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3 Goals That Will Help Manage Time For Any Parent


An Adoptee Practices Time Management Skills?

Well, that’s hopeful thinking! But seriously, I know time management is a difficult thing for any busy family these days! Between work, school, scouts, band, pets, aging parents, church activities, housework, shopping, cooking, doctor’s appointments, etc, etc, etc…Sometimes I forget whether I am coming or going. Being a parent is hard work (well duh)!
I am not sure if it is like this for all adoptees, but for me, I still feel like I need to prove that I am worthy to be here since, you know, I was kind of a surprise to those who brought me into this world. I feel like I need to prove that they were wrong to reject me, so I often bite off more than I can chew.

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This leads me to some wicked panic attacks and feelings of inadequacy when I become overwhelmed (overwhelmed? who has time for that?). So, in my continual efforts to improve myself, I think it is time I look at my issues here.

  1. Self-Care
    First of all, I need to do something I haven’t done in long time, and that is take care of myself. Often, when I have too much on my plate, I give up doing things that are beneficial to my health, such as exercising, and taking time to prepare nutritious meals. I often give up on sleep trying to make sure everything is ready for the next day. There have been many nights I have found myself putting a load of laundry away at 12:30 am. I don’t take time to relax very often, nor do I spend any time doing hobbies I enjoy. All of that right there can lead to quite a bit of anxiety.
  2. Prioritizing
    Next, I need to prioritize the things I am doing. Obviously, making sure my family is taken care of spiritually, physically, and mentally is very high on my list, and I do love to volunteer, but sometimes, I need to say, “no”. Sure, my kids might feel upset that I am not going to stuff 150 gift bags or bake 5 dozen cupcakes for the school fundraiser, but if I don’t have time, I need to learn how to not feel guilty when I have to pass on those activities.
  3. Ask for Help
    Last, I need to learn when to ask for help. There have been many times when I have looked at my house and seen a mountain of laundry, toys strewn all over the living room, a sink full of dishes, full garbage bins, empty dog bowls, toothpaste that somehow smeared itself all over the bathroom sink, a pile of unpaid bills, a mystery smell in the refrigerator, muddy footprints across the kitchen floor, little boy sprinkles on the toilet, dead plants from lack of watering, and who, just who, spilled glitter in my bed (?!), and totally lost it. Luckily, I have a husband who sends me to a time out before it gets too bad. Then, we come up with a plan, and a few hours later, all is well in my world. but truthfully, If I would have just asked for help (from both him and my children) in the first place, nuclear meltdown Betsy wouldn’t have reared her ugly face.

So, this is a beginning. I am not to the point where I can make schedules and have clear, concise, organized plans yet, but I will get there. Maybe I will even read a “how to” book about more time management ideas, I just need to put that on my “to do” list….


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3 Ways for Kids to React to a Meltdown – Chapter 5 – Kids’ Discussion


There are some unbelievable things happening in this story. Nothing seems to be going according to plan. First off Harry and the Weasleys have a hard time getting to King’s Cross Station because of everyone’s forgetfulness and return trips back to the house. Then Ron and Harry are separated from the family. Lastly, they steal Mr. Weasley’s car. What?! They steal a car?!

This doesn’t sound like something that Ron and Harry would ever do on a normal day. The problem is that this wasn’t a normal day. What would the day have looked like if it was normal?

“Ron and Harry would’ve gotten dressed, gone to King’s Cross Station with the family and made it through the barrier fine. They would’ve then gone to school and studied with no problems,” explains our middle son, Matthew.

Even though the day didn’t go as planned, I still couldn’t figure out why Ron and Harry would steal the car. If the Weasleys were planning on having ice cream for dinner and Mrs. Weasley declared that they were going to have pie, how would people react?

“I would just say, ‘eh.’ They should actually be excited about getting pie,” offers one of our kids.

What’s the difference between a change of plans for dessert or getting left behind/alone?

“On a scale from 1 to 10 on being scared I’d be a zero for getting pie instead of ice cream. I’d be a 10 if I got left behind though,” states one of our children.

Fear. Anxiety. Stress. All of those feelings can make people do strange things that they normally would not do under normal circumstances. How do you act when you get stressed?

“I go all, Whaaaa!” exclaimed one child with crazy whiny faces.

“If I’m not stressed, I’m all like whatever and just do the new plan. If I’m stressed, I act a lot different,” thought another child out loud.


In fact just a few weeks ago one of our kids had to cope with stress and a meltdown. Someone had bought our kids McDonalds for dinner. Now you have to understand that given the size of our family and the fact that we strive to eat healthy, our family probably has McDonalds two or three times a year. This is a HUGE treat for our kids. There were six hamburgers given to our kids. They all quickly and ferociously attacked their first burger and pile of fries. Dalton declared that he didn’t want an extra burger which meant there were two extra burgers for three kids. All of the kids were ecstatic about the chance for a second burger but super stressed that they might not get it if the others kids got to them first. One child could see that they wouldn’t finish their food before the others and made a quick snatch of one of the burgers. I (Darren) asked that the child split the burger fairly with everyone, but the child was so hyped up that they couldn’t think and began to get angry and yell. Long story short, it took the child an hour to calm down and be able to think that it was wrong to take the burger for themself.

Does that sound like a weird thing to get angry about? Well, we all do this to an extent when we’re stressed out. Margie and I admitted that there were times that we expected plans to go a certain way. However, when something makes us stressed and plans changed, that’s when we tend to start yelling over something little.


There are two parts of the brain that people talk about in these kinds of situations. Put your hand at the back of your head where your head and neck meet. This area is where the basic thoughts to keep you alive are thought about. This area is concerned with helping you just survive. Now put your hand on your forehead. This is the area of your brain that thinks about more complicated things. If a huge and scary dog came running and barking next to you, the back part of your brain would tell you, “Run! Get out of here! Danger!” Once you were a little ways away and knew you were safe, the front part of your brain would think more complicated things about the situation like, “That dog was just protecting his house, but it’s a good thing that I ran because his teeth look sharp and he looks like he would have bitten me in order to guard his home.”

Do you see the difference? The back part acts more during stressful times, while the front can think better during safe times.

The hard part is that when you have been taken away from your biological home, your brain has been taught to think with the back part. Just like when you lift weights and exercise to make your muscles big, bad/scary things have made the back part of the brain the stronger thinker. That’s why it’s easy for a foster or adopted kid to get angry when asked to share a hamburger or punch a parent who wants them to go to bed. Actually, here’s something your mom and dad probably didn’t know. The same stress chemicals given off in the brain when something bad happens are the same ones given off when something happy exciting happens. That could be why some foster kiddos have a meltdown or get stressed during something exciting like Christmas morning or a birthday party.* Did your mom and dad know that?

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How to React When Someone Else has a Meltdown

Here are our adopted kids’ top 3 suggestions for interacting with someone after a meltdown:

  1. Give them space
    If the person is still stressed or anxious, it’s best to give them a little time to be alone.
  2. ASK them if they want a hug
    It can be nice to get a hug. It lets you know that you’re not crazy, someone cares, and people want to be around you. However, some people don’t like to be touched or get scared when you rush in for a hug. ALWAYS ask before giving a hug to a friend. If it’s a stranger, a hug is NOT okay but asking to put your hand on their back could be fine. Also, side hugs are great for people that are of the opposite gender and are just as comforting.
  3. Start Again
    Make the person feel normal again by picking up where you left off. If you were playing a game with your brother, then ask him if he wants to finish the game. If you were watching a movie, ask you friend if they want to finish watching the movie. The kid that had the meltdown is probably embarrassed about their behavior and doesn’t want to talk about it or think about it anymore.

Now It’s Your Turn:

Sue goes to school with you. She is a foster kid and is happy in her foster home as far as you know. What you don’t know completely is that Sue is super stressed today. She has to go visit her biological father this evening and her father has hit her in the past to the point that she has had to go to the hospital. Sue is really scared about the visit. She is also really nervous about the history test today. If she gets a bad grade on the test, she’ll have to go to summer school. On top of all that, Sue got water on her pants while at the water fountain and kids have been making fun of her for wetting her pants all morning long.

At lunch time a girl Sue is friends with sits down next to Sue and accidentally bumps Sue’s arm a little bit while trying to sit next to her. Sue jumps out of her seat and yells, “Why don’t you watch where you’re going you fat cow?!” Sue grabs her pizza and shoves it in the girl’s face before pushing the girl off her chair.

One teacher attends to the girl on the floor who isn’t hurt. Another teacher takes Sue to the principal’s office to talk and calm down.

You see Sue later in the day.

What do you do? What do you say?

Leave your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below. Help others learn what they should do.



* Fact taught at The Empower To Connect Conference 2015; Dr. Karyn Purvis

Kids’ Discussions:

Ch. 01 | Ch. 02 | Ch. 03 | Ch. 04 | Ch. 05 | Ch. 06 | Ch. 07 | Ch. 08 | Ch. 09 | Ch. 10 | Ch. 11 | Ch. 12

Parent Discussions: 

Ch. 01 | Ch. 02 | Ch. 03 | Ch. 04

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Who are your REAL parents?


Last week, hundreds of people in Ohio lined up to get a copy of their original birth certificates. This might not sound like a big deal to a lot of people, but to those who were a part of a closed adoption between the years of 1964 and 1996, this is the answer they have been waiting for.

In Illinois, the birth certificates of adoptees involved in closed adoptions could be accessed by filling out a request after a similar law was passed in 2010. This is how I learned the name of my biological mother. Next week, I will write about my search for her and what it meant to me, but this week, I want to focus on the parenting aspect of adoption.

“This is how I learned the name of my biological mother.”


Being an adopted person, I often get asked about my “real parents”. First of all, I want to tell you that this is the absolute WRONG terminology. The people who were responsible for bringing me into the Earth are not, nor will they ever be, my “real” parents. This doesn’t mean I’m not curious about them, and it doesn’t mean that them relinquishing me didn’t create a giant hole inside of me. I don’t mean to make adoption sound like a bad decision- it is certainly a better decision than terminating a pregnancy, but being an adopted person who doesn’t know his or her birth family is tough. But sometimes, you need to let go of the past, and look at what you have.

“But sometimes, you need to let go of the past, and look at what you have.”

In the past, there were times when I didn’t get along with my adoptive parents. Sometimes, I regrettably used my biggest, most hurtful words to try to win an argument. Those words: “You can’t tell me what to do, you’re not even my REAL parents!!!” must have been quite hurtful. The truth is, biology does not define a parent. I have two biological children of my own, and I am a parent through and through. My adoptive parents did for me the EXACT things I am doing and will do for my children.

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As I write this, it dawns on me that many adoptive children who knew their natural parents may not be able to accept that their adoptive parents are their real parents, too. So, let me tell you just some of the things your real parents will do for you:

  • They will provide you with a safe, stable environment to live in
  • They will give you food to eat, clean clothes to wear, and put a roof over your head.
  • They will make sure you brush your teeth, and get to the doctor and dentist when you need to go.

And those are just the basics!

  • They will also help you with your homework, and be involved with your education.
  • They will give you rides, they will encourage you to be your best.
  • They will be there cheering you on when you succeed, and they will help you recover when you fail.
  • Real parents encourage you to follow your dreams, and do everything they can to help you achieve your goals.
  • Real parents choose you! They choose to be your biggest fan ALL of the time.
  • They are in your corner, always!
  • Real parents read you bedtime stories, and hold you close when your heart is broken.
  • Real parents will never ask you to do anything that will cause you harm.
  • They would put themselves in danger if it meant saving YOU.

I can go on and on, but this leads me to the one and only discussion question I am putting out there this week:

  1.  What does being a “real parent” mean to you, and how have your parents demonstrated to you that they are your “real parents”?