Shoe Tying Hack 101

Shoe Tying Hack 101

Teaching our child how to tie their shoes can be an exciting yet daunting task, this is usually when the lovely convenience of velcro comes into play but it can’t last forever.

Millions of parents and children worldwide tackle this milestone together, whether it’s watching Youtube videos, endless practices sessions in the morning (when we all normally just give in and end up doing it for them). If your child is 4- to 6-years-old and is able to button up their own shirt or draw with a pencil, they may be ready to learn how to tie their shoes.

There are many ways to tie your shoes, and some may be easier than others. Whether you are a trying to teach a child how to tie their shoes, or you're looking for a new technique, all you’ll need is a pair of patient hands and your favorite pair of shoes.

Remember to remain understanding and keep a sense of fun in the air – We were all kids once. Here are a few beginner tips on how to make this a smooth and hopeful process.

  1. Place the shoe on a flat surface: In the beginning its always helpful to start out by placing their shoe on their lap and pointing the toe outwards, to set the stage for a realistic shoe tie experience.

  2. The Tree Method: To make it easier for children, color the bottom of one shoelace brown, the middle part of the lace green, and the top part of the lace brown. This way, when you instruct them to make a loop with the lace, it can look like trying to form a “tree” by always making sure the green part of the lace is at the top of the loop, like the leaves at the top of a tree.

  3. Egg Carton: Yup, you read right, use an egg carton. Lace up the carton like it was a shoe, this is an easy cleaner method if you’re child is practicing on a daily basis around the home.

  4. The Bunny Ears: This hack should be thrown into the Smithsonian for all of the years and successful shoe tying to back it up. This age old trick is simple, straight forward and allows for your child to take simple steps that work perfectly with their small hands to achieve shoe tying success!

    1. Fold each end of the lace into a single "bunny ear." You can hold the "ears" in place between your thumb and pointer finger on each hand.

    2. Cross the bunny ears so that they form an "X" in the air.

    3. Loop the bottom bunny ear over and through the top bunny ear. This will create a second knot.

    4. Pull the bunny ears out to the side away from the shoe. This will create a square knot that will not easily come undone and will hold the shoe in place.

It won’t be easy and we can’t promise your child won’t come home with a million knots on their shoes but it’s one more way to empower and boost your child self esteem and motor skills. Now go out and parent and be AWESOME! :)

4 Ways To Teach Children Impulse Control

4 Ways To Teach Children Impulse Control

Does your child have the self-discipline to control his or her impulses?

How many times have we been at a store and our child goes bonkers over having another sample of the apple juice the sweet old lady is handing out? And instead of explaining to our child why they cannot have another sample, we instead give in to their pint sized demand. I think we can all agree this is the easier way out, who wants to force innocent shoppers to another World War meltdown in isle 3? Not me. Food aside, impulses can show up anywhere and for many reasons. Let’s face it, we have little humans that need us to guide them through and teach them how to move through this crazy thing called life.

Teaching your child techniques on how to control their impulses doesn’t have to be hard, you can implement these simple recommendations on a weekly basis. If we can take the time to adjust our child’s thinking and impulses, we actually save ourselves a lot of time later down the road. Here are some tips on how to improve your child’s impulse control and alleviate future parental stress.

  1. Teach your child about their feelings: Often times, kids who don't understand their emotions are more likely to be impulsive. A child who can't say, "I'm angry" may hit to show she's upset. By teaching your child to recognize and verbalize his/her feelings, allows them to understand and cope with the current situation in a way that both child and parent can come to a solution.

  2. Teach them to repeat directions: How many times have we set our child aside before a task and clearly explained directions and once you let them loose all directions fly out the window? A great way to avoid this is to have your child repeat the directions back to you.

  3. Teach problem solving skills: There isn’t one way to solve a problem in adult life and this isn’t any different for children. Teach your child patience by explaining and walking them through situations that have more than one solution.

  4. Teach anger management skills: Low frustration skills can result in a child scream fest. There are ways to avoid this by having them practice certain strategies: taking a deep breath, thinking rather than yelling, etc.

Parenting isn’t easy or else everyone would do it. It’s definitely a journey but we’ll be with you every step the way.

3 Ways For A Smooth Move

3 Ways For A Smooth Move

Home is where the dinosaur is, or is it?

Have either of you ever experienced a big move, either as a child or adult? The transition can be sometimes big, scary, quick, and downright awful. Good news, it doesn’t always have to be that way and if it is, it won’t last forever.

I’ve made a lot of moves in my life, different cities, states, etc. Some would say the transition would differ from adult to child but I have to say No to that one. Whether you’re 5 or 25, the change can still bring up the same core feelings.

Below are some tips on how to transition and make the change easier for you and your family in a harmonious way that will hopefully allow for everyone to settle in at their own time.

Get Them and Yourself Ready
For toddlers and preschoolers, begin by calmly breaking the news about a month in advance -- that gives enough time to process the information but not so much that your kid has the opportunity to ruminate on the changes ahead. 

Allow Angst
New is never easy. With change comes discomfort and this could surface in many different ways. Allow for the moods, tempers, crying, it won’t last forever.

Walk the Walk
Kids often look to their parents for an example on how to process and except what is happening. As it may be just as hard for you, you are their role model. Pull through with strength and positivity because you are their best example on how to cope with change.

We hope these tips will help you in your next chapter. Life is short, make it easy.

Road trip 101: How To Stay Safe When Traveling With Your Family

Road trip 101: How To Stay Safe When Traveling With Your Family

Who remember's the long car rides to your great aunts house or to some vacation spot that your parent(s) carefully picked out?

Car travel with family can be a great chance to bond and spend a lot of quality time together, and let's face it, with jobs, school, sports, and other commitments, we are often left with a couple hours left in the average day to eat, say Hi, and go to sleep. Which is why it so important to take some time to just "be" with your family. Even if it's a short weekend car trip.

Preparing for a trip isn't easy...packing the suitcases, laundry, trying to keep the peace in the back seat while the kids ignore your every word. Aside from the normal road trip hardships, let's talk safety. I think we can all agree that we get so wrapped up in the destination that we might not always put much thought toward safety precautions just in case the "what if" happens. Whether you're traveling during the summer or the cold winter, preparing for the conditions can save your life and the life of your family. Here are some tips on how to travel safe and enjoy the ride. 

Plan your driving route
Before you take off into the sunset, plan your route, alternate routes, and for any road construction that may be happening. It also helps to make sure that there are places to make pit stops just in case of an emergency or just to stretch your legs.

Sometimes we cannot always depend on our GPS, so be sure to pack a map and send your itinerary/road map to a friend or family member. Having another person looking out for you while you’re on the road with your family is the responsible thing to do. If something were to happen to you, they’d be able to alert the proper authorities.

Make sure your vehicle is in working order
Try taking your car in to have everything checked out. Have your mechanic top off your fluids, check your tires, and head/tail lights. 

For an extra layer of security, pack an emergency kit that includes a spare tire, tire iron, and battery jumpers in the event of a breakdown or accident. You may also want to invest in a portable phone charger. 

*If traveling in a snow storm and your car happens to get stuck in the snow, DO NOT run your heater. Carbon monoxide can trap itself in the car and lead to death. If you DO in fact need to run the heater, make sure that a window is open in the direction the wind is blowing. 

Take breaks along the way
Despite the schedule you may have, the destination is never worth endangering your life and the life of your family. If you feel as though you're getting sleepy, either pull over or bite the bullet and get a room for the night.  

If there are two adults in the car, take turns driving. This will help split the load and offer the other person some well needed rest. 

Pack food and water
This is a given but try packing a little more than usual. There have been cases where motorists have survived solely on the food and water they packed. Non perishable foods are best. If you notice your supplies are getting low, replenish them along the way. The road is a long one and it's important to prepare for the worst. 

 

4 Lunch Hacks

4 Lunch Hacks

Mornings can be hectic enough with the chaos of getting your children ready for school, all while finding time to take a few manic sips of your much needed coffee. 

The new school year is coming up fast and along with the other million responsibilities parents have to ensure that their child transitions smoothly into their new class,  we have found some timesaving and creative hacks to help make lunch prepping not only easier but will help reduce waste.

Hack 1
Make it visual – this is food presentation 101. Sometimes it's easier to dump a PB&J into a plastic bag and call it a day. But even though kids are kids, they are also humans, so the psychology behind visual representation works on them too. 

Try purchasing containers that allow for multiple things to be stored inside. This will visually represent a "full meal" to your child which will more than likely result in them eating a bit of everything. The pro is that it will save you money in plastic ziplocks/waste and it's also an opportunity to include your child to choose containers that appeal to them and their personality. 

Hack 2
Create a snack station, one in the fridge and one in the pantry. This allows your child to learn the art of decision making, how to maintain a balance in diet, and allows them to feel more more involved. 

Hack 3
Is your child going on a field trip that requires packing a lunch? Freeze their juice boxes and place it in their lunch box. By the time lunch rolls around, their food will have remained at a healthy temperature and the juice box will have thawed out by this time. 

Hack 4
Are you a parent on the go and have no time or extra cash for fancy containers, make a weeks worth of PB&J and freeze them. 

And there you have it folks! Some fun and easy ways to make lunches a tad bit easier. 

5 Ways to Declutter Your Home

5 Ways to Declutter Your Home

Any parent knows that kids create clutter like nobody’s business.

Believe it or not, it is possible to have a simple, uncluttered home as well as peace of mind. If you're anything like me, clutter drives me bonkers, I feel like I can't concentrate, and it sometimes puts me in an unwelcome mood. Through out the years, I have found that the best way to remain zen is to maintain order and simplicity in my home. You must be thinking, "Zen and simplicity with kids running around? Yeah, right!" and trust me, I had the same reaction. 

I am going to share some awesome tips that will help you on the journey of finding your way into removing clutter and keeping it that way. Remember, don't be hard on yourself if it isn't perfect the first try, each home is it's own beautiful messy world – but it's doable! Take it hour by hour and day by day. 

Tip 1. What's important?
Are your child's close from 3 years ago still in the closet? It may be time to either donate them or box them up and put them somewhere that is easily accessible, just in case the time comes that you need them. The same goes for any other area of the home, dig through those cupboards and drawers and make decisions. If you can't decide within 5 sec, you don't need it.

Tip 2. Leave Space
Don't be afraid to leave space in drawers or anywhere around your home – not every square inch needs something. It helps reduce clutter and alleviates stress (and it looks nice)!

Tip 3. Designated Spaces/Cubbies
As hard as this may sound, keep all of the kids toys in their room. Leave the kitchen, dining room, and living room for living items only. You can also try having a play mat somewhere in your communal space for the kiddos to play.  

Each child should have their own cubby for their own toys. This helps keep everything contained and in one place. It also helps reduce the chance of a war over who the toy belongs to. 

Tip 4. One place for school papers
You can either have separate racks/folders or set up a filing system where all of their school papers can be found. It'll make it easier in the long run for both child and parent to locate their work without hassle. 

Tip 5. Teach them to clean
Cleaning is one of the first ways to teach your child about responsibility. Make it fun by singing a song or competing to see who can clean their toys up first. You'll be surprised by how fast their toys will be back in order.

 

3 Fun Ways To Prepare Your Child for Swim Lessons

3 Fun Ways To Prepare Your Child for Swim Lessons

Some say we're all born with our own set of interests and comfort zones and I tend to believe that. However, there are some skills that can be fundamental to survival, emergency situations, or just leisure – SWIMMING. 

Unless you're a fish trapped in a humans body or just naturally in tune with anything aquatic, water (especially as a young child) can be intimidating and even scary. 

When I was younger, I was never taught how to swim and was actually told to stay on the shallow end. I am now almost 30 and am barely letting go of my water phobia and just going for it! Luckily, I now know that by taking proper steps to ensure safety and encourage fun, swimming can be a liberating activity. I've always believed water is something to be respected and enjoyed. 

Planning on scheduling that first swim lesson for your kiddo? Below are some tips on how to get your child to warm up to the water and decrease the first day jitters.

Breath Control
This is the first step in teaching your child to swim independently. Accidentally swallowing water can be a frightening setback, so make sure you encourage him to submerge his face and blow bubbles to increase his comfort level in the water.

Front Float
Securely hold your child under his arms, facing you. Start walking backward through the water. As you pick up a little speed, the water will gently push him into a front float position. 

Life Jackets
There is nothing more secure and relieving to know that even though you may make a wrong move, you'll still float :) I would suggest using life vests or any other floating devices will getting you child to warm up to the water. 

5 Steps to Keep Summertime Stress Free and Fun

5 Steps to Keep Summertime Stress Free and Fun

The sun is shining and summertime is rolling around any day now.

I often think that kids enjoy it a little more than parents do. What's not to enjoy? No school, great weather, and sleeping in every single morning. For us parents, it means scheduling child care, meal plans, etc. Although, we're all happy to welcome the much needed change, around the third week both child and parent often times fall into a rut. The allure of summertime fun is now replaced with boredom and little stimulation for the child, all while we as parents struggle to keep the stress levels down. 

It’s time to regroup and figure out a way to reconcile your child’s expectations with your own in a way that makes life a little easier for everyone. Not only can your kids have an amazing summer, so can you. Below are five tips on how to get the most out of your summer.

1. Don't ditch the morning routine
Sure, let the kiddos sleep in the first couple of mornings but after that it's back to the routine. Try establishing early morning chores before breakfast and for the working moms and dads, this is a great time to stay connected with your kids first thing in the morning. 

2. Educational camps/classes
Instead of dropping the kids off with a sitter or simply just staying home, try keeping your child mentally stimulated with educational camps or something similar. This is a great and safe way to keep them inspired even when you aren't there.

3. Let them play
This is probably the easiest and yet hardest thing to do. Why? Because it usually includes getting dirty, creating a mess, or something else that requires immediate attention as a parent :) We're all human, I get it. Challenge yourself and let them play in the dirty or water. It beats sitting in front of a TV all day. This will tire them out and help them feel satisfied at the end of the day.

4. Keep a bedtime
Who else has struggled getting your kiddos back on track when it comes time to go back to school? It's never easy turning off the summertime buzz but keeping a steady bedtime throughout the summer will soften the transition for both child and parent. 

5. Plan a family activity
Activities don't necessarily have to cost a ton of money. It could be something as simple as loading up the bikes and hitting a trail and having lunch afterwards. The power of bonding is something special and very much needed. Not everything requires a ton of money. The great stuff in life is free. 

 

4 Things To Keep In Mind If You’re A New Parent With A Disability

4 Things To Keep In Mind If You’re A New Parent With A Disability

Approximately 53 million U.S. adults have some type of disability — 4.1 million of whom are parents. If you are one of the 53 million and you’re on the brink of bringing home a child of your own for the first time, there are some preparations to consider so that this exciting new phase of your life is safe for both you and baby.

1. Prepare A Safe And Clean Home
Regardless of disability, the requirements for childproofing your home are the same:

● Secure large bookcases, television stands, and any other tip-worthy furniture to the wall.
● Install childproof locks on drawers with sharp objects, firearms, chemicals, and medication.
● Make sure all handrails are secure.
● Cover sharp corners of furniture with protective guards.
● Place a gate across stairways to prevent an accidental tumble.
● Make sure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order.
● Get a fire extinguisher for every level of your home.
● Ensure the safety of the crib — whether it’s a hand-me-down or newly assembled; remove copious pillows, blankets, and toys to prevent suffocation.
● Remove clutter. Consider hiring a cleaning service to give your home a thorough clean to ensure you’re bringing your baby into a germ-free environment.

2. Consider Purchasing Some Adaptive Parenting Products Once you’ve got the basics organized, consider adding some adaptive products to make it easier for you to take care of your baby with your disability. Some examples of items include:

● A stroller attachment for your wheelchair
● Side opening crib
● Two-sided nursing pillow
● Swivel base baby car seat
● Bibs with velcro closures
● A walking harness (when it comes time to aid your baby with first steps)
● Bath and changing stations that are at a height conducive to someone in a wheelchair

3. Make Sure You’re Taking Care Of Yourself
Raising a child certainly comes with its share of stress, but if you aren’t managing it efficiently, it can create an inflammatory response in the body that can prompt a difficult pregnancy and overall health complications. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself by eating well (incorporate stress-busting foods like whole-grain carbohydrates, avocados, and fatty fish), exercise as regularly, and meditate or practice yoga. Consider talking to a counselor if you are having difficulties managing your emotions or your new schedule.

Research shows you don’t have to spend a substantial amount of time to recharge your batteries. Some simple self-care strategies include:

● Turning on uplifting music
● Scheduling one uninterrupted hour with your spouse, friend, or family member
● Spend 20 minutes writing positive comments on social media
● Journal for 15 minutes
● Write down things that are causing you stress with an action item for each
● Post a goal or intention for the week on the refrigerator
● Choose one activity each day that you can truly savor and enjoy
● Download a gratitude app
● Take time for a catnap

4. Have A List Of Available Support Resources On-Hand
Raising children is challenging regardless of your health situation, but as a parent with a disability, make sure you’re getting the proper support you need. It can be difficult to acknowledge you need help, so that’s why it’s important to know your limitations and create a network of family, friends, social and disability services, and support groups to assist you on a physical and emotional level. There are several resources available online that can help you find support in your area.

Parenting is an exhilarating journey. Just as you’ve managed to master your disability, you will also be able to master the role of being a fantastic parent. Planning is key, so as soon as you find out you’re going to be a parent, start implementing the necessary changes to prepare your home —  as well as your mind.

3 Parental Life Hacks

3 Parental Life Hacks

90% of parenting is thinking about when you can lie down again.

As a parent, it's easy to get down on yourself. The laundry is full, dinner isn't made, the "kids look tired and it's all my fault!" Whenever you think you're the only one looking to pull your hair out, you're not. 

I remember as a kid, my mom who was a single parent lived on structure, without it, she would have gone mad. Not to say she didn't stumble every now and again, we're only human. Even before "life hacks" was a thing, she was doing little things to make her life a little easier, for example: weekly meal calendars and prepping outfits the night before. We all have our own little tricks but I think we can all agree we could always use a little more :)

Below are some hacks that are sure to make you think "why didn't I think of that!" Enjoy my fellow parents! And remember, Jesus blessed you with these little babies, just breathe and pray. Sooner rather than later, you will wish they were little again. 

Screen time
Who's experienced your kiddo lose it when you attempt to take the device away or turn the tv off early? Limit TV/Device time by starting shows in the middle. Most kids aren't really concerned about the story line. 

Potty Training
This can be one of the most challenging experiences out there. Even as an adult toilet paper rolls can be challenging (sadly) i.e. the roll rolls a little too much, finding the tear on a new roll, etc. Imagine being a kid and taking that challenge on?! Make it easy by placing a tissue box next to their shrine, this will make it easier for them to grab portioned perfectly pieces of tissue.

Shopping
How many of us sprint past the toy isle at our local store, raise your hand (hand raised). To avoid tears and heartache, have your kiddo snap a photo of each of the their dream toys and "send them to Santa." This way you have a phone full of Christmas gift ideas and the kids are left feeling hopeful and happy.

 

 

 

3 Kid Friendly Activities To Celebrate St. Patty's Day

3 Kid Friendly Activities To Celebrate St. Patty's Day

Are you looking for a St Patty's Day project guaranteed to keep your kiddos busy for a while? Look no further, we have some great activities that are guaranteed to keep you and the little ones entertained. 

When I was a kid I remember loving St. Patricks Day and the inevitable friendly "pinch" from a classmate (even if you were wearing green, lol)! As we get older, we tend to think St. Patricks Day isn't necessarily a holiday circled around children, but I beg to differ. It's a great opportunity for quality time and to teach our children that the green holiday doesn't necessarily have to be an unhealthy way to spend a fun day. Unfortunately our culture tends to push a different lifestyle on us as we get older.

What may be surprising, kids can find the fun in almost anything, depending on your level of involvement and enthusiasm. Be your child's supporter and fun giver! Since we're lucky enough to have St. Patricks Day fall on a Saturday this year, this gives you more time to stew over how you're going to make this not an ordinary day. Be adventurous. Maybe a party with a few families could be an idea, this would allow the adults to hang out and the kids to play. The perfect recipe for a fun day. 

Scrap Rainbow
Who remembers loving the game "Color By Numbers"? We have a cheap and easy way to make a colorful rainbow that would make great memorable wall art. 

Cut out multiple colors of cardboard paper. Draw a rough rainbow on an 8.5x11 or 11x17 of white paper. Create a row of linear squares in each color arch. Number each square. Last step, would be to place the correct numbers on the back of each square. Break out the Elmers Glue and have fun!

Leprechaun Gold
The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is one reason to get up and get moving. Leprechauns Gold is a great way to get the kids involved and active. 

First step would be to take everyone on a hunt for rocks. Once all of the rocks are collected, bring them back to your yard or garage (be sure to put large pieces of cardboard down). Align all of the rocks in a line and have the kids spray them with gold spray paint. Once this is done, go ahead and have lunch and let them dry. 

Last step is for you parents, take all of the rocks and hide them around your yard, park, etc. Once they are all hidden, watch and enjoy the look of success twinkling in your child's eyes :) 

Shamrock Pops
This is a tasty twist to St. Patty's and they're sure to make the kids yell "Thank you!" Shamrock pops are a quick and easy way to make an ordinary afternoon a little bit more special. 

Purchase a pack of toothpicks, a bag of plain editable marshmallows, and green sprinkles. Quickly submerge the marshmallows into water, roll them into the sprinkles, and enjoy! Simple and Sweet.

 

Pass The Vitamin D

Pass The Vitamin D

Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day...

The benefits of rain are fantastic for the environment around us. Especially living in states that tend to be a lot dryer than most. With the recent drought in California, our lakes, rivers, etc were slowly fading, cost of water was rising, and even in some areas, a water limit was in place. 

We're not quite out of the weeds of winter yet, and  we still have those gloomy and rainy days on the horizon but let's talk sunshine and it's unbelievable benefits is has for our health, mind, and spirit.

Do you ever subconsciously feel happier, stronger, or more energetic when it's sunny out? That's the suns number one job. Vitamin D deficiency is a real thing that can have negative effects on our mind and body that can sometimes be quite easy to ignore.

Back in 2013, I made my first big move to the snowy state of Nebraska, smack dab in the middle of winter. The excitement of snow was enough for me to set aside any differences I may have felt psychically or mentally. However, a month in, I began to notice some difference in my mood and energy levels. I chalked it up to the big move and relocating out of state, but then I started to notice that the symptoms were getting worse, not better. I was shocked when my doctor revealed that I was severely Vitamin D deficient. She quickly put me on a high dose of Vitamin D...and IT WORKED. My mood got better, muscle aches disappeared, and my energy levels were once again balanced. During this entire ordeal, it never occurred to me how important Vitamin D is when it comes to our overall health. 

The two ways you are able to get the right amount of Vitamin D on a daily basis is by exposing your skin to sunlight (while wearing sunscreen) or taking daily supplements. Contrary to what some may believe, you aren't able to get the right amount of Vitamin D through food.

Who wants to feel lousy? Not me. Below are some ways to catch Vitamin D deficiency and stop it in it's track. Along with some Vitamin D food options!

Symptoms

Getting sick or infected often
Fatigue and tiredness
Bone and back pain (body aches)
Depression/changes in mood
Muscle pain

Foods high in Vitamin D

Egg yolks
Salmon
Canned tuna
Mushrooms
Fortified foods – Milk, soy milk, and certain cereals

 

 

3 Tips For Spring Cleaning With Kids

3 Tips For Spring Cleaning With Kids

Spring is right around the corner. I know what you're thinking, "but my Christmas Tree is still up."

I don't know about you but it feels like 2018 is flying by and by the time we know it, it'll be time to whip out the sandals and shorts. As much as "fun in the sun" sounds, we all have to face the dreaded and inevitable truth, SPRING CLEANING. 

Before you run for the hills, moms and dads, why not put a twist and have some little hands join in on the fun? We all could use some help and this could be a great way to include the kiddos. 

Below are 3 tips on how to make a dreaded task, a memorable one. 

Think teamwork
Cleaning the bathroom and clearing out the closets can be lonely. This doesn't have to be a solo mission. Assign specific tasks to each family member. 

Don't micro manage
Who likes having their boss breathing down their neck? No one. Kids are the same! Allow some freedom in the process. It'll help with the overall experience and also teach your child independence.

Motivators
Who likes to clean in a silent home? Not me! Turn on the tunes and make a reward plan. It's always nice to know you're working toward a goal. Maybe it's pizza or a trip to the movies. Music+Rewards=Happy campers

 

5 Ways To Teach Your Child About Independence

5 Ways To Teach Your Child About Independence

It's 7:45AM and your blood pressure spikes. The mountain of mommy and daddy to-do's begins to sink in and you realize, it's time for school.

How many of us can understand the dreaded Monday-Friday mornings that demand we as parents be on our A game. Pack the lunches, do the hair, make sure their backpack is packed, all while not forgetting to bring along your very much needed coffee for the anxious ride to school where you will drop of your child in a panicked frenzy? Doesn't sound like you? Lucky! Although it may not be as hectic for all parents first thing in the mooring, I think we can all agree that we sometimes wished our kiddos could do a little more to ease the tension and responsibly on ourselves. 

Growing up in a single parent home, independence wasn't a maybe, it was NECESSARY. At the time I did't quite understand why I wasn't able to just sit their and daze at the wall, giving myself some time to wake up my 5 year old brain while my mom picked an outfit (Yes, true story). Looking back, my mother's hollers to "get up and get dressed" now make me smile. I never knew what a big difference it made in her morning when I actually took the responsibility to pick an outfit (sometimes not so cute) and make sure my bag is packed and ready. It may seem like a lot of responsibility for a youngster to handle but I don't think we give our kiddos much credit. Kids are SMART and very intuitive. Let's nurture that!

Below are some tips on how to kick start your child's independence and alleviate some pressure on your shoulders.

Set Priorities
Give your child one task at a time, so you don't overwhelm them.

Set Time
To keep a schedule and have it stick, set time limits for each task. This way your child is able to understand the importance of time management and completing goals. 

Forget Perfection
Perfection is unachievable. Focus on the task and it's completion. This will give your child a sense of accomplishment and encourage further responsiblity. 

Talk About It
Explain to your child the importance of independence and time management. It doesn't have to be a complicated speech and remember to speak in terms your child will understand and embrace. Everyone loves being confident in what they do! 

Make A List
Sit down together and make a list of things your child would like to start learning to do on their own. Keep it an open conversation and allow the to explore their interests.

 

6 Ways To Help Your Child Through Difficult Situations

6 Ways To Help Your Child Through Difficult Situations

Parenting is one of the most rewarding jobs on this planet. You have the opportunity to mold this wonderful little human.

Every now and again I like to sit back and reflect on some of the the wonderful milestones my child has had: cub scout awards, their first tooth, learning to ride a bike, and the list goes on. It's so funny how as a parent you truly do see the world in a totally different light, to you what was once a mundane task is now the highlight to your day. All it takes is a smile on their little face and a twinkle in their eye to make your heart melt. 

That's the beauty about kids. The world is their oyster, full of love and new things. But what happens when certain life events fall into your life and inevitably theirs, and you have to face the hard task of explaining a difficult situation to them in a way that they will understand? 

Finding the strength and right words can be difficult, but it isn't the only step in introducing a life event that will affect your life as well as their own. Below are some ways to gently explain and nurture the reaction of your child after a difficult situation rises in your family. 

Prayer
This is probably the most important step in anything! God is so good. He is perfect. Send your worries and concerns to him. He's got it covered even when you think you don't.

Answer your child's questions
Children need the opportunity to talk about their feelings with each other and with adults. It is important that you have your own feelings and thoughts straight. Think not only about what you want to say, but also about how you want it to come across. Always be thoughtful and honest.

Acknowledge Feelings
Unlike adults, children have not yet had the opportunity to work through feelings, especially hard ones. This is why it is important to let them know that it is OK to feel what they are feeling. Share your own feelings in a way that they will understand and will help them feel like they are not alone. One of the best things you can teach your child is the ability to cope and send it all to God.

Reassurance
Offer the comfort that they need. Give lots of hugs, spend time together, and show them that life goes on and things do get better with time. 

Break it down in child terms
It may make perfect sense to you but not necessarily to them. Every child is different and requires words/explanations that make sense to them. 

Check for signs of stress
Every child is unique in how they handle stress. Some are vocal and some tend to withdraw. Here some signs to look for if you suspect your child isn't coping well: changes in eating, anxiety, crying a lot, bad dreams, feeling sick, aggressive behavior, etc. 

 

 

New Year New You

New Year New You

As the clock quickly approaches December 31st I'm sure all of us have given some thought to ways we can improve this new year.

The average New Years resolution is often circled around longs hours at the gym or attempting to quit that pesky habit – we all have them. But let's be honest, how often do those last? 

Letting go of all the superficial and often "you" focused resolutions, I thought what a great idea it would be to explore other avenues of my life that may need enrichment. This year I decided to focus more on changes that will not only help improve my parenting but that will also feed my spirit.

Here are some tips on how to turn your typical New Years resolutions to something much more substantial and heart warming.

Attending church
Trust me, I know how hard it is to actually muster the strength to get up, get the kids dressed, and make it to church. Sometimes it's easier to just shrug it off and plan for next Sunday.

What I found was that, making God a focal point in not only my life but in the life of my family was the best thing I could do. 

Listen to your children
There was a wonderful quote I read not too long, it said something along the lines of "If you don't listen to your kids now they won't tell you the big stuff when they're older, because to them all of it has been big stuff."

That quote really rang true to me. I completely understand the days where you just want to tune them out and hand them an ipad but try and remember that they're only young once and they only have one "you". The fact that they want to share every little thing with you should make you flattered and actually put a little smile on your face :)

Don't ignore yourself
Being a parent is such a blessing but it is also exhausting. After packing lunches, homework, and pretty much putting the children and your home first, you're left running on empty and just wanting to take a few minutes to relax. 

Some parents think that taking care of yourself means a "lot of time" but it actually doesn't. Instead of grabbing that latte to-go, how about you treat yourself to 20min inside of the cafe. It's the little things that can make a huge difference. 

YOU are the head of the home. Take care of that head and body! 

 

 

5 Ways To Stay Healthy And Happy This Winter

5 Ways To Stay Healthy And Happy This Winter

Pass the tissues, Tylenol PM, and winter time blues. As much as we all love this time of year that is full of memorable moments and hot cocoa, we are not immune to the season.

Flu season is quickly approaching, along with a whole lot of other 'speed bumps' we cannot avoid. Whether you live in a state that is full of snow or a state that just rains on you all winter long, the lack of sunshine and germs at every step/touch can be a bit much at times. 

Every year can be different. One year can be full of merry and cheer and the next can be nothing but clogged sinuses and praying for Summer to come early. I remember my first winter in Nebraska (California girl here) was a complete and utter shock – I couldn't shake a cold that seemed to last weeks and my mood was down a bit, so I went to the doctor. Surprise, surprise, I was severely vitamin D deficient. Luckily, my doctor spared mercy on me, gave me some Vitamin D pills and some priceless advice. 

Here are 5 tips for staying healthy and happy during this season of joy.

Stay active
Work out when it's freezing outside?!? You ask. Trust me, I get it. It's always hard to get up and get active when the windshield on your car is still icy and your spouse is snoring next to you, but your body depends on it. Our body is a smart machine, it can detect anything. Just by adding a 30 minute walk a day can boost your metabolism and get your endorphins pumping. You're worth it. 

Pass the flu shot
Don't let you and your family fall victim to the flu this season. I have to admit, I barely got my first flu shot a couple of weeks ago and I'm happy I did. It took 2 minutes and it was FREE. Most places like CVS, Walgreens, etc. offer free flue shots. What do you have to lose? It's extra protection against the seasons number one mood killer. Worried your kids won't be too happy to take that step inside the CVS? Offer them ice cream afterwards (that worked for me!). 

Help others
Whoever said "helping others is healing to the soul" was absolutely right! There's a certain joy you feel when you know you're doing a selfless act that will help and enrich someone else's life who may be less fortunate. Especially during this season, there are a lot of open slots for volunteer work. Try checking out your local town website or Facebook page for updates on volunteer opportunities. 

Eat well
This time of year tends to call for a lot of cookies and warm drinks but the pit fall is that a lot of these tasty treats are loaded with sugar. All though they are scrumptious at the moment, that yummy bite can lead to a sugar high that will result in a low. I found that by replacing sugar with healthier alternatives like Stevia and Truvia made for more of a guilt free experience. 

Remember to include veggies and protein to all meals and avoid starches. Chili and soups are wonderful options, as they often result in a lot of leftovers and tends to keep everyone warm and happy. 

Get out and live
There is nothing better than packing the kiddos into the car and going on an adventure. Whether it's as simple as taking a trip to the grocery store to make a yummy meal together or visiting a distant family member. Don't let the weather hold you hostage in the house, grab your mittens and experience the joy of the season. 

Tis The Season To Be Stressed

Tis The Season To Be Stressed

The Holiday season is filled with excitement, shining smiles, and....exhaustion. As Christmas quickly approaches the daunting list of all of the things we need to do to prepare rears it's not-so-pretty head: buy gifts, plan travel, decorate the house, prepare for houseguests, and the list goes on...literally. 

Sometimes I can't help but think about all of the moms and dads out there who seem to have it all together, their tree is up, the presents were bought the year before, and the kitchen smells like pine cones and Santa Claus. I had a "perfect friend" like that, and one day I decided to ask her what her secret was, and you know what she said? Coffee and Jesus (yes, she really said that!). She went on to explain all of the ways she prepped for the holiday season and how how it saved her so much time and stress in the long run.

Let's face it, being a parent is hard enough and than we throw the holiday season into the pie mix and it makes you almost want to scream (but don't). We're here for you.

Below are some jolly and easy tips on how to not lose your head and actually allow yourself to enjoy the season minus the headache. 

Did someone say Amazon?
I know what you're thinking, Amazon is so impersonal, but think about it, no lines and you can shop all year around from the comfort of your own couch. One thing I noticed by trying this method was that through out the year I was able to keep tabs on what my kids actually wanted, instead of trying to catch hints in December and than scrambling to the nearest Target. It saved time and it was delivered to my front door. 

Don't overthink it
If you're anything like me, I stress on whether the red ribbon in the kitchen matches the ribbon on the wreath outside. Truth is, no one notices but you! Decorations are just a detail to the season, not a deal breaker. 

Houseguest(s) plan of attack
If we're lucky, we often have houseguests warn us a few weeks in advance before their arrival. Occasionally, we're surprised and instead of 5 houseguests, we have 8. Always have a list of where guests will sleep (even the surprisers), add blankets and pillows to that area before hand, assign a place for luggage, and keep a stack of towels in the bathroom(s). 

What I like to do is buy easy meals at Costco or Sams that I can just throw in the oven and forget about for about 30 min. This reduces stress and keeps everyone full. 

Candles
Do you want the air to smell like cinnamon rolls and love? Run to the store and buy some candles. Not only are they relaxing but it's a cheap and easy way to create an ambiance in your home. 
*This is what my "perfect friend" used in her kitchen ;) 

Traveling?
Car rides, plane rides, any kind of ride can be quite the task with kiddos running around. Whether it's in the air or on the ground the same tips apply: pack light, plan travel times, bring games, and include the kids in the planning. This way they feel as though they had some sort of hand in the whole thing. When kids feel in charge they take on more of a leadership role. Don't believe me? The next time you're at the grocery store and you see the child yelling in the cart next to you, while yours is picking the best pasta for dinner that night, you will understand. 

 

 

Celebrating Gratitude

Celebrating Gratitude

Persevere in prayer, watching in it with thanksgiving. Colossians 4:2

'Tis the season to be grateful. Isn't life such a wonderful gift? Despite the inevitable hardships that life can bring us, the sun truly does shine again. There is such a peace in knowing that God holds the ultimate plan for our individual lives. Each life, household, and family is beautifully unique and and each person was placed exactly where God intended them to be. Doesn't that blow your mind? 

Around this time of year, I always remember being a child sitting in my Grandma's steamy kitchen, while she made yet another hardy meal with love. She didn't have much, most of her items were bought from a thrift store and she made most of her clothes, but I can honestly say she was the most grateful person I have ever met. Even as a child I noticed her humble way of going about life – she was rich in spirit. My Grandmother taught me to appreciate not the material but to instead be grateful for the things that can easily be looked over, for example: waking up in the morning, your health, family, and peace of mind. She always reminded me that the last three on the list (health, family, and peace), "money could not buy". I never forgot that. 

I'm a strong believer that when you teach your children young and instill this way of thinking and believing, it will greatly help them as they grow into adult hood. Below are some tips on how to bring gratitude into your home and family. 

Gratitude Jar
When something heartwarming happens in your household, say "I am so grateful!", write it down and throw it in the jar. This will make the moment more special and it will help your children understand the true meaning of gratitude.

Thank You Letters
Did you your child have something kind happen to them? Did their teacher go the extra mile? Awesome. Help your child write a simple Thank You letter by expressing their gratitude. 

Blessing Tree
Buy a small tree that can sit on a table. On Thanksgiving have everyone write one non thing they are grateful for and have them pin it to the tree. When dinner is over, read through the pinned notes over dessert and a warm heart. 

3 Ways To Financially Prep Your Family

3 Ways To Financially Prep Your Family

Do you remember cradling your baby in your arms, it seems like it was just yesterday, right?! Well, the day will quickly roll around where you're kissing them off to college and making a speech at their wedding. 

We all want what's best for our children, and what's the one thing that can hinder a person later on in life? You guessed it, money. As parents we get so caught up in teaching our kids about manners, education, etc that we tend to gloss over the importance of money, what it means, and how it can greatly impact our lives later down the road. Not to say manners and education aren't important but these are just pieces to a very big puzzle called Life.

"It's too soon to talk about money", you say. Wrong. It's never too soon to start prepping for college funds, practicing healthy financial habits, and schooling our kiddos on how to earn and manage money. Trust me, you will thank your self later. Choosing to take this on early in your child's life will not only help with ensuring financial stability on your end but will relieve stress for both of you later on down the road.

Looking back, my mom was RIGHT! (Shhh, don't tell her I said that). One thing my mother always stressed was learning to save money and protecting your credit. Boy was she right!

Here are some tips on how to prep yourself financially for the future, as well as how to wrap your child's young mind around cash/credit/and savings:

Start Early
Saving $50 per month from the day a child’s born could give you $20,000 by the time he or she turns 17. It is never too early, or too late, to start saving for your kiddos college.

This can be a huge lifesaver for you when it comes time to pay tuition.

Never Too Early To Work
Start by offering to pay your child for certain jobs done around the house or their community. This will help them build pride and a strong work ethic. 

Encourage them to work in high school and put 50% of their paycheck earnings into a savings account for their college fund that they are unable to touch until they're 18. They may not like it (or you too) after doing so, BUT guaranteed they will love you once their first school loan bill comes in.

Credit Game
Credit can be a difficult thing to try and teach a young child but it isn't impossible. You're probably thinking, "really credit? I hardly understand it myself!" And trust me, I get why you're a little thrown but it's important to start teaching them about owing, making payments, and the repercussions if they forget to pay what they owe. 

Start by playing this simple game: Give your child a used/old card of yours and have that be their credit card. Explain their limit (whatever that may be, $5 bucks?). Tell them that money is now on the card but that they will need to pay this back the next time they do a special job. Let them know that they will not be able use the card until it is paid off. If they do not pay back, they will be forced to pay a fee of $1.

It may be difficult moms and dads but stick to your guns. Even if they cry, beg, sob, etc. This doesn't need to be an every day thing but try it the next time they want something like a toy or ice cream. 

May the force be with you.