Wednesday, February 7, 2018

This is not easy ...

Hey everyone! This blog post today won't be an easy one but I fully believe now is the right time to dip into my story. Anyone of you who actively stays up to date with what's happening with me and my family would know that we had court yesterday (On my dang birthday!). 

So this past Monday I had a bit of a health scare that forced my husband to take me to the emergency room Monday night. We got out around 2am, I passed out twice, hit my head once, and landed myself a nice bed in the ER for four hours. But at least I wasn't drug seeking like some people we know! This was just the beginning of my chaos...

On Tuesday, February 6th me and my husband had a meeting with our local child protective services office. Why you ask? because on December 17th we got a call that they were removing my stepdaughter from her mothers care. Shocking, right? haha! This is the screenshot of the "Police Blotter" posted on the Florence Township Police Departments Facebook regarding her arrest. 

We knew she was already a heroin abuser, nobody loses that much weight that quickly doing it a healthy way. We did not know she was shooting dope, but we did have a feeling. This police blotter shows that she was arrested with a needle. She's not diabetic by the way. Anway, we have a meeting because DCPP (Formally known as DYFS in NJ, or useless white trash workers) called to set up something called a "Family Team Meeting". Within this meeting, DCPP violated their OWN "Best Practices" They did it at their own office where it should have taken place at our home or a neutral location. They didn't have us fill out any forms that would then be put into their "NJ Spirit" system to keep track of things like this.

We did bring up some of our concerns regarding DCPP and their lack of work ethic and honestly just ethics in general. Not only was I disrespected and lied to during this meeting, we were also made out to be the bad guys. Becuase DCPP did not have us sign the confidentiality agreement, this information is able to be released to you wonderful people to see how broken the system is. Maybe they should have done their job correctly? Moving on, I was interrupted, called disrespectful and made to look like I was the drug addict. Crazy right?

After starting 15 minutes late in this "meeting" they ended it forty minutes later. The point of the meeting? To see if we had family that would take my stepdaughter. She's currently in a resource home, which makes me think maybe the home isn't working out and they're looking for a quick placement. HA! like we're going to help you morons out. SYKE! We left, took a nap and off to court we went.

Not only did this moronic drug addict show up half an hour late to court, she then spent fifteen minutes in the bathroom probably doing something illegal. My husband was sabotaged in court when DCPP changed the judge who had our backs. My husband asked for every week visitation due to my stepdaughter specifically asking him to see her more than every two weeks. After she spent time in our home (no worries, I had my daughter at my mom's house with me, we don't violate court orders like some people) my stepdaughter clearly expressed how she loved the pictures of her, she loved her bedroom and missed all of her toys, she missed her bed. Fun fact? She wasn't traumatized by any of the pictures of me!

At this family team meeting with DCPP, our social worker's supervisor specifically stated that the social worker needed to stay with us after court to review the court order with my husband to make sure it was correct. This came because the last court order was violated and manipulated by this social worker. Apparently, contempt of court is above this workers IQ (which honestly can't be that high to begin with) When court ended, she went over to speak with the junkie and then tried to leave! So as I called her name from across the lobby she returned. I asked her if she was staying to go over the court order and her asinine response was "I don't have to, I checked it over with the attorney general and it's fine". After my mom reminded her that her supervisor advised her to stay with my husband she kept repeating "I don't have to!". What are you, four? My four-year-old has a better attitude than her. So apparently my emotions were all over my face and this worker looked at me with her white trash disgusting attitude and said "If you get an attitude with me I'm leaving" well guess what girlfriend? That was the end game for me.

She quickly whipped her head around like she was in some sort of high school altercation, and I'm pretty sure she was going to take her nails off. I shit you not. Anyway, after this altercation, we went home. The courts and DCPP have made it very clear that they have no issue being in contempt of court, manipulating court orders and putting children directly in the line of fire.

The courts kept my husband's visits at every other week but gave the junkie twice a week! Two times a week to continue abusing this child and manipulating her. She's been more concerned with being at the bars at night and texting her friends to buy and sell drugs.

The courts didn't even acknowledge this! At this point, this information needs to be put out. Call the courts, call your attorney, I don't care. This is a mother who chose to take pills and do heroin during her entire pregnancy with this child. I won't even take NSAIDS! It's completely mind-blowing that the Burlington County Superior Court and DCPP of NJ will not protect this child. Isn't that your job? And to completely lie in court and to the parent's faces? That's a level of disrespect I wasn't aware a state agency can go. We have two other children who lead completely normal lives. Our four year old will remember playing Barbies with her dad on her bedroom floor and that Kristen was always on her team.

This child was eating peanut butter sandwiches once a day, not going to school for weeks on end, had a silver tooth because her tooth rotted out of her mouth. But this is a healthy environment for this child? She was constantly filthy. After court her mother DROVE AWAY in a truck that barely worked and to top it off, she has a suspended license! (This comes from DMV records that can be attained online) But the courts find her suitable to have more contact with this child than her father? I'm disgusted by the state of NJ and what they've chosen to allow from their DCPP offices, social workers, supervisors and even the commissioner. This child was attacked by a dog and had to get three stitches.  We've contacted numerous people who practice this religion and they've all said this isn't true.  Oh, how the lies keep coming ...

 All I know is if someone is asking for documentation, I'm down to bring it. Mainly because not everything out of my mouth is a pure lie. Her entire family is a bunch of felons and liars. As a matter of fact here's a screenshot from her Uncle being arrested also!

On top of this her other Uncle is a pedophile on trial for raping a thirteen-year-old in 2016, he already had charges brought against him for raping a three-year-old in the 90's. Her brothers chillin' out in jail for getting arrested a few months ago. He'd only been out of jail a short amount of time before he went back to the slammer. Mommy dearest is super proud of her kids though! Don't cross that one, she'll protect those junkies until the day she dies! The great grandmama was arrested on assault and drug charges, the grandma was arrested on drug charges. Fun fact, she was arrested WITH the mom when mom was pregnant with my stepdaughter for transporting heroin! We have the background check on file. 

At the end of the day, this is a very real situation with a very real child. The
state won't follow the laws, the courts just want it off the docket. I've left numerous voicemails and emails for Allison Blake who is the Commissioner of DCPP. All of those voicemails and emails have gone unanswered, I've asked every time for an interview to see how the commissioner felt about her workers violating and manipulating court orders. Shows how much she cares about the child huh? Every supervisor at DCPP and our social worker has been a complete joke covering everything up. My stepdaughter described how her mom made her sell her kitchen set AND her vanity set she got for Christmas. Then went into detail about how her mom picked something out of someone else's trash!

Yep, seems like a completely legit place to be. On top of the fact that the home they removed her from was sold at sheriffs sale in December of 2017, the bank put new locks on the house and they broke in again! Then the other house that DCPP visited looking for my stepdaughter was sold at sheriffs sale in March of 2016, and those idiots are still living there! So you have a bunch of people squatting in the foreclosed home doing drugs, with kids! Right, lets put her back in that chaos. All of this information was given to DCPP, which was apparently filed in the "I don't care" file. typical. This is a child, and this is what the state is doing to our children.

Maybe this will open the eyes of some people who can bring light to this situation. Because as of right now, the state is signing this kids death certificate. Services for the junkie? She's been "doing services" for almost seven years. It hasn't gotten any better, now she's taking her kids stuff and selling it online! When I say things like "how horrible can you get? That's not a challenge! I hope you all reading this realize how destroyed our system is, share this blog as many times as you can. Maybe we can bring some attention to this matter before this kid is royally screwed for her entire life.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Why being the stepmom is never going to be easy

Now, I say being the stepmom is never going to be easy but that's the rule and there are exceptions. There are situations where things are perfect but most times, they're not. 

I've been in situations where me and bio mom get along for a certain amount of time ... then we don't. And queue world war three! In my recent book "Coparenting as a stepmom" is such a great insight to all of this. Four years ago when I met my husband I literally thought "man this is great, he has kids and I love kids! WELL! With those kids came three different moms with three different personalities and lifestyles.

I have come to realize specifically in my situation and similar situations from women in my groups that bio moms can and will lie about anything and everything. Again this is the rule so it's not necessarily always true. I've been in this lifestyle for a while now and ultimately I do want what's best for my kiddos! I fully believe the noncustodial parent should pay child support but also think it shouldn't break the bank. As a stepmom, I can see all sides of the arena here. 

I've personally been under attack for a good two years now. I mean, people have called my job, my publications, I've gotten emails through my website for my photography business. It literally NEVER ends and if you're going to step into those stepmom shoes you're going to have to get thick skin cupcake. I've been called fat, a pig and all kinds of hurtful names. People have said, "Thank GOD your husband hasn't given YOU a child" as if it's some sort of coveted Christmas present! 

There will never be one time in your stepmom life where your life will be easy. And I'm sorry for that. People will tell you that you "chose" this life and that's very true. But you did not choose to be abused by other people. I've seen women walk away from this life and that's okay too. Most people don't have more than one ex-wife to deal with ... I have an ex-wife and two baby moms. I'm not really one to blast business especially on my blog and I won't start now but I will say you need to assume everything is a lie if you're in a similar situation. I gave so many chances to not lie and to give the benefit of the doubt, just to be taken advantage of. I give all stepmoms out there so much credit for dealing with that crap day in and day out.

I've had stepmoms rave about my blog because I say everything they're afraid to say. When you have a high conflict mom you just never know what's going to break that thin ice. You never want to cause conflict for your kids, you never want to come off hostile in front of them. At the end of the day, you're the evil stepmom! I honestly wear that hat with pride now, I'm cool with that. Becuase when we're in the car and my three-year-old says "Kristen, I just love you sooooo much" that's what makes all of that worth it. When she curls up in her huge bed at night with her nightlights, music and Christmas tree, she knows she's loved.

It's taken me four years to get ballsy enough to write this blog for all of you and I genuinely hope in the new year it continues to help all of you. Stepmoms worldwide have the same issues and that will make life difficult every day. You're this woman who walked into a man's life and that automatically made you the enemy. You're not alone! Bio moms can be assholes, and I apologize for that. I'm sorry you have to be attacked constantly by bitter, hostile women. I'm sorry you have to watch kids being used as ammunition. BUT, those kids DO love you. Don't ever doubt that! I promise you this may not get any better but you will learn how to deal with it. Put that stepmom hat on, bedazzle it and ROCK the crap out of it. You're a mom just as much as that bio mom girlfriend!


Thursday, November 9, 2017

Holiday Gift List 2017

Now that the holidays are rolling in, I'm rolling out my wishlist for 2017! Getting the kiddos what they want is the hardest thing to do. I've previously posted about how to get the best layaway deals here, so make sure you check that page out!

I have three girls, all super different ages. They are 3, 6 and 12 and none of them ever want the same thing. So I've compiled a list of my top five gifts for each age! Remember, Black Friday is coming up so watch out for those deals! Most people also forget Cyber Monday is the FIRST Monday after Black Friday. So check out these hot deals and let me know what you think!

Age 3 (Toddler years)

1. My number one choice for kids is the Amazon Kindle. Here's my secret, Amazon usually throws this gem on sale Black Friday through Cyber Monday for $35! I bought the Kindle for my youngest when she was two, I threw on the $10 kid-proof case and a screen protector and she's used it ever since! You can make a kid-friendly, password protected user screen on there. It's super kid friendly and has Netflix but also educational games. Ashley was two when she got hers, she'll be four in December and still loves it.

2. LeapFrog. I really enjoy this brand because it grows with the kids. My middle stepdaughter had the leap pen and all the books when she was three and four. She loved it! I got our youngest the toddler version last year and it just keeps advancing when they get older. They also have tablets for kids but I have to say I'd stick with the Kindle. I like that leapfrog encourages them to read and when you set up your parent account it emails you weekly on how you're doing. It's amazing to watch how good they get!

3. Fish tale blankets are seriously the cutest things ever. I got this for my youngest this year. It's a blanket and a fish tale! If anything, this is just a super cute gift for a little girl. 

Age 6 and up

1. Legos! As a mom, I hate legos. I step on them, I trip over them, they make me bleed. BUT Legos are great for this age. They have the fine motor skills and imagination to build with them. They have sets or they can free hand with them. These are great for boys and girls and can keep them busy forever. They are a little pricey though so look out for sales!

2. Hatchimals. These things are still apparently super popular! I have to admit it's pretty cute when you rub their little heart and they break open. I know these were big last year but this year the price is right! 

3. Fingerlings. I genuinely as an adult have no idea what the purpose of these things are but my kids want them. They're just small animals that attach to your fingers, or whatever equipment you buy for them. They are pretty cute but again come at a steep price!

Age 12 (tween)

1. Polaroid Cameras. These little gems are back in style and I'm a little excited about it I can't lie. They're a little expensive but tend to go on sale, the only issue I can see is purchasing the film. It gives kids the opportunity to not have filters and just photograph life. I love these!

2. Headphones. These cat headphones just make my heart happy! I just find them super cute and it matches those cat headband trends. These are a cute, affordable gift for the holidays!

3. Charging Port. I got this Unicorn charging port for my tween for her birthday. Kids are on electronics all day now so these really help to keep their phones from dying. And it's a unicorn so it's adorable.

These are just my top picks! Let me know what yours are!

*this post may contain affiliate links where I do make money if you click on them*

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Why I'm okay being an asshole

Recently my husband was hit with "I don't want to talk to Kristen anymore, only you" which had me DYING! I'm an asshole, and I'm okay with that. In my situation I have two baby mama's I deal with regularly and one thank the good God above I do not deal with (asshole, I know). 

Anyway, It always comes back to me being the scapegoat which I totally get because I'm the evil stepmom who's just so horrible. My oldest stepdaughters birthday party was almost canceled and who stepped in to save the day? Me. Who does my stepdaughter think threw this awesome party? Her mom. I never said anything about it because it wasn't worth the pettiness. My youngest stepdaughter can't seem to wear a coat in the winter so who bought the coat? Me. But when she says things like "I want you to be my new mommy" I immediately tell her that her mommy is wonderful and loves her more than anything in the world and she'll never ever have another mommy. Asshole, I know.

So here's why I don't mind being the asshole to these bio moms.

1. Who the eff cares. Seriously, think about that. I have women who go from absolutely loving me and everything I do to hating me because I called one of them out on the pacifier at four years old or the lack of proper sleeping arrangements. COME ON NOW. If that makes me an asshole, I'm okay with that because who the eff cares right? Go buy a bed and maybe I'll be nice again. Four years into this relationship with my husband and I stopped caring about getting along and started caring about the damn kids and who can and cannot take care of them.

2. It is absolutely about the kids. I promise you I can be the queen of petty like I'm a professional shade thrower sometimes. I have grown over the past couple years but I'm still pretty petty sometimes. Ultimately it is about your step kids though. In hindsight, I wish I would have held my tongue more in the past instead of telling someone she's ugly. She was but that was irrelevant at the time. I've come a long way the last four years but I'm an asshole because again I make it about the kids. If it's the difference between my youngest sleeping on the couch with her mom or a temper pedic bed in her own room then I'm going to choose her bed at my home. That's just how the cookie crumbles. So keep making it about the kids, if that makes you an asshole then so be it.

3. I've had time to grow up. I'm not super mature completely yet but I'm getting there. I used to get really upset when people told me I was this horrible stepmom or that my stepdaughters told their moms they hated me. I realize now how many lies there were amongst that and again the problem seems to be I don't allow them to lie to me or my husband. If you're gonna lie girlfriend, I'm gonna call you out on it. So when you make the decision to lie, the asshole is going to call you out. So just prepare yourself to be put on the spot. I had to grow up and realize that if being a concerned step parent for my step kids means I'm an asshole then I'm rocking the shit out of that hat.

4. I'm the scapegoat. Being the asshole new wife also means you're the scapegoat. That's cool. I'm alright with that because there's no other avenue for these women to go. It's my fault. Why? Because he married me! Accept this white hat and wear it proudly girl. I used to get so upset when women would make up lies about me and what I was doing. To this day this still happens! These bio moms will bait the shit out of you, walk away. Lord knows none of us have any damn bail money anyway. Be the scapegoat, be the asshole, be the evil stepmom. It's okay, paint your white hat pink if you'd like. That role in life will never change, so own the asshole name now.

5. Their opinions will never cut my paycheck. Recently, I debated shutting down my brand and walking away from all of it. My husband and I had a really long talk about us being in the spotlight and how some people are going to hate. Ironically the only haters I have are one of my kid's moms. Which is totally fine, again they will never cut my checks. So what if they think you're an asshole? I was called an asshole because I grounded my stepdaughter and forced her to go to school. GOD FORBID.  If I had a penny for every time I rolled my eyes I'd be a millionaire.

6. I run my brand like a champ. It's been said numerous times that my blog or my brand talks about baby mamas. It does, I'm a stepmom. The thing that apparently doesn't sit well with them that it's always the TRUTH. I don't always spread my personal business out on social media but sometimes I think "shit man, I'm a stepmom and there are some other awesome women out there going through this same damn thing". So I talk about it, and women email me all the time thanking me for not making them feel like they're alone. You're welcome because I too would probably catch some charges if I didn't have Jesus on my side.

the moral of the story here is, BE AN ASSHOLE. If they're telling you-you're an asshole it's probably because you're doing something right. You're not allowing them to lie to you or run your household. So go ahead, put the white hat on and prance around in it. Own that name because when you enter this stepmom life you have to get tough skin. So go on mama, keep being an asshole and raising those kids :) 

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Gettysburg Hotel

Hey everyone! As you all know (or maybe not) me and Michael have our two year wedding anniversary coming up! October 18th, 2015 we said I do and now two years later were both still alive! 

So this past weekend The Gettysburg Hotel had me come out for a media review on their hotel! We went to Gettysburg for New Year's Eve 2017 for their new years eve bash. We ate next to the hotel and thought it was beautiful. So we snatched this chance up to go back out to this wonderful town for our anniversary weekend!

The Gettysburg Hotel was originally established in 1797 as a tavern in what is now called Lincolns square. Scott's tavern was built by James Scott and in 1809 was bought by William McClellan, a former sheriff. He then renamed the tavern to Indian Queen. Then in 1846, it was called the McClellan house for its owners, surprise, The McClellan brothers.

In the summer of 1863 the hotel witness one of the most historic battles in American history, the battle of Gettysburg. In the 1890's it underwent a huge renovation and was finally named the Gettysburg Hotel. In 1955 it temporarily became the White House when President Eisenhower recovered from his heart attack. Then in 1983 the hotel caught on fire and was unfortunately left to sit for a time.

The hotel was eventually restored and opened in 1991 as Gettysburg hotel and has been a member of Historic Hotels of American since 2003! Now that you have the crazy history of this hotel let me tell you how it was!

We stayed in the king room with a jacuzzi tub which my husband fully enjoyed. When you come to the hotel there is a parking garage in the back of the hotel, so be prepared to pay for parking! The good thing is it's a covered garage off the main street and everything is within walking distance since the hotel is in the heart of the town. We paid for the day which was a reasonable $10. You have to walk around the block to the hotel from doors which gives you great sized porch! 

Walking in they have a bar and restaurant right on the premises which is very convenient. Breakfast is not included in your stay so be prepared! There are plenty of places to eat in town as well so don't let that deter you! We were on the sixth floor which is the top floor and were given a magnificent view of Lincoln Square. 

The room was very spacious with a dresser, desk (because how else can you work on an anniversary weekend?!). The king bed was very comfortable and the room offered two big sets of windows for you to people watch! The bathroom came equipped with a jacuzzi tub which was super convenient after a long day of walking! 

The hotel was very comfortable and everything has been updated to modern times with a touch of history in the building. It gives you modern conveniences such as thermostat-controlled air and heat but still gives you the rustic feeling of the hotel. Unfortunately, because of the age of the building, you will hear traffic from the square outside but that adds to the history of the hotel! The hotel is within walking distance of everything in town including a beer tasting room and Gettysburg Eddies! If you're coming to Gettysburg and you're looking for a fun historical place to say, I would definitely recommend The Gettysburg Hotel. We had a great anniversary weekend and can't wait to explore more of Gettysburg! Check out their links below to social media!


**This was a sponsored post, all of my opinions are my own and my honest thoughts. I would not recommend anything I do not fully back**

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

How to transition into public school

Anyone who knows me and my family knows that our oldest was homeschooled for most of her school career. She went to school until third grade and her mom homeschooled until sixth grade. She went to public school for a few months in sixth grade and then went back to homeschool. Recently during a transition, she came to live with me and her dad and all of her parents agreed public school would help her. 

I've seen so many articles on the transition from public school to homeschool but NONE on how kids are affected going back to public school! The debate between how to educate your child is a big one and not for this post. I believe both sorts of education are a great source but in our case, we transitioned back to public school. Brianna is twelve now and last year in sixth grade was a terrible year. The school district wasn't that great and myself and her mom decided to pull her out at the end of the year. The school didn't give her much attention during her transition and pretty much set her up to fail. So now this year were having a great experience with our school district and here are some tips on how to transition your child back into public school!

1. It's probably going to suck. Not only is Brianna twelve and a tween and hates everything that breathes, but she also hates learning. Surprise right? The transition from homeschool is tough with this. During homeschool, it was her own schedule, whatever she wanted to do and learning was catered to her. Transitioning into public school with numerous kids in the class and learning as a class rather than a single child is difficult. Realizing there is a schedule and classwork assignments that need to be done is hard when you haven't had that before. Be patient with your child and keep in contact with her teachers.

2. Keep open communication between parents and the school. The one thing I can say is Brianna will tell people she has two moms and two dads. We're always in constant communication with each other and the school CC's all of us on emails. We went to back to school night together last night and I can say that helps the school a lot. In traditional situations just make sure you keep in contact with the teachers. They really are there to help and help the child succeed in public school. Brianna's teachers have been great letting us know her weaknesses and asking for information on how to better help her in the transition. Not only was she transitioning into public school but also a new home she wasn't used to. Just keep that in mind during your journey.

3. Everything is online, so be on top of it. Brianna's entire schedule, grade book, attendance, and homework is online. I can say this would have sucked when I was a kid! But I can track her progress and see how she's doing in each individual class. It sounds like a helicopter parent but transitioning is hard and information is information. That means we sit down every night and do homework, I make sure her class assignments are done. She was grounded the entire second week of school because she was too busy on electronics and not doing her school work. She quickly found out we weren't joking and got her act together. Just continuously check on their grades and make sure if they have any questions during the transition to answer them.  

4. Keep them on a schedule. As much education on children as I have, I've always been a stickler for a schedule with my kiddos. Since Ashley was a baby she's been on an eating and sleeping schedule. To this day she's on a schedule even with her naps. With homeschool, you can pretty much create your own schedule and sleep until whenever, do whatever. Transitioning back into public school means you have to be on the bus at a certain time, be in class at a certain time. Brianna adjusted rather well here and her bedtime is 9pm but usually, we find her asleep by 8pm! Keeping them on a schedule ensures they're getting enough sleep and they know they have boundaries. Brianna is allowed computer time when she gets home until I get home. Then it's dinner, homework, reading, shower, and bed. She doesn't ever fuss with us because she knows she thrives on a schedule. It'll be tough but stick to it!

5. Stick it out, parents! I can't tell you how frustrating it was when Brianna first transitioned. Starting school was super hard for her, especially have assignments due on time. She had to adjust to getting on and off the bus and walking home in the afternoon. Even getting lunch at school was different for her! It's going to be hard going from homeschool to public school but it's worth it. Brianna's actively working on her social schools and we've forced her to be a part of group activities. She's pretty introverted so it was super hard for her to do it but she did it! She's made friends, she's getting better at school. Stick it out, it's going to be hard but it's worth it.

For whatever reason you found yourself transitioning from homeschool to public school, I hope this helps. We had this transition happen suddenly so we were just thrown in the pool without swimmies! I'm a huge advocate for public school but also understand homeschool. There are very few articles to help with this transition so hopefully, this one does!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

How to build a relationship with your tween

Can we all just agree that as moms we legit just need to nap regularly? I'm exhausted, man. My oldest just turned twelve and the tween stage is in full effect. She just started seventh grade and between the "she was mean to me on snapchat" and "she sounded rude on the phone" I may just scream. loud. She just started seventh grade and was homeschooled for a lot of her life so the transition into middle school was not an easy one. There were different home dynamics with her mom and that's totally fine because it worked for them. Now that we have her, the tables have turned.

I can genuinely say me and her mom get along very well and co-parent the best. We have arguments and disagreements but communication is fairly normal with us. Weird that her dad doesn't co-parent right? That was a choice of ours because my husband and his ex-wife DON'T communicate well. Do you know how loses in that situation? My stepdaughter. We all agreed we want her to succeed and if communication with her and me is easiest then that's what we'll do! Anyway so my stepdaughter is twelve and full of drama and school is ROUGH. Bonding with a tween while still setting boundaries is like getting an elephant into a cardboard box. It's going to break and you'll probably have to clean up poop. So as I'm navigating these waters here are some tips on how to build a rock solid relationship with your tween while still being a pretty awesome mom.

1. SET BOUNDARIES. Man, this is such an important one and sometimes you have to learn the hard way. I don't enjoy disciplining, I usually end up crying in my room because I feel bad! Even with our threenager and timeouts, her little sad eyes kill me! BUT as a parent, we need to set boundaries to gain the respect that parents need and deserve. My tween started school and immediately was having issues completing classwork and doing her assignments as well as dressing for gym class. She was grounded for a week and needed to show us she was making an effort in class. We had a talk and set our rules and guess what? She's doing all of her classwork AND doing WELL! If you set boundaries and give positive reinforcement it WILL pay off. You'll probably just drink four glasses of wine a night until that happens!

2. Let them fail. Seriously, and this goes for any age. Kids thrive off of self-confidence and knowing they can do things by themselves. My threeanger was at the park the other day and wanted one of us to accompany her. I informed her she was a big girl and could go make friends. After some contemplation, she realized she could and then she made a new friend! My tween, on the other hand, is more introverted and has been bailed out more times than not. Now that she's twelve she's realizing that isn't reality and needs to figure things out by herself. Like when she doesn't do her school work, she will, in fact, repeat seventh grade. Kids need to fall down and learn how to get back up in order to succeed. They will thank you for it, I promise. 

3. Offer grace. Don't confuse this one with letting them fail. If your tween has chores and forgets to do one of them, don't automatically go off the hinges (which I can do sometimes). I'm always so quick to jump into mom mode I do "That's it. You're done!" when in reality it really was a random situation. Sometimes kiddos forget to do things on their chore charts and it really is an honest mistake. Now if they continuously forget things on their chore charts then the grace goes away and consequences happen. Just remember to sometimes give the benefit of the doubt.

4. Be VERY CLEAR when you set your boundaries. Tweens are at that age where they feel like they should have all of the freedom in the world without all of the maturity. If your kid is going to the movies make it very clear when you'll be dropping off and picking up and the location. They need to know what's expected of them when out in public and to be on time. Kids need these rules set for them because, in reality, adults have to live by the same set of rules. If I don't show up for my job on time, I get in trouble. As a parent, you have the right to know where your kid is, who they're with and what they're doing. They should know this and know how important it is, to be honest and by being clear with them, it enforces that.

5. Be there for them when you can. My oldest again is twelve and she's no longer at the cute eight-year-old stage where she wants to do crafts with me. It's hard sometimes to connect with them and feel out what's really going on in their heads. Sometimes on our way home if it's just me and her I just let her be quiet. Or if she wants to vent about something, I let her vent. I don't judge, I just let her get it out. They won't always want you to be there for them but if they come to you remember not to judge or state an opinion unless they ask for it. This is a tough age but if they feel comfortable enough to come to you for anything it helps keep them out of bad situations.

I hope this helps implement some new things for you and your tween! I know I'll be thinking about these daily as my kid adds to her punk rock collection and begs me not to embarrass her further :)