If It Were Me | June 2016

By Elizabeth Oates

Have questions?

Hello, friends, and welcome back to the Wacoan’s monthly advice column. As a wife and mother of four, I am excited to read to your questions and share my thoughts on whatever trials you might be facing relating to marriage, family, parenting or general women’s issues. What qualifies me to dish out my opinion? Good question! I earned a master’s in marriage and family studies from Dallas Theological Seminary, although I admit this means nothing in the real world. Ha! I have studied harder in the school of life than I ever did in seminary.

Over the past eight years I have mentored countless young women and I have heard it all — nothing shocks me. Do you a have question you need answered? Go ahead and send it in. That’s what I would do … if it were me.

Dear Elizabeth,

School isn’t even out, and I’m already having anxiety about how to entertain my three kids this summer, ages 14, 8 and 4. They are different genders, and they have very different interests. How can I maintain my sanity and my kids’ happiness at the same time? — Midway Mom

Dear Midway Mom,

I am right there with you! My four kids range in age from 1 to 10. Summer is equal parts dreamy and draining. I certainly haven’t mastered summer survival, but here are some tips that make the dog days a little more delightful:

Start by sitting down with your kids and making a Summer Bucket List. Some ideas include baking brownies, having a lemonade stand, going swimming, going to the park, having a sleepover, playing laser tag.

Take advantage of free activities, such as storytime at the library or movie nights provided by local municipalities.

Allow each child to attend one day camp, if your budget allows. Hop online and search based on your child’s interests.

Find a way to keep cool. Whether you join a pool, make friends with someone who has a pool in their backyard or head out to Hawaiian Falls or Tonkawa Falls in Crawford, find a way to take a dip.

Keep an activity box on hand for when the kids get bored, filled with their favorite things (Sudoku, word searches, books, Play-Doh).

If one child doesn’t like an activity, they can bring a book or an iPad to entertain themselves until it’s over. Or if you’re feeling really accommodating, you can arrange a play date for that child while you take the other two kids.

Build in an hour of daily quiet time for your sanity and theirs. A little afternoon alone time will reduce bickering and ensure you have energy to finish the day. Happy kids equals a happy mom equals a happy summer!

Dear Elizabeth,

My husband and I recently divorced, and he moved to another city. Per our divorce agreement, our two boys, ages 8 and 11, will visit him on major holidays and for two months during the summer. This will be my first summer without the boys, and I am so nervous. I know I will miss them like crazy, and I’m not sure how I am going to function without them. — Boymom

Dear Boymom,

As someone who lived through three divorces growing up, my heart goes out to your boys. No matter the circumstances, divorce is tragic for everyone involved but especially for the kids. There is room for beauty from ashes.

I encourage you to take those two months to pursue deep emotional healing. I’m sure that amid the hustle and bustle of the school year, your boys’ activities and life in general, taking time to process your difficult emotions was limited. This summer you will finally have time to do some serious grieving without your boys around. Seize the moment! See a counselor. Join a support group like DivorceCare or Celebrate Recovery. Find a mentor who will walk this road with you.

Also, balance your emotional recovery with some relaxation and fun that you normally don’t have time to enjoy. Think back to what used to make you happy, then pursue those things.

Dear Elizabeth,

After giving birth to my third child, I’ve started a journey to eat healthier, lose weight and exercise more. I have a strong support system of friends who encourage me. The problem is that my husband doesn’t seem to get it. He has never struggled with his weight, doesn’t make time for exercise and isn’t willing to give up his nightly bowl of Blue Bell to help me stay on track. I feel like he is sabotaging my efforts. — S.D.

Dear S.D.,

I applaud you for making healthier choices. It’s so important for mamas to be healthy, confident and have plenty of energy to keep up with our littles. Looking great in our favorite pair of jeans is only a bonus!

I’m so glad you have a strong support system. Working out with friends, trading recipes and having someone to text when your kids’ Easter candy calls your name is so important for long-term success.

As for your husband, he doesn’t have to get it. Maybe he’s never had to say no to tempting foods or wake up at 5 a.m. to exercise. Unfortunately, he seems to have the metabolism of a jack rabbit and the empathy of a great white shark. But he doesn’t have to understand — he just has to give you the space you need to accomplish your goals.

Here are some practical steps to maintaining harmony in your marriage while setting yourself up for success in your weight loss journey:
Express your expectations and needs to him.

Clearly communicate your exercise plans on a weekly basis to ensure he can take care of the kids while you are away.

Create a weekly meal plan (including snacks) and a grocery list.

If your husband insists on keeping his Blue Bell and other unapproved snacks in the house, give him a separate shelf in the freezer, refrigerator and/or pantry. You can even put his items in a basket so they are hidden from your view.

If your husband wants to partake in an unhealthy nightly snack and the temptation is too much for you, remove yourself from the situation: take a bath, write in your journal, text a friend, walk around the block.

Dear Elizabeth,

I thought you might know the answer to this since you and your husband have mentored so many engaged couples. Do you know if it is still customary for the bride’s family to pay for the wedding and reception and for the groom’s family to pay for the rehearsal dinner and honeymoon? We have three boys, so my husband thinks we’ve got it made. I think times have changed. What are your thoughts? — B. T.

Dear B.T.,

Yes, my husband and I have worked with engaged and newly married couples for the past eight years and have attended our fair share of weddings ranging from simple to extravagant. However, I’m no Emily Post, so I consulted a few experts on this one.

Let’s assume the bride and groom are fresh out of college, maybe grad students or just starting out in their careers. In this case it is still customary for the bride’s family to pay for the bridal luncheon, the wedding and the reception.

The groom’s family pays for the rehearsal dinner and the honeymoon. Sometimes grooms play golf the day of the wedding and eat lunch together or something of that nature while the women enjoy the bridal luncheon. That cost would also be covered by the groom.

Some bride’s families pay for hotel arrangements for the bridesmaids along with their dresses, hair, makeup and nail appointments. Likewise, sometimes the groom’s family pays for the groomsmen’s tuxedos and hotel arrangements. Both are optional.

Of course, we’re talking about the millennial generation, so tradition is shifting. Another caveat is if the engaged couple is older. Then they might pay for all or part of the entire wedding and reception costs themselves.

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