makes it appear on Instagram.

But if you’re gonna have an imperfect life, you might as well have it in Hawaii, right? I mean, at least the weather is always beautiful there.

So anyway, a couple weeks ago I was sitting at my dining room table with Howard, the traveling notary who the mortgage company sent to our house so my husband and I could sign the papers that would officially mean our house was no longer in foreclosure, and we were waiting for my husband who was running late because he had to come home from work in the middle of the day.

And so I was just shooting the shit with Howard, and I learned that he lived in northeastern Connecticut and he had to travel about 90 minutes to get to our house. And then he told me that he was stationed in Hawaii when he was first married and in the military. And I was like, Oh my God, aren’t you so miserable that you had to come back to Connecticut?

And he said no!

And I was like, What the hell is wrong with you?

And he went on to explain how Hawaii is nice. But not forever. Especially not if you grew up in an area where there are seasons.

I’ve been thinking about that a lot in the last couple weeks.

Because while I hate being cold, there is something about being able to put on jeans and a sweater and a scarf, and to walk outside into air that is cool and refreshing.

Or to go for a run in a long-sleeved shirt and feel comfortable.

And it’s apple season now. More specifically, it’s honeycrisp apple season.

If you have never had these, spend the extra money and get them.

They are so good. Although they will forever make all other apples pale in comparison after you’ve had the first bite. (Number 6 recently referred to honeycrisp apples as the apples that taste like candy).

Could I really appreciate honeycrisp apples if I lived in Hawaii?

I don’t think I could.

Hawaii never has an apple season!

Are there apple orchards there? Or pumpkin patches?

And how can you have pumpkins on your front door step while you’re looking at a fucking coconut tree?

You can’t!

I mean, you can. But it’s not the same.

There’s no autumn in Hawaii. Or Puerto Rico. Or the Bahamas. Or any of the other tropical places I’ve fantasized about moving to.

And even though its beauty is fleeting, there’s nothing like autumn in New England.

It may not be lush and tropical and full of waterfalls, but it sure is beautiful.

So I said before that two things happened recently.

The first, like I said, was talking to  Howard a couple weeks ago.

The second thing is that my current Netflix binge watch is The Gilmore Girls.

How this show escaped me, I have no idea.

And I’m only about six episodes into the first season, but as the whole world already knows because I’m like the only person in the universe who hasn’t watched this show, it’s set in a small town in Connecticut.

While I know the show was not actually filmed in CT, the scenery and the small-town feel portrayed in the show are pretty accurate.

Yesterday it was cool here in CT, and I got Number 5 off the bus and I had a fire going all day inside and Number took a deep breath as we were walking inside from the bus and she said to me, “Mommy! It smells good! It smells like a fire!”

And I thought to myself, what a nice memory for a seven-year-old to have.

And then last night after everyone was in bed, I was sitting on the couch in my pajamas and my robe in front of a warm fire in my small-town Connecticut home and I was watching the Gilmore Girls and it was fall in the show and people were talking about getting ready for Thanksgiving. And what it looked like on the show, it felt like in my house.

And I liked that.

And then in the next episode Lorelai opened up the window at night and took in a real deep breath and Rory walked into the room and said, “Mom! It’s freezing!” and  Lorelai said, “I know, but don’t you smell that? It smells like snow! There’s a storm coming!”

And I knew exactly what she was talking about.

There is nothing like that smell. You can definitely smell when it’s going to snow. And you can’t help but be excited about it.

If I lived in Hawaii all the time, I’d never know what that smell was. And neither would the kids.

Number 5 would never walk up the front walkway and have that memory of the smell of a fire in the fireplace.

Pumpkin spice everything and apple cider wouldn’t be the same. They would kind of suck in Hawaii, actually.

So would Christmas Cookie and Autumn Wreath and Balsam and Cedar and Cinnamon Stick Yankee candles.

I’ve always said that I live in the wrong part of the country. That I want to live where it’s warm.

I still have dreams of a beach house on a tropical island. And one day I’ll have one.

But that will be when I’m rich and famous and have the opportunity to vacation there.

Because while I’ll always love summer the best, Howard and the Gilmore Girls led me to an aha moment yesterday.

Yesterday it finally dawned on me that I’m a Connecticut girl at heart. I always will be.  I don’t hate fall and winter as much as I thought I did.

And I’m pretty lucky.

Sure, Hawaii has it’s benefits.

But so does Connecticut.

And this is a pretty great corner of the world to live in.

 

I LOVE this super cute set! Check it and tons of other cute stuff out at Betsy Boo’s Boutique — my fave place to shop online!

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#ShowYourSlow

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking lately about the craziness of my life and the kids’ lives, and that led me to write this post.

I’m ready for a slower summer. A less scheduled, more relaxed, old fashioned summer.

You know, like the ones I had when I was a kid.

And this got me to thinking about my friend Eileen who, after realizing the same thing a couple years ago, started the #SlowSummerSeries on her Instagram (@LittleAcornLearning)  and also on her blog (http://littleacornlearning.com/).

So I texted her a couple weeks ago and asked her if she’d be interested in partnering up and working together.

And that’s when we came up with the #ShowYourSlow Movement to inspire other moms to slow down and to help each other be more mindful and present and able to enjoy the simple moments of summer together.

 

SSS2

How do you join in the fun?

  • Follow @notyouraveragemomofficial and @littleacornlearning on Instagram.
  • Check out our blogs each week to see what the prompts for the week are. (These themes are optional and purely inspirational!  Share ANY of your slow moments this summer)
  • Post daily pictures of your slow summer moments on Instagram using the hashtag #showyourslow so we can all see each other’s slow moments.
  • Follow along by checking #showyourslow and commenting to join in the fun!

The theme of the first week is Roots and Shoots.

What does that mean?  We are encouraging you to get outside, to explore, to lie in the grass, to dig in the dirt, to plant some seeds (literally and figuratively!)

But again, you can share any of your slow summer moments!

Here’s one of my favorites so far this summer:

kentfalls7

Can’t wait to see the ways you all #showyourslow!

IF YOU ARE IN A CLOTHING RUT AND WANT A SUPER CUTE CAPSULE WARDROBE WHERE ALL THE THINKING IS DONE FOR YOU, CLICK BELOW.

REGISTRATION CLOSES TONIGHT AT 12:00 — Register now!!!

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