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Archive for the ‘Family time’ Category

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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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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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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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.”

 

This article was from PureWow and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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.

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.

4 Science-Backed Benefits of Eating Dinner as a Family

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Whether you’re munching on organic grain bowls or ketchup-drenched, defrosted, dinosaur-shaped nuggets, sharing a screen-free family dinner nourishes kids in life-changing ways. And wash away your guilt, working parents: If you can’t get home for mac and cheese at 5:30 p.m., don’t sweat it. Aiming to eat together at least three times a week—including breakfast and weekend brunch—is a worthy goal. When it comes to raising healthy kids, body and soul, prioritizing frequent family meals counts most.

It lowers the risk of substance abuse 
Family dinners not only lower the risk of depression in kids, they also guard against the impulse to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. That’s because key communication takes place at these end-of-day parent-child debriefs. According to Columbia University’s National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, “Compared to teens who have frequent family dinners (5 to 7 per week), those who have infrequent family dinners (fewer than 3 per week) are more than twice as likely to say that they expect to try drugs in the future.” Teens who seldom eat with their parents are almost twice as likely to have used alcohol, and 1.5 times likelier to have used marijuana. “The magic that happens over family dinners isn’t the food on the table, but the communication and conversations around it,” explains the center’s marketing director Kathleen Ferrigno. “Of course there is no iron-clad guarantee that your kids will grow up drug-free, but knowledge is power, and the more you know, the better the odds are that you will raise a healthy kid.”

It leads to better academic performance
Writes Harvard Medical School psychology professor and author of Home for Dinner Anne Fishel: “Researchers found that for young children, dinnertime conversation boosts vocabulary even more than being read aloud to…Young kids learned 1,000 rare words at the dinner table, compared to only 143 from parents reading storybooks aloud. Kids who have a large vocabulary read earlier and more easily.” And as kids grow up, the intellectual benefits explode. “For school-age youngsters, regular mealtime is an even more powerful predictor of high achievement scores than time spent in school, doing homework, playing sports or doing art.”

It decreases obesity and eating disorders
Family dinners provide opportunities for parents to model—and regulate for their kids—healthy eating habits. According to a study led by eating disorder expert Dr. Jess Haines, “Compared to those who ate family dinner ‘never or some days,’ female adolescents who ate family dinner at least most days were less likely to initiate purging, binge eating, and frequent dieting.” An unrelated study conducted by University of Minnesota Family Social Science professor Dr. William J. Doherty found Americans (parents and kids) are significantly less overweight if they share family meals more frequently, and have fewer distractions at the table (like tech). Kids who eat dinner with their families often also eat healthier (more fruits and vegetables; less soda and fried foods), according to a study by Harvard Medical School’s Obesity Prevention Program. Family meals allow for both “discussions of nutrition [and] provision of healthful foods,” that study’s director, Dr. Matthew W. Gillman, told CNN.

It increases self-esteem and resilience
According to psychology researchers at Emory University, children who have frequent family dinners “know more about their family history and tend to have higher self-esteem, interact better with their peers and show higher resilience in the face of adversity.” When families who are close don’t sugarcoat life’s hardships (like the death of a relative or pet) their children exhibit “higher self-esteem and sense of control.” The communal table is where the stories of who we are, and who we come from, get passed down. According to Marshall Duke, a co-director of the study, which analyzed 120 hours of recorded family dinner conversations, “As the family talks about things, I think they are teaching the kids about assessment, about appraisal. How bad is this? How good is this? Resilience is nurtured when the child understands that negative events don’t define the family history.” 

 

This article was from PureWow and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Get Your Kids to Spring Clean With You

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It’s springtime, and many of us will be taking on spring cleaning tasks like washing the windows or deep cleaning our kitchen appliances. Many spring cleaning tasks involve heavy lifting and require stronger cleaning solutions than we use for our day-to-day chores, making them less than ideal for kids to help with. But there are some tasks that are suited to doing with your children, should you want to get them involved in your spring cleaning routine.

We take spring cleaning very seriously at Lifehacker. Far be it from us to let an opportunity to refresh, reorganize, and declutter our homes lives pass us by. We’re also pretty psyched to hit the reset button on our tech usage, take a close look at our finances, and give the heave-ho to the day-to-day habits that have gotten a little musty. Welcome to Spring Cleaning Week, wherein we clear the cobwebs of winter and set the stage for sunny days ahead. Let’s clean things up, shall we?

A few general tips to consider: First, take the time to clearly explain and/or demonstrate the task ahead. Sure, it will add a little time to the process, but it will also help them learn, and save you from having to do their work over. Speaking of doing the work over: Try to avoid that if you can so you don’t inadvertently send a message that their best wasn’t good enough. It’s also a great idea to get them dressed for the job at hand—have them wear old or sturdy clothes that you won’t mind getting dirty. And, of course, you’ll want to take into account the age and skill level of your child, as well as any other concerns like allergies or respiratory problems that may make it less than ideal for them to participate in a given task.

Washing the Car

It’s my personal opinion that washing a car is one of the most fun chores around and when the weather turns, it’s a great job to get the kids involved in.

Start with the interior and have them help sort through any trash and recycling that are cluttering up the car, take out any stuff like toys or a stray sneaker or books that need to be returned to their rightful home. Then, have the kids use a handheld vacuum to vacuum the seats and floors.

Once the interior is clean, the real fun can begin! Washing a car’s exterior isn’t rocket science, but there are a few best practices to know: Work from the top down; wash and dry the car in sections so that soap and water residue doesn’t dry onto the car as you work, leaving sudsy residue and water spots; use car wash soap instead of dish soap, which can dull the car’s clear coat.

Dusting Baseboards

The great thing about turning kids loose on the baseboards is that they’re already low to the ground anyway! Plus, dusting baseboards requires nothing more than microfiber, like this dusting cloth from Casabella, which makes it perfect for kids—no harsh chemical products, no sloshing buckets of cleaning solution, just a rag and some crawling action are all that’s required.

Vacuuming Furniture

You can add a little extra fun to this chore by letting your kid keep any change they find hidden in the cushions. The job is easy and can/should certainly involve making a pillow fort out of couch and chair cushions, decorative pillows and throw blankets as you take them off the frame of the furniture. Then, put the upholstery or crevice attachment on the vacuum for your kids and have them do the honors, starting with vacuuming the frame, then giving the cushions and pillows a good THWAMPING to redistribute stuffing and knock out dust. Then, replace the cushions and vacuum them as well. Finally, launder blankets and throw pillows if needed.

Doorknobs and Lightswitch Plates

This is an easy little task that only a rag or paper towels and a small amount of a gentle all-purpose cleaner: Have kids wipe off doorknobs and light switch plates—which, by dint of being touched all the time, get quite grimey and germy—going room by room. You can divvy it up by room or give one kid doorknob duty and another light switch duty and have them count to see which one you have more of in your home, to make it a little bit more game-like.

Cleaning and Organizing a Bookshelf

Bookshelves, like baseboards, get quite dusty but deep cleaning really only requires a good microfiber cloth, making it a good task for kids to help with. Remove all the books and knick-knacks from shelves and work from the top down, since dust will travel south as you clean. Smaller kids can be tasked with wiping books off while taller kids can work on the bookcase itself. Then, have the kids pitch in with putting everything away by having them organize books by color, or alphabetically by author.

Washing Trash Cans

Trash cans and recycling bins get super dirty, even if you’re diligent about always using liners. While you don’t need to clean them regularly, it’s not a bad idea to wash them out once or twice a year, and it’s a great job to do outside on a nice day. Much like washing a car, it can be a lot of fun for kids to splash around with a bucket of sudsy water and/or a hose. A large car washing sponge, dish soap, water and a rag for drying are really all that’s needed for the job, and you can have the kids start by finding all the trash cans and recycling bins in the house, emptying them if they’re full, then bringing them all outside to be washed. Once they’re clean, dry them using a rag (an old bath towel would be perfect here) and have the kids bring them back inside to be put away.

 

This article was written by shared by Jolie Kerr to Lifehacker and Jolie Kerr on Offspring from Lifehacker and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

10 healthy family rituals to cultivate

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Family rituals can make all the difference when family life gets tough. You may think you don’t have time for rituals. Some days you barely have time for the essentials, which is why it’s important to keep things simple.

Here is a list of rituals that you should implement in your everyday life to enrich family time:

Family dinner

Family dinner used to happen every night, in every family. That was before the days of working moms, a twenty-four hour society (and the constantly changing shift work that comes with it), and the crazy schedule of extra-curricular activities many kids are involved in these days.

Family dinner has an impact though, so it’s worth preserving. According to this Washington Post article, simply eating dinner with your family is the most important thing you can do with your kids. It doesn’t have to happen every night, and it doesn’t have to be elaborate or even home cooked. Take-out pizza on a Friday night is still family dinner, as long as you all gather around the table to eat it together and enjoy some conversation and bonding.

Family game night

One night a week, or month, devoted to playing games as a family can be a ritual you all will enjoy. They don’t have to be board games. You can play cards or do something physical like playing Twister or Charades. You can even make a family game night about video games. Anything goes, as long as everyone’s involved.

Family movie night

Many families spend way too much time in front of the TV, without necessarily watching anything worthwhile. Instead, try setting aside a regular night where you all watch a movie together. Take turns picking out the movie. Make popcorn. Snuggle under an old quilt. Do whatever it takes to make it feel like a ritual rather than an ordinary night in.

A driving ritual

As kids get older we spend a lot of time driving them around. So develop a driving ritual. It could be a game you play, or a favorite soundtrack you always listen to (and sing along to) in the car. As a parent, you can have a different, and highly personalized, driving ritual for each child, especially if you regularly drive them to an activity where it’s just the two of you.

A change of season ritual

Everyone can find time for a change of season ritual. It only happens once every three months, after all. Again, it doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. It could be a family trip to the lake on the first day of summer, or collecting and preserving the most dramatically colored fall leaves in your backyard each year.

An achievement ritual

Many families have a favorite restaurant they go to when they have something to celebrate. Put a twist on it by incorporating a few things you always do to celebrate an achievement. A small gift or a printable certificate for younger kids works. As they get older it might be something as simple as the child who’s achieved something gets to ride in the front seat of the car.

Be careful with this one. Some kids achieve more than others, or they achieve more of what society sees as important. But all kids hit milestones or shine in at least one or two areas. Done right, an achievement ritual can be a way to show the less academic or sporty kids in your family that you recognize and value their achievements too.

A holiday ritual

Every holiday should have a ritual, and most have quite a few, but they’re very generic: trimming the Christmas tree, making the Valentine’s cards, carving the jack-o’-lantern. Try and develop at least one ritual for each holiday that is unique to your family, or just take one of the common holiday rituals and do it in your own way.

A bedtime ritual

Bedtime happens every night and it’s a great time to implement a simple ritual you do together as a family, or that you do with each child. Many parents will read a story or say a prayer with their child before bed, but it could just as easily be a fist bump and saying a “love ya.” That’s a ritual that might even last through the teenage years.

A daily ritual

Technically, this could be your bedtime ritual, but sometimes it’s inspiring to make the mundane or necessary parts of life sacred and enjoyable. Can you think of one thing you have to do every day that you can make into a daily ritual with your kids? It could be walking the dog with your teen after dinner, strolling to the mailbox hand-in-hand with your preschooler every morning, or sorting laundry with your toddler after nap time. Make the mundane everyday stuff into lovely little rituals you look forward to.

A self-care ritual

Teaching your children self-care is a wonderful gift. Whether it’s a pampering evening with your daughters, a short relaxation and meditation session with your teens, or a weekly trip to the farmer’s market to pick out healthy food, showing your kids that it’s fun to take a little time out to look after yourself is a great ritual.

No matter how strapped for time we are, we can all find a few family rituals that don’t take up too much time, but help all family members connect and communicate.

 

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

Road Trip Snacks That Won’t Make a Mess in Your Car (and the Snacks to Avoid)

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Keep fueled on your upcoming road trip with these relatively clean, easy-to-eat road trip snacks.

As the summer winds up, there might be a road trip somewhere in your future. Whether it’s just a couple of hours in the car on your way to grandma’s, a weekend away at a lakefront resort, or a week long cross-country journey, you’re surely going to need a backseat full of road trip snacks. And, unfortunately, good road trip snacks probably aren’t the first thing you’re thinking about when you’re planning for your trip—likely, they’re one of the last things you do before heading off, either stopping at the grocery store the night before you leave or, let’s be real, even when you’re already on your way!

But this year, we can all aim to do better and plan ahead to make sure you’ve packed the best road trip snacks possible. Thankfully, we’re here to do the heavy lifting for you (you’re the one that has to lug those heavy suitcases to the car, after all!). Here, we’ve put together a list of dos and don’ts in regards to good road trip snacks (because who wants to come home with a sticky backseat to deal with?), healthy road trip snacks to make, and of course, the best road trip snacks to buy (because you’re probably not going to be all packed the night before). Read on for your road trip survival guide:

Good Road Trip Snacks, Dos and Don’ts

Do: Pack individually portioned treats. The fact that you’re strapped into a moving vehicle makes passing handfuls or ripping off portions a little tenuous. Make things easier for everyone by separating snacks into individual zip-lock baggies or buying pre-portioned snacks in bulk.
Do: Bring two bags. Bring a cooler bag for things that should be kept chilled like sliced cheese, fruit, carrot sticks, sandwiches, drinks, and more. Your pantry bag can be filled with trail mix, cookies, crackers, etc. Keeping the two separate make sure that the dry pantry foods don’t get soggy from condensation or spills.
Do: Focus on dry foods. While you might have the aspirational urge to become a health guru on your road trip, it’s a good idea to stick to self-contained fruits like bananas, apples, and oranges. Although they do leave waste, they’re relatively clean compared to melons and berries, which are prone to dripping and leave behind a wetness that can expand outside of its container.
Don’t: Pack anything that could melt or spoil. It may feel like a no-brainer, but many yummy pre-packaged foods won’t last long without refrigeration. Instead of packing chicken salad or milk for the kids, just plan to make stops to pick up along the way. And while chocolate may seem like a fun treat, it melts quicker than you’d think—so keep it to a rest stop treat unless you want to deal with a sticky mess in your backseat.
Don’t: Pack foods that need utensils. Avoid a last minute lunch meltdown when you realized you forgot to pack forks or spoons and just plan to have everything edible by hand and bite-sized. Since you’re likely to be eating out of the packaging, these foods are logistically easier to eat than those that would need forks and knifes.
Don’t: Pack messy foods. Unless you’re planning on a full car detailing post-trip, stay away from foods like crumbly granola bars, croissants, cheese puffs, and quinoa. “Foods that make you brush off your pants while eating are a no go,” says Food Director, Dawn Perry. Additionally, you might want to stay away from things that come with shells like pistachios or peanuts
Do: Pack food in mason jars. Just because you’re driving doesn’t mean that you have to skip out on the road trip snacks. Fill up a mason jar that easily fits into a cup holder so the person at the wheel (or the trusty, hungry copilot) can snack along too.

Healthy Road Trip Snacks to Make

Trying to stay away from processed foods? Load up your cooler with these homemade healthy road trip snacks. From DIY Kind bars to addictive party mixes, these snacks will help the time roll by.

Kamut-Banana-Walnut Muffins
Break and Bake Kitchen Sink Cookies
Pizza Pretzel Nuggets
Cookies and Cream Crispy Treats
Honey Mustard Snack Mix
Nutty Superfood Breakfast Bites
No-Bake Lemon-Chia Bars

Best Road Trip Snacks to Buy

Planning on taking the “There’s No Way I Can Get Snacks in Order Before I Leave” route? No worries at all! There are plenty of delicious, healthy, and fun snack options to be found at the warehouse club, grocery store, or even gas station! Pick a couple of options from this Real Simple-editor approved list.

Oreos
Nuts
Water
Granola or nut bars
Grapes
Beef jerky (We tested more than 100 and these were our favorite jerkies!)
Cheese and crackers
Popcorn

 

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