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Aaaahhhh…screen shot from White Noise App

What do you do to relieve stress? I, for one, have a tendency to blow off the fact that I’m stressed, thinking it’s not a big deal, until it becomes a problem. Or I do something dumb, like drink more coffee, to get myself through the day. (Getting even more wired—not a good idea!) So lately, I’ve been looking for some healthier (and easy) ways to get my stress level under control. Technology to the rescue! Did you know that the App Store is well-stocked with relaxation apps? And, there’s no need to get stressed trying to figure out which app to download. I’ve done some research and some testing so you don’t have to! My top five stress-busting apps for iOS are listed below.

If you feel stressed at times, you’re not alone. According to the 2013 American Psychological Association Stress in America study, approximately seven in 10 Americans report experiencing symptoms of stress such as irritability or anger, fatigue, feeling overwhelmed and changes in sleeping habits. And, women consistently report higher stress levels than men.

Left unchecked, stress—from your job (even if your job is “just” parenting), your thoughts, life events or your living environment—can build up and cause health problems over time. But you can prevent stress from becoming a big deal if you do a little bit to manage it every day. Creating a regular stress management routine can really improve your health and happiness. By putting stress relief tools right on your phone or iPad, stress-busting apps let you de-stress anywhere and anytime. No excuses!

Here are those five apps I promised. Check them out. They can put relief, literally, right into your hands.

BellyBio Interactive Breathing App (by Relaxline, FREE). Deep breathing is a great starting point for stress relief. Many of us go around holding our breath when we’re stressed. If you have never practiced deep breathing, you’ll be amazed at how it helps relax your entire body. This “biofeedback” app is fun to use. You place your phone on your belly and the app gives you visual and/or sound feedback as you breathe, helping you to slow your respiration into a deep belly breath. (more…)

The Secret World of…Boys?

September 9th, 2013 | Posted by Dawn Bertuca in Books | Conscious Parenting | Parents' Media - (Comments Off on The Secret World of…Boys?)

IN THE CHICAGO AREA? Rosalind Wiseman will speak Thursday, September 19 at Glenbard North High School  and Friday, September 20 at New Trier High School. For her other book tour dates, click here.

m&WcoverBoys are MUCH easier to raise than girls, right? That’s the prevailing wisdom among parents: Boys are simple. They play sports or they play video games, they don’t stay mad at their friends for long, and they don’t talk much about their social lives. There’s none of the “drama” we associate with girls and their friendships. Because boys are so “easy,” parents tend to shrug their shoulders and “let boys be boys.”

And then, something like the Steubenville High School rape case happens, and we collectively wonder how our boys got to this point. Or, on an individual level, the phone rings with what author Rosalind Wiseman calls a “bad news bomb” about something your son did, and you suddenly realize that “what you thought was easiness turns out to be your own own cluelessness.”

Yes, parents are clueless about what’s going on in “Boy World,” if Wiseman’s new book is accurate. And, that cluelessness is harming our relationships with our sons and their chances of growing up into decent human beings.

Schoolyard Power Structures

Do you really want or need to know what’s really going on in the locker room or on the playground? Well, you probably don’t want to, but you do need to. Because no matter how great of a parent you are, how good your intentions are, how solid your family values or your faith, you cannot prepare your son to make good choices without an understanding of the social environment he deals with every day. Because “when a moment of conflict [such as Steubenville] arises,” Wiseman says, “boys’ power structures rise to the forefront. They will not confront each other. They are paralyzed.”

Lucky for us, Wiseman, the author of Queen Bees and Wannabes (the basis of the movie Mean Girls,) which gave us a glimpse into “Girl World,” now gives us a hall pass into the real world of boys. Masterminds & Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope With Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World is her new book, written with the input of more than 160 middle-school and high-school boys. (more…)

School’s back in session and fall soccer season is in full swing. Are you feeling it? This is the first time in six years I won’t be on the soccer sidelines, and I’m going to miss it! Youth travel soccer was a great experience for my son and my family made some great friends through our local soccer club. However, youth travel soccer was also my first exposure to “sports parents”—the good, the bad, and the ugly. So when the makers of Bad Parents, an independent comic film about soccer parents gone bad, asked me to take a look at their movie, I said, “Sure!”  As you can probably tell from the trailer below, Bad Parents is not a movie for the whole family. The film, which is not rated (edited to add: If I had to guess, I’d give it a PG-13, possibly R, for language and sexual humor), is a dark comedy about what happens when a suburban soccer club decides to go to an “A team/B team” philosophy for the upcoming season. It basically skewers the suburban, youth-sports-centric culture, especially the bad behavior of the parents. It’s told from the point of view of Kathy, a soccer mom played by none other than Janeane Garafalo (I’m a fan! Anything starring Garafolo, I’m giving a chance.).

So, the film is pretty funny. My husband and I not only had a few laughs but also a few moments of validation, having lived through almost the exact same scenario when my kid’s soccer club decided to split into “A” and “B” teams. I loved how writer/director Caytha Jentis, who wrote from her own experiences as a soccer mom, totally captured little moments that I also experienced as a soccer mom: How the parents all set their watches to keep time when the game starts, or the embarrassing “Mom cheers” on the sidelines (in our case, the team moms shook a can full of of coins when the kids scored). Speaking of cheerleaders, Cheri Oteri is also hilarious in the film and gives a subtle nod to her Saturday Night Live “Spartan Cheerleader” character. The cast is actually chock full of great comedic/character actors including Christopher Titus, Kristen Johnson, Michael Boatman, and Reiko Aylesworth.

The parents’ bad behavior is over-the-top in the film, but also included stuff I’ve seen in real life, and not just in soccer. Parents offering their kids material rewards if they score a goal? Check. Parents bad-mouthing the other children on the team? Check. Parents offering sexual favors to the trainer in order to get their kid preferential treatment? Oh thank goodness, I’ve never seen that in real life! As silly as this film can be, it does make you think, and examine your own behavior just a little bit. More importantly, it might make you wonder why youth sports brings out the worst in some parents, and what we can do about it. I mean, nobody wants to be “that parent.” Right?

To wrap up, the Bad Parents film is a quirky, funny, independent comedy and it’s worth a look if you’re looking for some laughs as a sports parent. Download it on iTunes or Amazon, or visit the film’s website here to learn more.

How NOT to be “That Parent”

And perhaps now I’ve got you wondering: Is your child’s sports success a little too important to you? Concerned you might be “that parent?” Not to worry. There are many resources that can help you develop appropriate behavior for sports parenting. Here are just a few:

Empowering Conversations with Your Child:  Tips for talking to your kid about sports from the Positive Coaching Alliance, including this: “Remind yourself that the youth sports experience belongs to your child, not to you.”

Janis Meredith: A wealth of knowledge from an experienced sports mom.

Sports Dad Hub: Blog with lots of tips and “mindset reminders” for “fueling your child’s passion for sports without burning him out.”

SportsParent Central twitter list I’ve started a twitter list of people I believe are posting great content to help sports parents make knowledgable decisions and help their children enjoy the youth sports experience. You can find it here. Feel free to suggest some additions.

Have you seen bad behavior on the sidelines in youth sports? Are you “That Parent” or do you know one? I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment!

Disclosure: I was not compensated, nor did I receive any goods, in exchange for this post. Opinions are mine, all mine.