Carpool Lane

Carpool Lane - Meet Joline for a "CuppaJo" as she juggles two kids in school, homework, extracurricular activities and trying to find some "me" time.

 

 

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How Many Gifts Do Your Children Receive?

Written by Joline Atkins. Posted in Carpool Lane

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We've never been a family to over-indulge our kids on Christmas. (We leave that to the grand-parents.) But, even so, we've had our fair share of Christmases where we've watched the kids rip open presents in a hypnotic daze, quickly moving from one gift to the next without ever taking a moment to really "see" what they actually received.

I'm not a kill-joy. I get the excitement of Christmas morning.


This year, however, when I asked my kids what they wanted for Christmas, they responded with, "We want to see our cousins."

Can't wrap that.

I'll admit, I was proud of them. There just wasn't anything that stood out to them as a "must have" this year. And yet, I do enjoy giving to them, so we adopted a new plan to help them organize their thoughts a bit - maybe help spark some ideas:

  • Something they want
  • Something they need
  • Something to wear
  • Something to read

Along with these four specific gifts, I'm planning outings and small activities for each day of December, starting on Sunday with a viewing of "A Christmas Story" at a nearby movie theater. These activities will keep us focused on Christmas daily, so that we are truly enjoying the entire season together, rather than just focusing on making it to the actual day.

We prepped for the season by doing a massive basement clean-out - all of us. Working together. We found plenty of toys that we have since given away, leaving our basement more useable for the kids to have their friends over to play or watch a movie.

Maybe this is what happens as they get older??? It becomes less about what they are going to get on Christmas morning and more about what we're going to do together as a family? For me, it's about creating an environment for the month, so that once Christmas Day arrives, we've already been seeped in the spirit of it all, rather than missing it.

This will be the first time we are limiting the number of gifts they receive, at least from us. We did talk with them about this new simplified approach, and the response, while a bit tentative, was accepted.

Does your family do anything similar for Christmas?


Joline Pinto Atkins, an actress who also uses the web as her world-wide stage, can also be found writing at The Cuppa Jo, and is the founder of Daily Fast Fuel. She is wife to one (phew - that's good to know) and mother of two amazing children, aged 12 and 8, who are both named after authors. Passionate about fitness, she is an Independent Team Beachbody Coach and sweats out any daily angst by exercising at home, longs for good books, is a redeemed coffee addict, and won't share popcorn with anyone. Even her own family.

 

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Who Helps With the Studying?

Written by Joline Atkins. Posted in Carpool Lane

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"No way. Dad helps me study Science. Not you."

Gulp.

But, she's right.

Science makes my head spin just like during a rousing game of Dizzy Lizzy. (Bonus points if you've played or even know what that game is.)

"You can do Language Arts with me, but not Science."

I'm not offended. She's right.

During the day, I obviously do each subject with Zane, with the help of PA Cyber, but for 7th grade, my husband and I definitely divide and conquer.

Although neither of us "get" pre-algebra. Give us a break, our kids have a Pastor and Beachbody Coach/writer/actress as home tutors. Need to locate a scripture passage or run a monologue? We're your team!

How does your household handle homework and studying? Is it a team effort? Or does one parent handle the bulk of the homework? What about single parent households? How do you contend with both the amount and the content of homework when your kids need help?

We've hired a tutor for math. For with just us, our girl wouldn't stand a chance.

But when she's ready to write for pittsburghmom.com (the kid's edition), I'll coach her all the way!!!

(Hmmm, a Pittsburgh blog comprised of child writers . . . Heather?)

 

 


Joline Pinto Atkins, an actress who also uses the web as her world-wide stage, can also be found writing at The Cuppa Jo, and is the founder of Daily Fast Fuel. She is wife to one (phew - that's good to know) and mother of two amazing children, aged 12 and 8, who are both named after authors. Passionate about fitness, she is an Independent Team Beachbody Coach and sweats out any daily angst by exercising at home, longs for good books, is a redeemed coffee addict, and won't share popcorn with anyone. Even her own family.

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.

Electronic Overload: Are We Taking It Seriously?

Written by Joline Atkins. Posted in Carpool Lane

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Our school started an iPad initiative this year.

All 7-12th grade students were given an iPad, which is used in class and for homework assignments. Not all classes use them exclusively, although teachers have been highly encouraged to work them into class lessons and homework through the use of apps and uploaded documents. Not only does the use of the iPad vary from teacher to teacher, so do the apps used for each class.

There are most certainly pros and cons to the use of this tool in school. I, for one, have been plenty vocal about my concerns over how well a 7th grader, who has yet to develop consistent study skills, can navigate and wield an iPad responsibly.

Especially a 7th grader for whom electronic devices act as a drug. Or, as I shared with a few of my child's teachers during a meeting, "I realize this may sound overly dramatic, but you have essentially handed my daughter crack."

Yeah. That's me. "That" Mom.

Students have been allowed to download games, social media, and other non-academically related apps. This mother, however, has deleted and blocked any of those apps. For what's to keep my child from clicking away from an assignment and on to a game while studying?

One ping or ding from a game while reading an assignment or working through a math problem, and the result is "SQUIRREL!" Focus is broken. The mind has darted in another direction.

Come on. We're adults - we do the same thing . . . I know I do. Why would we expect it to be easier for our children?

At 12, my daughter should be working fairly independently, but while on the iPad I find that I have to stand over her shoulder to ensure that she's staying on task.

I have my own opinions over the iPad's ease of use for my daughter's assignments, whether it is actually a time-saver and more efficient than books/paper, and how it may serve as yet another distraction which parents must monitor. However, research is finally surfacing which also questions how electronic media may be hurting our children.

Published last month is this article voicing the concerns pediatricians have about the overuse of smartphones, internet, and social media in the hands of youth.

As for reading retention? That is being studied as well.

What about basic face to face communication? This piece is troubling.

There is no doubt that computers, e-readers, smartphones, and electronic communication are here to stay.

But for all the good these devices, apps, games, and programs can bring, it's time to look at the effects they are having on children. We simply can't ignore that there are definite detriments to their overuse.

Most recently, a friend on Facebook asked for the best apps to help her young child learn the alphabet.

"You. Sing her the ABC song" was my response, as was the response of those of us who have kids ages 10 and up.

Electronics have their place. But I worry that they are being given too much of a place of honor at the head of our educational table, and it would be wise for us to start reading, and taking seriously, the research that is coming to light.


Joline Pinto Atkins, an actress who also uses the web as her world-wide stage, can also be found writing at The Cuppa Jo, and is the founder of Daily Fast Fuel. She is wife to one (phew - that's good to know) and mother of two amazing children, aged 12 and 8, who are both named after authors. Passionate about fitness, she is an Independent Team Beachbody Coach and sweats out any daily angst by exercising at home, longs for good books, is a redeemed coffee addict, and won't share popcorn with anyone. Even her own family.

 

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.

Moms, How Do You Unwind?

Written by Joline Atkins. Posted in Carpool Lane

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Breaking Bad.

I realize the series has come to an end, but I only just started watching it 3 weeks ago. I'm behind.

And racing ahead. I'm half-way through Season 4.

Totally binging.

I did the same with The Tudors, Freaks and Geeks, The Walking Dead, Fringe, and Orange is the New Black - yep, went there.

And now, my current TV drug of choice is Breaking Bad.

Every night.

Kids are asleep.

Husband is out - either in bed, or slumped on the couch. And there I am, laptop in bed, watching Walter White get deeper and deeper entrenched in illegal activity.

Now, I KNOW what research says . . . that one sleeps better if they refrain from screen time before hitting the hay. But in all honesty?

I need it.

No. Really. I need it.

It's my wind-down time. I'm not a "Calgon, take me away" type of gal, I already read during the day, and with my days focused on homeschooling, running a business/household, caring for two highly active beagles, shuttling karate kids, and negotiating with a pre-teen, I'm done talking by 10. I just want to listen.

To fiction.

Anyone else with me on this . . . or do I just need to admit I have a problem?

Moms are on the move all day long. How do you unwind after a day of taking care of everyone else???


Joline Pinto Atkins, an actress who also uses the web as her world-wide stage, can also be found writing at The Cuppa Jo, and is the founder of Daily Fast Fuel. She is wife to one (phew - that's good to know) and mother of two amazing children, aged 12 and 8, who are both named after authors. Passionate about fitness, she is an Independent Team Beachbody Coach and sweats out any daily angst by exercising at home, longs for good books, is a redeemed coffee addict, and won't share popcorn with anyone. Even her own family.

 

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.

The Lonely Truth About Homeschooling

Written by Joline Atkins. Posted in Carpool Lane

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First, before I truly start this piece, let me be clear.

We are totally enjoying the home-school experience. My son is doing very well. The material is challenging. The schedule works for us. That part is all good.

He is usually done with everything by the time my daughter gets home from 7th grade. Which is all sorts of awesome, because her work takes a few hours, and with my son done, I don't have two kids with homework to complete.

However, I'm wiped. As in, out.

My day starts around 5:30 with some "me" time. Reading. Catching up on writing. Some work. My daughter is out the door by 7:20 and I hit the home gym. I get my son up after that, and we begin school by 9. We work until noon, when I then send him to play next door. Thankfully, our neighbors also home-school. And, they have a big back yard. And a Rainbow Loom. At noon I take calls for work . . . well, honestly, all throughout the morning I'm in and out of the "office" , which, for me, is online. We also have activities with other home-schooled kids two days a week.

We continue school until about 2, and then I get my daughter around 3.

I am then confronted with HER homework, karate class, youth group, indoor hockey, dinner, etc - the usual suspects. Oh, yeah, and there's that play I start rehearsing for next week . . .

My husband, a Pastor, is out a few nights a week. When that's the case, things wind down at home for me around 9:30. And I crash. I'm not used to crashing. I've not felt this way since I had wee ones.

(Cue the violins.)

I'm not complaining. Just sharing the facts. My goal this year, and the reason WHY I built a home business, was so I could be more present and available for my children. I am receiving exactly what I wanted.

Only, it really is a bit lonely.

My son is fun, but as we are together all day, gone are the spontaneous coffee dates. Or a lunch. Or a text/phone call from a friend. And shoot . . . how do I go get that mammogram? I do connect with my team/customers daily - so there is adult interaction. But, it's different. I go back and forth from feeling lonely during the day, to relief that we are blessed to be able to give my son this model.

Unless I am completely intentional about connecting with friends in the evening, (which is hard, because, for one, I'm exhausted, and secondly, there is something called 7th grade math, and I suck at it) I really don't see anyone . . .

We are not a part of a co-op, which was intentional due to my job, and since we are a cyber family, we do have to complete their coursework - so adding anything else to our schedule which involves me seeing other adults of homeschoolers is kind of out right now.

What's interesting about this new feeling of loneliness, is that I actually LOVE time alone. It's how I recharge. I can spend HOURS alone.

Only, I no longer have that time to myself during the day. So, I'm adjusting. And singing to myself, "Don't you, forget about me . . . here in my house . . . teaching my son . . . don't, don't, don't, don't . . ." (Yeah, I embellished.)

Seeing as I'm still new to homeschooling, is it normal to feel this way???

Or, do I simply deserve a "Suck it up, buttercup!"

Be gentle.


 

Joline Pinto Atkins is an actress who also uses the web as her world-wide stage and can also be found writing at The Cuppa Jo, and is the founder and a contributor at Daily Fast Fuel and the newly debuted SlimSavers.com. Joline is wife to one (phew - that's good to know) and mother of two amazing children, aged 11 and 7, who are both named after authors. Addicted to fitness, she is an Independent Team Beachbody Coachand sweats out any daily angst by exercising and P90X'ing, and longs for good books, vats of coffee, and an endless supply of buffalo wings - which she will not share with you. So, please, do not ask.

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.