Gifts for Dad ➔

What does a girl do on a snow day? Let’s see, I have a senior in High School. One of my goals on this snowy, I-don’t-have-to-go to-work-day is to tackle scrapbooking.

I have been scrapbooking since my kids were little. I love it. What I like, of course, are the fun memories. Looking at the tiny faces in their kindergarten graduation caps and wild play dates, but also their accomplishments. Yes, (insert bragging rights here) my kids accomplished a lot in high school, more than I can say for myself.

I wasn’t a lazy bum in high school. I was active and social. Grades, studying – eh, not my thing. I could have worked harder—I got by. I participated in sports, music, plays—you name it. It was a small school.

Now a days, high school students tackle a lot more. Not just their studies and extracurricular activities, but leadership positions and service work like I have never seen before. In one of my daughter’s high school courses, twenty percent of her grade is service work. Wow!

A few weeks ago, I had the honor of introducing at our local chamber banquet, a young lady from Kearney Catholic high school whose list of accomplishments and activities were a mile long. It was incredible, but my goodness kids, you do a lot in four short years.

I remember the days when I played all sports and also did the music, youth group. Service work was few and far between. We did some service work for our neighbors, the elderly lady down the street, but kids today, let’s give them a hand and give them credit (literally). They are pretty darn amazing.

I look back at my kids’ scrapbooks and the service work from mission trips really is cool. They have had opportunities that I never had. Traveling to Jersey, Chicago and New Orleans. They have done amazing works for God. Learning about other cultures and areas of our country and coming home with a grateful heart—an appreciation for home.

I also see youth today really set goals to want to play or participate in youth sports in college. I think that is great. There seems to be a big push for that. I love it when a high school athlete goes on to play a college sport.

I, too, have a college athlete. He works super hard on the track and the classroom and it is a huge commitment. I sometimes wonder if we, as parents, really understand what a commitment that is.

I think it is a good reminder for myself and for us as parents as we do a little evaluation of our youth and their commitments in school or sports—to really check in with them on occasion. To make sure the burnout level is not there. We have to do that as adults as well from time to time.

This is not to discourage students to volunteer or play college sports, every student is different on the work load and stress they handle, but I feel as parents we do need to evaluate and make sure it isn’t too much.

An example, our son runs Cross Country and Track for Northwest Missouri State University. He is four hours away from us. We check in with him a couple times a week and talk on Sunday. We, of course, follow his career and get to see him a lot on weekends.

He wanted to go back to work and make extra money after Christmas. That was fine with us. He wanted to be able to pay rent on his own, but I asked him, “Is it too much, do you need a break?”   Look, college athletics, along with their studies and service work, is a huge huge time commitment. I want to make sure he is not burning himself out. I am watching that closely. As all parents should, no matter what level.

For all you senior moms who are going through scrapbooks wondering where the time went and seeing how incredibly busy your students are, take time to appreciate that. Take a deep breath. Know that you have set the foundation for their success but also evaluate, check in with your youth and find out about his or her goals in life and what really drives them.

Understand the differences between burnout and stress. Burnout can be a depletion of energy. Stress can be managed. But watch for signs of burnout by depression or burnout by anger and irritability. There are so many different levels—and approaches, but being aware is the first step.

And…don’t forget to relax (insert message notation to both parents and students), enjoy and have fun with your youth…your student. Time goes so fast.

Renae Zimmer

My name is Renae Riddle Zimmer. I was born in Iowa and raised in Nebraska. I am a Midwest girl. I married my high school sweetheart, Dave Zimmer and raised two awesome kids. Nolan, 21 and Kamryn, 17. As we approach our empty nest years—we reflect a lot on our life—our kids—and being a part of the “sandwich” generation as well. Taking care of teenagers and aging parents. All the joys and difficulties that are ahead. We are solid in our faith—solid in our family and we love each other, support each other. I work a corporate job and travel. My husband is an educator and coach. We love to cook, garden, landscape, watch sports and enjoy our kids activities. We follow up college-age son as he runs cross country and track for Northwest Missouri State in Maryville, Mo. And support our daughter as she is in the last year of high school . Where did the time go?

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