Second Chances Girl - a Miami family and lifestyle blog!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Ultimate Survival Guide for New Swim Parents

Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc., and The Coca Cola Company, all opinions are mine alone. #SaveSnackScore #CollectiveBias

So you are a new swim parent.....welcome to the club! Swimming is an incredible sport that we are very lucky to have our children participate in. Swimming teaches kids to work together as a team as well as to challenge themselves over and over again. It's competitive, it's time-consuming and requires lots of dedication. But don't worry, as an "old-timer", I'm here to share some practical advice on how to survive as a new swim parent!

As a parent and a swimmer's biggest fan, you need to make sure your child has all the gear they need at practice. Being prepared is so very important for them to be able to perform in the water. As a parent to two swimmers, we have gone through a lot of gear and I will share with you exactly what we use:

  • Mesh bags to carry gear
  • Goggles 
  • Training fins
  • Pool buoy
  • Swim caps
  • swimsuits
  • towel
  • flip-flops 

Boredom busters
Becoming an amazing swimmer takes dedication from both the swimmer and the parent. We spend two hours a night, 5 nights a week at the pool. That many hours in the same place can become extremely boring and monotonous. This is where you must get creative as a parent. To cure boredom, I read novels and magazines, go over homework, work on my blog (thank goodness for wifi), exercise, catch up with friends over the phone, cheer on my swimmers and sometimes, I have been known to take a nap. 10 hours a week is a lot of time so there are days where I use this time to run errands like going to the grocery store. Use your time wisely and just like any sport, plan ahead to be the ultimate sideline hero!

Once again, 10 hours a week is a long time so I am sure you will get hungry sitting on those bleachers. I know I do. I pack my bag with lots of snacks to keep me from becoming hangry. I have been known to pack fresh fruit and oatmeal bars but my favorite snack is definitely a snack-sized bag of RITZ Bits Cracker Sandwiches. Paired with an ice cold POWERADE, RITZ Bits Cracker Sandwiches are my guilty pleasure! 

POWERADE 8 pack 20 oz bottles and RITZ Bits Cracker Sandwiches are affordable (swimming is expensive enough!), delicious and a lifesaver for busy sideline or bleacher bound parents! Oh and be sure to share with all the other parents hanging out by the pool. If you are a big RITZ fan like me, be sure to use these coupons on your next purchase at Walmart:

  • coupon neck hanger on POWERADE (8pk 20oz): Save $1.50 on NABISCO 20-pack Multipack
  • coupon sticker on boxes of Nabisco snack packs : Savings of .75 when you purchase a 12-pack or larger NABISCO Multipack

Swim Meets
After a couple weeks of practice, your child will be invited to participate in their first swim meet. In my opinion, swim meets are the best part of swimming. Swim meets are where your kids get to show off everything they've learned and have bonding time with their fellow teammates. Your child's first swim meet is a nerve-wracking experience for both your child and for you. With a little preparation, you can all make your first swim meet a memorable one. 

Pack appropriately:
For your child: all their swim gear mentioned above, plus extra goggles. You ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS need extra goggles and competition suits. For the meet they will also need a chair to use while they wait to swim, robes or swim parkas to keep them warm while waiting, extra towels, sunscreen (for outdoor pools) and fresh fruit to snack on.

For the parent: a chair to sit, pens and markers, cash for entrance fees and to purchase a heat sheet and snacks. I highly suggest purchasing hear sheets. These are like a program and let you know when your child is swimming. Without a heat sheet, I would be terribly lost at meets.

Remember, the swim meet is about your child and their team. Step back and let the coaches do their thing. You are there to be their biggest cheerleader and jot down their times. That's it. Unless they are incredibly gifted swimmers, the first swim meet is for them to get their first times. This is very important as these times are the basis for them to work harder at practice and get "placed" in their next competition. Be very supportive and YELL!!

I am so very happy that you have decided to join the swim family. I say family because we are all in this together, no matter where your child is swimming. Please feel free to share all your child's accomplishments because they deserve it. I have shared a lot of information here but I promise it is all very helpful information I wish I had known when we first started. For more ideas on how to be a sideline hero, click here!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Time To Go Tropical!!

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #spktropicalsweepstakes #CollectiveBias

Who's dreaming of a tropical getaway? Well, definitely this girl right here!! Sunny days, palm trees and a beautiful ocean view are a dream come true for me!

If you're like me and craving some Vitamin Sea, be sure to check out this awesome contest from NEW Sour Patch Kids Tropical candy:

MDLZ-2016-206-SPK Tropical 2017_BOTTOMER_FNL-01 (1).png

Paradise is calling! If you’re looking for a tropical vacation this summer, look no further! Enter the SOUR PATCH Kids Tropical Vacation Sweepstakes for a chance to win a trip for four to Hawaii! Just submit a tropical selfie to Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #spktropicalsweepstakes. Contest ends on May 31st, so get on it!

Find out more information here:
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.  Legal residents of 50 US/DC, 18+. Ends 5/31/17.  To enter and for Official Rules, including odds & prizes: Void where prohibited.

And while you’re at it, try the new Tropical SOUR PATCH Kids Soft and Chewy Candy available at a Walmart store near you. All new flavors include Paradise Punch, Passion Fruit, Pineapple, and Tropical Twist. Which one is your favorite?


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Parenting a Child with ADHD and Anxiety

Parenting a child that has been diagnosed with ADHD and anxiety is no walk in the park. One of our sons was diagnosed a little over a year ago and we are so glad for the diagnosis. All of a sudden we had an explanation for behaviors we didn't see in the other children. We have learned a lot about ADHD and anxiety in children over the past year and we learn a little more everyday.

Noticing something "different"
I met my step-son when he was four, actually on his fourth birthday. I remember he was a little shy but excited to get to Chuck E Cheese to celebrate with his dad and sister. I only saw him for about 5 minutes that day. As the weeks went by, I saw a little more of him and then a couple months later, when JC and I moved in together, I would see him every other weekend. I started noticing little quirks but I chalked it up to him "being a spitfire". When we would go out, he would always drift off and get lost. He wouldn't listen to his teachers at school or to his parents. He would get grounded and not care. I started noticing he was "different" from the other two kids. He was in his own world most of the time. He would get very emotional for no reason and would pull out chunks of his hair if he was nervous. I started mentioning it to his parents but they weren't listening. Second grade came around and his teachers started complaining heavily about the same behaviors I had noticed. Then one day, while at a checkup with his pediatrician, the pediatrician noticed the behaviors and recommended he be taken to a psychologist. After testing and some therapy, he was diagnosed with both ADHD and anxiety. The average age for a diagnosis is age 7.

Medicating your child is a very personal choice. Doctors will hand out a prescription quicker than it takes to diagnose. While JC was hesitant to put him on medication, ultimately he started taking it when his behavior started interfering with his grades. He started with the lowest dosage of both Concerta and Zoloft. After a few days, we started noticing a huge difference. The biggest one being he was able to focus and bring his grades up. Then came the weight loss. He had gained a lot of weight since he was so anxious and would eat all day. If he drifts off, he is able to stop and focus on finding someone to help him. He can sit in class for longer periods of time. He still pulls on his hair but doesn't pull it out. He sees his psychologist once a month. His dosage of Concerta has been increased but that is pretty normal after a year. Even though he does notice the effect of the medication, he says it brings him down, he is very good at taking it and will ask for it if one of us forgets.

Once you receive the diagnosis, everything you know about parenting gets thrown out the window. In our case, I have become very patient with him. I sit and talk to him instead of yelling at him. His parents are having a harder time with it. They were also raised in a very old school "Cuban" style of tough parenting that is hard to overcome. He trusts me and comes to me with any issue he is having. He also lashes out at me most. He has his good days and his bad days just like any other child yet his bad days are exhausting. He becomes very closed-minded, angry, emotional and will rage. The psychologist has said it is a side effect to the medication but thankfully, this behavior doesn't come up often. I have done a lot of research on parenting a child with ADHD and anxiety and most of it states that children need a "safe space" and I work very hard to create this "safe space" in our home. He has all his own things and gets lots of free time to be creative and play. If I become frustrated with him, I tell him. He knows that we are in this together and honesty is crucial. We also enrolled him in drum lessons. He is in heaven during this time. Playing an instrument has helped him immensely as it does with most children with ADHD.

Signs of ADHD in children
Like I mentioned before, I do a lot of research on ADHD just so I can learn how to be a better parent. My step-son showed many of these signs and after much testing, he was diagnosed. Let's face it, kids can be kids and are outrageous, but you know when something is off.

1. An inability to recognize other people's needs and desires. Very self-absorbed behavior
2. A child with ADHD will have trouble keeping their emotions under control.
3. Fidgety. Children with ADHD cannot sit still. It just doesn't happen for them.
4. A child with ADHD will show interest in many things but will not complete them.
5. A child with ADHD will have lack of focus no matter how hard they try to.
6. A child with ADHD will make mistakes and have trouble following directions, even with constant guidance.
7. A child with ADHD will not usually be rambunctious. They are heavy daydreamers. They will "stare into space" and completely ignore what is going on around them.

Obviously, I am not a doctor nor am I am expert. I am sharing our journey in hopes that it will help other families struggling with their child. I love our boy deeply and will continue to work hard and help him excel! A note to other stepparents out there, your opinion counts. If you notice something different in your stepchild, speak up. Make your voice heard but do it out of love, you never know what can come of it.


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