Archive for the ‘Family/Parenting’ Category

Take some time out to have some fun with your kids!  Here are some helpful suggestions and ideas!

1. Build an amazing couch cushion fort!

2. Celebrate an eco-friendly Valentine’s day together.

3. Here’s a whole list of fun winter time activities for you to enjoy.

4. Parent Magazine has a large collection of activity ideas for you to pick and choose from.

5. Do you have a tiny chef in your family?  Encourage his/her culinary passion with these baking recipes for kids.

6. Want to play games with your kids and have them learn at the same time?  Check out PBS Kids for a good start.

7. And eHow has an article on how to have more family fun on a small family budget.

What are your favorite ways to have fun with the kids?


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1. Sometimes more mess can equal less stress.  Learn how to tolerate the natural chaos of your life and feel happier.

2. As you know, I am a big fan of Gretchen’s Happiness Project.  Today I want to direct you to her tips for dealing with criticism so that it is less stressful and more helpful.

3. An article after the early childhood educator in my heart- Scientific American Mind explains the seriousness of play.

4. Stressing about money?  Who isn’t?  The growing field of behavior economics is looking at the ways in which money drives us crazy.


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Every Monday I am going to try to post links to sites and articles having to do with relationships.

1. First, you may want to take this Relationship Satisfaction Test from Psychology Today.  It will help you determine what areas are your strengths as a couple, and what areas you could use some improvement on.

2. Bond with your sweetie like never before with these 25 Ways to Get Connected.

3. Looking for a Valentine’s Day idea?  Try this.

4. Don’t have a date for V-Day?  That’s okay.  Me neither!  And I am happy about it.  No, really!  If you don’t think you can be happy being single, read this iVillage article to start you on your way.

5. On an interesting note, I saw on MSNBC.com that researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have found that extra estrogen may make some women stray.  Feeling the pull?  Read about what could be going on (besides reaching your threshold for the number of your hubby’s dirty socks that can’t seem to make it to the hamper.)

6. Think it is time to break it off with your significant other?  Don’t know how?  It may pay to read this first.

7. The FDA has recalled many products containing peanuts.  Keep your family safe by keeping in the know.  Bookmark this page from the FDA that gives you a list of all of the recalled products and then check back often.

Tomorrow is Home on Tuesday.  Check back for list articles and/or links to help you with your home, garden, and automobile!

The New Weekly Schedule:

Relationships Monday

Home on Tuesday

Working Wednesdays

Fit & Healthy Thursdays

Fun Friday Lists

Stress-Free Saturdays

A Spot of Sunday Creativity

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1. Give your friends and family a break and don’t tell the same story at every get together.

2. Do 5 minutes of exercise every day. You can do that during a commercial break for American Idol.

3. Every time you buy something new this year, donate something old to charity.

4. Compliment someone every day- maybe they are wearing a color that compliments their eyes, maybe they cooked you a delicious meal, maybe they actually remembered to put their towel back on the rack after their shower, maybe they simply combed their hair today. Let them know you noticed it. 🙂

5. Go paperless. Sign up for online bill paying. You can sign up for automatic draft with your checking account or you can sign up for an e-mail that informs you when it is time. You will be saving the environment and could be saving yourself money by never being late for a payment. Plus, it’s completely free.

6. Save money by doing swaps. Hold a clothing swap with your friends. Someone’s “I’m over that” could be someone else’s “I am so into that”. Sign up for a book swap online. Paperbackswap.com even lets you have 3 free credits when you list 10 books you can swap. All you pay for is postage to send your books.

7. Pencil in one night a week to have a family dinner together. No BlackBerry, no IPods, no friends over, just you and your family. You can cook or have a pizza delivered. The point is to savor your time together. One night out of seven is completely doable.

8. If you have to have a store credit card (ex. from Sears or Kohl’s), then resolve to use the card for the discounts only, not as a credit card. Purchase only what you would if you were paying in cash. Then you can pay off the card in full every time you use it instead of spending a headache of money due to high interest rates.

9. Spend one minute every day cleaning or organizing something in your home. You will be amazed at what you can accomplish for only 60 seconds of your time. It takes longer than that to read this list.

10. Tell those whom you love that you love them. Time is short and we never know what tomorrow will or won’t bring. If something happened to you, would they know for sure how you felt about them?

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1.   Have an annual tree-trimming party, where everyone brings an ornament to hang on your tree to bring you good luck and blessings in the year to come.

2. Hold dinner at a different person’s house each year, trading off.

3. Use specific hand-me-down recipes every year.

4. Adopt a family for the holidays.

5. Go Caroling at nursing homes or hospitals.

6.  If you play musical instruments in your family, have everyone learn a favorite Christmas carol and play it together as a family.

7.  Watch a favorite holiday movie together on Christmas Day.  Serve hot chocolate and pop popcorn.

8.  Open just one present on Christmas Eve.

9.  Check out area light displays.  If you don’t have community displays to view, drive around neighborhoods and look at the lights on the houses.

10.  Spend an afternoon doing some holiday baking.  Kids will love it even more if you make it a messy baking day.  You can even make goodies to put in baskets and deliver to home-bound neighbors or relatives.

11.  Volunteer your time as a family to help someone else.  You could help an elderly neighbor put up Christmas decorations or you can shovel snow off the walk of someone who is disabled and needs assistance.  It will warm your heart and the person that your helping.

12. Decide to fill stockings up with dollar gag gifts.  The creativity will grow with each passing year and the laughter will, too.  Some ideas I found on various Internet forums to help get you started: fake lottery tickets, straws in a bag with a note that says “Straw Hat- Assembly Required”, Sawdust in a Ziploc bag with a note that says “Expert Jigsaw Puzzle”, or try two AA batteries in a box with a note saying “Gift not included.”

13.  If your children’s grandparents all live nearby and they all want to see the kids, try spending  Christmas Eve at one grandparents’ house and Christmas Day morning or afternoon with the other set of grandparents.  Next year you can switch who gets which day.

14.  Once you have teenagers, you may want to hold the suspense longer to make Christmas morning a bigger deal. You can do this by making them eat a family-style breakfast before going in to the other room to open presents.  My own parents did this and it really can make the morning extra special.

15.  If you are Christian, you can use an advent calendar to count down the days to Christmas, use an Advent wreath in your home together, and/or make it a tradition to go to church/mass on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day every year.

16.  Take the family to the store and have each of you (or each kid and the parents as a couple) pick out one new ornament for the tree.  After a few years, you will have a collection of ornaments on the tree that everyone got to be a part of.  Each year as you hang them, it will bring back memories of the previous years.

What traditions do you and your loved ones celebrate during the holidays?

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  1. Take responsibility for keeping the relationship strong.  Don’t be a person who blames his or her partner or friends for the relationship problems.  Take responsibility for the relationship and look for what you can do to improve it.  You’ll feel empowered, and the relationship is likely to improve almost immediately.
  2. Never take the relationship for granted.  In order for relationships to be special, they need constant nurturing.  Relationships suffer when they get put low on the priority list of time and attention.  Focusing on what you want in a relationship is essential to making it happen.
  3. Protect your relationship.  A surefire way to doom a relationship is to discount, belittle, or degrade the other person.  Protect your relationships by building up the other person.
  4. Assume the best.  Whenever there is a question of motivation or intention, assume the best about the other person.  This will help his or her behavior to actually be more positive.
  5. Keep the relationship fresh.  When relationships become stale or boring, they become vulnerable to erosion.  Stay away from “the same old thing” by looking for new and different ways to add life to your relationships.
  6. Notice the good.  It’s very easy to notice what you do not like about a relationship.  That’s almost our nature. It takes real effort to notice what you like.  When you spend more time noticing the positive aspects of the relationship, you’re more likely to see an increase in positive behavior.
  7. Communicate clearly.  I’m convinced most of the fights people have stem from some form of miscommunication.  Take time to really listen and understand what other people say to you.  Don’t react to what you think people mean; ask them what they mean and then formulate a response.
  8. Maintain and protect trust.  So many relationships fall apart after there has been a major violation of trust, such as an affair or other form of dishonesty.  Often hurts in the present, even minor ones, remind us of major traumas in the past and we blow them way out of proportion.  Once a violation of trust has occurred, try to understand why it happened.
  9. Deal with difficult issues.  Whenever you give into another person to avoid a fight, you give away a little of your power.  If you do this over time, you give away a lot of power and begin to resent the relationship.  Avoiding conflict in the short run often has devastating long-term effects.  In a firm but kind way, stick up for what you think is right.  It will help keep the relationship balanced.
  10. Make time for each other.  In our busy lives, time is often the first thing to suffer in our important relationships.  Relationships require real time in order to function.  Many couples who both work and have children often find themselves growing further apart because they have no time together.  When they do spend time together, they often realize how much they really do like each other.  Making your special relationships a “time investment” will pay dividends for years to come.


excerpt from the book Change Your Brain, Change Your Life by Daniel G. Amen, M.D.

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The following strategies can help children acknowledge, identify, and appropriately express their feelings:

1. Respect children’s feelings. Begin with a premise that children’s feelings are important and that all feelings are healthy.

2. Talk about feelings. Children are full of feelings they don’t have names for. When you acknowledge their feelings and suggest names for them, children learn to recognize them and talk about them, too: “I wonder if you’re feeling frustrated?” Or “It looks like you are really pleased.”

3. Share your own feelings. When we acknowledge and name our own feelings, children’s understanding of feelings broadens.

4. Define and model acceptable forms of expression. Children take their cues from the way we express our feelings. (No matter how many times you tell them to do what you say and not what you do, children will copy your actions. Make them actions you would want to see them do.)

5. Be a witness to your child’s feelings. Stay physically close, as your child shares his happy or difficult feelings, offering a hug, pat on the back, or a hand to hold, as appropriate. Maintain a listening posture. You don’t need to fill up all the space with words but, when appropriate, reflect your child’s feelings: “You sound really mad.” Or “I can tell you are really upset.” Or “You seem so delighted by your new puppy.”

6. Respect nonverbal forms of communication. When children are crying, we often say to them “Tell me how you feel,” or “What’s wrong?” While it is important that we express a willingness to listen, sometimes we demand that children explain their feelings in words before they’re ready.

7. Give it time. Don’t rush in to fix things. Full expression of feelings takes time. Although we may feel “done” with children’s feelings before they do, children need time to find their own resolution.

8. Maintain safety, setting limits when necessary. Sometimes children need your help in keeping themselves and others safe. Excited, happy children may need redirection for their bouncy play. Upset children may need gentle but firm physical holding or moving to a safer environment. These kind of physical limits provide children with a sense of emotional, as well as physical safety.

9. Differentiate between feelings and behavior. It’s possible to stop a behavior such as kicking or hitting while still respecting the feelings that are being expressed. It is often appropriate to suggest alternative outlets to our children. “If you really feel like throwing something, you can throw this pair of socks at the wall.”

10. Distinguish your feelings from your children’s. Sometimes listening to children’s feelings brings up feelings for us. It is important to differentiate your own emotional responses from your child’s, so you can continue to give clear attention to your child.

11. Get support for your own feelings. Listening to children’s feelings is challenging for many parents. Many of us didn’t have anyone who listened to our feelings as children, nor do we have anyone who does it for us now. Being adults, we sometimes think we shouldn’t express sad, frustrated, or angry feelings. We have all kinds of ways to talk ourselves out of expressing our emotions: “It’ll just make things worse if I show my feelings,” “Maybe if I start crying, I’ll never stop,” “I have such a great life, I shouldn’t feel sad,” “I’m a grown-up, I don’t need to cry.” But people of all ages experience a full range of feelings. Our acknowledgement, acceptance, and expression of all of our feelings will allow us to be more responsive to our children’s various emotional expressions.

Different people have different ways to work through their emotions. A few people can do it alone, if they have the time and space, but most of us need another person to help, to sit down with us in a relaxed, calm way and just listen. Some of us have friends, partners, or peer counselors who will do this with us. Others can use spiritual leaders or professional counselors. You and your child both deserve the gift of feelings.

12. Be realistic about what you can do. There will be times, despite our best intentions, when we will not be available to fully listen to children’s feelings. Our own strong feelings may stand in the way. We may be too angry, tired, cranky, or short-tempered. We may be embroiled in a power struggle or unable to step out of the hurt of the moment. We may be in a circumstance where it is not safe to stop and listen. Or we may just not have the ability that day to stop our own momentum to be available for our child.

At those times when it’s hard to listen, there are ways to take breaks from children that don’t make them feel wrong for having their feelings. We can say “It seems like you still need to cry. I’m going to (take a break, go check on your sister, let the dog out). I’ll be back to see how you’re doing in a few minutes.” In this way, we leave children to continue to express their feelings without abandoning them, telling them that their feelings are wrong, or giving them the message that they’ve driven us away.

This list was taken from the book Becoming the Parent You Want to Be: A Sourcebook of Strategies for the First Five Years by Laura Davis and Janis Keyser.

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