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?

Oh, How I’ll Miss Little You

In: Kids, Motherhood
Child standing in leaves, looking up, color photo

Oh, my sweet little child, I wish you could stay this little forever. I wish these days would never end. They are busy, loud, and chaotic—but, oh, how I love them! They make my life feel whole. Complete. I don’t know what I will do when these days are gone. I will miss your sweet little face looking up at me. The innocence in your eyes. Your sweet little grin. I will miss how your face lights up when you see me. How your little arms manage to give me the biggest hugs. How I can make everything better with...

Keep Reading

There’s Just Something about a 4-Year-Old

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood
4 year old girl smiling outside

There’s just something about a 4-year-old. The way their bubbly laughs and sweet little faces still have some traces of babyhood while they’re transforming into more and more of their own unique person right before your eyes.  The way they ask questions about everything under the sun, listen wide-eyed to your clumsy answers, and believe every single word you say. It’s so innocent (and scary) the way they believe absolutely anything you tell them—just because you’re “mommy.”  The way their still-a-little-chubby hand finds yours. And the way they still come running to you for a hug and kiss when they’re hurt. Or...

Keep Reading

Find the People Who Will Root for You

In: Friendship, Kids, Motherhood
Empty sports field, color photo

My son participated in tryouts out for a new travel soccer team at the end of a recreational fall soccer season one chilly evening in November. He has been playing recreational soccer since he was three years old when we started with the local club. He has been asking about joining a travel team since kindergarten. In recent seasons, I watched him struggle in the recreational league. I watched him wanting a little bit more in the sport as he developed his passion—he was ready to grow.  We knew he loved soccer, and it was something he had always wanted...

Keep Reading

You Don’t Raise Your Babies to Be Little Forever, but I Thought I’d Have More Time

In: Kids, Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Little boy peeking over wooden fence, color photo

I can see the yellow blur of the school bus passing in front of my window. Soon my little boy will excitedly burst through the front door with his picture of a giraffe from art class. His big brown eyes will meet mine as I get a toothless “I missed you, Mom” grin. He will tell me everything he had on his tray for lunch, recount the whole soccer game at recess, and share all about that hilarious thing his friend said on the bus. He will then sit on my lap as he takes each school paper out of...

Keep Reading

No Man in a Girl’s Life Holds More Influence than Her Dad

In: Kids, Marriage, Motherhood
Father and daughter on amusement ride, color photo

As I sat outside Walmart watching my husband of nearly 16 years walk in with my 9-year-old daughter to buy me a box of tampons, I realized how blessed I am.  This is real life. Not only does he not care about running into the store and picking up these items, he asks our girls if they want to join him, and they use this time to talk. They talk about real-life—about growing up, changing bodies, what tampons are even for, how they can wait years and years before they need to start dating, how he will be waiting outside...

Keep Reading

My Little Girl Has Big, Brave Dreams

In: Kids, Motherhood
School paper with little girl's handwriting, color photo

My 6-year-old daughter wants to be a soldier.   When we heard from the ultrasound tech that we were having another girl, that was not exactly the career path that popped into our heads.   There’s something absolutely terrifying knowing your child wants to do something big like this. I’m sure I’d be petrified if I had a son with the same ambition, but there’s something extra scary about it being your little girl. There’s something weighty about raising a daughter who wants to be a soldier. But honestly, it’s not a surprise at all. RELATED: God Has Filled Your...

Keep Reading

As My Children Grow, I Miss It All—Even the Sick Days

In: Kids, Motherhood
Toddler on mom's shoulder

I whisk my daughter through the doors of urgent care and cradle her head as I stand behind three other mamas clinging to their babies. We’re each rocking in different ways but moving nonetheless. The silent, comforting rhythm of motherhood. I see sad, sick eyes from the babies with their heads nestled into the necks of their mama. I’m tired from the sleepless night, and I shift from foot to foot. There is hushing and humming and back-patting. A pacifier drops to the floor. All of a sudden my daughter feels heavy. A vague sinking feeling comes over me, like...

Keep Reading

Life with Autism Is Full of Ticking Time Bombs

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother, father, teen daughter, color photo

Many of us who live with autism are familiar with the comings and goings of the ticking time bomb—one that disappears for periods of time, so much so that we might forget about it. Then, suddenly, this bomb drops at our doorstep in the form of a returning or new obstacle, so intense that it causes us to pause our lives, alter our plans, maybe even change our current paths. For our family, the new challenge has been sudden, piercing, sporadic screams. Not constant, not even often, thankfully, but jolting nonetheless. So here we were, in the midst of our...

Keep Reading

Youth Sports Build Strong Kids

In: Kids
Young girl with gymnastics medal, color photo

My kids are heavily involved in sports. My son plays for an elite basketball team and my daughter competes on an Xcel gymnastics team. It takes up a lot of our time and a lot of our money. Even though prioritizing youth sports seems to be an American norm, we still sometimes receive criticism and judgment as to why we would spend so much of our time and resources on it. (“Don’t you know the chances of your child going pro is less than 1%?”) As I sat at my daughter’s gymnastics meet, listening to the parents cheer so excitedly...

Keep Reading

Don’t Let Anyone Rush You, Mama

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother with two kids at home relaxing

From the moment our children are born, other people make it challenging to stay in the present moment—they start asking questions that look forward instead of at the now we are in. Can you believe how big she’s getting, where did your newborn go? Oh my goodness, he’ll be walking any day now! Are you thinking about preschool? What will you do when they’re both in school? What will you do when your baby goes to college? While these questions may come with good intentions, they’re not helpful at all. We moms need to be allowed to be fully in...

Keep Reading

 5 Secrets to Connect with Your Kids

FREE EMAIL BONUS

Proven techniques to build REAL connections