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.
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.
June 24th, 2014 - Category: Family Time
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.
May 22nd, 2014 - Category: Family Time
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.
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.
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.