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Archive for the ‘Family time’ Category

6 questions you should ask your kids every single day

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In today’s digital world it is becoming harder and harder to actually connect with our children. They come home from school to the waiting television and usually end up playing video games on the tablet while watching TV (no judgement, we all do it). We don’t really know our children because none of us really know how to communicate anymore.

The typical daily parental question is, “How was your day?” And the typical response from our kids is “fine,” “good,” “OK” or any other one word response they can come up with without actually thinking. This question is lame. It will always get you a one-word answer and leave you wondering why you even bothered to ask. The key to understanding our children is to trick them into talking by asking questions that cannot be answered with “fine” or “good.”

Here’s some proven suggestions that will give you true insight into your child’s life.

1. What made you laugh today?

The random things that kids find funny are absolutely hilarious. My nieces and nephews tell the worst jokes, but their insane laughter is contagious and we always end up laughing together. You know what they say; families who laugh together, stay together!

2. What made you sad today?

Hopefully the answer to this question is nothing too major and depressing, but kids have emotions too. No one likes to voluntarily share sad things that happen every day and our kids are no different, but children are also inherently honest. When asked point-blank, in a place they feel safe, they will open up. You may have to pry, but it will be worth it.

3. Who did you play with today (note that teenagers prefer the phrase”hang out”)?

As much as it may worry us, our kids’ friends will have a huge impact on who they become, which is why we have to know who they are. This is a subtle way to find out if Susie is still hanging out with bad news Bobbie or if she has found new friends to play hopscotch with during recess. When you know your children’s friends, you don’t have to hope they will stay out of trouble.

4. What made you proud today?

Sometimes we are too preoccupied to fully appreciate the lint collection being shoved in our faces right at dinner time, so give your children this chance to brag a little bit and show off their creations or good deeds for the day. This also creates a killer opportunity to praise your child and to reinforce good behaviors.

5. Who made you smile today?

People are the source of true happiness and true friends will bring that joy to the forefront. The people who make your kids smile on a daily basis are the ones worth keeping around. Those are the true, lifelong friends that will hopefully be in their lives forever.

6. What’s something interesting you learned today?

This is the ultimate show and tell moment for your children. Despite what they may think, our children really are learning new things daily. This question makes them actually stop and think about what they learned and helps them internalize those things by condensing and sharing them with you.

You may be thinking there is not enough time in the day to sit and ask all of these questions and that’s OK. Tweak these questions to work for you and your family. Ask them all at once or twice a week, ask a couple each day or ask them all every day. If it is hard to talk during family dinner time, then bedtime is the perfect opportunity to review the day. Sit on the side of your child’s bed (even your teenagers) tuck them in and ask these six great questions. Try it in a way that works for you. You will be grateful you did, even if your kids do complain you’re getting repetitive.

 

This article was written by Kelsey Robertson from Family Share and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

10 fun winter activities for kids

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Wondering how on earth you’re going to entertain the kids all winter now the nights are drawing in and the clocks have gone back?

Then read on!

I don’t know about you but it seems infinitely easier to entertain the kids in summer, when you can throw open the back door and go to the park with the sun on your faces, than it does in winter when you’ve got to wrap them up and really think about where you’re going and for how long for.

It might be tempting to draw the curtains and switch on the telly, but with a bit of lateral thinking it’s actually easier than you think to make the most of the great outdoors in winter.

This year we’re partnering with Simplyhealth and their #MyEveryStep campaign, which is all about the little steps we can take to lead healthier lives, and as autumn turns to winter we’ve come up with 10 fun winter activities for kids to help keep them (and you) entertained as the days grow shorter and the nights grow longer.

10 fun winter activities for kids

1. Make a bird feeder. It doesn’t have to be super complicated – all you need are three things: a cardboard toilet roll tube, peanut butter and bird seed. Spread the peanut butter over the toilet roll tube, roll it in the bird seed several times so it sticks all over, then thread the tube over a branch outside. Birds and wildlife will come flocking and the looks on the faces of your own little birds is priceless.

2. Go puddle jumping. Just because it’s raining doesn’t mean you need to stay indoors. Put their wellies on, zip their raincoats up and let them jump in puddles until their heart’s content. Trust me, it will keep them entertained for waaay longer than you think.


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3. Play conker maths. Collect as many conkers as you can – which is huge fun in itself – then charge them with the task of counting them and sorting them into groups from smallest to biggest. If you’ve got a pair of scales even better – they’ll be at it for hours.

4. Go toadstool hunting. Toadstools start popping up in forests all over the UK as soon as the nights start drawing in, and they really are a sight to behold – whatever your age. We recently went looking for some while taking part in BBC Children in Need’s #HatsOn campaign (see 5 easy ways to raise money for BBC Children in Need) which is all about making the most of the great outdoors and the kids walked much further than they would normally do (without complaining!) in search of the much-coveted red ones.


winter activities for kids

5. Clear up leaves. If you’ve got a garden the chances are you’ve got leaves that need clearing away at this time of year. Turn a chore into an activity the whole family can enjoy by collecting the leaves and jumping in them – this is the stuff memories are made of! It’s a brilliant sensory experience for little ones too.

6. Make a bonfire. Autumn is the perfect time of year to gather your garden waste (don’t forget the leaves!) build a bonfire and watch it snapple and crack. They’ll have as much fun building the fire as they will watching it burn – just make sure there’s a responsible adult on hand at all times (ideally one with eyes in the back of their head).


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7. Have a winter picnic. Who says picnics are just for summer? If you’ve got a bonfire going, make the most of it by taking hot dogs and flasks of hot chocolate into the garden while you watch it burn. Then when the flames have died down toast marshmallows in the embers (don’t forget to make sure the responsible adult is on hand).

8. Sign up to a beach litter pick. We all know plastic is a huge problem in our seas, and it’s easier than you think to help make a difference. Beach cleaning events, where members of the public volunteer to help pick up litter on beaches, happen all over the UK and are a great chance to breathe in some sea air as well as being lots of fun too. Use the Marine Conservation Society’s postcode finder to find a beach clean nearest to you.


winter activities for kids

9. Go ice skating. The ultimate winter sport, the chances are there’ll be an ice rink in your town or city in time for the festive season. Most offer hold-on penguins or animals for little ones (I find them rather handy too!) and it’s great exercise, focusing on lower body movement and leg muscles.

10. Go stargazing. The good thing about the nights drawing in is that the stars come out earlier. Brush up on your constellations, wrap them up warm and take them outside to point out the different formations. If you’ve got a pair of binoculars even better.


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Do you have any fun winter activities your kids love at this time of year? I’d love to know what they are!

This post was written in collaboration with Simplyhealth. I’m proud to be supporting their #MyEveryStep campaign, shining a light on the little steps we can all take to leading a healthy life every day. As always all opinions are my own and based on my own honest experience. To find out more about Simplyhealth’s #MyEveryStep campaign follow @SimplyhealthUK on Twitter and Instagram.

The post 10 fun winter activities for kids #ad 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.

Entrepreneur Mom’s Secret for Controlling Chaos Will Give You More Time with Your Kids

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Even though this article was originally written with working mothers in mind, this is great information for all parents!

It might seem crazy, but it’s totally worth it.

It’s 7 p.m. on a Wednesday night, and my phone rings. I interrupt my midweek recap with my assistant and best friend, Erin, to take the call. We’ve closed on 12 homes this month, and I have the late-night call log to prove it. This is my busy season, as spring and summer usually are. Business aside, I have one daughter moving into college this week, I’m planning my Nan’s 90th birthday, and I have a radio segment this weekend to discuss the market.

This is my life in all its chaos. Among my many titles: multi-million-dollar real-estate producer with Coldwell Banker, owner of real estate brand the Pittsburgh Property Diva, fashionista and animal lover, but I am first and foremost wife and mother. Together with my husband, Chris Klein, we have a blended family of SEVEN children ranging from the ages of 10 to 25, three dogs and three cats. That’s right. There are nine humans and six furs in this modern Brady Bunch.

While my career is flexible and allows time for my family, it’s demanding. There are no set office hours, and we work around the clock. Just this week I’m launching five new listings along with my property showings, and I have a closing scheduled for Friday and seven open houses on Sunday. Seven open houses! I wasn’t lying when I told you we work around the clock.

Real estate doesn’t exactly offer a set schedule, and the time when you’d like to wind down for an evening with your children doing homework, running errands or carpooling is often overlapping with business. A set schedule isn’t offered, but it’s what I’ve had to create to juggle both roles as mom and agent. So, what’s my secret? How do I keep the chaos in order? I have a plan of action and stay routine-oriented each day. But I’ll let you in on the real secret … boundaries. Unapologetic boundaries.

Women seem to fear this word. So many of us struggle with boundaries out of guilt, fear or mere pride. Reason being that today’s woman is simply expected to be it all. We live in a world where we’re no longer “homemaker or working woman;” usually we’re both. We’re the modern-day superwoman rocking many hats as mom, wife and career woman. These expectations we put on ourselves forbid us from setting healthy boundaries, sometimes to our own detriment.

When I learned that the secret to being it all really was dividing and conquering, these barriers I set didn’t seem as crazy. Over the years, I had a really strict schedule in order to accommodate my children’s needs. I’d only show houses on Tuesday and Thursday evenings for many years. Sometimes that meant seeing four different clients in one night just so I had openings throughout the week. This term gave me some sense of normalcy and routine in an otherwise fast-paced industry.

When my children were really young, I had to learn not to be afraid to ask for help. There are plenty of people who would love to just sit and hold a baby for two hours while you take a nap and that doesn’t make you any less of a mother. Our health and wellbeing is most important as moms, so when your kids nap or are at school, try to be easy with yourself: rest, eat, exercise, connect with friends. How else will we run the show if we’re not revitalized, ourselves?

The thing is, moms, sometimes life has to be on your terms. The way I see it, we’re the ringmaster of this circus, and it’s our job to coordinate and collaborate to keep things running smoothly. Is it always easy? No. But balance and boundaries run hand in hand. I haven’t exactly mastered the natural “zen” we all seek from in life, but I can say that things run fairly smoothly at Diva HQ after years of experience. I manage to juggle life as mom, wife and agent while still making time to treat myself to a spa day here and there, guilt-free.

Setting your own guidelines can be a scary thing. I get it. The mom guilt is real. But if we want to breeze through this world without losing our sanity, we have to drop the guilt and get used to the word boundaries. The take-all? Take time for you. Time for your children. Time to connect with your hubby. Just two weeks ago, Chris and I fled off to Chicago to see Pearl Jam for our anniversary. Maybe I wouldn’t have that luxury now without those years of practicing the balance. Or maybe it’s all because I gave up cooking three years ago. You make the call.


Lauren Klein is a multi-million-dollar real estate producer with Coldwell Banker, and the owner of Pittsburgh Property Diva. Her successful real-estate career lit a passion in her for mentoring and empowering women in business, and she does so with her new networking series #DivasDoingBusiness.

 

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

Teaching History Through Your Child’s Interests

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Parents who love history are often eager to pass this passion onto their children. Yet as any mom or dad knows, kids quickly develop interests and hobbies of their own and don’t always latch onto those of their parents. Rather than overwhelm them with dates and names and cultural trends and so forth, parents who want to teach history to their children may have better success integrating it into their interests.

It’s easier than you think. Consider the following popular interests among kids and how parents can use them to explain history:

Clothes and Jewelry

One of the quickest ways to distinguish one era from another is taking a look at what people were wearing. Whether it’s the drastic changes in clothing over the course of centuries or the way each decade seems to have its distinct apparel, hair and jewelry trends, the history of fashion functions against the backdrop of human history itself. Since many preteens and teenagers are concerned with fashion, parents can use it as a segue into a discussion about history.

For instance, antique jewelry spotted in a store window can start an on-the-spot conversation about how the human fascination with gold, silver, and gemstones has existed for thousands of years. The era in which the necklace comes from can offer clues as to the design quality and materials chosen, as well as speculation about what the first person who wore it was like, the life she lived, and why the necklace ended up on the market.

Video Games

Moms with only a passing understanding of video games probably think of them as fantasy escapism with few, if any, elements based on how things work in reality. While an increasing number of parents appreciate the puzzle solving aspects of video games due to growing up as gamers themselves, few realize the potential video games have for helping kids better understand history.

Consider the Assassin’s Creed series of video games, which we admit is a name that sounds like the exact opposite of what moms want their kids to be playing. However, that aside, these games are praised for their historically accurate depictions of cities such as Boston, New York, Paris, and Rome. Furthermore, the storylines always include important historical figures and events. While it’s still a video game and therefore ultimately bound by the need to provide exciting gameplay rather than history lessons, parents can use the Assassin’s Creed games to provide kids with context about the past in a way which brings it to life.

Movies

Who doesn’t love a good movie? While the definition of “good” varies from person to person, the most popular movies today revolve around time-tested franchises and characters which appeal to parents and kids alike. Due to their connection to movies and other stories originally produced in decades past, they offer an opportunity for parents to impart some history lessons to their kids.

Consider the contrasts and similarities between the Marvel superheroes depicted in today’s movies and how they were originally conceived as comic book characters in the mid-20th century. Movies, comic books, and other story-based entertainment are not made in a vacuum; they are a product of their times and this gives us clues about the past and how it measures up against the present. For instance, the tendency for female characters to be either sidelined or objectified in decades past can be compared to the way they are increasingly given more depth in today’s popular media. This is a reflection of positive changes in society over time.

If you’re a mom who loves history but struggles to make it interesting to your kids, consider ways to start the conversation through their interests. It’s easier than you think!

 

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.

3 Secrets to a Stress-Free Dinner When No One Likes the Same Food

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Because your kitchen is not a restaurant.

Working moms barely have time to coordinate one meal for everyone in the family let alone multiple different entrees to please everyone’s palate.

Currently, in my extended family of eight, we have one who doesn’t eat anything with a face, one who is cutting down on carbs, one who loves meat but hates seafood, one who will not touch anything with cheese, one who will not eat vegetables or beans, one well-rounded individual, and two babies, who primarily eat toast with various toppings.

And we’re not alone. There’s a cultural shift afoot that can largely be attributed to a growing “restaurant mentality,” says Anne Fishel, Ph.D., co-founder of the Family Dinner Project, author of Home for Dinner, and an associate professor at Harvard Medical School.

“Americans eat at least 50% of their meals outside the home,” says Dr. Fishel. “We’ve come to expect that we can make individual choices at home just as we can at restaurants. I think of this as the Starbucks phenomenon—‘I’ll have a triple soy latte and she’ll have a cappuccino with lowfat milk.’”

Although multiple studies have shown that eating together provides profound health and psychological benefits, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to get your group around the table when everyone wants or needs to eat something different.

Kids aren’t trying to make your life harder, says Dr. Fishel. “Food preferences become expressions of identity, particularly around adolescence when they experiment with veganism or as when my boys suddenly started to want to eat meat when I mainly produced vegetarian meals.”

Trying to understand your family’s food preferences can help lessen feelings of irritation, but it still begs the question: what’s a time-crunched and increasingly frustrated cook to do?

Dr. Fishel suggests the following time-saving tips to help families with diverse food preferences sit down together without forcing anyone to morph into a short-order cook:

1. Create build-your-own main dishes.

Customize add-ons around one main centerpiece—tacos, fajitas, pizza or flatbreads, pasta or salad, for example. Toppings can be prepped and frozen in advance or buy them pre-prepped, such as chicken or shrimp from the prepared food aisles, pre-cut vegetables, pre-shredded cheese, store-bought or frozen servings of sauce and packaged nuts and cheeses. The idea is that the main cook only has to come up with one central dish. Added bonuses: there’s only one pot or sheet pan for quick cleanup and smaller kids are likely to eat more when they are part of a fun process.

2. Agree on three go-to meals that everyone can eat.

These do not have to be favorites, but if it shows up for dinner, people will eat it. This list will need to be renegotiated periodically as kids’ food preferences are constantly in flux.

3. Share the cooking duties.

This way the vegan in the family, for example, gets a turn to show off a dish one night a week—say, brown rice and vegetables. Then, the main cook just has to make fish or meat, but the side dish is done.

Dr. Fishel also advises families to remember that “the benefits of eating together don’t come from the food that is served. The benefits come from creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere at the table.”

 

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

Mompreneurs: Here are Some Secrets to Help You Juggle Working Life and Motherhood

Even though this article was originally written with working mothers in mind, this is great information for all parents!

download.pngBeing a working mother in this day and age is no mean feat, and there are a lot of things that can get in the way of both parts of your life. On the one hand, you have a business that needs to be run, but on the other hand, there are children that need to be nurtured. However, the good news is that every day more and more women are doing both these things brilliantly well.

It is important to understand the differences between the two, as well as the techniques you can use that will allow you to get the right balance between the two. Mompreneurs need to look forward to the future and understand that they can do to make things better for their kids. These are some great hints and tips to balance working life and motherhood.

Switch off at the End of the Day

The mistake that a lot of working moms make is that they allow their working life to seep into their personal life. This is even more of an issue if you are running your business from home. Yes, you have to make sure you are setting yourself regular hours and a normal working day, even if you are working from home. But, you also need to make sure you clock out and switch off at the end of the day as well. A work email can ruin sleep for the if it is urgent enough, do not subject yourself to lack of sleep due to this.

Use Daycare Services

One of the biggest problems a lot of working mothers face on a daily basis is the fact that they have their kids to deal with. It is hard work trying to run a business and tend to your children’s needs as well. This is why something like a day care center will come in so useful. If you have a lot to do, and you are trying to get the business up and running, you will need to use the day care services in order to make sure your kids are well looked after and taken care of.

Speak to Other Mompreneurs

Getting help and support from other moms who are in the same kind of situation as you is also massively important. You need to understand that you need to stick together and help each other out, and there are plenty of things you can do to achieve this. Get in touch with other working moms, maybe even a few in your area, and try to arrange a meeting or get together so you can talk to one another and come up with ideas to help all of you out.

Balancing working life with motherhood isn’t easy, but there are things you can do that will help you make the process much better and easier to deal with. You need to treat your working day like a regular 9 to 5 job, but you need to make sure you aren’t working later and interfering with your family time. Making time for the kids is very important, so try to make the most of the working day, and get as much done as possible before you finish and get back to mom mode.

 

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.

7 Signs You’re Suffering from Working Mommy Burnout—and What to Do About It

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Even though this article was originally written with working mothers in mind, this is great information for all parents!

Chronic stress can lead to burnout, both in the workplace and in our homes. Here’s how to fight back.

In my psychology practice, I meet weekly with moms who work both inside and outside of the home. While their feelings are often the same—questioning their purpose in life, not sure if they should continue to do what they are doing and a constant feeling of exhaustion, the specific triggers for their burnout can differ based on their working situations.

The reality is most moms believe the other side of the “work” fence is better. If they are a stay-at-home mom they think they would feel better and less stifled if they were outside the home every day. Mothers who go to an office or a similar workspace might be overwhelmed and wonder if they should find a way to be home. When stressed, bored or frustrated, moms in either situation instantly begin looking for reasons to change their work status.

Whether you work at home or out, or even if you don’t work at all, it is a decision that is based on your particular family’s needs and values. But if you do work outside of the home, this can create a unique set of stressors that can add to your negative feelings. Chief among these stressors is guilt, and there is no guilt like mommy guilt. You feel guilty for leaving your kids in the morning, working late nights, not cooking homemade dinners more often, being on your computer even after a long day’s work, missing soccer games or play practice—the list goes on and on.

Many working moms have had their children ask them questions such as, “Are you ever going to stop working?” The feeling of being torn between two worlds, never having enough time and feeling as if we are not fully successful in either endeavor wears on us. But still we march on, trying to be in two places at once, trying to advance our careers while pretending our minds aren’t distracted by concerns for our kids and ignoring our own personal and health needs.

You may be thinking all these feelings are just part and parcel of being a mother. No one ever said it was going to be easy, right? With a little wine and some humor, you’ll be okay, right? And while stress is a part of all our daily lives, chronic stress wreaks havoc on our minds, bodies and our perception of being smart and competent mothers. Chronic stress can lead to burnout—both in the workplace and in our homes.

Read on to see if you may be suffering from working mommy burnout:

1. You constantly question why you do what you do, and no longer take joy in work you once loved.

2. You think what you do (paid work or staying home your kids) may not be worth the stress it causes or the money you earn.

3. You still wonder who you will be when you “grow up” because, even at this age, you don’t feel like you are able to achieve what you want in life—whether it is financial success, recognition, or enjoyment.

4. You feel time is running out to achieve your dreams, and you don’t know the next steps to take to accomplish them, in your profession or your personal life.

5. You feel like you should be working if you are at home with your kids and vice versa.

6. You wonder about the purpose of life in general and constantly question if doing something different will bring you closer to clarity.

7. You secretly have something you want to do in life—start a business, write a novel, go back for your graduate degree, run a marathon—but it feels too big to even attempt.

If two or more of the above symptoms sound familiar, you may be experiencing what I refer to as the working mom’s dilemma, which can lead directly to mommy burnout. The great thing is moms don’t have to accept these feelings as their normal. There are some easy-to-implement changes that can be done to cope with working mom stress.

Learn to ask for and receive help. You don’t have to do everything on your own to be a good mom, or a good employee!

Be protective and intentional about your time. Say yes to the most important things at home and work and no to the things you don’t have to or want to do.

Teach your kids independence while they are toddlers. These important life skills like clearing a plate, getting dressed or brushing teeth on their own will make a working mother’s life much better in the long run. If your child is already older, it is never too late to drill the independence lesson. Start today.

Set one achievable goal a day. Do your best to accomplish that goal, and don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get to it. It’s a goal, not a life or death situation!

Being a working mom can be a challenge whether you love your job or have to work to make ends meet. It is also an opportunity to be a wonderful role model for our children and to do their best to achieve their dreams. Finding and making peace with our purpose as a working mom is essential to being able to enjoy life every day. It helps us to be present, to gain focus on what is most important and to integrate the challenges we all experience as part of our journey.


Dr. Sheryl Ziegler, MD, is a doctor of psychology and licensed professional counselor. She is the author of Mommy Burnout: How to Reclaim Your Life and Raise Healthier Children in the Process

 

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

How to Get Everyone to the Table for a Family Meal

 

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Real-world ideas for making dinner together happen—even when everyone has a different schedule.

Find Another Time

Don’t focus on the meal; focus on the time to come together. It can be breakfast, after-school snacks, dinner—find what works for your family. I did 10 p.m. snacks when my girls were in high school because that was when they’d be getting home from sports or work or hanging out with friends. We had 15 to 30 minutes to just catch up on the day and the dramas that make up teenage life.
—Rhonda Mccreary-Utledge, Fort Worth, Texas

Serve a Big Batch

Make the healthiest casserole you know. Arrange whole fresh fruit on the table and call it a day. (My secret chili contains a big bunch of pureed kale, and no one has yet to discover it!)
—Pat Satterfield, Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania

Aim for Healthy

I have two kids in two different schools and on multiple sports teams, so there are days when we’re not all home to eat together. I’ve learned to make soup and/or salad with leftover chicken on those nights. That way we get veggies and protein, and we aren’t spending too much money or compromising nutrition by eating fast food.
Heather Sustman Golden, Houston

Make It a Must

Family dinner is a priority in our house. Even if it’s for cereal or sandwiches, we sit together. We eat when everyone is home—6 p.m. some nights, 9 p.m. other nights.
Jenn Mcavoy Fahy, Lagrange, New York

Tacos Always Win

I make a batch of taco meat and all the fixings and have tortillas ready to be warmed up when people are ready to eat.
Kristin Lupo, Stratford, Connecticut

Don’t Overthink It

Order. Pizza. Done.
Rachel Ross Faris, Erlanger, Kentucky

 

This article was written by Real Simple Staff from Real Simple and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

4 Ways to Raise Siblings Who Love Each Other

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Siblings who fight a lot gain surprising advantages, from thicker skins to sharper negotiating skills. Plus, “Savvy parents know that a conflict-free relationship between siblings is not the same as a close-knit relationship,” writes Chicago Tribune parenting columnist Heidi Stevens. The goal is to have kids who love as hard as they battle. Here, four tips for raising lifelong best friends who share everything—including you.

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kupicoo/Getty Images

Fight smart in front of them

When parents handle conflict and anger with each other in a healthy, respectful way, they are modeling how their kids should face off. If you slam doors, hurl insults or, um, actual household items, it’s a safe bet they’ll mimic you the next time someone pushes their buttons. Added incentive to hit above the (emotional) belt? Kids cannot keep secrets. Ask anyone who’s died a little inside while her kid told the dentist how Mommy threw her egg sandwich at Daddy.

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Twenty20

When in doubt, let them work it out

Unless your kids’ fights are about to enter the realm of bloodshed or bullying, or they’re stuck in a pattern where an older child seems to always dominate a younger one, give them a minute before you get involved. Per experts, siblings’ fights are valuable opportunities for growth. Hair-trigger intervention only perpetuates their reliance on you as a referee. Also, stepping in may mean taking sides—a surefire way to stir up sibling rivalry. “It can be more difficult to hang back and observe emotional situations than to try to solve problems for your kids on the spot,” writes parenting expert Michelle Woo, citing research on how kids in Germany and Japan become self-reliant by problem-solving amongst themselves. “[What kids] need is consistent guidance, a place to explore their feelings, a model of kindness. What they probably don’t need is a referee monitoring every single play.” As Jeffrey Kluger, author of The Sibling Effect: What the Bonds Among Brothers and Sisters Reveal About Us, told NPR: “One of the most profound effects siblings have on you is that area of conflict resolution skills, that area of relationship formation and maintenance.” 

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Twenty20

Or don’t! Try this instead

A growing number of psychologists and educators swears by a conflict resolution method called Restorative Circles. You step in at the start of a fight and ask your kids to take a deep breath and sit down with you calmly in a circle. (Obviously, for screaming banshee fights, separation and soothing come first.) For just a few minutes, each child gets a chance to speak their grievance (You ask: “What do you want your brother to know?”), and the other child(ren) is asked to interpret what they’ve just heard (“What did you hear your sister saying?”). Then you go back to the first child (“Is that what you meant?”) until a mutual understanding is reached/all kids feel heard. Then everyone brainstorms ideas to find an agreeable solution.

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The family that plays together, stays together

Even—especially—if your kids are like oil and water, or more than a few years apart, it can be tempting to let them lead separate lives. Try not to. Choose toys that appeal to all age groups (Marry us, Bristle Blocks!), group activities on weekends or family vacations, and require them to show up for each other’s games or recitals. No matter how much they fight, research shows reason to be optimistic. “About 10, 15 percent of sibling relationships truly are so toxic that they’re irreparable,” says Kluger. “But 85 percent are anywhere from fixable to terrific.” After all, he notes: “Our parents leave us too soon, our spouses and our kids come along too late…Siblings are the longest relationships we’ll ever have in our lives.”

 

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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.