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Archive for the ‘Parents’ Category

5 Real-World Ways to Make Time for Friends

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We can’t add hours to the day, but we can share these tried and tested ways to fit in much-needed time with your besties.

“I’m teaching my kids how to play golf, partly because I love golf and my friends love golf. I have two boys, who are 11 and 6. I’m friends with my kids’ friends’ parents, so when we get together, it’s like killing two birds with one stone. We plan events that include the entire family, like going to a ball game or a kid-friendly concert. We’ll also take trips with friends and their families and rent a house. Those kinds of trips really create quality time together.”
—Mark Choey, 47, cofounder, partner, and CTO of Climb Real Estate

“I have been traveling a lot this past year, so I post on Facebook where I’ll be and connect with people that way. Sometimes I’ll send calendar invites to friends about meeting up. It helps because we’re all so busy. But it’s also good to be spontaneous and not always plan ahead. I’ll message 10 friends on Facebook to see if anyone wants to go to dinner. I think it’s important to do this kind of thing on a regular basis—otherwise I just blink, the whole year goes by, and I’ve lost touch.”
—Suz Somersall, 34, founder of KiraKira3D

“Now that my kids are 11 and 14, I find many friends through them. It’s important to have that network of people you trust with your kids. I’m driving a lot of carpools, and there’s homework, so the evenings are pretty tied up. But on the days I work, I try to see a grown-up at lunchtime. Or we’ll meet and go for a walk, or I’ll exercise with them on my days off.”
—Desiree Botkin, 48, briefing attorney for United States District Courts

“My family life just went into overdrive because we recently had twins and already have a 5- and 7-year-old. Having a set event helps make time. I used to organize a Dads’ Drinking Club as a way to meet new people; we’d gather once a month at a local bar. Now, every month or two, my friends and I play poker. One of the biggest sources of marital disharmony I’ve observed is an imbalance in time with friends. So I make an effort to schedule something to take the kids to so my wife can be with her friends. I think that makes our relationship happier.”
—Rabindra Ratan, 36, assistant professor of Media and Information at Michigan State University

“I think you have to prioritize time for friends and not feel guilty about it. Thursday works best for my schedule, so I have a goal to meet a friend for dinner and drinks every Thursday night. Seeing a friend shouldn’t feel like a guilty pleasure; it’s a really essential part of life. I think it’s important for women in particular to look at friendship as something that feeds your life and your business. It’s one of those things that make you better at everything else you do.”
—Robbie Hardy, 70, author, mentor, and cofounder of Lessons Earned

 

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

5 Proven Ways to Fight Working-Parent Guilt

The emotional push-pull between home and the office can be painful. Here’s how successful working moms and dads keep life guilt-free.

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Lean On Your Partner

“When my first child was born, people at work would say, ‘How do you come to work and leave your beautiful baby at home?’ I actually had a lot of guilt about how I didn’t feel more guilty I was working. The guilt kicked in when my son learned to talk. He had friends who had moms who were at home, and he wanted to know why I couldn’t pick him up after school. Luckily, I have a really involved partner. At night when the kids are sleeping, we can sit on the sofa and talk about everything that happened that day.”

— Kristy Sekedat, 39, Forensic Scientist in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Say Yes Whenever You Can

“If I have a deadline for a book and my son comes over with a Star Wars figure and says, ‘Dad, will you play with me?’ the answer is always yes. I know that 15 minutes of playing with Star Wars figures will make him so happy. And that helps me with the guilt. I divide my day by the type of tasks I have to do: the ones that require everyone to leave me alone, and the ones I can do while sitting with my family. I do those menial tasks—which a lot of people do during the day—while watching TV with my family. Not wasting a single minute means I get more minutes for them.”

— Matthew Dicks, 47, Fifth-Grade Teacher and Author in Newington, Connecticut

Own Your Choices

“My daughter is almost 1, and any time I spend away from her is time I question inherently. Before I went back to work after she was born, I thought I would feel so guilty every second of the workday, but it turns out I don’t. Anything that makes me feel good about myself as a person makes me a better mom. I have a mantra: ‘I am showing her what a strong woman looks like. I am showing her what it means to have a career I made for myself and built out of nothing.’ She’s still too young to understand, but I like to think she sees it in her own little way.”

—Jamie Stelter, 36, Traffic Anchor for NY1 in New York City

Designate Family Time

“My three kids have grown up coming to work with me, knowing the people I work with and understanding the important things we do. It’s also important to me to build in family time. Every Tuesday night is our night, and that takes priority over anything else. We read a book together, we do a fun activity together, we write down what we’re grateful for, and we pray together. It starts a discussion and gives us a chance to talk about what’s coming up in our week. I enjoy having a life that’s fulfilling at home and in the world. I want to show my kids that my life is bigger than just myself.”

— Yasmin Diallo Turk, 41, Evaluation and Compliance Analyst at the Nonprofit Safe Alliance in Austin, Texas

Create Strong Bonds

“Both my kids started daycare at three months old. I’ve coped with the guilt by breast-feeding them for so long. I breast-fed my first until she was 3, and my youngest is 20 months and I still breast-feed her. Taking my full maternity leave, breast-feeding as long as I can to make sure the bond is there, and spending quality time with them are my ways of not feeling the guilt. I also decided to be a class parent—it has helped me stay involved and get to know the parents of the other kids in the class very well.”

— Ninon Marapachi, 40, Head of Hedge Fund Origination at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in New York City

 

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

5 Scientifically Proven Ways to Raise Happier Kids

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Most moms beat themselves up about the same “failures”: Too many chicken nuggets, not enough kale; zombifying our kids with screens because we just can’t even; not volunteering to be class mom because we may actually drop dead if we take on one more responsibility, etc. But what if we told you the keys to improved parenting have zero to do with those tired old guilt traps? Here, five research-backed secrets for upping your mom game.

Go to work

The New York Times cites evidence out of Harvard Business School that kids reap the benefits when moms work: “In a new study of 50,000 adults in 25 countries, daughters of working mothers completed more years of education, were more likely to be employed and in supervisory roles and earned higher incomes.” Career-oriented mamas may also be doing their future daughter-in-laws a favor, as sons of working mothers are more likely to “spend more time on child care and housework” and look to marry women who work. Being a professional may also be a boon to your kids’ physical health. One study out of the Berlin Social Science Center found moms who work a typical full-time job optimize their offspring’s BMI. “Amongst school aged children (8-14 years) the risk [of obesity] decreased when a mother worked between 35 and 40 hours per week, compared to working shorter (1-24) or longer hours (41 or more) a week.”

Put them to bed ridiculously early

Parents who put their kids to sleep with the sun (or, in summer, well before it sets) not only have significantly more hours for Netflix; they also have children who thrive. “Research consistently shows that putting kids to bed early is beneficial for their physical, emotional, and cognitive development,” writes Melinda Wenner Moyer in Slate. One study she cites shows “Across all ages, a late bedtime and having a parent present when the child falls asleep had the strongest negative association with reported sleep patterns,” like trouble falling asleep and more night wakings. Sorry, Kourtney Kardashian. Research also demonstrated that children age three and up “without a consistent bedtime routine were reported to obtain less sleep.” A different study she cites found “toddlers with a bedtime before 9 p.m. slept 78 minutes more than those with a later bedtime.” 

Lock up your phone

Illinois State University family and consumer sciences professor Brandon McDaniel studies the connection between tech-obsessed parents and the resulting behavioral problems in their kids. This phenomenon even has a name: “Technoference.” Per the Chicago Tribune, results of McDaniel’s recent study of 170 U.S. parents “showed that the parents who reported problematic or addictive use of technology—checking phones often, feeling lost without them or turning to cellphones when they are lonely—also reported that their relationships with their children were being interrupted. The interruptions led to kids acting out, turning inward with feelings, or exhibiting aggressive behavior or crying spells.”

Sing to your kids

We know that babies recognize their parents’ voices in utero. But the benefits of singing to kids go well beyond bonding. A study out of the University of Montreal demonstrated that singing to babies keeps them calm twice as long as talking to them—good news for showtune-belting mamas everywhere (don’t judge ’til you hear my Eponine). Another study conducted by psychiatrists at Stanford University School of Medicine found that hearing their moms’ voices triggers pro-social responses in kids. Per this research, the strength of a child’s neurological response to hearing his mom’s voice actually “predicted that child’s social communication abilities.” Explained lead author, Dr. Daniel Abrams: “We know that hearing mother’s voice can be an important source of emotional comfort to children. Here, we’re showing the biological circuitry underlying that.” Sally Goddard Blythe, director of the UK’s Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology, suggests singing lullabies and nursery rhymes to babies is “an essential precursor to later educational success and emotional well-being.” Other experts say it enhances their mathematical and scientific abilities. Bonus: Babies are just as into it whether you sound like Beyoncé or Countess Luann. 

Run around with them

Research from the University of Cambridge shows active mothers “appear to have active school-aged children, who are in turn more likely than their less active peers to have good health outcomes.” The science belies the assumption that all kids are natural exercisers. In fact, researchers “saw a direct, positive association between physical activity in children and their mothers—the more activity a mother did, the more active her child.” The upshot? Sweaty moms = healthy kids.

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

15 Family Rules to Keep Your Household Running Smoothly

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These clever, sanity-saving house rules are parent-tested and approved.

Our rule is that everyone must knock before opening a closed door. Several times my kids have expressed their appreciation for it after going to a friend’s house. They’ve also told me they feel respected by my husband and me because of it. — Tina Z., Walterboro, South Carolina

My husband and I made a rule when we first moved in together that we only get to talk (OK, complain) about our workday after we sit down at the dinner table. Then the conversation has to change. — Amira Melnichenko, Maitland, Florida

I teach middle school; my teenage boys knew not to knock on my bedroom door for a full hour after I got home from school. I needed some me time between teacher time and momma time. — Karen Hinds, Memphis, Tennessee

We don’t get upset about spills. They’re just accidents. — Amber Sprengard, Cincinnati

Once, on a hike with a couple of other families, the kids started to complain. One mom stopped and asked, “Are you a problem solver or a problem maker?” That mantra has stuck in our family for both kids and adults. It’s a great way to reframe negative thinking. — @GIRLYTWIRLY

Put others first. We started using this simple phrase with hand signs as a silent reminder, pointing to our hand (“put”), then pointing outward (“others”), then pointing up (“first”), when our children were small and continue to use it 18 years into parenting. When it’s applied, our home becomes a well-oiled machine. — Nicole Schrock, Plain City, Ohio

No video/computer games on school nights. Placing a priority on schoolwork has worked for us. — @MANDYHOFFMAN

If something that you would rather not eat is served for dinner, you have to have a “No, thank you” bite. — Brie Ghinazzi, Boise, Idaho

Family meeting once a week, on Sundays. Everyone updates the calendar and looks at the schedule for the week so we know what to expect. — Connie Lenorud Schroeder, Niles, Illinois

I can’t take credit for it, because it was my mother-in-law’s rule first: No talking while packing up the car for a vacation. This rule has helped my husband and me start our family trips much happier. — Michelle Wigand, San Francisco Bay Area

If you pack it, you carry it. We all make better decisions about what we need/want for the day or a trip, and everyone chips in! — Debbie Burke, New Albany, Ohio

No name-calling. Disagreements happen—we have four kids—but name-calling is a one-strike rule. — @AMYOMEARA428

No TV in the morning on weekdays. In the morning chaos of getting dressed, brushing teeth, and eating breakfast, we managed to get out of the house mostly on time and were able to finalize pickup arrangements and practice schedules. — Michelle Knell, Keaau, Hawaii

If it’s not on the family calendar, it doesn’t exist. — @SHANNIEBG

If it’s full, empty it. From the trash to a sink full of dirty dishes to a full laundry hamper, this rule is practical. It also works as a mind-set. — Cecilia Tavera, Santa Barbara, California

Only touch something once. It eliminates shuffling objects from one place to another instead of just placing it in its home. — Laura Davies

Ours was passed down from my father-in-law. He said, “There is no such thing as women’s work or men’s work—just work. And we’ll all work together till it’s done.” It makes for very grateful spouses! — Barbara Knomholz

 

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.

Bento Box Mania!

What is a bento box?

Bento box lunches have been increasing in popularity among families with preschoolers and school-age children. Google the term “bento box lunch” and you will find a wealth of resources, including blogs, Pinterest pages and online retailers selling basic and whimsical options. If a parent is artistic, the child’s lunch can become a work of art.

Why does it work well for school lunches?

Bento boxes work well for school lunches and snacks because they protect food in a sealed container and keep food groups separate. If you have a picky eater who does not like foods touching, a bento box may keep your child happy. Parents can have fun creating different lunchtime masterpieces. Bento boxes are also economical because they are reusable and help keep plastic snack and sandwich bags out of landfills.

What are the nutritional benefits of bento boxes?

Bento boxes are appealing because they provide a creative way to add a variety of foods to a child’s lunch while keeping wet foods separate from dry foods. By introducing different, healthy foods early in your child’s life, he or she may develop a preference for those foods as well as a more diverse palate. You can also turn the preparation of the bento box into a learning activity by asking your child what each food is, where it comes from, how it’s made and so on. Engaging your child in the experience may help to build and reinforce a child’s love of diverse, nutritious foods while fostering a love of learning.

What can I put in my child’s bento box?

The options are endless, but here are some ideas:

  • Sliced hard-boiled eggs;
  • A mini-bagel sandwich with almond butter, jelly or another spread;
  • Sliced strawberries, blueberries and kiwis;
  • Cheese cubes;
  • Pretzels;
  • Sliced grapes;
  • A muffin;
  • Mini-pita sandwiches filled with cheese and pepperoni;
  • Sliced pineapple;
  • Celery and carrot sticks;
  • Cucumber slices;
  • A turkey and cheese sandwich on a Hawaiian roll;
  • Veggie chips;
  • Rice molds;
  • Chickpeas and black beans;
  • Raisins and chocolate chips;
  • Sandwich rounds with ham, cheese and avocado.

Enjoy making bento box lunches!

The Importance of Father’s Day

Each year, the third Sunday in June is a day dedicated to showing our dads just how important they are. We should twenty20_0ebc9527-d7cb-434a-86e1-6d4a3039c5a8remember to appreciate our fathers for everything they do for us year-round, but Father’s Day is a great opportunity to make sure they know how much we love them. While it is important to spend this day with Dad, however, don’t forget to show Grandpa and your uncle some love, too. This can be done with a phone call or by sending a card or small gift.

If you cannot be with Grandpa or your uncle on Father’s Day, plan a trip to make up for it. Fishing and camping trips are wonderful ways to step away from reality and focus on family bonding. As for Dad, ask him how he would like to spend Father’s Day with the family. Some ideas include mini golfing, a child-friendly construction activity such as building a bird house or simply playing catch in the backyard. And lastly, be sure to tell Dad how much you love and appreciate him and everything he has done for you.

What are some activities your family does to celebrate Father’s Day?

Baby Safety Tips

A few helpful tips for first-time moms and dads:

  • Always place your baby on her back to sleep unless your pediatrician advises otherwise for medical reasons;Baby
  • Remember not to put bumpers and blankets in an infant’s crib;
  • Be sure to childproof your home before your baby begins to crawl. Get down to a baby’s level and crawl around looking at your home from a baby’s point of view. Ensure that electrical cords and outlets are child-proof and that TVs and other electrical devices are safe;
  • Make sure that an adult feeds your baby until she can safely hold her own bottle. Propping bottles can be dangerous;
  • Be sure all toys are age appropriate. A great rule of thumb is that toys that fit in an empty toilet paper tube are too small for a baby;
  • Remember that babies are naturally curious. Save the word “No!” for when it really matters, like when safety is concerned.

The Importance of Mother’s Day

Each year, the second Sunday in May is a wonderful opportunity to show our moms just how appreciated they are. Wetwenty20_77a5e341-a0a2-4482-9455-0764b830b44b should remember to value everything our mothers do for us year-round, but Mother’s Day is a great way to give them some special treatment. While it is important to spend time with mom; however, don’t forget to make a phone call or send a card or small gift to grandma and your aunt as well.

A spa day is a great gift for grandma or an aunt, especially if distance makes it difficult to spend Mother’s Day with them. As for mom, you could prepare breakfast in bed or take her out to eat. You could also ask her if there’s anything special she’d like to do, such as go for a hike, see a movie or get a mani/pedi. And of course, be sure to tell mom how much you love and appreciate her and everything she has done for you.

What are some activities your family does on Mother’s Day?

Keeping Your Child on Track through the Holiday Season

Guest Post
by Patricia Lutner

The holiday season is here. The holidays can be fun and joyful for families, but they can also be stressful and unsettling, especially for children. You can take steps to ensure your child has a positive experience and gets through this busy time with less stress. Here are some suggestions that may help.

  1. Provide good nutrition – Eating healthy, nutritious foods can be a challenge with all the treats and special holiday foods. Stock up on fresh fruits, vegetables and lean sources of protein to provide a balanced diet for your family.
  2. Help your child get enough sleep – A tired child is a cranky child. Being consistent with naptimes and bedtimes is especially important during the holiday season. This can be a challenge, but by planning and incorporating these times into your holiday schedule, you can improve your child’s behavior and increase everyone’s enjoyment of an event.
  3. Set expectations and consequences – Letting your children know your expectations for their behavior and the consequences of misbehaving is essential, especially during the holidays. You must be willing to follow through with the consequences, or the rules will have no meaning.
  4. Keep the rules developmentally appropriate – When setting rules and expectations, be aware of what is appropriate for your children’s ages and developmental stages. Often, parents’ expectations do not align with their child’s developmental capabilities.
  5. Stay calm and be flexible – Don’t lose sight of the goal of the holidays, which is to celebrate your family and the traditions important to you. Take a break if you are feeling overwhelmed, even if it is only 10 minutes to breathe and clear your mind. Staying calm will help you and your child enjoy this wonderful time of year.

Nine Ways to Stay Relaxed during the Holiday Season

The holiday season is a lot of fun, but it can also be stressful. Here are nine ways to stay calm during the most wonderful time of the year.

  1. Exercise. Going for a run or brisk walk can make a huge difference in your outlook. Embrace those endorphins and allow them to do their job of taking the edge off.
  2. Try holiday emails instead of greeting cards. Holiday greeting cards are a time-honored tradition, but that doesn’t mean they have to be your tradition. Send out a holiday-themed email instead, which will save you time and money. Or, if you want the best of both worlds, send out a few greeting cards to family and close friends, and send an email to everybody else.
  3. Accept imperfection. Some things may not work out the way you would like. That’s okay. Laugh it off and move on.
  4. Eat healthily. All those yummy holiday treats are great, but don’t forget to eat fruits and veggies. Maintaining a proper diet can help you keep your energy levels up and keep you in a good mood.
  5. Take a few minutes for yourself. Plop down in a favorite chair, read a book, enjoy a warm beverage or simply breathe.
  6. Breathe. A few deep breaths can help you to decompress. If you can, sit quietly and concentrate on breathing for a few minutes. This mini-meditation can help you relax and refocus.
  7. Sleep. The holiday season can be both fun and hectic, so getting enough sleep is important. After all, you need enough energy to enjoy all the holiday fun.
  8. Learn to say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” You and your family may be invited to some holiday celebrations. Don’t feel like you need to commit to every one of them, though. It’s okay to say, “Maybe next year.”
  9. Remember what the holidays are all about. It’s easy to get caught up in the holiday excitement. Just remember that the holidays are about spending time with loved ones and being thankful for that time. So smile and enjoy yourself!