Trai-Vana Lee Griffin
Trai-Vana Lee Griffin is a Pre-Kindergarten teacher at Kiddie Care Learning Center in Dothan. She has two daughters, Lai’leana (6) and Raelei’ (5), and is expecting a baby boy this month.
WP: With Thanksgiving coming up, we like to celebrate the things we are thankful for. This year, what are you most thankful for and why?
TG: I am thankful for my family every day but definitely my daughters and my son growing inside of me. With not only Covid taking out numerous people in the past year including unborn babies but with all the shootings and killings that have been happening right here in the Wiregrass in the past few months, I pray not only for the safety of my children but all children daily when going to school, or any after school program they may be attending.
WP: How are you teaching your children to be grateful/thankful?
TG: Life is not fair, and sometimes it’s up to us parents to bring up a child who will be able to appreciate the little and big things that life has to offer. Most parents strive to teach their children to be grateful for the small and big things in their lives. True gratitude can be instilled through small principles. When a child is taught to be grateful from an early age, this positive characteristic is portrayed even in their adolescence and adulthood. There is no better way to teach your kids about love than by caring for those around you. Being generous with what little you have allows your kid to start being considerate of others’ feelings, not just their own. My girls take their lunch and snacks to school, and they always have plenty. My oldest daughter has come home a few times and said, “Mama, my friend didn’t have any snacks today, so I gave them a bag of my chips and water.”
WP: Speaking of Thanksgiving, does your family have any traditions?
TG: My mom passed away in 2019, and if you knew my mom, she was definitely a chef and would have laid out numerous items on her menu for Thanksgiving, so we definitely stick to her menu every year. At dinnertime, we all go around the room and say one thing that we are thankful for, and what is family without a fun family game and going outside taking pictures?
WP: You have two daughters already, with another baby on the way. Are the girls excited about getting a sibling?
TG: My oldest daughter Lai’leane is super excited, especially since it is a boy (she said, “no more girls”). My youngest Rae’lei is still adjusting. She has been the baby for five years, but she thinks she is the mom when all the cousins get together, so I believe he will grow on her and she will enjoy helping out with him.
WP: Every child is different, but some things will always stay the same. What are some lessons you learned from your first two kids that you think will make things easier for this round?
TG: When I had my second child, I quickly learned that it is different from having one, so going from two to three, I am sure it will be no different, maybe even easier. What will make things easier is having a routine. Routine saves a lot of time, and trust me, I just learned that this past year. Making preparations the night before helps out a lot. Pick and choose your battles.
All days are not going to be peaches and roses, but it does not mean you’re a bad mom. You are human just like anybody else, so if your child is having a tantrum about a certain pair of shoes, as long as it is not affecting their health, let them wear them instead of everybody walking out the house upset and frustrated first thing in the morning.
WP: What are some things you’re doing to prepare for becoming a bigger family?
TG: There are lots of positive reasons to grow your family from giving your firstborn a playmate to extending your legacy. In some regards, the more children you have, the easier it becomes because you’ve already had practice. There are however some challenges to expect every time you add a new child to the family. My daughters are super blessed by my family alone and they have tons and tons of toys, shoes and clothes. We have been decluttering the house for weeks and taken eight or more bags to the mission. The girls have moved into the same room, which was no problem because my youngest slept in my oldest’s room anyway, but they have upgraded their beds and instead of sleeping in one full-size bed, which they love to do, they have their own beds, which they love even more.
WP: Being a mom is exhausting, and you’re about to add a new baby into the mix. Tell me about how you make sure you stay at your best. What does self-care look like for you?
TG: Self care will be three times as difficult but three times as important. I know from experience that downtime is harder to have once you have two kids, and I will be a mom of three in five weeks. My oldest two are 5 and 6, and my first getaway without them was just last year, and that was when I realized that I have to make time for myself more than just once every five years. So I make sure I set a hair appointment every three-to-four weeks without them, I go to the nail salon without them, and I make sure I have a date night and enjoy time with my significant other a couple of times out of the month.
WP: If you could forever outsource one chore, what would it be?
WP: How would you describe your parenting style?
TG: I wouldn’t consider my parenting style all laid back, but for the most part, I am laid back with my girls. We do have a routine through the week when school is in, but with me being a Pre-K teacher, when school is out we are not on a strict routine. When it comes to the girls having free time and being able to play, it is what it is. If they want to have art time, I let them pull out the scissors, glue, crayons, and markers and have fun. If they want to play school, and they ask me how to spell a million and one words, that is what we do. When it comes to using manners, though, they know how to say please and thank you;, they know when answering an adult, it is yes ma’am, no ma’am and yes sir, no sir. They will not throw a tantrum in the middle of the store because of a toy they can not have because I do not always say yes to my children, because to me that is teaching them that they can have whatever they want when they want it. I am that parent that has authority but in certain situations can be permissive.
WP: What’s something you hope your girls are learning from you, even if it’s not a direct lesson?
TG: To be humble. We have nothing to prove, but we have everything to offer. When my girls come home saying a child was mean or rude to them, we always talk about the situation, and I let them know that we do not know what that child could be going through at home. They could have a parent or an older sibling acting the same way or saying the same rude things to them.
WP: If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?
TG: Trust your instincts. I would tell my younger self, don’t worry too much about a decision you have to make. Do what would make you most happy. You know what you want. You might seek advice from other people, but deep down you know what you want. Do what makes you happy, because at the end of the day if you don’t, you will quit what you have started and still follow your heart. Always, if something doesn’t feel right or you have a doubt in it, even just for a little bit, it’s probably not right.
WP: Any advice or words of wisdom for new moms?
TG: Motherhood is NOT a competition, be proud of the parent YOU are! There’s no right way. It’s your way!