February 13th, 2014 - Category: Family Time
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.
December 13th, 2013 - Category: Family Time
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.
October 30th, 2013 - Category: Family Time
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.
September 11th, 2013 - Category: Family Time
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.
June 5th, 2013 - Category: Family Time
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!!!
May 21st, 2013 - Category: Family Time
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.
Make duct tape wallets.
Go to the dollar theatre.
Have a pillow fight.
Make paper airplanes race them.
Play in the sprinklers.
Set up a lemonade stand.
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.
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.
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.
Put on a magic show
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.
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.
October 23rd, 2012 - Category: Family Time
Is your television on from sun up to sundown? Is that the first thing that gets turned on in the morning and the last thing to be turned off at night? If it’s not the television maybe it’s the computer, or pod, or notebook? Too much screen time can stunt the imagination and yield a loss of wonder. Whenever the show is over or the game is done, your kids are back to being bored again. With the glimmer and jazz that electronics have to offer, it makes it hard for kids to focus on a book, or engage in imaginative play, or marvel at nature.
Encouraging our children to spend less time in front of a screen can elude even the best of parents. Here’s some ideas of things to do instead of sitting in front of a screen.
Chores: Chores teach responsibility, build self-esteem, and encourage spending time together. It is a great way to give them something to do that will benefit them and the family. At MyJobChart.com you can find many ways to teach and encourage your child to be more helpful with chores. If someone says, “I’m bored.” Have several chores for them to choose from to take up some time.
Books: Books don’t have to be a lost past time. Get a library card and spend the afternoon at the library. Encourage your children to always have a book they are reading.
Use Your Imagination: There is no limit when you use your imagination. Play school, dress-up, or super-hero. Have a tea-party in the back yard or pretend to fix the car. The possibilities are endless. The more extravagant the better!
Play With Friends: Invite a friend over for a couple of hours. When ideas can bounce off of two heads they are sure to find something fun to do.
Play Outside: Ride bikes, play at the park, work in the garden, run through the sprinklers. Take time to appreciate the weather and nature all around us.
Build Something: Whether it is Lego’s, play-dough, or a fort built out of sheets in the living room, building something sparks the imagination and can keep kids busy for hours.
Crafts: A couple of popsicle sticks and some glue can go a long way to fighting boredom and inspiring grand thoughts.
Hobbies: There are so many hobbies to choose from for girls and boys. To name a few there are model airplanes, scrap-booking, painting, sports, photography, the list is endless. Take up a hobby with your child and you can both learn and grow together.
Experiments: One of my favorite science experiments was mixing vinegar and baking soda and watching it foam. From watching mold grow on fruit to which soap works better, find everyday household products and experiment with them.
Collections: Start a collection of stamps, coins, baseball cards, or even leaves or rocks.
Board Games and Puzzles: There are quick ones and long ones. Games for young and old alike. Take your pick and spend some time getting to know each other over a good game or puzzle.
Whether you plan to limit screen time to just a few hours a day or you just need some ideas to encourage your little one away from the TV, we hope some of these ideas will help. Use your imagination and spend some quality time together.
July 5th, 2011 - Category: Family Time
Summer can be hot. And long. And for kids…a little bit boring. As a parent, you don’t understand boredom. There are always chores that need to be done, food to cook, and jobs to go to. You could fill up an entire year just with the stuff that needs to be done right now. Unfortunately, it’s your kids that have the summer off. Not you. But that doesn’t mean you want your kids sitting around for the next few weeks doing nothing.
Here are some great ideas for getting kids off the couch and even getting them to do extra chores (without realizing it):
Start washing your car – if you put on your bathing suit, your kids will naturally wonder what you’re doing. Tell them to “come see.” Then, while you start hosing down the car, toss them a rag. Most kids love the water, and even if it means washing the car, they won’t be able to resist the temptation. You get a clean car. Your child gets outside for a while. And hey, if a water fight breaks out, it’ll be a great time to bond with your children.
Make popsicles or homemade ice cream – got a bunch of dishes in the sink? Then get your kids in the kitchen to help you clean them up. Entice them by asking if they want to make popsicles or homemade ice cream. Once you’re in the kitchen, you could say, “We’ve got to get these dishes cleaned up so we have room to work.” And with that, your dishes are done and you and the kids have a sweet treat to enjoy.
Play “night games” with the kids – remember when you were young and played Kick the Can or Ghost in the Graveyard? It was a lot of fun for you and it would be great for the kids. Because you play at night, you won’t hear any whining about how hot it is. This is also a good activity to get your yard cleaned up. After all, you’ll tell your kids how dangerous a bike, hose, or skateboard could be in the dark. Soon, the toys in the yard will be back in place. And once you get the kids going, you can always return inside while they continue to have some fun. Just be sure you’ve invited a few friends over to join in.
Clean out the closets and save a few dollars – how many shirts and pants with holes do your kids own? Probably a few, right? After all, clothes do wear out. Suggest turning old, holey pants into shorts and give your kids markets and paints to create their own style. Of course, they’ll need to clean out their entire closet to find all the shirts and pants they’d like to “remake” into summer clothes. Then get them playing outside in their “new” outfits.
Pull out the family photos – if you’re like many families, you have photos on the computer, in a box, and hiding in drawers all over the house. All you have to do is show your kids one or two baby pictures of themselves and they’ll be anxious to look at more. Get them to organize your stash as they go through them. This is a great indoor activity that keeps them cool and away from the T.V. And when they’re done, you’ll be ready to fill the photo albums or get the pictures uploaded to digital albums.
Kids don’t like the word chores. But if they haven’t got anything better to do, they’ll eagerly embrace just about anything. So learn how to engage your kids in activities you want done without mentioning work or chores. You’ll be amazed at how quickly the summer passes and how active your kids can become.
April 26th, 2011 - Category: Family Time
As parents, it’s not uncommon for us to stay laser-focused on the things that just “have to get done.” We have our own to-do list and we try to squeeze our children into that same mold. As you know, this can cause some tension. Kids want to do things on their own time. And the urgency to get things done can make you seem like an ogre.
Here’s an idea: don’t focus so much on getting the chores done. They’ll get done; even if it takes an hour instead of 30 minutes. What is important is that you build relationships with your children as you help them develop skills and learn to possibly enjoy their chores.
Below is a list of 5 ideas for making chore time memorable:
Turn on the Radio – doing chores can be fun…if you want it to be. A little bit of music can act as a motivator. If you associate pleasurable things with less-than-fun activities, you can reshape how your children feel about what they are doing.
Interrupt Chores with Some Fun– for example, if you’ve asked your kids to wash the car, take advantage of that opportunity to bond. Sneak up as they work and turn the hose on them. They’ll remember moments like that forever. No, you can’t do it every time they wash the car. But when it’s completely unexpected, go for the moment.
Make it a Game– the chores have to be done. When children are little, we sing the clean-up song to motivate them. Older children don’t want to sing silly songs. But what if you were to set a timer and offer an extra incentive if they get their chores done before it goes off. Or, hide some cash that they’ll only find by doing an exceptional job with their chores (like moving the furniture when they vacuum).
Join Them– as your children grow, it’s easy to let them tackle their chores on their own. After all, you’ve got things to do. But once in a while, find some time to help your child complete their chores. They need to know you still recognize what they are doing.
Skip the Chores– when you see your child dragging their feet about doing chores, why not skip them? Take them to a movie or out to get ice cream. Skipping chores once in a while won’t hurt anything and your child will appreciate your willingness to make them happy more than getting things done.
Switch Things Up– if your child is old enough, offer to switch chores with them. Send them off to the grocery store while you tackle mowing the lawn. A little variety will go a long way in making chores less mundane.
Compliment Their Efforts –just letting your child know their efforts are appreciated can make a big difference. There’s a big difference between doing chores because you have to and doing chores because it makes your parents happy.
Some of our favorite moments are those we’ve spent working side-by-side with our children. It’s a good feeling to know that even “hard work” can be rewarding, memorable and enjoyable. Those are the real skills and feelings you’d like to leave your child with, right?
If you have other ideas for making the most of chore time with your kids, please feel free to leave a comment below. And if you are looking for a way to easily manage your child’s chores, be sure to check out our free online chore chart, MyJobChart.com.
December 21st, 2010 - Category: Family Time
Although there are many family activities inherently connected to the holidays, there will most likely come a time during the school recess that your child utters the dreaded words, “I’m bored!” Many of us think how could this be after they just acquired all that new ‘stuff’? Yet it seems to be an inevitable consequence of time off from school. Here are a few activities that your kids can do without leaving home to keep them creative and active inside on a winter day- other than turn on the TV or the computerized games.
Make your own play dough: This is a two part activity because not only is it fun to make, but then they have something to play with afterward. Combine 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of salt, 2 cups of water, 2 tbsp vegetable oil, 2 tsp cream of tartar, and a few drops of food coloring in a large pan over low heat. Stir until combined and allow to cool.
Create a family newspaper: Talk to your children about newspapers and magazines and show them examples. Ask older children to create their own family newspaper featuring stories, advertisements, cartoons, and more. Newspapers can be written, feature pictures, or both. You’ll be surprised at the day-to-day family events that your children will turn into newsworthy articles!
Employ your older children: If you have a group of children of mixed ages, let the older children plan and teach an activity to the younger ones. Give the older children a selection of art or craft materials and ask them to come up with a project to teach. You’ll be surprised how seriously the older children take the responsibility of designing a project of their own, and the little ones who already look up to the big kids will enjoy working on a project with them.
Create a treasure hunt: This is another activity that can be designed based around your child’s age. A little guy just needs a simple map with some pictures whereas an older school-age child could use codes and clues to figure out where the treasure is. The treasure doesn’t have to be anything major. You could get something at the dollar store, or if you feel like there are enough new items in your home the treasure could be something like being able to pick what to have for dinner that evening.
Have a talent show: Another two part activity is to hold a talent show. First your child needs to come up with a ‘talent’ and practice his/her routine. Then there is the actual performance. You could even make invitations for other family or friends, or prepare special seating or snacks. You could have every member of the family participate. Make sure you have the video camera batteries charged.
Challenge their taste buds: The purpose of this activity is to make your child more aware of the sense of taste. Gather a variety of foods in small amounts. Have your child close her eyes while tasting each one. After each food, discuss the taste. Begin to distinguish between the main taste bud differentiation: sweet, sour, bitter and salty. Ask your child to say which are his favorite foods and why. Try combining foods of different tastes. How did the taste change when the foods were combined?
Make a collage: Save old magazines and catalogs and store them in a cabinet just for this purpose. Have the kids cut out pictures and paste them onto a piece of cardboard or construction paper. You can let them cut out whatever they want, or assign each child a letter of the alphabet or a theme to go by for a more challenging project. Keep a trash can close by for the scraps and be sure to keep a stock of glue sticks on hand!
Play Sardines (Reverse Hide-n-Seek): One child is the hider, everyone else is a seeker. The hider hides while the seekers seek. However, when a seeker finds the hider, instead of pointing him out, he joins him in the hiding place. Soon, the children will all be stuffed in one place, like a box of sardines!
The key is to not whine back to their whining, to try to think outside the box and search for an activity that you know would be great for your children’s ages and creativity. Taking a few minutes to plan an activity might lead to lots of great treasured memories. Enjoy!