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Archive for May, 2018

Bored Kids Are Distracting: Things Your Child Can Do While You Work

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Identifying activities for your kids to do while you’re busy with other things can be a daunting task. This is why work-at-home parents need all the help they can get.

A majority of kids lack knowledge of how to engage in solo play. Typically, kids appreciate having access to a daily routine of exciting things to do, but they require gentle encouragement and training. Providing your children with exciting and enjoyable activities helps them extend their attention span as well as experience in keeping themselves busy.

According to Linda Acredolo, a psychology professor at the University of California, play is an important activity during childhood. Although you might regard it as mere child’s play, childhood play involves several interrelated undertakings, ranging from problem-solving and learning new skills to mental and physical challenges.

Below are some few things you can do to foster your child’s learning.

Stretch Your Child’s Imagination

It’s been noted that kids who engage in make-believe play are often good at keeping themselves busy according to Dr. Willard. Children typically have their imagination even when participating in boring activities. You could try engaging your child’s imagination. Perhaps, you could provide your child with beads and string for making keychain animals. Doing so helps improve your child’s ability to count and make patterns.

Introduce technology

You can give your child an iPad for a few minutes and let them play with an educational app. This way, your child can play and learn at the same time.

Letting them occupy their time with mobile apps can provide tremendous benefits. Nonetheless, kids need guidance on the use of mobile applications. For this reason, you need to keep close tabs on how your kids are using or interacting with any mobile apps you choose for them.

Reward Your Kid for Playing Alone

Keep in mind that your kid has many playmates at school. But at home, they are denied this opportunity or only have access to their siblings. This is why your kid may resort to the B word. To resolve this problem, you need to create a plan that lets your kid hang out alone.

Try engaging your kid in activities such as playing Lego, puzzles, or browsing through picture books. You can improve this process by letting your kid come up with his own ideas instead of dictating what he ought to do. Jennifer Kolari the author of Connected Parenting recommends rewarding your kids every time they play alone in their bedroom. For instance, you could go out on a date with your kids.

Be Creative

Often, it seems convenient suggesting activities for your kid whenever they are bored, and they can’t seem to come up with something on their own. Note that the most common entertainment platforms teach kids to expect instant gratification. In the short term, these distractions-be it TV, movies, or mobile apps- will keep your kid temporarily occupied. However, in the long term, your kids will become intolerant of quiet moments as they induce hypertensive states. Instead, you should engage your children in summertime long projects. Perhaps, you can encourage them to tend a windowsill, flower, or vegetable garden to occupy their free time.

 

This article was written by Natalie Bracco from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

10 fun & free things to do with kids in a heatwave

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Ever noticed how a rise in temperature seems to directly correspond with a rise in the amount of loose change flying out of your purse?

What with ice creams, drinks and whatever else they’re begging you for I feel like I shell out money hand over fist as soon as the sun comes out.

 

With three little people now pretty much eating and drinking and costing the same as each other days out can get expensive, so when the mercury rises how can you enjoy the warm weather without breaking the bank?

It is possible – this weekend we had huge fun with the garden hose on our allotment – such a simple thing but such fun!

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With that in mind I asked 10 mums and dads to share their favourite fun and free things to do with kids in a heatwave that won’t cost you a penny and here’s what they said.

10 fun & free things to do with kids in a heatwave

1. Head to the nearest beach. “Sandcastles, splashing in the sea, collecting shells and rock pooling – hours of fun and all for free!” says Sally at The Happy Home.

2. Hold a good old-fashioned water fight. “Kids versus adults is so much fun (and wears us all out!) says Charlie at Our Altered Life.

 

3. Freeze toys in a tub of water. “Give them a knife and some salt and tell them to get their toys out,” says Emma at The Money Whisperer. “They love it!” (Adult supervision might be a good idea for this one!)

4. Make edible flower ice cubes. “They look so good (especially in mama’s gin!) and it’s something to look forward to if the hot weather stays for a few days,” says Emma at Ready Freddie Go.


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5. Fill a paddling pool with Orbeez (that’s colourful beads which grow 100 times their original size when they come into contact with water, in case you had to google it like I did). “Fill a paddling pool full of water and chuck in a couple of big packs of orbeez – it’s great fun like a huge jelly bath!” says Nikki at Yorkshire Wonders.

6. Make a den with the washing line. “Making a den with bedsheets and pegs using the washing line was always a favourite of mine!” says Fran at Back With A Bump. “Probably not so much for my mum who I probably left to tidy it all away!”


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7. Set up a car wash. “We have a Little Tikes plastic car which my daughter washes,” says Lauren at Sophie’s Nursery. “We give her a washing up bowl filled with soapy water and a sponge and she loves it! It doesn’t have to be a car – we have also done a baby wash with plastic dolls.”

8. Turn on the garden sprinklers, sit back and relax. “When it gets too hot we get the sprinklers on – George loves running between the sprinklers to cool down,” says Carla-Marie at My Bump 2 Baby.


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9. Go stream dipping. “It’s loads of fun and keeps them cool,” says Lianne at Anklebiters Adventures.

10. Play hide and seek in the woods. “We would run off ahead of our parents and leave them clues along the way in the form of arrows made of sticks,” says Ben at Wood Create. “Then we would find a good spot and draw a circle on the floor with a number in it. The number would relate to the amount of steps to the hiding place, but it could be in any direction – then wait to be found! Great fun as a kid!”


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Are you in the middle of a heatwave where you are? Do you have any fun and free activities you can recommend? I’d love to hear what they are!

 

The post 10 fun & free things to do with kids in a heatwave appeared first on Confessions Of A Crummy Mummy.

 

This article was written by crummymummy1 from Confessions of a Crummy Mummy and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

How to Overcome Your Child’s Picky Eating Habits

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You were a picky eater when you were a child. Now your own child is, shall we say, highly discriminating on what he or she eats, too. Coincidence? A recent study says maybe not.

The study, by researchers from the University of Illinois, gathered information from the parents of 153 preschoolers. They found that while many factors can play a role in a child’s choosy eating, genes that are linked to a child’s sensory responses could be one of them.

What does this mean if you’re the parent of a picky eater? Do you simply throw up your hands and say it’s genetic?

Keep trying

Don’t give up on efforts to entice your child to eat a broader range of food, says Jennifer Hyland, RD, CSP, LD of Cleveland Clinic Children’s. It’s important to continue to expose children to new foods over time to get them to try them, she says.

There is a wide spectrum of behavior when it comes to picky eating, Ms. Hyland says. But for most children, picky eating does not go away on its own unless parents really work at it.

Research has shown it can take anywhere from 10 to 20 tries for a child to like a particular food, she says.

But you don’t want to force foods upon your child. Keep meals an enjoyable experience, Ms. Hyland says. One strategy is for parents to ask their children to take no-thank-you bites – which means they can say, “no thank you,” but they have to at least try the food. This leads to continued exposure, and over time, it’s hoped they will learn to develop a taste for these foods.

At meal time, Ms. Hyland says, it’s helpful to have at least one food on the plate that you know your child will eat. Also, but be sure to give everyone at the table the same foods.

“Try your best to cook the same meal for the whole family,” she says. “The child may not eat all of it, but it’s important that you encourage them to at least try, and that you set an example of trying these foods yourself, so that over time, they will learn to eat these foods.”

It begins during toddlerhood

It’s typical for picky eating to start during the toddler years, Ms. Hyland says.

“Normal picky-eating can start anywhere as early as age 2 or 3,” she says. “Usually during infancy, children are adventurous eaters and they’re trying new things. The picky eating really creeps up around the time they become toddlers. Parents will say, ‘My kid ate vegetables and they liked this and they liked that and now they don’t eat anything.’ We see that pretty frequently.” 

Should parents worry about a picky eater? If your child is underweight, you might be worried that your child isn’t getting enough nutrition. This results in parents giving their children whatever they want to eat to make sure they’re getting enough calories.

If this is you, it’s a  good time to meet with a registered dietitian or physician, because there are ways to combat that problem, while still improving the picky eating habits, Ms. Hyland says.

The most important thing a parent can do with a choosy eater is be consistent and not give up, Ms. Hyland says.

However, if a child has chewing or swallowing issues, or shows severe anxiety about trying new foods,  talk to a doctor, because you child may need the help of a behavioral specialist or multidisciplinary feeding program.

Complete results of the study can be found in the Journal of Nutrigenetics and Nutrigenomics.

 

 

This article was written by Children’s Health Team from Cleveland Clinic and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

The Benefits of Summer Camps for Your Kids (And You)

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Now that the sun is shining and the weather warms up, that means the school year is coming to an end. The kids will be home for two full months meaning you have to figure out what to do while you maintain your full-time job.

Before, the kids would be busy throughout the day at school. Maybe you were able to meet them at home, or they had someone watching them until you are home from work. But what if the kids aren’t ready to be left at home all day, every day?

Consider enrolling your children in summer camps. These camps provide entertainment while educated kids on different subjects. More and more the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) summer camps are becoming the popular (and recommended) choice for kids. Why? It is because these are all skills that are needed in a continually growing workforce (think computer software developers, medical scientists, analysts).

Here are a few benefits of enrolling your children in a STEM summer camp this year.

They Learn New and Unique Skills

The skills your kids will learn at a STEM summer camp will be valuable their entire life. But not only that, they integrate these skills into a fun and exciting atmosphere. For example, coding camps give kids the opportunities to learn about computer programming skills they usually wouldn’t learn in school. Launch After School programs are a fantastic example of what kids learn, how they learn it and why it is beneficial for their future.

They Get a Feeling of Independence

Allowing your children to have the chance to foster a sense of independence will help guide them as they grow older. They go into a new environment with new people all around. While there, they have the opportunity to make their own decisions on almost anything. Add that to having to learn to develop trusting relationships with other adults and friends to help them instead of always relying on their parents.

It Builds Friendships

When you send your kid to a summer camp, they are going to be surrounded by not just kids their own age. But they will also meet people that are interested in the same things they are. Summer camps are a perfect environment for kids to build lasting friendships. Whether it be through games, free time or through team-building exercises, your children will develop friendships they will cherish for a long time.

Help Grow Up Confidently

It isn’t always easy to pack up and leave home while at a young age. It can be intimidating and scary (for you too). But sometimes that is precisely what they need to give them a little push outside their comfort zone.

Too often do children nowadays rely on things that make life easy, whether it be electronics or having things handed to them. But by going to camp, they gain experiences that they may not get anywhere else. All of these opportunities help them grow up as children and build a level of confidence they may not have gotten otherwise.

So while you figure out your summer plan between children being home and try to work, consider enrolling them in a summer camp (or maybe two). It will be a relief for you since you know where they will be the whole time and won’t have to worry about finding a babysitter. More than likely when they come home, they’ll want to go right back.

 

This article was written by Emily Green from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

5 Tips for Teaching Your Children What a REAL Hero Looks Like

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It can help them build up their own self-esteem and self-worth.

Mentors and role models, we all know, serve great value in our lives. They teach, inspire, excite and support us.

Sometimes, however, our culture’s obsession with celebrity and wealth can create an environment where children are choosing their heroes or role models based on status or power.

That’s why I wrote a book to help children identify positive role models who will empower them to be their best, The Hero Book: Learning Lessons from the People You Admire. We need to help children think about what makes their ‘heroes’ admirable; encourage them to seek out positive role models whose examples will provide positive guidance and empowerment; inspire them to emulate the traits and actions of those they admire; and strengthen their self-esteem by showing them all the admirable qualities they possess.

Here are some top tips on helping your children find positive role models:

1. Turn it upside down.

When you talk to your children about their heroes or role models, get them thinking first about the qualities and traits that they admire in people; that way, they’ll begin to view people through the lens of those qualities that they find inspiring.

2. Talk to your children about your role models, and, when you do, be sure to highlight WHY the person is your role model.

Mention the qualities that inspire you—like the person’s kindness, integrity, hard work and courage—so that your child can see that heroes might be well-known people, but can also be people who they see everyday who act in ways that inspire others.

3. Show them they are heroes too.

Once you’ve shown your children that people can be admired for their qualities and characteristics, it’s then easy to let them think about the great qualities that they possess—helping them to build their self-esteem and sense of self-worth.

4. Show them how they can learn from their role models.

Now that they’ve thought about the qualities they admire in others, who they choose as role models, and what they like about themselves, you can explain to them the best way to show you admire someone is to emulate the things you think are great. For example, if they admire someone for being kind, suggest they think of some kind things they can do. If they admire someone for being talented at a skill, have them think about a skill they want to be good at, and how they plan to practice and work hard to improve it.

5. Plan a HERO party and make it fun.

There’s a free parent’s guide that offers activities for planning a children’s party that inspires children to think about role models and celebrate the hero inside themselves.

 

This article was written by Ellen Sabin from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

30 Hacks for Today’s Parents!

The Goddard School is 30, and, to celebrate, we held a “30 Hacks for Today’s Parent” contest! We asked parents to post a comment along with a photo, video and/or short description that shows off their favorite parenting hack.

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Here are the top 30 parenting hacks from our Goddard parents!

1.”When you go on vacation and want to make sure your kid won’t fall out of bed, tuck extra pillows or rolled up blankets under the sheet on each side of the bed. It creates a little bumper to keep them from rolling out.” – Rachel S. rachael-sartor-edited
2. “Use a washing machine drain pan to catch dropped food & crumbs.” – Mara J

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3. “Chopsticks stop sticky hands!” – Katherine D.T.

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4. “When you have a sick kiddo – tape an empty tissue box box to the full one.  When you have a dirty tissue you can stuff it into the empty box so you don’t have to get up and throw it away each time.  When the box is full just snap it off and toss it.” – Carey S.

5.  “When my little one was just learning to pull herself up we had a coffee table with bars and designs on the bottom (along with a shelf we kept magazines…). So she wouldn’t hit her head on the bars or pull the magazines out we tied a crib bumper along the bottom (on the left in photo).” – Amanda S.

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6. “I keep a diaper caddy in the backseat of my car in case I have an unplanned doctor appointment or event that would need essentials when I don’t normally have my diaper bag or am coming from work to get kids. I keep diapers, wipes, change of clothes, toys, snacks, books, blanket, hand wipes, diaper cream and other necessities. They even serve as back ups in case I forget to throw something in my diaper bag. That way I’m covered on all bases!” – Sarah B.W.

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7. “To wean your toddler off of their pacifier, try cutting the nipple off of the pacifier and tell him/her that it is “broken.” If you feel that cutting the whole nipple off all at once is too dramatic, you can start off by cutting a small hole in the end of the nipple and slowly make it bigger and bigger until the child is no longer comforted by the pacifier.” – Kyla C.

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8. “Keeping the kids out of the kitchen drawers and cupboards – toy links and a yardstick.” – Abby W.

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9. “Our kids love to paint, but want every color. We put it in an ice cube tray, with press n seal wrap on top. It doesn’t dry out! Also use q tips for paint brushes. One in each color. Makes for easier clean up & less wasted paint!” – Carolyn K.P.

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10. “For some reason, restaurants tend to serve kid meals at like 500 degrees. Whenever we go out to eat, we will order our child’s meal when we order our drinks but we ask that their meal be kept in the back until our food is ready to come out. It helps to cool the food down out of eyesight of our child (as its hard for them to understand the concept of ‘wait and let it cool down’ when the chicken fingers and fries are right in front of them).” – Samantha L.

11. “To keep my son’s bedroom door from being slammed we cut down the side of a pool noodle and put it at the top of his door.” – Shauna B.

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12. “For dining on the go, Carry a lint roller in the diaper bag. Apply 2-3 rows of lint roller tape, adhesive side down on dirty public tables. The backside creates a clean, cheap, disposable and immovable eating surface for toddlers. Then clean up any crumbs with the adhesive side afterward.” – Paula S. M.

13. “Buy your kids a Starbucks cake pop to get them to be quiet for five minutes so you can drink some coffee in peace.”

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14. “Use laundry clips to prevent taco spills.”

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15. “Grab a dirty sock off of the floor and wipe down the surfaces in the kids’ bedrooms every week when gathering dirty laundry. It’s worked for 22 years. Kid still doesn’t know. Repeat for husband…that one has worked for 28 years. They think I dust..” – Amy T.

16. “Giving your kiddo pesky medications: Having a hard time getting your infant to swallow medication? One trick is to squirt a little medication into the inner cheek of your kiddo and then quickly blow in your baby’s face. This can cause them to swallow, getting the medications down them before they spit it back in your face!” – Jake C.

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17. “This parenting “hack” I am recommending is curbside grocery pickup 😉 Walmart and Giant Eagle both offer it in multiple locations. As a parent, this has saved me so much time and money each week. You can sit in the luxury of your own home, ask the kids what they’d like to eat, research food offerings and become organized with recipes. Families that have rather large grocery lists each week and parents who dread walking into a grocery store, this is such an awesome service. I’ve been doing this for months now, it’s a game changer.” Amy B.

18. “For potty training toddlers: cover the mattress with a waterproof cover then fitted sheet. Repeat the waterproof cover and fitted sheet on top. If they have an accident in the night just pull off the first layer and put them right back to bed quickly without a major disturbance in their (and your) sleep.” – Amanda K.

19. “We struggled to find child safety locks to keep our pantry doors and our sons closet doors shut because the handles were so far away. none of the typical door locks worked. We used the oven or fridge locks instead.” – Cary S.

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20. “Our best parent hack is using blue painters tape for everything. We put some over the speaker on toys (why are kids toys so loud?!), use them as “stickers” or let the kids hang artwork all around the house. Since it’s painters tape it doesn’t damage the walls or toys! ” – Tricia H

21. “For potty training and sick kiddos, keep two layers of mattress protector and sheets on the bed. Makes middle of the night changes a little easier to just take a layer off and have one ready to go! I’ve done it in the crib and big kid beds.” – Carolyn K.P.

22. “We use hair ties to keep cabinets and double closet doors closed! We’ve tried all of the expensive gadgets, and hair ties have been the most successful at keeping our little one safe! (They rock for trips, too!)” – Paige O.

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23. “This is great for any baby/toddler who were the bed. Sometimes diapers get too full during the night and it leaks or sometimes toddlers just wet the bed… so… It is a PAIN to change the sheets in a crib. So what we do is put a water proof liner on, then a sheet, then another water proof liner and another sheet, so if the sheet gets wet, you just have to rip off one set and the bed is made and ready to go. So you’re only making the bed every other time. Works for us!” – Dori S.

24. “Use your child’s dresser as a changing table. Saves money & space by not buying a separate changing table & you’ll have room to keep everything handy! (Our changing pad came with straps that you can nail into the dresser to prevent it from moving). Bonus hack from the picture: Use the IKEA spice racks as book holders. We painted ours. (IKEA has figured out that folks do this & our store actually stocks them in the kid’s section now).” – Betsy P.

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25. ” A friend of mine gave me these great tips: Carry a bassinet or small crib waterproof flat sheet or cover in the diaper bag for diaper changes in public. It covers the nasty changing stations completely (to keep baby from touching anything–we all know the disposable covers sometime provided are not big enough nor are most changing pads), and can also be used in the car. Best thing about it, if it gets dirty, you just throw it in the wash! This same friend also told me to get a small portable potty with disposable liners for the car for road trips or when public bathrooms are just too gross for little ones who touch everything.” – Jessica I.B.

26. “Throw dirty socks in a small mesh laundry bag. Was and dry in bag and never lose them!” – Elyse J. S.

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27. “My hack: I encourage my kids to ask a lot of questions. It builds a lot of curiosity. That’s why I always use Alexa or google . I tell my kids to ask Alexa and google all the time. It also keeps them busy.” – Melwyn X. P.

28. “This was absolutely one of the best ideas… the laundry basket in the tub to keep all the baby toys near my daughter.” – Chantele M.

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29. “Pretty simple and yet “Oh So” effective hack that has always worked for me – giving your child a choice of 2 things when you already know that both get them doing what you want them to do. For example, a kid that refuses to take medicine – start off saying do you want to take your medicine with a pretzel or a cracker??? They usually make a choice and do one or the other not even realizing they just did what you wanted. Bonus, your child likes getting to make decisions!” – Colleen C.

30. “It has recently come to my attention that rubber duckies and other small bath toys can often become filled with bacteria due to the collection of water inside. So, I have begun to use a hot glue gun to seal the small hole on the bottom close” – Dori F.

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Backyard Camping Trip

Plan a family camping trip to your backyard.

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Enjoy the wonderful feeling of family bonding while only being feet away from your own home. A backyard camping trip can be a unique idea, and it’s great for family togetherness. Your children won’t be afraid while having the security of being so close to their safe place: their home. You can enjoy all that is involved with camping while still being able to use your own bathroom. What a great camping experience! To ensure this feels like a legitimate camping trip, remember all the necessary equipment, such as a flashlight, non-perishable food, water and a tent.

You can include the following activities:

  • Create a small campfire and roast hotdogs and marshmallows;
  • Sing campfire songs;
  • Play catch, hula-hoop or jump-rope;
  • Have a nature scavenger hunt;
  • Hold a yoga session during sunset for a soothing end to the day;
  • Catch fireflies (depending on the season); Stargaze and teach your child about the constellations.

Take Time Out of Your Work Schedule: Enjoy Some Fun with the Kids

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For working moms, finding time to put aside and have fun with the kids can be a real challenge. However, if you don’t make an effort to do this, you could end up missing out on a large part of their childhood. It is easy to get caught up in work, particularly if you are the main income earner in your home. However, you also have to remember the importance of being a mom and taking time out to spend with your little ones otherwise you could find that by the time you stop to take a breath they have already grown up.

Making sure you plan ahead for some days out with the kids will help to keep you on track when it comes to creating a healthy work life balance. Many moms who work full time get so caught up in their work that they sometimes forget that they need to take a breather and give their undivided attention to the kids. Planning ahead and arranging days out in advance can help to avoid the chances of you missing out due to being busy with work.

What can you do with the kids?

As long as you put some time aside and put your work well and truly on the back burner, you can do whatever interests you and your family. If you have a vehicle, you can go anywhere you want for your days out. You can add some practicality by investing in rooftop cargo carriers – how to pick the best cargo carrier in 2018 will be based on how many people you have in your household and the type of items you will need to take.

Even if you do not have a vehicle available, you can easily turn to public transport for your days out. If you want to get around even more easily and boost the health of your kids, it is worth looking at getting on your bikes for the odd day out. This is a great way to enjoy nature, get some exercise, and get to spend some time together. Depending on where you live, there may be some great cycling trails or walking trails where you and the kids can go when the weather permits. This is not only a great way to spend some quality time with your children but also get them out of the house and away from their computers and smart devices for a while.

The great thing is that spending quality time with the kids doesn’t have to be expensive, as there are so many great things you can do free of charge. For example, you could pack up a delicious picnic and head to the local beach or park when the sun is out. If it is raining, you can still enjoy spending time with your kids. There are all sorts of entertainment options to enjoy indoors from classic board games through to family movies. With apps that make movies a subscription type of cost this can be a great option, especially in the summer.

 

This article was written by Emily Green from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Could ‘Emotion Coaching’ Be the Key to Good Parenting?

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Sick of parenting advice? Then read on, because according to experts, this may be the last piece of it you’ll ever need. “Emotion Coaching”—a lifelong process designed to teach children how to manage their difficult feelings—was designed by psychologist Dr. John Gottman. His theory? “The key to good parenting lies in understanding the emotional source of problematic behavior.” Bookmark these five simple steps in advance of your kid’s next meltdown.

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Step 1: Be aware of your child’s emotion

“Show your child respect and understanding in moments when they feel misunderstood, upset, or frustrated,” writes Gottman. Rather than tuning out ’til the storm passes, distracting, bribing or punishing them, roll up your sleeves and get in there. “Talk through their feelings with them and try to understand their source.” Your goal is simple: Empathy. Put yourself in his little shoes to understand what’s motivating his strong emotion.

The next time your son hits his sister, for example, do not lose your cool and immediately send him to his room for a time out. Instead, try saying something like: “I can see that you’re really mad that your sister knocked down your tower. Do you also feel frustrated because you worked on it all morning and now you need to start over? Does that make you feel overwhelmed?” Try offering up your own experience: “Once, when I was working on a big work project, my computer broke and erased it all! I remember I felt so hopeless. But I redid my work, and it came out even better in the end.”

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Step 2: Recognize your child’s expression of emotion as an opportunity for intimacy and teaching

This step is simply about shifting your perspective. Try looking at the-stuff-of-nightmares outbursts (e.g., tantrums on the floor of the cheese aisle) as the definition of “a teachable moment.” Of course they will trigger your own anxiety. But by supporting your child when she’s in crisis-mode, you are—in a funny way—actually controlling the moment. Best of all, you’re creating memories she can later recall to self-soothe, teaching her, ultimately, to work through problems herself.

Step 3: Listen with empathy and validate your child’s feelings

“Rather than asking a child how they feel, observe them—their facial expressions, body language, gestures, and the tone of their voice. If your toddler is crying, she probably doesn’t know why. Asking her won’t help,” explains one of Gottman’s colleagues. Instead of drilling down with questions, offer simple observations (“You seem really upset”) and validation (“My feelings would be hurt if my friend pushed me, too.”). Once your child is calm, collaborate on problem-solving strategies or solutions. (“Would it make you feel better if we all had a talk about taking turns? Or should we try playing with something else?”)

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Step 4: Help your child learn to label their emotions with words

Per Dr. Gottman, finding words to describe a problem “can help children transform an amorphous, scary, uncomfortable feeling into something definable, something that has boundaries and is a normal part of life… [something that] everybody has and everybody can handle.” Naming emotions has even been shown to calm a child’s central nervous system, he writes. Adds UC Berkeley sociologist Dr. Christine Carter of Gottman’s method: “The larger our children’s emotion vocabulary is, the easier it is to label emotions in the heat of the moment.”

Here’s a Gottman-supplied sample dialog between a father and son (emphasis ours):

Dad: “It sounds like you feel upset about the math test.”
Son: “Yeah… I feel like I could have done better. I should have studied more. Jimmy got an A. He told everyone.”
Dad: “I know how that goes. I used to HATE it when I had messed up on something and other kids shouted out their good grades. It made me so jealous.”
Son: “It’s sooo annoying! It felt really bad… I guess I was jealous.”

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Twenty20

Step 5: Set limits when you are helping your child solve problems or deal with upsetting situations appropriately

After you empathize, validate, connect, etc., your work as a parent is not done. You still need to deal with the problematic behavior. The key is to treat the behavior as unacceptable—not the child. Describe the problem without making it personal, blaming or shaming: “Feeling angry is ok but hitting is not. Hitting hurts. Little sisters are not for hitting.” Then, problem-solve together. You might ask: “What could you do the next time you feel angry with her?” He might suggest: “Count to ten? Take a walk? Hit a pillow? Come and tell you?” Helping your child decide on a solution is empowering, writes Gottman, because it enhances “their abilities and confidence in thinking for themselves.” With enough repetition, he promises they will.

 

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The (Proven) Best Activity You Should Be Doing with Your Kids

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There have been numerous research studies demonstrating that one of the most beneficial activities you can do with your children is consistently eating dinner together. The benefits of eating dinner together as a family are wide-ranging and important.

Eating dinner together helps improve the vocabulary of young children because the children are exposed to a wider and more difficult set of words than in their usual environments. To be fair, the study included all family meals together, not just dinner. It also showed that frequent meals together boosted vocabulary even more than being read to aloud. Young children were exposed to more than 1,000 rare words at meal time, compared to only 143 from parents reading books out loud. As an added benefit, kids with larger vocabularies start reading at an earlier age and with less difficulty than other children. Mealtime talk, especially during dinner:

“often incorporates discussions and explanations of current events, world knowledge, and even abstract general principles…mealtime talk constitutes an opportunity for the problems of everyday life and proposed solutions to be discussed, often in the context of stories.”

Older children also benefit intellectually and emotionally from family dinners. Enjoying regular family dinners is a powerful predictor of high test scores – it’s a better predictor than time spent in school, doing homework, or time playing sports.

Most importantly, it’s also hugely beneficial to the emotional state of adolescents and teenagers. There are a number of studies demonstrating regular family dinners reduce a number of high risk teen behaviors. In one study, entitled Family Dinner Meal Frequency and Adolescent Development: Relationships with Developmental Assets and High-Risk Behaviors, there is a significant reduction in high risk behaviors – alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs, sexual intercourse, depression-suicide, antisocial behavior, violence, school problems, binge/purge eating, and excessive weight-loss – all from consistent family dinners. Another study demonstrated a lower rate of depression and suicidal thoughts is associated with regular family dinners.

Aside from the prevention or reduction of negative behaviors, there is a strong association between regular family dinners and good behaviors, such as a strong association with good moods in teenagers, an optimistic outlook of the future.

Now that we know how important family mealtimes are for children, what’s the best way to institute this in a household with working mothers or a household where both parents work? The key is to cut down on time spent preparing the meal and cleaning up after the meal is over, in order to maximize the time and quality of the meal.

One of the best ways to save time preparing the meal and cleaning up, and maximizing the time spent actually enjoying dinner with your family, is to look at the large catering platters and party platters from grocery stores. For example, Walmart party tray prices are extremely reasonably priced when looked at on a per-meal basis. A typical party tray will feed my family for 2-3 dinners, and has a wide variety of items so no one gets bored. The cost per person per meal can be as low as $1-2.

The best part is that there is almost no cleanup and no preparation time. This helps create a stress free environment where I can focus on listening to my children and learning about their lives, while sharing stories at dinnertime. On days where I do cook dinner, I usually end up being stuck in the kitchen and missing out on most of the conversation, and at the same time, it takes much longer for me to prepare the food and then cleanup afterwards.

For health conscious mothers, Costco offers similar party platters and has recently become the world’s largest seller of organic foods, prime meats and other high quality food products. I’ve spoken to Costco staff and it’s clear to me that they use the same high quality ingredients in their platters as they sell on their shelves.

Eating family dinners together as frequently as possible is clearly one of the best activities you can do with your children. As a working mother, it’s critical to prioritize and maximize high quality activities with the family. In the case of dinner time, the most important activity isn’t food prep or cleaning, it’s actually sitting down with your children during the meal, chatting with them and listening to them. One of the easiest and most cost effective ways to do this is to shop in the catering isles at large grocers.

 

This article was written by Natalie Bracco from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.