Thursday, August 30, 2018

Wallet-Friendly Tips to Get Your Anxious Child Through the New School Year

Image via Unsplash

Some kids can't wait to go to school, where they get to spend all day with friends while learning new subjects. But for other kids, the first day of school is utterly anxiety-inducing. Will my teacher be nice? Who will I sit with at lunch? What if I can't find my classroom? These are just a few of the worries going through an anxious child's mind before the first day.

Back-to-school anxiety arises out of a fear of the unknown. Kids aren't sure what to expect from a new grade, teacher, and classroom, so they imagine possibilities. For an anxious child, those possibilities center around things that could go wrong. As a parent, there are a few things you can do to ease your child's fears that won’t hurt your wallet.

Figure Out Routines
Start by transitioning to school routines a couple of weeks before school begins. When your child is already in the habit of waking up early, getting dressed, and eating breakfast in the morning, there's less chaos and running around on the first day of school. And when your child's home environment is calm and collected, he's more likely to feel calm as well.

Take advantage of back-to-school events that let you meet teachers and tour classrooms. These events are a great opportunity to rehearse your child's schedule to ease fears about getting lost on the first day. Practice walking to each class, the cafeteria, lockers, and buses so your child feels confident finding his way. If you think it would help keep you and your child on track, purchase a planner (consider using online coupons from retailers such as Staples to save some money) to help keep all of your thoughts and activities organized.

The Power of Reassurance
As the first day approaches, avoid soothing your child with empty reassurances like “you'll be fine.” Instead, ask your child about his specific fears and problem solve together. Brainstorming solutions shows your child these situations aren't as scary as they seem.

Emphasize the positive aspects of school as well. There's a lot of fun to be found at school, even for an anxious child. Your child will get to see friends, learn more about a favorite subject, and join fun extracurricular activities. And don’t worry too much about the things he or she might need for these activities -- there are plenty of coupons and cashback rewards from shops like Walmart to take advantage of during these times. After all, these are things worth looking forward to, so don’t let money get in the way of helping your child -- within reason, of course.

Get Ready the Night Before
The night before the first day of school, help your child prepare his clothes and school supplies for the morning. Then, engage in a calming bedtime activity together. Whether it's a bedtime story, a yoga session, or simply an open conversation with each other, setting aside time to relax and quiet the mind ensures your child doesn't lay in bed awake worrying about the next day. To help your child rest comfortably during the night, get some high-quality bed sheets and linen to help keep them cozy. You can find online coupons for outlets such as Linens and Things to help you save a little extra cash. Throughout the school year, the best way to help your child's anxiety is to maintain routines so he heads into each school day feeling prepared.

Make a Home for Homework
In addition to age-appropriate bedtimes, your child should have a set time and place for doing homework. Scheduling homework ensures it doesn't get pushed aside until the last, frantic minute, while carving out a space specifically for study eliminates distractions that prevent your child from focusing.

Your child's homework area should be quiet, well-lit, and stocked with the supplies he needs to complete assignments. It should also have a properly sized desk and chair to prevent posture
problems. A homework space doesn't have to be big or expensive to furnish. A corner of a low-traffic room is plenty, and you can save money on supplies by shopping back-to-school sales, buying in bulk, and using online coupons, promo codes, and cashback opportunities. Major retailers like Amazon or Target are the best place to find such deals.

Back-to-school anxiety is a normal part of childhood, especially for first-time students and children starting at a new school. However, the best way to ease those fears isn't by providing non-stop reassurance or delaying school. Rather, it's by helping children feel prepared, confident, and capable that parents can overcome back-to-school anxiety and promote a positive school experience.
Joyce Wilson

Monday, August 20, 2018

Mental Health and Single Parents

Depression Have you ever felt hopeless, down, worthless, or guilty for no apparent reason? You may be experiencing depression. Many factors contribute to these feelings including hormonal changes, family, personal and biological. Thee symptoms can e acute or chronic. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, depression is an emotional sate that extends further than feeling sad. Depression is a medical illness that affects a person's thoughts, feelings, behavior, physical health and mood. This condition affects every person differently, some may experience one or two episodes in their life while others have recurrent incidence. The National Alliance on Mental Illness states that about 14.8 million (6.7%) of American live with depression. The National Academy of Science reported in 2013 some 15 million children lived in households where parents have depression. Single parents are twice as as likely to be depressed than parents from a two-parent family. A study conducted by Child Data Trends Data bank, indicated that in 2013 single parents reported having 1-2 depression symptoms. A study. These symptoms were reported at a higher rate for single mothers (12%) compared to single fathers (5%) and mothers in two-parent families (5%). To see full study see resources below.
Photo by Pixabay

 8 Effects of Depression

  1. Distorts your thinking
  2. Makes you irritable
  3. Increased physical symptoms (aches pains, chronic fatigue, decreased appetite, insomnia, and decreased interest in sex)
  4. Decreased interest in daily tasks and things you used to enjoy
  5. Recurrent thoughts or preoccupation with suicide or death
  6. Weakened immune system
  7. Weight problems
  8. Cognitive changes

Depression is treatable and any person who believes they have depression should seek care from a licensed mental health professional. Depression comes and goes, but this does not mean one should not seek professional help because they feel better. Professionals offer many types of therapy and medications. Working with a qualified professional, a person suffering from depression can regain control of their life.

Some places and people that make referrals for treatment are family doctors, mental health specialists, community mental health specialists, community mental health cents, hospital psychiatry departments and outpatient clinics, university or medical school affiliated programs, state hospital outpatient clinics, and family and social agencies. 

7 Things You Never Say To A Single Parent

Single parents have a challenging life. I am always amazed by the assumption made about them and things that have been said to me. This post is a teaching point for the the single parent to understand that not every person knows how to question or support single parents, to acknowledge the intent behind the words and  for the person who is not a single parent to acknowledge their word choice when speaking to single parents.
Photo by Pixabay

In my journey as a single parent I have been told many things, some with good intentions, other statements made from complete and utter ignorance. Ignorance may be a little harsh, so let me rephrase that. People make uninformed and unaware statements. It is okay to be curious about single parenthood; it's even okay to ask questions. For single parents, a haste reaction to this situation is  better approached by understanding that some comments are meant to be positive. Let me enlighten those readers who have been on either side of the situation. Here are a few things to not say to a single parent.

"I don't know how you do it."
"I could never do what you do" 
"You're Strong." 
"You're a Superwoman."

Single parents do what they have to do to provide for their family. It's no different than married families. Often said as a complement, this makes single parenting seem unrewarding. We do not have an "S" on our chest, nor are we superhuman, Given the situation any person could do it. 

"You Should Be proud I could never do that."

Condescending, belittling, demeaning, take your pick. I frequently hear this and it irks me, like nail dragging across a chalkboard. Yes, I have multiple degrees work full time and parent full time, all while working towards a third degree. No need to for accolades or to pat my back. This statement is often made with good intentions; however, when you think about it do you make similar comments to your married friends?

"You look tired"

Really, I had not noticed I only slept 4 hours last night. Pointing out that someone looks like hell is insulting. A better solution is to offer to babysit for a few hours. 

"Where is the child's mother or Father? or "Is their father or mother in their life?"

This is personal questions that should not be asked. If you are close to that person then you might ask differently, but tread lightly. Then again, if your were "close" then you would already know. If a single parent wants you to know then they will tell you. Frankly it's none of your business, gaining this information will not improve the situation rather only feed your curiosity. 

"Do you and your husband...(fill in the blank)."

Please don't assume that every person ith a child is married. Single parents are proud and have nothing to be ashamed of. Single parenting happens by choice and by unforseen circumstances.

"You didn't get married." or "When are you getting married."

Please refer to the aformentioned question.

"My wife or husband went ot of town for work so I know what  you are going through."

This is a comment I hear frequently and the only one o geet under my skin. Caring for your children for a weekend, a week or even a few weeks, while your spouse is one is not the same as single parenting. Let me say that again for emphasis, parenting your children temporarily without your spouse (who will ineitable return) is not equated to singe parenthood. You still have their financial support and thier emotional support. The key is your spouse will return. Single parent do not get a break, nor do we look foward to a homecoming.

What happens if you die? Estate Planning For Single Parents

Photo by Michael Morse from Pexels

Who will care for your children if the unexpected happens and you are unable to?  Do your family members or friends know how provide for your children on a daily basis? Most probably do not know your family schedule, who needs to be where and when or that your daughter likes to sleep with her favorite stuffed bear. It is up to you to prepare for worst, and be ready if that situation were to arise. Single parents must make estate planning a high priority to ensure that your children are properly cared if you become incapacitated or die.  Here are some starting points for estate planning.

Prepare a will, trust, power of attorney, and advance directives.

If you have children, then you need a will.  Intestate or dying without a will can be problematic.  To avoid your estate being tied up in court, make a will immediately.  Your will should specify who will take care of your children and how to distribute your assets.  A power of attorney gives someone the legal right to act on your behalf.   Writing a will you can leave instructions for guardianship and appoint an executor.

Buy life insurance or increase benefits to ensure adequate coverage.

How much will it cost to for someone to care for your children until they turn 18? Do you want to leave money to cover college expenses?  Do you have credit cards, student loans or other debts you want to pay off? Use an online life insurance calculator to get an idea of how much you may need or talk to an insurance agent. Also do not list your minor children as a beneficiary. If you do, a court may appoint a guardian to manage these funds until the child turns 18.  Remember a will or trust does not determine what happens to retirement accounts or insurance policies.

Set up a living trust.

Creating a living trust is important because it will keep you assets in a trust; therefore, eliminating the chance it is caught up in probate. It is worth looking into living revocable trust. A living trust allows your assets to immediately be transferred to a trustee to support your children.  A trust gives puts the power in your hand to determine how your assets are used to pay for living, education, medical,  travel expenses,  and etc. until your child is of legal age.

Choose a guardian for your little ones.

This is probably the most important, and the hardest part of estate planning. Of course no one will care for your child like you will, but you want to carefully consider this choice. Talk to those who you are considering and ask questions.  Pick someone who shares similar values and will raise your children similar to how you would. Do not be afraid to question those people you have in mind that is the only way to narrow down your decision. You may also name a guardian in a Nomination of Guardian document.

Create a resource list

After all is said and done you still need to make a list of important contact and information to assist your loved one including legal, health, insurance, and retirement. Be sure to include beneficiary information, account numbers and policy numbers along with your list of banks, investment accounts, emails or other online accounts so they can be closed.


The Mom’s Guide to Wills and Estate Planning
By Liza Hanks

Get It Together: Organize Your Records So Your Family Won't Have To 
By  Melanie Cullen  & Shae Irving

For more information or to locate help with planning your estate visit

Disclaimer: This information is a starting point and is for informational purposes only. This information is not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to estate planning.

Easy Ways for Single Parents to Save Money

Photo by from Pexels

This April Money Smart week is from April 23-30, so here at Angels Blessing People, We want to share with you 3 simple ways you can save money to enroll your kids in different types of programs so you can afford to take a family trip this summer. Stop by your local library to pick up some books about saving money. I recommend reading, personal finance for dummies by Eric Tyson.

Have money automatically transferred to your savings account. This is a great way to save money. For example, have $100 transferred automatically from your checking account into your savings account each month, so you can save money without thinking about it. If you need to set up a smaller amount, saving $25 a month adds up to over $300 overt twelve months! You can also set up automatic bi-weekly transfers in small portions like $10 if you get paid every other week. Check your spending habits and decide what works best for you. You can save your coins in a piggy bank or a mason jar at the end of the month and put that towards your savings account! if you pick up change off the ground it will add up!

  Plan your Meals

Planning ahead for what you will eat each meal will save loads of money on groceries and put up what you by to best use. You're less likely to buy food that will go bad because of them not being eaten. The day after you make a whole chicken roaster, you can make chicken pot pie, chicken enchiladas, chicken and broccoli, or chicken fajitas. This will hep you get an extra meal out of the purchase, while helping you save time and eat healthier. Get creative with leftover items!

 Use Coupons Effectively

If you're going to bother to clip coupons, make sure you use them in a way that saves you the most money possible. Refer to the stores weekly flyer to find out what's on sale or check for advertisements and coupons that come in the mail for free. You can print off coupons from the internet as well. Most grocery stores have digital coups that you can sign up for free. You can print off coupons from the internet as well. Try them at HEB, CVS, Walgreens, or Kroger's. If you have coupons for items, such as cereal, that regularly go on sale, wait until the sale to use  the coupon. Overtime this strategy will help you to save a lot of money. It is also best to save coupons for items you regularly buy, so you don't have extra clutter of expired coupons over time that end up getting thrown away.

By Sonia Sanchez

After Disaster Strikes

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Natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes, and floods can be scary for both adults and children. In an instance, your life can be turned upside down emotionally, physically, and financially.  What actions do you take  when faced with these situations. Do you know what resources are available as you begin to rebuild?

Most people are are aware of the help you can receive from FEMA, the Red Cross, and local churches.  After you have received assistance from these sources, where do you go? Most often, there are emotional, stress, and substance abuse factors that may present themselves after these events.

When emergency events happen preschool aged children may not understand   exactly what happened but they can see and sense the emotions of people around them.   While school aged children and teens may understand the disaster, the younger children may have a harder time expressing their feelings.  Older teens may react to  the stress by acting out or using  alcohol or drugs. Or they may take an active role through helping out. Youth and parents, grandparents need help to adjust to the change,  loss or support to deal with new fears. 

How to help your loved one

  • Answer questions honestly, without getting stuck on details.
  • Answer questions in a way your child can understand.
  • Don’t provide more information than is asked.
  • Let the child lead the conversation.
  • If you can’t answer a question, don’t be afraid to say so.
  • Emotions are okay, so encourage family members to discuss any concerns
  • Keep your family routine, it may have to be tweaked but will help create a feeling of normalcy
  • Give hugs
  • Parents should be mindful of their own feelings
  • If you have trouble with stress or coping, seek support and help.
 Every person will handle disasters differently so look out for these common warning signs.
  •     Being irritable
  • Feeling sad
  • Not participating in normal activities
  • Acting out
  • Troubling sleeping including nightmares, bedwetting and insomnia
  • Clinging to parents or other family members
  • Physical symptoms like headaches or stomach aches
  • Constantly thinking about the disaster

Web Resources

or call toll free 1-800-525-0657. Find available housing in apartments funded by TDHCA.
Texas Apartment Association
Resources for finding available housing, not limited to apartments funded by TDHCA, so some apartments may not be reduced rent housing options.

Disaster Unemployment Resources

Resources for coping

National Child Traumatic Stress Network National Mental Health Information Center 1-800-789-2647 (English and Español) National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information 1-800-729-6686 (English and Español) 

Substance Abuse Treatment Locator 
Toll-Free: 1-800-662-HELP (4357) (24/7 English and Español) 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 
1-800-273-TALK (8255) 

Free Books & Resources
Check out these free resources to help your child to understand and handle their feelings after and a natural disaster or emergency.

The Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) has an excellent Natural Disaster Resource Guide

National Child and Traumatic Stress Network provides a free pdf ebook in english and spanish. Trinka and Sam the Rainy Windy Day is a story that helps young children and their families to talk their feelings after they have experienced a hurricane. The story describes some of their reactions and talks about how their parents help them to express their feelings and feel safer. A parent guide booklet is included at the end of the story. 

Sesame Street provides a support after an emergency with disaster toolkits and videos for multiple types of natural disasters. This is aimed for for younger children. 

  Disclaimer: This information is a starting point and is for informational purposes only. This information is not for the purpose of providing legal or medical advice. You should contact your professional mental health specialist or an attorney to obtain advice with respect to these areas.

Helping your Children Move Past the Pain of Divorce During the Holidays

                      Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

A broken relationship with your significant other can be devastating. However, in the eyes of a child, splitting up can be equally as heartbreaking. Though divorce tends to put children through considerable emotional turmoil, it’s how you handle your relationship with each other, even when you are no longer partnered, especially during the holidays. Here are some tips on maintaining balance with your family this holiday season, in spite of a dissolved romance.

Maintain Friendship

According to American Psychological Association, at least 40-50% of married couples end in divorce in the United States. However, you can still maintain a sense of mutual respect. In fact, it’s vital that you get along because your children will always connect the both of you.

When it comes to parting ways, forming a new relationship and no longer sharing household chores, it’s a given that you’ll now lead two separate lives. However, gift exchanging, weekend visits with your children and holiday extra-curricular activities will mean that you’ll have to communicate with each other often. Though Facebook, Skype, and emails are modern forms of messaging one another, confusion often takes place, which is why you may want to obtain clear boundaries on behalf of the child.  

Consider Your Child

While most children often feel as though their world has ended after finding their parents are divorcing, studied indicate that kids quickly bounce back and lead healthy lives, according to Scientific American. Though some children go through the motions of shock, resentment, anger, and sadness, only a small of amount of children suffer long-term adverse effects.

Since the holidays can potentially stir up old memories and loneliness in newly divorced couples, maintain an air of calmness so that your children aren’t affected by negative behavior. Though you may need to blow off steam, never do so in front of the children. Talking ill of the other party may cause remorse on your child’s part due to the lack of understanding, regarding the relationship between the both of you.

Make the Most of the Holidays

The holidays are a time to employ gratitude, love, and community. You can create a sense of normalcy by sharing holiday fun with your children instead. Frolicking in the snow with snow angels, snowball fights, sitting by a warm fire while sipping hot cocoa, writing greeting cards, or walking around your neighborhood on a crisp evening to view lighting displays are memories that your children will cherish forever, despite the separation.

It’s also crucial that you practice self-care often so that you are better prepared to deal with the stresses of being a single parent. Fun holiday activities are great anxiety-relievers for yourself and your family, but getting some alone time helps you process feelings, relax your mind, body, and spirit and boosts your self-esteem.

Talk To Your Kids

In the midst of all the activity, talk to your children. Get a sense of how they feel about the divorce and ways you can cope as a family. Your children already have enough stress to deal with, so show them you care by explaining the reasons for the uncoupling. Though some topics, especially for little kids, can be difficult, such as abuse, you may be general or further explain, especially when it comes to love and drifting apart.

Allow your children to express their feelings, be it anger, resentment towards the both of you or temporary sadness. Help them work through their emotions with a therapist, a trusted friend or keeping just between the family. Whichever way you choose to go about employing coping mechanisms, make sure that it’s done so in a healthy, thoughtful way.

Divorce is never easy. When it comes to your children, carefully strategizing how you will allocate your time while conserving regularity, will encourage a closer relationship, a joyful holiday season and a brighter future.

By Alexis Hall
Singleparent Info