Gift an Experience

Things and Stuff

Our lives and homes are overflowing with things and stuff. Things we hang on to, stuff we don’t need; material items that we buy because we want them, and then we never use them. The same is true for our children. They see a commercial for the latest toy or gadget, and they want it. And so, inevitably, we or someone else gets it for them. They play with it for a while, and then it just becomes part of the stuff we have, and they don’t remember who gave it to them or why. But we can change that; we can give them more of an experience.

Experience Over Presents

My husband and I decided a long time ago that we would ask our friends and family not to buy our children presents for their birthdays. Instead, if they wanted to get them a gift, they were to gift them an experience. We feel that our family and friends are important, and we want our children to grow up making memories and developing deeper relationships with all of them. We want our children to appreciate quality time and enjoy the company of others just as much, if not more than, they appreciate getting things. Our family was hesitant at first, having a long tradition of giving presents on birthdays, but after the first year, they were all on board. They too, were making memories with our children, and that was a gift for them as well. Here are five examples of experience gifts.

5 Experience Gift Ideas

1. Meal & a Movie- Pick the kid up and treat them to a special meal and a movie of their choice. You can get plenty of conversation in during the meal, and you’ll have something to talk about after the movie too! Plus, kids movies are usually pretty funny these days.

2. Activity- Do you have a mini golf, trampoline park, or other cool kid place near you? Take the kid to somewhere a parent might not frequent. A lot of times, these places are not every day experiences for kids and parents. Parents may have too many kids to take at one time, so if you could take just one, it would make it a real cool and special experience.

3. Museum or Zoo- Kids love going to museums and zoos! And whether you take them yourself, gift them a membership to go whenever, or even just a gift of a one-time admission, they will LOVE IT!! The membership or one-time admission option is an especially good idea if you don’t live close enough to take the kid yourself. Every time we go somewhere that someone has gifted us admission, we send them pics of our experience there to thank them.

4. Keeping it Simple -You don’t have to spend money to create an experience with a kid. You can schedule a day to simply go to their house and play with them. Or take them on a bike ride, or walk to the park. Maybe even schedule a sleepover at your house for them. Experiences are about creating memories and developing relationships, not about how much you spend.

5. Something to Read- Maybe you have a kid who likes to read and learn! A magazine subscription would be perfect! Not only do they GET MAIL, but you will have some interesting topics to discuss the next time you visit. Another option might be a gift card to the bookstore, or a trip to the library to get a library card and check out books.  Or maybe simply grab some books, and head outside to read with them!

 

5 Activities to Develop Fine Motor Skills

Kids are Falling Behind

 I recently read an article by Simon Leo Brown titled, “iPad Generation’s Fingers Not Ready to Write, Teachers Say.”  You can read it here.  Basically, it said that due to kids using tablets more than they do other activities with their hands, they are not developing the fine motor skills they need to write.  Fine motor skills take time and practice to develop and control, and using a finger to swipe on a tablet just isn’t helping.  Writing is still an important part of communication in our society.  Sure, things are more electronic, but our kids still need to know how to properly write.  So what can we do to help our kids develop their fine motor skills?

 

5 Activities to Develop Fine Motor Skills 

  1. Color & Write Use pencils, crayons, markers, and paints, and just sit and color with your child. Use coloring books, activity books, or just plain paper!  Make sure to show them how to properly grasp the writing utensil: tripod grasps and quad grasps are most functional.  You can buy pencil grips that aid in correcting a grasp, and for younger children, fatter writing tools are useful.  You can practice writing by writing your child’s name with a highlighter and having them practice tracing the letters.

 

  1. Cut Bust out those kid scissors, and start cutting! Draw simple shapes on a piece of paper, and let your child cut them out! You could also draw various lines (curvy, zig-zag, straight) and have them cut along those. But paper isn’t the only thing you can cut.  Try cutting playdough!! It’s fun to manipulate, and after they cut it all up, they can roll it all back together again! Again, you will want to be sure you demonstrate the proper way to hold and use scissors; thumb on top!

 

  1. Bead Buy a bag of fun beads and a pack of pipe cleaners and have your child thread the pipe cleaners through the beads. Pipe cleaners are easier than a thread for young children to manipulate, and the beads should stay on them pretty easily. If you can do this just as a fun activity, or you can make bracelets with them! As a bonus, you can practice sorting and patterns as well with the beads!! *Cheerios and Fruit Loops could also be used instead of beads*

 

  1. Tweezers & Eye Droppers Fill an ice cube tray with some of those little puff balls (easily found at a craft store) or water and have your child use either tweezers or an eye dropper to remove everything from each of the cubes. You can have a bowl or cup next to them so they can have somewhere to put the things they take out. Then, you can have them put it all back into the ice cube tray.  BONUS: if you are using water, you can add drops of food coloring to different cubes of the tray and play around with mixing colors!

 

  1. Stickers Peeling stickers can be a tricky task, but it definitely works those fine motor skills! Give your child a sheet of stickers and a blank piece of paper, and let go to town decorating!!  If you really want to get some bang for your buck, you can have them draw a picture first, and then have them add stickers to it!

Using Timers to Effectively Manage Your Kid’s Time

Time is a Tricky Subject

Using timers to effectively manage your kid’s time depending on the situation, it can go by quickly, or it can drag on for eternity.  As a parent, effective time management with your kids can be even trickier.  Every day I say things like, “You have five more minutes before we need to leave,” or, “Give me a minute,” or, “You have been eating for 40 minutes already! HURRY UP!!”  I’m sure you’ve said them too, countless time.  But what does “five more minutes” mean to a kid?

I remember back to when I was a kid and my mom would have her friend over, and they’d say we’d have 5 more minutes before they had to leave, and we would be so excited because we knew our moms would lose track of time while talking and we’d get more playing in.  As a kid this was great, but as a parent, it made me think long and hard about my own time management. Here are two different ways you can use timers to effectively manage your kids’ (and your) time.

Effectively Manage Your Kid’s TimePhone Timer To The Rescue

I want to be honest with my kids, always. I want them to know that I mean what I say, and I say what I mean, and keeping myself, and them, accountable with time is one way I can achieve that.  It’s easier than you think too!  We all have phones on us at all times, it’s just the way it is now, and those phones come equipped with a timer setting.  You can set a time limit, and the phone will count down and make a lovely little noise when time runs out.  This function is great for when I’m busy with something and my kids want attention.  I can tell them, “Mommy is busy right now, but if you can give me five minutes, then I can give you my full attention.  Effectively manage your kid’s time  until Mommy’s phone makes noise.”  Then I set my timer for five minutes.  It allows my kids to know that they will have my attention shortly, and it also keeps me accountable for sticking to the five minutes rather than dragging it out longer.

This timer function is also great in public places. Before I started using it, I’d say, “Five more minutes, and then we have to leave.”  Then, after five minutes had passed my kids would always get into negotiation mode about staying longer.  The funny thing is that when I started setting the timer and it would make noise, they would just be ready to leave!! My kids wouldn’t argue or try to negotiate with the almighty phone timer!  I use this for bath time, T.V. time, time until clean-up when I have to monitor some sort of toy time-share negotiations and any other situation in which they only have a certain amount of time.

Keeping Time At The Table

Mealtime is another part of our day where my kids need help with effectively managing their time.  I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure that my kids can be THE SLOWEST at eating their food, and I’m am fairly certain that I’m not alone in this.  I’ve tried using the phone timer for this one too, but at such a young age (my oldest was 3 when I started trying to speed up his eating time) watching the numbers count down meant nothing to him.  He could count, but counting down was not on his level yet.

So what to do?? I went on Amazon and ordered two sand timers. One was a 30-minute timer, and the other was 45 minutes.  At mealtimes, I flip over both of the timers, and if they finish eating before the first timer is done, they get dessert (which is usually more fruit, yogurt with chocolate chips in it, or a small cookie).  If the 30 minutes is up, and they are still eating, that’s fine, but no dessert.  When the 45-minute timer runs out, the meal is over. We start clearing plates, and if they didn’t finish, well, that’s their own fault.

Now, before you start saying that I’m cruel for taking food away from my kids, 45 minutes is a long time.  If they were hungry, they had PLENTY of time to eat.  It only takes 1 or 2 times of having to take their plates away for them to realize that they’d better eat up.  The reason that sand timers work so much better than the phone timer is that they can effectively manage their time and see it slipping away!  They can see that they only have a little while longer to finish before they don’t get dessert.  And when they finish quickly, they are proud of how much time they have left!!

Implementing the use of timers into your daily routines will be quick, effective, and easy.  All you have to do is remember to actually set the timer once you say the words.  Your kids will catch on quickly, and to be held accountable to a specific time frame is good practice for everyone!

 

6 Tips for Independent Kids

Independence is the ultimate goal of parenting.  We all want to raise kids who are capable of moving out and taking care of themselves as fully functional adults.  Yet, we tend to baby our children and dote on them longer than we need to.  Our kids are far more capable of doing things for themselves than we tend to give them credit for.  We put on their coats and shoes for them because it is faster when we do it, or we don’t want to fight them to do it.  However, when we continually do things for our children that they are capable of doing themselves, we are stunting their personal development. We aren’t allowing them to practice the life skills they will need when they are older. Children want to be independent, and here are 6 ways that you can give them that freedom.

 

6 Ways to Help Your Child Become More Independent:

  1. Let them get dressed. Allow your kids to pick out their own clothes and put them on.  You may have to help a 2-year-old with getting their shirt on, but other than that, they should be able to do it.  Will you need to correct some backward or inside out clothing? Yes.  Will they sometimes look ridiculous? Yes.  The other day my 3-year-old wore a red Christmas sweater, orange and black dinosaur “comfy” pants, and then topped it all off with a navy blue clip-on tie. True story.  My rule is that as long as their choices are weather appropriate, I will not interfere with what they choose to wear.

 

  1. Make the kitchen more accessible. Move the kid’s dishes, cups, and utensils to a lower cabinet so that your kids can easily get their things. You can then ask them to set their places at the table for you, put clean dishes away, and even get their own cup out when they are thirsty.  Additionally, add a step stool in your kitchen so your kids can reach the sink.  This allows for easy access to rinsing dishes or washing hands.  Move around the kid’s food so it is accessible as well.  Put milk, juice or water into a container with a pour spout so kids can easily serve their own drinks.  Move the kid-friendly snack foods to the lower shelves of the fridge and the pantry so the kids can easily reach them.  You don’t want to bend over to get stuff from those shelves anyway.

 

  1. Give your child chores. What?! Giving a child a list of daily and/or weekly chores allows them to practice life skills.  You can also award an allowance to older kids who do their chores.  Chore charts are an easy way to keep track of which chores are done, and which ones need to be done.  In my house, I have a list of daily chores for my 3-year-old, and a list of daily and weekly chores for my 6-year-old.  I keep these lists in a cheap dollar store picture frame, and we use a dry erase marker to mark the chores they have done. Chores teach responsibility, and responsibility is a good foundation for independence.

 

  1. Let them play. Free play is important for a child’s development, both socially and emotionally.  However, this play needs to be completely free of adult interaction.  It is when the adults are not around that children develop skills for themselves.  Like problem-solving, cooperation, sharing, empathy, emotional strength, and resilience.  They also get to develop their creativity.  They learn by doing, by figuring things out.  If you allow them to have the space to develop and explore their world on their own, then they will be better equipped and more confident; more ready to live an independent life.

 

  1. Give them extra time. If you want your kids to get dressed by themselves, then you can’t be asking them to get ready 5 minutes before you need to be out the door; the same goes with putting on shoes.  They are new at these tasks, and they will take (what seems like) forever to do so.  You need to allow them extra time to figure out how to do it, and how to do it right.  If you want them to help you in the kitchen, know that they will cause a bigger mess than you would, so you will have to allow extra time to clean up.  Have them help you clean up, but it will take longer.  Learning to complete any task is something that takes time and practice.  If you do not allow them that extra time, they will become frustrated and give up.

 

  1. Allow them to make mistakes. When your child makes mistakes, in homework, play, or whenever, they are given the opportunity to learn from their mistakes.  Mistakes allow kids to learn cause and effect, they allow the opportunity for a child to reflect and rethink a situation, and they learn how to better do something the next time.  When you see your child struggling with something, or see that they are about to make a mistake, don’t jump in to correct them.  If you do, you are only robbing them of independent thinking and reflection.  Observe what they are doing, and after a while, you can offer assistance (if necessary).  Maybe all you need to do is talk to them about their choices or actions after the fact.  But mistakes are a part of life, and they need to know that a) it’s ok to make mistakes, and b) mistakes are good learning opportunities.

Child Behavioral Problems: A Parenting Guide for Toddlers

Parenting is not an easy task especially when raising tots with behavioral problems. In addition, parents face difficulties determining the cause of child behavioral problems. According to data published by the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, the rate of tots who develop behavioral issues ranges from 7-25%. Here are some parenting tips to help you deal with child behavioral problems:

Overview of Child Behavioral Problems

For parents, a good grasp of behavioral problems in preschoolers is very important. With this in mind, Julie A. Rinaldi, Ph.D., staff psychologist, child and adolescent psychiatrist at Ann & Robert H. Laurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine says all children experience behavioral problems at some point.

For 2-year-olds, common behavioral issues include aggression, anger tantrums, adult rule or request defiance, annoying others deliberately, fussiness, crying, and annoying others. However, the good news is most tots who exhibit such behaviors do so occasionally. The bad news is a publication by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh states that studies have shown that 50-60% of two-year-olds who exhibit such behaviors continue to do so up to school going age.

Risk Factors

toddler laying on slide throwing tantrumThere are various reasons why toddlers exhibit disruptive behavior. Firstly, some tend to be fussy, irritable, and temperamental right from birth making them difficult to manage, according to the Laurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Secondly, a child may have behavioral, issues tied to autism spectrum disorders, learning disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or learning disorders. A third risk factor is growing up in a highly stressful environment. A good example of this is children who grow up surrounded by poverty, drug abuse or physical violence. Fourthly, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh reckon children can become behaviorally difficult as a way of reacting to environmental changes such as moving to a new house or city. Fifthly, the need for preschoolers to assert their independence. Finally, faulty parenting can also cause young kids to develop disruptive behaviors.

Tips for Managing Child Behavioral Problems

3 year old having a temper tantrum

1. Exploiting play to build positive relationship with your kid

An effective way of curbing and managing behavioral issues is by developing a positive child-parent relationship via play. This approach, according to Dr. Rinaldi, can lead to cessation of disruptive behaviors because pre-kindergarteners learn that they do not have to ‘act out’ to attract the attention of their parents or others.

For this reason, it is advisable to play with your kid several times every week. Such interaction makes kids feel loved, bolsters their self-esteem, and makes them feel important. At the same time, parents can use playtime to model essential social skills such as sharing, cooperation, and asking. This is in addition to helping kids hone their problem-solving skills, develop and use their imagination, and develop their vocabulary.

In spite of these positives, Dr. Rinaldi states some parents barely have time to play and interact with their kids due to tight/demanding work schedules and resentment/anger related to their child’s behavior. Rinaldi encourages such parents to try to overcome these obstacles and become more involved in their toddler’s play activities. Studies have shown that kids who spend regular playtime with their parents tend to be more creative, have fewer behavioral problems, and have higher self-confidence, according to Rinaldi.

2. Do not encourage over whining

Although it is natural for children to whine, encouraging your kid to do so is counterproductive on the behavioral issue front. If this is the case at home, the author of “The Big Book of Parenting Solutions” Michele Borba, EdD, recommends never give in to whining because doing so only encourages your kid to repeat the same attention-getting behavior in the future. Unless whining turns aggressive or disruptive to others, Borba recommends ignoring your child’s attempts to have his/her way. He/she will soon figure out that whining does not work.

3. Consistency

Three-year-olds are always trying to figure out the world around them. As such, they will become confused and probably engage in disruptive behavior if your routine in relation to their daily life and activities lacks consistency. A good example is letting your preschooler play with a certain object and then objecting in the future. He/she will not understand why you allowed playing with the same object in the past and have now changed your mind.

To avoid upsetting your child and triggering behavioral problems, adopt consistency across the board. This includes consistency when feeding, bathing, playing with your kid, and putting the child to sleep. According to Tanya Remer Altmann, one of the top authors in this field,” behavioral aberration occasionally is acceptable if your parenting routine is consistent 90% of the time.

Conclusion

If your 3-year-old has developed behaviors such as throwing temper tantrums, screaming, and defying parental orders, intervention is necessary to avoid progressive growth of the same problems up to school-going age. You can nip child behavioral problems early by developing a positive child-parent relationship via play, discouraging whining, and adopting consistent parenting routines.

7 Tips For Parents of Young Children

It can be quite daunting to raise young children who have behavioral issues. Through the years I have worked as a parent coach, I have developed lots of tricks and tips for parents and I’m going to share some with you today.

With the right strategies, parenting become a much more manageable task; by understanding how to effectively “train” your toddler you can help them become healthy, happy, humans that are tolerable to live under the same roof with.

 

The Parenting Tips

In no particular order…

parenting tips tag cloud

1: Encourage Appropriate Behavior
Doing this will lessen the opportunities for unfavorable behavior. The lifelong wiring of the brain is affected by every positive and negative behavior in the first 10 years of life. Therefore, it is essential to encourage appropriate behavior during those formative years.

Suitable patterns can be built when trouble is anticipated, the difficult situation is prevented from happening and the child is assisted with remembering what to do rather than correcting his or her mistakes, after the fact.

2: Show Love for the Child Even When Showing Disapproval for His/Her Behavior
It is important for the child to know that you love him or her even when he or she displays challenging behavior. You can set aside an appropriate time of day to have fun with your child. This can be done while walking home from pre-school, at bath time or any other time you deem appropriate.

Let your child pick the activity and give your undivided attention to him or her during that time. Ensure he or she knows that you enjoy spending these special moments together. The child’s self-esteem is nourished during these periods of positivity and it can pave a path to more positive times together.

mother with 2 young kids

3: Transform Your Home into an Environment of Success
To do this, you can create relaxed, child-friendly play areas.

Add some toys in which you child has an interest, keep them within reach and teach him or her how to keep them organized when playtime is over.

4: Stick to the Routines You Create
Creating routines is great but only if you stick to them. It is a fact that children find great comfort in knowing what is coming next.

In addition, creating routines assists in giving advance notice when activities will be changed. For example, you can tell your child that he or she can swing across the monkey bars two more times and then it will be time to leave.

5: Consistently Set and Enforce Clear Limits
What you expect of your child should be consistently enforced until it becomes second nature. However, ensure that you have the energy and time to keep at it.

If you are running late, it is alright if a toy is left on the floor.

6: Activities Should Be Planned Around the Needs of the Child
If your child exhibits negative behavior when he or she is hungry, do not go shopping without ensuring he or she is fed.

Additionally, if meals or usually served on the kitchen table, the coffee table can be used for puzzles to avoid a meltdown if he or she has to clean up before eating.

7: When Trouble is Brewing, Offer Limited Choices
For example, ask your child if he or she wants to drink from the blue cup or the yellow one. You will guide the behavior by not telling him or her what not to but what to do.

Exercise patience if the same instructions are needed shortly after. Practice is necessary when dealing with a young mind.

When thing do not go as smoothly as you planned, endeavor to keep calm. Count to 10, take some deep breaths and show your child you can deal with problems while remaining cool. By doing this, you will become a great role model for your child. When every method seems to go wrong and the child loses control, allow him or her space to calm down and then deal with the situation once things are calmer.

 

 

The Age Gauge

Brittany Begley of WBNS 10TV News

Last week I was interviewed by the vivacious Brittany Begley, for a series they are doing on the challenges of parenting in this day and age.

There will be a different segment each day starting on Monday, July 20, 2015 on the early morning news.

Brittany is a parent of an 8 year old son, so she can relate to the challenges of parenting personally. She had some great questions about about children growing up too fast that I wanted to share:

WBNS 10TV, Columbus, Ohio

When should we let kids have a cell phone?

Children really don’t need a cell phone until they are in 8th or 9th grade.

Waiting until they are responsible enough to have a phone also eliminates the challenges associated with social networking.

Although as adults we prefer to have the latest phone, it is not necessary for our children. It’s okay to get them a cell phone that is less expensive and simple. In time they can move up to a more trendy phone once they have proved they deserve it by taking care of their phone (not breaking, losing, or abusing it).

When should we let kids have their own car?

What do you think about taking kids to get a manicure/pedicure?

I think it is appropriate when they can purchase these things themselves.

Taking the responsibility to generate income and save money to buy a car or treat themselves to a manicure builds character, provides a sense of accomplishment and helps your child set goals for themselves.

Having a car or getting a pedicure/manicure are privileges and children need to understand and value the difference between needs and wants. When they pay for those privileges themselves they appreciate, take care of, and value them more.

Would we take our kids to get a massage?

Probably not because getting a massage is a luxury that people buy for themselves as a reward. So why are we taking them to get manicures/pedicures when more appropriate rewards can be just as fulfilling?

When we provide rewards that are extreme, we encourage our children to expect more and feel entitled.

Girls… growing up too fast?

When should they wear makeup, wear contacts, shave their legs?

Here is where we have a big influence on our child’s decision making; children are always looking at our actions and they want to follow in our footsteps.

If they see mom or other women in the family or circle of friends wear excessive makeup then they are likely to want to start wearing makeup early. Each one of these questions are associated with physical necessity, social self-esteem, and self awareness.

In my experience, as a parent coach and previously as an early childhood educator, I discovered some commonalities around children’s behavior and maturity.

I’ve learned that children can be complicated or difficult to understand especially for older parents. After years of education and work, parents become disconnected with their own childhood and find it harder to relate to their young children.

Another difficulty is finding a good balance between parenting, mentoring, and guiding our children to become independent and responsible individuals.

If you are looking to reward your child give them love, compassion, respect, understanding and quality time. Focus on those core values and everything else should be secondary.

For more information about addressing difficult questions, concerns, or challenges or to learn more about the services that Working with Parents provides visit our website at www.ourparentcoach.com.

Making Family Relationships Work

Happy family after visit from parent coachI recently read an article on Facebook called “5 Reasons Marriage Doesn’t Work Anymore,” written by Anthony D’Ambrosio. Most of his five reasons were due to the instant gratification, self-centeredness, and eye candy that social media like Facebook and Instagram perpetuate.

He attributed troubles in relationships to the fact that people were too involved in their social media and not involved enough in their real lives.

Good points, I thought, but then I started thinking… If THIS generation is having trouble connecting within their relationships and making lasting bonds with another person due to the overuse of social media, do my kids even have a prayer at a lasting marriage?

The answer is yes.

D’Ambrosio may have a bleak outlook, but the group of people he is talking about is a generation that basically had to learn social media themselves; they didn’t have parents that used social media and could model a balance of appropriate use and actual human interaction.

So, here is my list of 4 ways you can teach your children what a working marriage should be, even in the midst of social media:

1). Check your media and devices at the door

Make a docking station for all cell phones and tablets in a central location of the house (in the kitchen, by the front door, etc.) and make sure that when entering your home, all electronics are surrendered. Once your family is home, you should use the time to catch up and bond with each other, not worry about what others are doing. Make your kids talk to you at the dinner table, engage in conversations in the living room, read a book together, or just help your kids with their homework. Home time should be family time, and if you make it a priority, they will learn that it is one.

2). Discuss the difference between self-esteem and self-involved

I hear a lot of kids talking about how they post selfies to get “likes” because it helps to boost their self-esteem. Well that’s just ridiculous. Self-esteem comes from within, it comes from feeling proud of your accomplishments and achievements, it comes from your confidence in your own being because of your knowledge of who you are.

Self-esteem is not superficial, nor can it truly be built up based upon what others “like” or don’t “like” about you; it doesn’t come from posting cute or trendy pictures. Teach your children what real self-esteem is and what it feels like to have it, and they will go through life knowing the difference.

3). Be involved in your children’s social media accounts

Be their friend and follower, check on them to see what is going on in their and their friends’ lives, discuss what you see, and discuss what you may not see. Don’t just do it behind their backs, be open and honest.

Kids are kids, and as kids they need to me monitored and guided throughout their life’s journey, and this includes social media. Talk with them about the dangers, the temptations, the good and the bad. Let them know that social media isn’t everything, and teach them how to be social without the media too.
family having fun playing together

4). Be a role model

Your kids will learn more from you just by watching what you do than they ever will from just listening to what you have to say. So be a role model when it comes to social media, and be a role model when it comes to showing what a good, working marriage should be.

Check your phones at the door, be open and honest with your media accounts, make conversations and eye contact with your kids and your spouse.

Share affectionate touches or kisses with your spouse when your kids are in the room (it may be fun to gross them out a bit).

If you argue in front of your kids, resolve it in front of them as well. When you have an argument in front of your children, you demonstrate the fact that nothing is perfect, marriage is hard work, but it is also attainable.

When you work through and resolve your problems, your children will see compromise and sacrifice and teamwork. They will see that there are ups and downs, and then they will learn to expect them in their lives and work through them.

Your kids are likely to model the type of family they strive for based upon the type of family they grew up in, and they will work for a marriage that they grew up seeing.

Be your child’s best chance to have a loving and lasting marriage by putting the time and effort into your own.

Why Are Parents So Stressed?

frustrated young motherI was reading an article the other day about parents who have been using Uber (an on-call cab service) to drive their kids to or from activities. The link is below if you’d like to read the full article. I’m sorry, but I just think that that is insane!

Yes, life as a parent is busy, and even more so if you have two or more kids, and sure, it gets more hectic when your kids start getting into after-school or weekend activities. But at some point you just have to say, “Stop.” If you and your kids’ lives are so hectic that you cannot find time to pick your kids up from or take them to an activity, then YOU need to clear some space in the schedules.

April is Stress Awareness month, and most parents are stressed for one reason or another; some of it we cannot control, but some of it we can.

And your schedule is definitely something you can control!

Kids need structure; it helps them know what to expect and what is expected from them on a daily basis, but they also need to have free time too. They need free time for them to play, explore, experiment, or read just for their sheer enjoyment.
stressed soccer mom and kids-

Reducing The Stress Of Over-Commitment

While scheduled activities are good for socialization and skill development, children should not be so overloaded with them that it consumes all of their (or your) time. When you are constantly racing around trying to get your family from one event to another, you are stressed, admit it. You are probably a little frantic, you may be a more irritable, you may have more road rage, and you probably don’t eat as well because it is more convenient to grab something from a drive-through.

The stress you feel and express transfers to your children. They take cues from their parents on how they should feel and act, and so if you are stressed out, they probably are too.

I’m not saying that your kids should not be involved in any activities, but maybe just limit it to one.

I recently heard a speaker named Jill Savage speak about stress in the home, and she suggested (even for parents) to only have one “major” and one “minor.” Meaning, you can have one extra activity that you give your all to, your “major” being on a team, or organizing an event, something that you work hard at and take home with you.

Your “minor” would be something simple, baking cookies for a bake sale, or volunteering once a week at a shelter; something easy that you can do and be done. Clearing your schedules and your kids’ schedules is not only stress relieving, but it also opens up more time for family, and who doesn’t want that?

Empathizing With Your Spouse

The other day, while listening to a speaker at our MOPS group, the speaker asked:

How many of you are on the same page with your husbands?

To which a tablemate of mine replied:

Same page? Please! We’re not even in the same book!

All of us moms had a little laugh about that, but I think that we all could relate to her feelings just a little as well.

How many of you feel like you are on the same page with your spouse or partner?

How many of you feel like you’re not even in the same book?

They say opposites attract, but you don’t want to be on the complete opposite end of every decision you and your partner need to make; that just adds stress and tension to a marriage or partnership.
couple talking on bed

Communication is the Key to Successful Relationships

When going into any big decision, you and your partner should have a little meeting where you each can discuss your wishes, goals, and the general direction you want to go in. Make sure that you BOTH are able to communicate your wants and needs, and are heard by the other.

Then, with it all out on the table, the two of you can work together to decide on what is truly important to you, and where you can make compromises, or sacrifices. From there, the two of you can make a plan, and move ahead, both on the same page.

Having a plan takes the guess work out of things; it saves time because you and your partner can keep moving forward even if the other is not around because you just have to follow the plan!
father teaching his daughter

Improving Communication With Your Children

This is sound advice for any facet of a marriage or partnership, but it is also great advice for parenting. As parents, you and your spouse need to make a plan as to how to raise your kids.

  • What behaviors are acceptable, which ones are not?
  • What are your parenting goals?
  • What sort of discipline techniques do you plan on implementing?

If you don’t have a parenting plan, you can’t be on the same page, and then the rules you work so hard to enforce when you are home may go right out the window when you leave. When you leave the house, you want to have the peace of mind knowing that your children will be taken care of, and will abide by the same rules you have set.

It’s not only good for you, but it’s good for the kids too! Every night, when my husband comes home from work, I sort of debrief him on the day’s events. If I have begun a new discipline technique, I let him know so he is caught up and can use it too. Kids need consistency, and you and your spouse, or you and your partner, need to give that to them.

Some couples are freakishly in sync naturally, but for others (most of us) it takes a little extra work and effort. Don’t be afraid to make that extra effort, to speak your mind and share your goals. The only way you two will for sure be on the same page is if you sit down together and “write the book.”