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Archive for the ‘Parents’ Category

5 Simple Ways to Make Life Easier for Your Sensitive Kid

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Sensory smart parenting made easy.

Jayden, an active preschooler, loves the playground. After a few minutes, he’s so revved up that he starts running around, bulldozes over other children in his path, and then digs into the sandbox, spraying his little sister, Jenny, nearby. Jenny starts crying because she hates sand on her skin, and it’s sticking more than usual because she refused to let you properly rub in sunblock. She can’t stand that either. You manage to calm both kids down and head to the supermarket because you forgot to buy frozen spinach cakes, the only vegetable they’ll eat. You bribe them with cookies to behave and grab another brand of spinach cakes because they’re out of the usual one. Maybe they won’t notice? Fortunately, your spouse bathes the kids so you can make dinner, turning up the music to tune out the complaints:

“The bath is too hot!”
“You’re pulling my hair!”
“My pajamas hurt!”
“That music is too LOUD!”

Then you serve dinner. The kids are pleased with the mac n’ cheese at exactly the temperature they like but … the spinach cakes are WRONG. Jenny starts to wail and Jayden calls her a baby. And the nighttime battles begin.

Quirks vs. Sensory Issues?

Do your child’s likes and dislikes make you feel like you’re catering to a cute but impossible dictator? All of us have preferences and intolerances. But there’s a big difference between the endearing quirks that all kids have and sensory issues that make living with children SO very difficult at times.

We all learn through our senses, both the familiar ones—touch, sight, sound, taste and smell—and some that are less well known: vestibular (our sense of movement), proprioception (our internal body awareness), and interoception (our sense of physiological well-being or distress). Sensory processing refers to how we transform all of these sensory messages into useful information so we know what’s going on in the world and with our bodies so we can respond proportionately.

Some of our kids, and some of us, are wired differently. When people have sensory processing issues, their brains do not interpret sensory information accurately and reliably, so their responses may be out of proportion. They may overreact to certain sensory experiences that don’t seem to bother anyone else. They might be hypersensitive, feeling things too intensely and thus overreacting to a tiny scratch or to getting messy with glue or paint. The hypersensitive child might be fussy about clothing or food textures. A child can also be hyposensitive (underreactive), needing a lot of input for it to register in his brain—stuffing his mouth with food to feel it in there, sprawling on the floor during circle time to feel the floor beneath him, or playing too roughly at recess. Many kids have sensory meltdowns when there is too much input to process, as can happen in a busy classroom or crowded store. Fortunately there are “sensory smart” parenting hacks you can use to minimize the effect of these sensitivities.

1.Keep a journal to help you predict and prepare for sensory-related problems.

Write out where the problem happened, what preceded it, the problematic behavior and what seemed to help.

2. Create a visual or written list of the day’s events so your child knows what to expect.

Children (and many adults) feel more confident and capable when they know what’s ahead. If a disliked activity is planned, collaborate on ways to make it more tolerable such as downloading favorite music on your smartphone for your child to hear while she’s sitting in the doctor’s office.

3. Bring a bag of tricks to help your child stay on an even keel.

If you know your child gets fidgety when waiting in line, keep a supply of calming items: an unbreakable show globe, a container of putty, chewing gum and so on. If your child is sensitive to noise, bring sound-reducing earmuffs, noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs.

4. Get them moving! Kids need to move, some more than others.

If your child is bouncing off the walls when it’s time to sit down for dinner, plan ahead and have him get intense movement before dinner such as climbing a few sets of stairs, jumping on a mini-trampoline with a safety bar (or a mat on the floor), running laps and so on. If your kid loves screens, put on a gonoodle.com or other online activity that encourages movement. Exercise keeps kids healthy and also generates those feel-good chemicals that keep kids happy too.

5. Take breaks and don’t over-schedule.

We’re all overworked and overbooked these days. We mighy be used to it, and lots of kids thrive on being busy, but sensitive kids need downtime. Keeping it together at school all day among active kids and all of those academic, social and behavioral demands is a lot to ask of a sensitive child. Taking a short restorative break in a quiet, softly lit room or taking a peaceful walk in a park after school can make all the difference!

When to Get Help

Some kids, teens and adults have sensory challenges so significant that they interfere with learning, playing, working—and the ability to parent confidently. Somewhere between 10 and 15 percent of children have what’s called sensory processing disorder (SPD), including those diagnosed with autism and attention deficits, as well as kids who do not have any other developmental issues. The Sensory Checklist in Raising a Sensory Smart Child, which you can also download from sensorysmarts.com, will help you better understand your child’s sensitivities. A pediatric occupational therapist who specializes in sensory challenges can help you create more sensory-friendly environments and routines while, even more importantly, building your child’s ability to better process everyday sensory experiences.


Lindsey Biel, M.A., OTR/L, is an occupational therapist with a private practice in New York City. She is co-author of the award-winning book, Raising a Sensory Smart Child: The Definitive Handbook for Helping Your Child with Sensory Processing Issues.

 

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

Why You Should Let Your Kid Fail (Sometimes)

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Is your child resilient? How do you, as a parent, support your child while also bringing out their strength and bounce-back for the days ahead? You let them fail. Sometimes.

“At any age, humans are hardwired to have coping skills,” says pediatrician Edward Gaydos, DO. “The real question is, how do we help our children shape and interpret experiences? I think one thing we need to do is give kids a  comfortable space for failure, and then empower them to try again.”

How kids learn from failure

Today, many kids feel the invisible but heavy pressure to be the best, to stand at the top, and to collect the most awards, scholarships or trophies. The truth is, we can’t all always win king or queen of the mountain every time we play.

Parents with unrealistically high expectations can unwittingly create anxiety and fear in their children. Rather than creating an environment where they feel the need to win every time, it would be healthier and more realistic to expect setbacks sometimes — especially because we all tend to learn more from our mistakes than from success,” he says.

For example, if you take a quiz, you tend to remember the answers that you got wrong rather than those that were correct.

A parent’s role

Part of this process of building resilience is about ourselves, the parents. We are the ones waiting eagerly at the sidelines, rooting for our favorite little people.

Check in with yourself and see if you are living any of your own dreams through your child. If so, this can create a lot of pressure and expectation, making kids feel self-conscious or even inadequate. Instead, we need to be supportive while giving children room to breathe.

“Children shouldn’t be the center of attention, but rather treated as part of a special community, your family and those you invite into your circle,” Dr. Gaydos says.

He offers the following tips to parents:

  • Validate your child’s fears or concerns.
  • Let kids figure some things out on their own.
  • Encourage children to be in situations where they interact with others and learn social cues.

Fail, learn and try again — it’s all OK

When children are allowed to have a variety of experiences in which they are allowed to fail and try again, they naturally learn more.

“You can help their kids by teaching them that life is about learning, making mistakes, and then working hard not to make the same mistakes again. This, to me, is how you define wisdom.”

He says it’s OK to tell your children that you are learning from your own mistakes. It helps children to trust you and to understand that we are all in the journey together.

 

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

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.

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.

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.

5 Simple Ways To Help Your Child Understand You Better

Anyway, our go-to speech pathologist Kelly Lelonek has lots to say about why our kids don’t always “get” us — mainly because we talk too much. Here, her best tips for how to encourage little ones to tune in and listen up.

Like when, just for hypothetical example, requests to clean up the Magna-Tiles get tuned out, monologues about the day’s agenda elicit a confused “What?” and efforts to discuss the self-actualizing lessons of The Little Engine That Could are met with knock-knock jokes about butts…?

Does anyone else feel like her kids ignore her, oh, 97 percent of the time?

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Babies as young as five months old know their names, says Lelonek. Around nine months old, they understand basic words like “No.” When you’re spending time with your baby, get down to her level, call her name and wait for her to establish eye contact before asking a specific — not open-ended — question (“Do you want the dolly or the bunny?” vs. “What do you want to play with?”).

1. It’s never too early to develop good communication habits. 

Twenty20

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Keeping your language pared down works both for developing speech and for managing behavior as children get older.

Speak slowly and simply, in sentences that are as short as possible says Lelonek. She suggests reinforcing words with visual cues, like showing the child a picture of what you’re discussing, or pointing out an object in the room as you say it. Keeping your language pared down works both for developing speech and for managing behavior as children get older. Writes Robert J. Mackenzie in Setting Limits with Your Strong-Willed Child, “A clear message should inform children, specifically and directly, what it is you want them to do. If necessary, tell them when and how to do it. The fewer words, the better.” His example? “Clean up your mess at the counter, please, before you do anything else. This means putting your silverware and bowl in the sink and wiping off the counter.”

2. Clarity is key.

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Lelonek suggests speaking about the present, not what happened yesterday or what you’re planning for tomorrow. Most kids do not even begin to grasp the concept of time until after kindergarten. You’ll have better luck getting through to them if you focus on the here and now.

3. Live in the now.

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The TV that no one’s watching, the car radio, even the whirring oven vent can interfere with a kid’s ability to process language. Optimizing their environment for good communication means “eliminating distractions and background noise,” says Lelonek.

4. Silence background noise.

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5. Leave some white space in conversation. 

As adults, we’ve learned to view extended silences as awkward or uncomfortable. But when we jump in to fill them, we end up bulldozing right over our kids’ opportunities to formulate and express their thoughts. “After asking a question, give your child at least five seconds to think and respond,” says Lelonek. “Kids need time to process our questions and their reactions. We do not need to fill every silent gap with talking.”

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

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.

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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.