Archive for the ‘Family Time’ Category

Importance of Family Dinners

 

Mealtime

We love sitting down together as a family for meals but it seems as the kids have gotten older and schedules have become crazier, this has become a challenge. We love it because it is often the only uninterrupted time in our day to connect with them, learn what’s going on and share our lives. It has always been meaningful to us but a recent article recently reminded me of just how important this time is.

Did you know:

  • The #1 shaper of vocabulary in younger children (more than any other family activity) is dinner.
  • One of the best ways to promote healthy habits and avoid obesity is eating together as a family.
  • One of the biggest predictors in academic success for elementary age kids is frequent family meals around the table.
  • Critical to raising emotionally healthy teens, free of alcohol and substance abuse is sharing a meal.

Seems oversimplified that 30 minutes around the table can have such a profound impact but all the research is pointing to exactly that. It allows you to emotionally connect as a family, free from distractions (did I mention NO TECHNOLOGY at the table?). It allows you to hear about their day, give them guidance in working through conflicts and other issues (you will be surprised how much you learn when you stop and really listen). Although they may not always act like it, when kids were surveyed, eating as a family ranked at the top of their list in terms of importance.

So how do you get started, especially if you don’t have a lot of time?

  1. Remove all technology distractions including TVs.
  2. Give everyone an opportunity to talk about their day with open ended questions like what was the best thing that happened today or what stressed you out more than anything else today. Simply asking how their day was will be a very short question.
  3. Talk about current events and ask your kids their opinions and really listen.

Eating together doesn’t require a three-course meal. It can be a can of soup and a 30-minute conversation. Challenge yourself to two nights a week. I promise you will find yourself wanting to do it even more.

Kathryn Prusinski is first and foremost a mom and wife who wants to do her part in building happy and healthy families. When she isn’t spending time with family, Kathryn is working as a consultant in strategy and leadership where she helps executives manage professional and personal success. You can find her every fall cheering on her OU Sooners in football. Kathryn believes it isn’t about abilities but our availabilities — so what are you doing to make yourself available to your family?

Top 4 Spring Time Activities

I love spring!  It seems to inspire everyone to introduce activity into their lives.  We usually start with the spring-cleaning, but let’s be honest, a person can only clean for so long before you just need to have some fun.  But fun typically costs and when you have a big family, you often feel like you’ve been sized out of the fun department.  

parenting ideas for spring

Here are a few family fun outings that won’t break the bank but are sure to bring you some great memories.

  1. Free Family Nights at Your Local Museum.  Most museums (children’s museums included) have one night a month where they offer free admission for families.  Typically they coordinate and spread them out so you could, in theory, hit a different free evening every week.  
  2. Road trip to a historical location nearby.  The costs associated with historical sites are usually low and provides learning and fun all wrapped into one.  Make it a little more interesting by making up stories about the people that lived or worked in these buildings.  Build stories about them as a group.
  3. Camp-out…. In your backyard complete with hotdogs, smores and late night ghost stories.  Some of my best memories from my childhood come from such evenings.  
  4. Explore the great outdoors.  No matter where you live, there is likely someplace to hike – be it desert, mountain or plains.  As a family, research what animals or plants are most prevalent and then have a contest to see who can identify the most items on the list – think part scavenger hunt, part exercise.  

Building memories and spending time as a family doesn’t have to be expensive.  In fact, you may be surprised to know what some of your kids fondest memories are.  We’ve taken our kids on all sorts of great trips – from Europe to Canada to the Caribbean and yet their favorite trip we ever took was doing community service and staying in campsites and cheap hotels.   I suspect this is because we were all fully present in the moment… and isn’t that what it’s really all about?

Having Your First Kid Graduate

graduation, parenting

We’ve hit that milestone in our family that I’ve been dreading…the first set of graduation announcements from the friends my daughter has grown up with.  As I reflect on the many great memories I have of these kids growing up, I also can reflect on what I’m thankful I did and what I wish I had done differently.  For those of you who have a few more years with your kids, I hope this is valuable.  For those in the same boat as me, maybe it gives you solace knowing you aren’t the only one.

What I did right.

Make the memories.

I made sure our house was the house kids wanted to come and endured the inconveniences that came with it.  Yes this meant being confined to my bedroom a time or two as the living room was transformed into a fort, city or some other structure but the laughter and memories made far exceed the frustration of a few hours in my room.   It also meant my kitchen looked like an F5 tornado had run through it a time or two but many of the girls to this day will ask when they can come over and bake cookies (aka get into a flour fight with each other).   

What I wish I would have done differently.

Be present.

More times than I care to count, I was physically present but mentally somewhere else… and she knew it.  There were times when I would ask her to repeat herself only to hear “nevermind” or “forget about it” in frustration.  I wonder how many of those moments were teaching moments that I lost in providing her the many bits of wisdom I remember my mom sharing with me.  Even in those rare moments when I simply couldn’t focus, I should have taken the time to “schedule time” for us to talk.

As I listen to she and her friends reminisce about their childhood, I’m learning that the memories and the time together are what they cherish the most.  It’s amazing how much those bike rides or walks to the park mean to them, more than the fancy restaurants or extravagant trips in some respects.  
Time is a precious gift that you can give to your child so laugh a little, get things a little messy and listen.

Our Family is Growing

We have exciting news for the My Job Chart family!  Our new website Zingity has officially launched.  Woo!

Activities for kids and families

Zingity is a community of families, adults, kids, teachers, and experts building character through step-by-step activities in a wide variety of interests and character traits.  We’re so excited to finally share this tool with you and your family!
Many of you have your own activities, DIYs, or recipes just waiting to be shared!  For you we’ve created a great guide that will help you get started publishing your first activity to Zingity here.

diy, activities,and promotion

Your profile shows your activities, bio, and a link to your website!

For those of you who run your own blogs, we are happy to announce that we’ve created profiles that will allow your fans to find your website.  This way they can continue reading all your great content and you can find new readers!

But Zingity is not just for our builders!

 It’s also for those of you looking for great quality activities that are geared specifically towards increasing different character traits or interests!  

View by interest or explore by character traits!

View Zingity by our many different interest categories, or explore by character traits!

Join the rest of the community today, and let us know what you think.  We are very excited about this new chapter and hope you are too.  Let’s see what we can build together.

Meet Our Favorite Blogger!

Recently, our blogs have been written by Kathryn Prusinski.  While you know a bit about her from that tiny bio under each post, we’d like you to learn more about Kathryn (we call her Kat)!

parenting, proud mom, bestIt goes without saying that above all, she is a proud Mom!

While she has built a successful career consulting with leaders of Fortune 500 companies, this was not her planned career. When she was a teen she dreamed of being an actress, but knowing she had to be realistic she had a backup plan, if that didn’t pull through- play professional basketball.

Unfortunately, she stopped growing at 5’2” and never had her big acting break. Still, she has made the most of her opportunities to achieve much in her life.

Did you know:

  • Kathryn has lived in 4 times zones in the past 10 years.
  • She’s met two living Presidents. (bonus fact: They were George W. Bush and Bill Clinton)
  • Kathryn and her sister are the very first in their family to receive college diplomas
  • One of her favorite hobbies is watching football and being a crazy OU Sooners Alum.
  • Her cousin is Babe Ruth.
  • She is the mother to her daughter (Abby) and two foreign-exchange daughters (Lara) from Germany and (Marielle) from Switzerland.

Now you know a little more about our favorite prolific writer.  We’re glad she’s with us, sharing her knowledge and experiences as a mom!  We hope you enjoyed this little insight, behind-the-scenes look at My Job Chart.

parenting tips and advice from our best writer

Thank you again Kat, we appreciate everything you do for our blog!

Watch This And Then Take a Break From Your Phone

This video will make you want to put down your phone, or shut down your computer.  Really makes you wonder how our kids perceive us when they see us in front of screens so much.

Character Lessons My Kids Learned From Watching the Super Bowl

Learning moments I’ve found, often come at the most unexpected times.  It is our job as parents to be aware of these moments and use them as teaching moments with our kids.  Here is what we learned from this year’s athletes.

  1. It takes a team to win even when you are superstars.  You can’t get that forced interception or tackle if your teammates aren’t doing their part. Celebrate your accomplishments while recognizing the role your team played in that success.  Von Miller, this year’s Super Bowl MVP recognized his teammates first and foremost before answering any questions about his own success.   In fact, he even recognized the role the offense played in his defensive success.  People won’t remember what he said, but they will remember the spirit in which he delivered his comments.

    teach your kids

    And the full team had plenty of spirit.

  2. Losing stinks.  It is painful, disheartening and just feels awful.  Anyone can lose but not everyone can lose and still win.  So much about a person’s character will be revealed by how they react to losing. Did they run and hide, throw a temper tantrum or did they own the part they played while recognizing the talent of the winning team?  Sadly, the video of Cam Newton storming off the stage at the after-game press conference will get more play time than all his successes.  He missed a great opportunity to be an example for the millions of people (and especially young children) on HOW to lose with dignity.

    teaching your kids how to lose

    Losing with grace.

  3. Hard work doesn’t guarantee a win but it will guarantee success if you work hard long enough.  It isn’t enough to clock in and clock out doing the minimal amount required.  Champions sacrifice. They are up early and stay up late.  They work when others are resting and they never stop trying to get better.  Showing up will get you a paycheck and that is it.  Hard work however, will bring you gratitude, camaraderie and great wins.  

Talent and skill will fade over time, even for the greatest athletes.  The lessons they’ve learned along the way however can have a lasting impact…positive or negative.

Kathryn Prusinski is first and foremost a mom and wife who wants to do her part in building happy and healthy families. When she isn’t spending time with family, Kathryn is working as a consultant in strategy and leadership where she helps executives manage professional and personal success. You can find her every fall cheering on her OU Sooners in football. Kathryn believes it isn’t about abilities but our availabilities — so what are you doing to make yourself available to your family?

Fun Snow Day Activities for the Whole Family

Blizzard Activities

If you are one of the fortunate families enjoying time indoors due to the three feet of snow between you and your ability to leave your home you are likely needing some creative ideas to keep the kids (and you) sane!

After you’ve played every iteration of monopoly you’ve found in your house, here are some fun indoor activities for the whole family.  I’ve found that, in the midst of activities we often learn a lot about what is going on in our kids lives-  it is as though when having fun they put their guard down!

So enjoy this time to laugh, build some memories, have some fun and learn a few things by connecting with your kids.

Make Colored Ice Sculptures  

Colored Ice Activity for Winter Days

  1. Place water and colored dye into various containers – for example we use glasses, muffin tins or maybe even a small pot or two.  
  2. Place them in the freezer or outside if your temperature is low enough!  
  3. When they are frozen, run the container under warm water to loosen the ice so that you can pop it out.  
  4. Have the kids build sculptures from the various pieces and place them outside.  The color against the white snow makes for a beautiful art piece and will also allow you to see just how quickly or not quickly the snow around you is melting.  

Make an indoor obstacle course  

hamster

  1. It’s been awhile since you vacuumed behind all that furniture so why not do it after you’ve moved the furniture around in such a way that builds a course.  Use the whole house and get creative.  
  2. Make it challenging by having the kids crawl, use only one leg, slide through like a snake or even better blindfolded.  
  3. Time everyone and make it a tournament of sorts with multiple rounds for those winners advancing.  Not only will they burn energy but they will learn creative problem solving, teamwork and listening along the way.

Although, the cabin fever is at times a bit stressful, remember these are time times your kids will remember.  So push aside the frustration, be present in the moment and have some fun!

 

Kathryn Prusinski is first and foremost a mom and wife who wants to do her part in building happy and healthy families. When she isn’t spending time with family, Kathryn is working as a consultant in strategy and leadership where she helps executives manage professional and personal success. You can find her every fall cheering on her OU Sooners in football. Kathryn believes it isn’t about abilities but our availabilities — so what are you doing to make yourself available to your family?

Getting Back to the Basics of Parenting

busyCalendar2

Raising children is hard to manage.  Our family just downloaded a calendar app to try and keep everyone’s schedules straight.  My biggest fear, as a Mom, is that I will at some point forget a kid somewhere, then who would I to be giving parenting tips!  I’m hoping this calendar will allow me to avoid this embarrassing and scary situation.  As I began to reflect on how much we struggle managing the schedules of two girls who are only allowed to participate in one activity at a time (here is where you sigh at how this decision might be holding my child back from entrance into the most prestigious universities….) It dawned on me that maybe just maybe in our pursuit of success, happiness or the multitude of other reasons we overcommit our calendars, we are no longer driving our lives but our lives are driving us.  And, as a result, the family has taken the brunt of the impact.

It’s time to stop the madness and get back to the basics… strengthening our families NOT the fullness of our calendars.  

What if, instead of having them rush home from school to complete their homework before hockey, karate or piano lessons, we forced them to go outside, climb trees, ride their bikes and use their imagination…that thing that kept us all busy outside for hours when we were kid.

Healthy eating as a family

What if, instead of sustaining ourselves on drive-through meals due to everyone’s competing schedules, we committed to two (sigh, gasp in shock) nights a week where as a family we all sat around the table together and shared the day’s experiences?  What would change in terms of family dynamics?

What if, during dinner, everyone was required to check out from their technology (even us parents) and check in to the family?  Make it a house rule to have no phones out at the table.  How much more would we know about the struggles, the wins and the celebrations in our kids’ lives?   

House Rule

What if, this year you decided to get away from the madness and back to the basics?  What would your family, your relationship with your spouse and kids look like in 12 months?   I suspect you might not even recognize it… and that would be a good thing!

 

Kathryn Prusinski is first and foremost a mom and wife who wants to do her part in building happy and healthy families. When she isn’t spending time with family, Kathryn is working as a consultant in strategy and leadership where she helps executives manage professional and personal success. You can find her every fall cheering on her OU Sooners in football. Kathryn believes it isn’t about abilities but our availabilities — so what are you doing to make yourself available to your family?

Setting Family New Year’s Resolutions

family

As we enter the new year, we get too look back and reflect on the last.   We begin to assess how well we did on those New Year’s resolutions.  How often, however, have you sat down as a family and made family resolutions?  If you haven’t done this yet, take the time to do it now.  There is something powerful about having the accountability and support of your entire family.

stitch

Not sure where to start?  Why not start here:

  1. Have family date nights.  Start with once a month and block the time to do something as a family.  Each month a different member of the family is responsible for planning the night.  It doesn’t need to be expensive – plan a hike and picnic, do a movie night in your living room, camp out in the backyard or have the kids make dinner.   The most important part is ensuring that ALL technology be “checked-in” at the beginning of the date – this is about connecting with family, not your email.powerpuff
  2. Get healthy together.  Start simple by identifying one night a week to cook healthy.  Again, rotate who decides what will be prepared.  Make sure that person is involved in the shopping as well as the preparation.  This one simple act will teach your kids so much about responsibility and planning and so much more.
  3. Pay It Forward. It’s so easy to get busy and wrapped up in our own lives that we fail to see so much around us.  What would happen if each of us decided to do something kind for someone else?  Make a calendar and identify what each person’s act of kindness will be each month.  It can be something as simple as carrying someone’s groceries for them, paying for the person in line behind you.  I just read about someone who taped a $20 bill to diapers at their local grocery store.  Can you imagine the unexpected gift of receiving $20 with your purchase?

Commit to making 2016 one that focuses on strengthening your family.  The rewards will be endless.  

Kathryn Prusinski is first and foremost a mom and wife who wants to do her part in building happy and healthy families. When she isn’t spending time with family, Kathryn is working as a consultant in strategy and leadership where she helps executives manage professional and personal success. You can find her every fall cheering on her OU Sooners in football. Kathryn believes it isn’t about abilities but our availabilities — so what are you doing to make yourself available to your family?

3 Ways to Not Lose Touch This Holiday

Family during Christmas

I LOVE this time of year!  From decorations to celebrating with friends, this season brings me so much joy.  Unfortunately it also brings families a tremendous amount of stress as schedules become crazy, homework becomes more intense and final grades are looming just over the horizon.  As a result, many families, without even realizing lose touch one with one another as the hustle and bustle of life takes over.

So, how can you avoid losing touch with your children during this time?  How can you remain engaged in their lives when their exhaustion and stress leave them entirely uninterested in communicating with you?

Here are a few simple steps:

  1. QUIT asking Yes/NO or closed ended questions.  I promise you that asking
    Talking

    They will talk to you.

    your child “how was your day?” or “did you have a good day?” will elicit very little in return.  Instead, ask them “what was the most awesome thing and the most awful thing that happened to you today?”  This question alone in my house often turns into a 20-minute conversation if you are willing to listen.

  2. Go for a drive to look at Christmas lights WITHOUT cell phones.  After all the distractions of TVs, phones and chores are gone, you are able to focus on engaging with your kids.  Talk about your day, celebrate your wins, talk about which house on the block did the best at decorating.  The topic isn’t nearly as important as simply engaging with your kids.  End the evening by grabbing some hot chocolate and voting on the winners.  You are not only staying connected but building lifelong memories together as well.
  3. As a family, DO SOMETHING for someone else.  Adopt a family, purchase food for the local food bank or volunteer to serve at the Ronald McDonald house.  You will be surprised what you learn about your kids, their stresses and their friends as you are bagging onions at the local food bank.  Not only will this bring you closer together with your kids, but also it allows you to put life and what really matters into perspective.

December is full of craziness and energy and doesn’t have to result in frazzled and disconnected families.  Use this time to draw your family closer and build memories that cost very little to absolutely nothing.

Family Time

Kathryn Prusinski is first and foremost a mom and wife who wants to do her part in building happy and healthy families. When she isn’t spending time with family, Kathryn is working as a consultant in strategy and leadership where she helps executives manage professional and personal success. You can find her every fall cheering on her OU Sooners in football. Kathryn believes it isn’t about abilities but our availabilities — so what are you doing to make yourself available to your family?

Don’t Let Moments To Teach Kindness Slip By You

listening

Have you ever formulated a plan, that at the time seemed incredibly wise but ended up being an idea that you are sure had to have been influenced by a lack of sleep or a brief moment of insanity?

Well that was me when recently I scheduled back to back sinus surgeries for myself and my daughter. Even more ridiculous is that I KNEW what I was getting in to – it was my second go at the surgery. I’ve decided however that much like your brain works with pregnancy, over time you forget about the pain and only remember the joyous outcome.   I forgot about my brain on pain meds, the anesthesia that takes days to wear off and the restricted activity that would keep me down…until the time drew near.

You would think based upon the above scenario that I would have willingly accepted the offers from friends and families to support us during this crazy time, but I didn’t. Here is what I’ve come to realize: In my quest to be self-reliant and independent (two badges of honor I wear), I have robbed my daughter of the opportunities to learn the importance of giving and receiving kindness. In pursuit of fortifying two values I deemed important, I all but wiped out the chance of learning about kindness.

Kindness is a trait that all of us will need to be able to freely give and receive at one point or another in our lifetime, but if we shut ourselves off from allowing others to give to us, how will our children ever learn this trait that has no doubt carried many of us through tremendously difficult times.

kindness

In those moments, I denied my daughter the opportunity to see the joy that comes from giving to others, the burdens lifted from a $5.00 hamburger or an errand run. She wasn’t able to sit down next to me as we wrote notes of thanks and talked about how awesome it was to have so many people in our lives that really cared. My choices kept her from being inspired to pay that kindness forward to others also struggling.

So where do you fall on the kindness scale? Do you purposefully identify ways to extend kindness to others? Do you allow people to show kindness to you or do you politely thank them but decline their offers. We need a more kind community and it doesn’t happen by accident.

I challenge each of us to be more open to receiving kindness – it is one of the greatest ways to teach our children its importance. A new app called Zingity starts in a few weeks and is designed to help kids develop good character by just being kids. It’s available for free from LeapSpring, inc., the same company that introduced us to MyJobChart.com.

 

Money Lessons Kids Can Learn By Going On Vacation

vacation

 

Thinking about a family vacation?  Family vacations aren’t just about a week at the beach or theme park.  They are an investment toward your child’s character, a great bonding time between parents and kids, and it builds memories that will last a lifetime. Vacation planning and budgeting can also be a wonderful time to teach your kids about money.

According to T. Rowe Price’s 2012 Parent’s, Kids & Money Survey, while almost half of parents (45%) report involving kids in deciding where to go on vacation, they are falling short when it comes to taking advantage of vacation related teachable money moments.

This year, instead of calling a travel agent, gather your kids around the table and have them do the footwork and planning for your family vacation.

Brainstorm.  This is a great time to find out what each child likes and what is important to them.  Find out what they would like to do and find out what their priorities are as far as places to go and things to see.

Formulate a budget.  Vacation is a great time for your kids to learn that money is not an infinite resource.  Setting a budget can also help relieve your stress.  One of the main reasons we take a vacation is to relax and escape from stress.  Wouldn’t it be nice to relax and enjoy your vacation and not have to worry every time you reached into your pocket or better yet, return home refreshed instead of worrying about the next credit card bill.

Plan the details.  Now is the time for your children to learn about choices and trade-offs.  Keep goals and budget  decisions in the context of the conversation.  Discuss accommodations, meals, flying versus driving, etc.  Make pro and con lists for hard to decide items.  Make sure they consider the impact a decision will have in the long run.

Save for a goal.  Vacation is a privilege, not a right.  Encourage everyone to chip in.  Put decisions in context of other family saving goals, for example college funds.  Be an example to them when you contribute to the pot.  Track and share the progress of the vacation fund regularly.

Prepare ahead of time to save.  Hit the dollar store for a cheap travel bag with all the necessities.  Get the kids disposable cameras for great memories.  Let the kids complete “Get Ready To Go Jobs” such as cleaning out the car, stocking the pet food, packing snacks and clothes, to earn extra spending money while you are on your trip.

Remember the souvenirs.  Depending on the ages of your children, consider giving them some spending money for souvenirs.  This will alleviate constant “can I have” requests and put the decision making into their hands.

Be ready for changes.  Let the kids have a voice if changes need to be made.  Extra stops, time changes, and price increases can all send your vacation into a tailspin if you don’t have a backup plan.  Empower your children by letting them in on some of the decision making and decision changes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Observing Memorial Day With Kids

Flag Girl

Many people, adults included, confuse Memorial Day with Veterans Day.

Veterans Day is a festive celebration of military service people who are living. While Memorial Day ceremonies are more reflective and somber as we honor those who have lost their lives in military service.

To help your child understand Memorial Day, start by explaining the sacrifices military people make for our country.  Younger children may be frightened by war and death, so keep your explanation age appropriate.

The heritage of Memorial Day is sketchy.  I actually found several different originations in my research. Maybe the observance of the holiday is more important than where or how it originated.  But, here is one story to share with your young ones.  On May 30, 1868, Union General John A. Logan declared the day an occasion to decorate the graves of Civil War soldiers.  In 1950, Congress passed a resolution calling on Americans to observe each Memorial Day as a day of united prayer for peace.  And in 1971, President Richard M. Nixon declared Memorial Day a federal holiday.

You can also help you child gain a deeper understanding of the holiday by honoring it in age appropriate ways.  Besides attending the local community events that honor our vetrans, here are several ideas to get you started.

Wear red, white, and blue.

Fly a U.S. flag half-mast until 12 p.m.

Say the Pledge of Allegiance.

Decorate the graves of loved ones with flowers and flags.

Visit monuments dedicated to soldiers, sailors, and marines.

Participate in a National Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m.

Watch the speech and wreath laying of the President at Arlington National Cemetery.

Email, make a thank-you card, or make a care package to send to soldiers on active duty.

Visit a veteran or give them a gift and thank them for serving.

Support a veteran by donating online at Wounded Warrior ProjectFolds of HonorUSO, or another of your choice.

Take doughnuts or cookies to your local veterans hospital or retirement home.

Make a patriotic craft.

Learn about the veterans in your family.

Go online and read the names of fallen soldiers.

Post a social network message or video thanking our veterans.

Watch the Memorial Day Slideshow here.

Do a random act of kindness in honor of those who gave their life for our country.

 

 

 

 

Kids In Charge Day

Kids In Charge Day

If your kids ever complain about “too many rules”, or suggest that they want more independence, we’ve got an idea that may just help stop the groaning.

Around my house it’s an annual tradition or “holiday” if you will.  We call it, Kids In Charge Day, and my kids love it!

Here’s how it works.

Once a year, on a given date, the kids are in charge of a whole day.  I mean everything.  Including what, when, and where we eat, what we wear, what we do and where we go, even when we go to bed.  It’s a great time as parents to watch them spread their wings and be in charge.  It’s also a great time to see what’s important to them.  And you get to see how their interests change over the years as they get older.  Here’s more details to make your Kids In Charge Day a success.

Plan ahead.  Give them plenty of notice and have a planning day about a week before your Kids In Charge Day.  Give them a checkbox type of outline to help them map out their day.  Include specifics such as what they would like to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, what crafts or family activities they would like to do, and if they have a special outing in mind. This gives you a chance to have everything they request ready as well.

Set your limits ahead of time.  Be up front with specific dollar amounts and maybe even a mile radius that you are willing to work with.  This will alleviate disappointments and arguments later.

And when the day comes…

Relax on the rules.  Let things slide.  You may cringe at the mess or grit your teeth at the junk food consumed but remember…it’s just 1 day.

Have fun.  Drop all the guilt and enjoy the experience.  Make yourself available and give the kids your undivided attention.

Capture the moments.  Keep a camera handy so you can catch all the wacky things that transpire.  Make a Kids In Charge Day book and flip back through it every year to remember favorite things from years past.

Next time the kids start groaning about how unfair life is, just remind them that their day in charge is coming up and the groaning will change to a discussion about what time they’ll tell you to go to bed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Present of Presence

  

 

 

I’m sure that everyone reading this right now has as many different circumstances impacting their life as there are stars in the sky.  But if you ask everyone what the most important thing in their life is, it would be the same…family. 

I’m sure I’m not the only one that would like a stronger, more cohesive family.   

Researchers at Brigham Young University analyzed results from 148 studies over the last century and found that social support (like that found in a strong family) can not only make us happier to be alive, but also literally adds to our longevity, increasing our survival by up to 50%.  

The time that we spend together is what defines a family. 

Right now, I have a captive audience.  My kids are all young and they don’t have anywhere else they would rather be.  The amount of time that I spend with my family is really up to me.  I decide how much time away from home I will spend with work and hobbies, and I also decide the quality of my time at home when I’m there.

Right now, my kids sit at the window, waiting for me to walk in the door after work.  However, not far down the road, my kids will be grown and will move out of “my” house and into their own.  And I will be the one anxiously sitting by the window awaiting their return…especially around the holidays.

I know that the time I spend with them now will dictate how often they will return later.  The fact that they will even want to return and spend time with family will say tons about my relationship with them.

The journey from here to there may seem long and difficult and at many times under-appreciated.  But one day we’ll be able to reap what we sow and our kids will be able to come home to a place that they hold dear in their hearts.

If a healthy, strong family is on your list this holiday season, here are some suggestions:

 

1.  Have dinner together as a family.  There is a growing body of research that shows just how significant this time can be for kids.  It helps them grow not only physically but also emotionally. 

2.  Use the time you already have by catching the time in between moments.  Like driving in the car, walking through the store, or those couple of minutes when you are done getting ready but you still have 5 or 10 more minutes until it’s time to leave.  Use those minutes to talk and catch up on what your child is doing in class or how their friends are doing.

3.  Check-in.  There are normal times of the day when it is easy to give your child a hug and say that you love them.  When they wake-up in the morning, when they get home from school, or right before they go to bed to name a few.  Take a minute at these “check-in” times to let them know that you care.

4.  Make memories.  Do fun things together.  Step out of your usual habits of watching TV, surfing the computer, or gaming and take the whole family out for some fun.

5.  Have routines or traditions.  Whether it’s a book before bed or a family campout every summer, come up with family routines and traditions that will glue your family together.

6.  Make the time.  If you still struggle to find the time to spend with family, put it on the calendar and actually schedule a time for family time.

 

With the hustle and bustle of holiday preparations upon us, it can be hard to balance life.  Remember to take time to just be there and spend quality time with your kids.  The precious present of each others presence is one of the best gifts we can give our family.

 

How to Get Kids to Exercise

 

Times have changed.  I remember playing all day in the ditch behind my house with my cousins.  We only showed up at home around lunch and dinner time to scrounge up some food and then we were off to build a fort, or climb a tree, or play hide-and-go-seek until it was too dark to see our way home.

Today, if there was one word that I’d use to describe my kids, it would be “couch-potato”.  My fear is that they aren’t just missing out on the experiences I once had, but they are also missing out on the exercise.

If you are concerned about the activity level of your kids, here are a few tips to keep them more active and more healthy.

 1.  Limit screen time.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for kids under the age of two, and kids over two years old, should watch no more than two hours a day of quality programming.

2.  Head outside.  Kids are much more likely to get moving when they are outside.  Plan a day at the park or go on a hike together.  You can even use playtime outside as a reward and see if that gets you anywhere.

3.  Get some outside toys.  You can’t play basketball inside.  Consider getting a few active toys for your kids and see where that takes them.

4.  Enroll them in a activity.  It isn’t for everyone, but maybe you could enroll them in an activity.  Try dance, karate, or swimming as well as the team oriented sports.  This will force activity at a specific time each week.

5.  Inspire them.  Kids want to do what their parents are doing.  So the more you are up and active, chances are, the more active they will be as well.  If you don’t feel like getting up for yourself, do it for your kids.

 

 

Stop the Morning Madness

 

Do you find yourself scrambling every morning and in the end yelling as your kids head out the door?  Here are a few suggestions that will make your morning smoother…and happier.

 

Get up earlier.  Be sure to plan for plenty of time in the morning and maybe even a couple extra minutes for that inevitable, “Mom, I lost my homework”, scenario.  Set your alarm clock with time to spare.  And if you’re one of those that loves the snooze button, try placing your alarm clock across the room so you are physically forced to get out of bed to turn it off.

 

Get ready before the kids.  We all love our “Z’s”, but according to Mary Belche, Ph.D., a clinical child psychologist in Cincinnati, “Children love their parents attention and a great time to give them that is in the morning.  If parents don’t slip out of bed until their kids are gone to school, they are missing some valuable time with them.”  Try rising before the kids and get ready yourself.  Then when the kids wake up, you’ll be ready for whatever comes your way.

 

Have a schedule.  If your kids wake up in plenty of time, but drag their feet and aren’t able to fit everything they need to do into the allotted time, try coming up with a schedule with them.  Do things in order of priority and set appropriate times for each task to be done by.  You can even make it into a game.  Use a stopwatch and create a chart to keep track of their times.  Try to beat their time the next day.

 

Prepare the night before.  Not everything has to be done in the morning.  What can be done the night before to alleviate some stress?  Daily baths, homework, lunches, setting out clothes, and getting backpacks ready are all thing that can be done ahead of time and leave time in the morning for things like a healthy breakfast.

 

Go to bed on time.  Waking up in the morning is always easier to do when you’re not tired.

 

Have a positive attitude.  Be happy.  If problems arise, deal with them calmly instead of sending the house into a frenzy.  Be an example to your kids of appropriate behavior and send them out the door ready for a great day.

 

 

 

Swimming Safety Tips

Along with warm weather reports come reports of accidental deaths by drowning.

The hard facts – drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death among children between the ages of 1 and 4.  And it’s the third leading cause of death among children.

With facts like that, we have to wake up and do our part so it doesn’t happen again.  Here are some water tips to help us beat the odds.

 

Be aware – Back yard pools aren’t the only culprits when it comes to drowning.  It only takes 2 inches of water and a couple of minutes for a child to drown.  So, be sure to supervise other sources of water like bathtubs, toilets, decorative ponds, and even mop buckets.

 

Be prepared – Parents have a million things to do, but learning CPR should be on the top of the list.  Being prepared can give you peace of mind.

 

Learn to swim – Teach your children to swim and if you don’t know how to, take lessons yourself.

 

Buddy up –  Always swim with a partner.  A buddy can help out in case there’s an emergency.

 

Know your limits – Don’t swim for longer or in deeper water than you are comfortable with.  If you are a good swimmer, keep an eye out for your friends that may be struggling.

 

Swim in a safe area – Look for lifeguards and watch out for dangerous water conditions.  If you do get caught becoming too tired, float until you can get help.

 

Be careful when diving – Always check for rocks or other hazards beneath the waters surface.  And pay attention to “No Diving” signs.  They are there for a reason.

 

Even though we stress to be safe around water we hope you still have a great summer in and out of the water and especially HAVE FUN!!!

 

 

 

 

Summer Fun Ideas

Summer time is here!  Are you excited about having the kids home for a couple of months or are you dreading the down time?

Does summer at your house bring fun and a time for the creation of wonderful memories or does it bring weeks of constant fighting, complaining, and “I’m bored” comments?

Well, here is a list of free or cheap things to keep you busy this summer and hopefully keep the kids smiling and working together instead.

Have a picnic under the kitchen table.

Take a hike.

Go fishing at a nearby pond.

Make fish out of foil and use a magnet to catch them.  (Works best with a magnet inside as well)

Make a scrapbook.

Paint with watercolors.

Tell ghost stories.

Put on a puppet show.

Have a water balloon fight.

Learn origami.

Make duct tape wallets.

Go to the dollar theatre.

Do service.

Have a pillow fight.

Make paper airplanes race them.

Play in the sprinklers.

Set up a lemonade stand.

Play charades.

Do make-over’s. (for the girls)

Make a masterpiece with sidewalk chalk.

Wash the car.

Have a hula-hoop contest.

Go roller skating.

Have a Harry Potter movie marathon. (or movie or your choice)

Camp out in the back yard, tent and all.

Blow bubbles, try making your own.

Fly a kite.

Present book reports to each other.

Play twister.

Do a puzzle.

Make a fort out of blankets.

Go for a bike ride.

Have a video game day.

Put on a mini Olympics.

Have a coloring contest.

Play with clay.

Tie dye something.

Do a treasure hunt.

Have an arm wrestling contest.

Make s’mores.

Play hide-and-seek.

Have a backward day. Wear your clothes backward, walk backward, eat dessert before dinner.

Learn to juggle.

Cowboy day.  Dress up, talk, and eat like a cowboy.

Superhero day.  Make capes, and fly around.

Jump rope.

Put on a magic show

Sports day.

Have a fashion show.

Feed the ducks.

Play board games.

Different culture days.  Learn about different countries, eat their food and try to dress like them.

Make homemade ice cream or popsicles.

Cake-boss day.  Decorate a cake or cupcakes.

Throw a frisbee.

Have a water-gun fight.

Mini triathlon.

Make something out of a giant cardboard box.

Have a no-talking contest.

Chocolate day.  (mom’s favorite)

Whatever you do this summer, have fun!  It doesn’t take much to spark your child’s imagination and have a great time.  Let us know some of your summer fun ideas.