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    February 26, 2015
    Helping Your Daughter With Bullying

    The writer of this article at Courtney Defeo calls it “girl drama,” but the feminist in me cringes a bit when I read that. Whichever way you look at it, it’s not “girl drama,”- it’s bullying. “Drama” just seems like a way to dismiss it as not being as serious. And girl on girl bullying can be brutal. Even if it’s not necessarily physical abuse, the snide comments, exclusions, hurtful words, and rumors can be just as painful. And it starts even younger than you think. Check out some of the tips from the Courtney Defeo post on talking to your daughter about “girl drama” and how to handle it:

    -Carve out a time and place every day for talking

    -Make sure she knows she can tell you anything

    -Help her understand that her peers can’t tell her what to do- only parents, teachers, etc.

    -Introduce empathy- teach her to put herself in others’ shoes so SHE doesn’t become the bully.

    -Allow her to make the decision on what to do about the problem. Don’t immediately contact the teacher unless she says she wants you to. She may have another way of handling it.

    Photo Credit: Eliza C3 

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    February 24, 2015
    Taking A Break From The Little Ones

    Parenting is a tough, time-consuming job. It is 24/7, 365. If you have another job for 8 hours a day, too bad. You get no rest unless the kids are asleep. It can be totally grueling at times, but we all do it because we love our kids and want the absolute best for them. But dangit, sometimes you need a break. And there’s no shame in taking one. Recharging will help you be a better, more focused parent and will also allow your kids some new experiences. Check out this post by Sarah Mueller at Early Bird Mom for more:

     As mothers, we are so used to putting others’ needs first, that we can ignore our own needs, sometimes to the point of exhaustion.

    Simply put, we need to take care of ourselves. Taking a break and getting some downtime is an important part of that process. You can only forge ahead on full speed for a limited time before you crash and burn. Stop and take a break before you get to that point!

    How to take a break:

    -Schedule quiet time every day

    -Hire a babysitter for the night

    -Schedule a vacation in advance.

    Photo Credit: davejdoe 

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    February 23, 2015
    Bath Time Fun

    My nephew loves bath time. He loves playing in the water and splashing around, and is amazed when bubbles come out of the baby shampoo. Bath time is a real chance to bond with your baby. Babies love the sensory stimulation they get- the slippery feeling of water, the warm softness of the towel, the smell of the shampoo- and they make positive connections between bath time and mommy/daddy. For more on how bath time helps parents and babies bond, check out this post by Vicky at Mess for Less:

    -Develop a bath time routine and stick to it

    -Add bubbles for baby to play with

    -Give babies a massage with baby lotion after bath

    -Play special music during bath time

    -Talk with your baby during the bath- more words heard as a baby = better academic performance in the future

    Photo Credit: JustJennifer 

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    February 10, 2015
    RAKs for Toddlers

    When I was in high school, I had a teacher who was really big into “RAKs” or, Random Acts of Kindness. For one of our assignments in class, we had to do 10 RAKs and report to her what they were. It could be something as paying someone a compliment, writing a thank you note, or baking someone cookies, or as complex as helping someone out with a major task. She thought they were great ways to bring more positivity into the world, and I totally agree with her. There are lots of ways to bring this attitude into your home, and one way is to perform Random Acts of Kindness with your children. Check out this post by Tarana at Sand in My Toes for some kindness acts that you can do with toddlers:

    -Sharing and donating toys to charity

    -Sending letters to grandparents, relatives, or friends

    -Helping out a sibling with a chore

    -Thanking those who serve or assist them

    -Leaving food for birds or animals

    Photo Credit: Jaky Astik

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    February 5, 2015
    Chores For Older Kids

    Getting kids to pitch in with chores is essential for their development, even if it can be like herding cats! When I was a kid, I would do everything I could think of to get out of them- lock myself in the bathroom, fake like I was sick, or straight up just hide somewhere in the house or yard. My parents tried their hardest to get me to do dishes and laundry, but I flat out refused (and was grounded a lot). Then, when I moved out on my own, my dorm room was a complete disaster. I didn’t know how to cook and ate out every meal (and gained 40 pounds in a year) I never did dishes or laundry, and when I moved out, it took almost a week of cleaning (not packing and moving) to get it in a presentable shape. Since then, I’ve made my own chore/cleaning schedule and stick to it religiously. DON’T let your kids learn the hard way like I did! Get them started helping with chores as early as possible! With that said, I love this post by Angela at Together With Family- it has a nice list of chores that 9-12 year old’s are capable of doing:

    -Make simple meals

    -Take out garbage

    -Wash and dry clothes (fold, put away)

    -Wash and dry dishes (and put away)

    -Keep rooms picked up and clean

    -Clean toilets, sinks, bathrooms.

    Photo Credit: Parker Knight 

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    February 2, 2015
    Adopted Children- Dealing With Attachment

    I do not have any adopted children, though I have considered it many times. Being a parent is difficult, and adoptive children come with their own set of challenges. One of the main challenges with adopting is forming deep attachments initially. Often, you miss out on months (or years) of baby bonding time, and you have to work really hard to form that parent/child connection. Some children come from neglectful or abusive backgrounds, and they can be even more difficult to work with. For tips on how to build a stronger attachment with your child (adopted OR biological), read this post by JoAnn Solchany, PhD. At Baby Center:

    -Be predictable. Be there for your child. Respond to his cries, yells, and calls either physically or verbally within 15 seconds.

    -Be empathetic and sensitive. Ask yourself, “What might my child be thinking right now?”

    -Don’t take your child’s behaviors (expressions of fear, anger, frustration, terror, and other difficult feelings) personally. Your child’s ability to express emotion is not yet fully developed.

    -Never let her feet touch the floor! Hold her, touch her, and wear her. You cannot hold them or spoil them enough!

    Photo Credit: basibanget 

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    January 27, 2015
    Dealing With Critical People

    Maybe you’ve decided to homeschool your kids. Maybe you’ve decided that you want six kids, or maybe you only want one (or none!). Maybe you want to adopt children, or become a foster parent. Maybe you need to move for your job, or maybe you want to become a full time stay-at-home parent. Maybe you have a lenient discipline style, or a very strict one. Whatever your parenting choices, they are yours. Sometimes it’s nice to get helpful advice from people who have been through the same situations, but ultimately, you know what is best for yourself and your family, and no one else. Your parents, friends, or in-laws might have their own opinions, but it can often come off as critical. When you find people criticizing how you raise your children, it can be an extremely emotional event– even if they mean well. But it’s important to keep in mind that it is your life, and that all decisions are yours to make. For more on dealing with people that criticize your family choices, read this post by Rachel at The Realistic Mom:

    -Develop some kind but firm responses

    -Take the positive and constructive element out of any criticism before you brush the whole thing off. 

    -Differentiate between concern and arrogance

    -Remain teachable

    -Draw boundaries with people when necessary

    Photo Credit: a2Gemma 

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    January 19, 2015
    Celebrating MLK Day With Kids: Books and Activities About Diversity

    Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, everyone! I know that many of you may be enjoying a day off from work or school, which is great, but today also allows time for reflection. Today, I went with my mother and my nephew to our city’s MLK Memorial Ceremony, and it really made me think. We heard about Martin Luther King’s life, lesser known civil rights heroes and heroines, as well as heard some excellent speeches from African American people in our community. As someone who is white, I never usually have to think about the challenges that people of color faced- and still face- in our country today. However, my nephew is biracial, and since he was born, I have gotten a small taste of it.

    If I learned nothing else today, it is this: be kind to one another, regardless of skin color. Reach out to people from outside of your usual circle (this is challenge to me, since I’m pretty shy!). And really, just be aware of what is happening around you. Stand up for injustice. Don’t be silent. Instilling values of empathy, equality, and diversity in our kids is absolutely crucial to stamping out prejudice and racism. And there are plenty of ways to do that! Read books! Interact with people from all walks of life- all races, religions, nationalities. And let your kids know that there is more than one way to be human. For some great books about Civil Rights, check out this post by Erica at What We Do All Day:

    Boycott Blues: How Rosa Parks Inspired a Nation.

    This Is the Dream

    Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down.

    I Have a Dream.

    The Story Of Ruby Bridges

    Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Photo Credit + Egg Activity from: Kids Activities Blog 

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    December 29, 2014
    Teaching Your Kids Healthy Body Image

    With the new year comes hope and new opportunities. People are ready to turn over a new leaf, and to change themselves for the better- you want to be healthier, get rid of bad habits, and improve yourself. However, the new year also can come with lots of negative self talk. Specifically, I’m talking about resolving to lose weight. Kids will hear you if you trash talk your body, bring down people who are overweight, and make fun of others- and they will copy you. It stems from wanting yourself and your kids to be healthy, but can actually have the opposite effect. Poor self esteem and negative body image can lead to eating disorders, depression, and worse. Therefore, I’ve made it MY new year’s resolution to love and accept my body, no matter what my weight. Check out this post by SCAN of Nova for ways to be a better role model for your kid:

    How can you tell if your child has a negative body image? One of the strongest indicators is when a child only views and values herself or himself in terms of physical attractiveness.

    It’s a tough world out there. As kids face the pressures in media and on the playground, parents have an important role to play in boosting body image. We can start by explaining that:

    • there isn’t one “good” body size
    • bodies will naturally change and grow throughout life
    • personality is more important than physical appearance

    Check out the post for a great, body positive checklist to practice with your child every day!

    Photo Credit: Butz 2013 

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    December 22, 2014
    Toys For ALL Kids

    Pink is for girls. All other colors are for boys. Girls get dolls and princesses and makeup, boys get science, nature, cars, superheroes, building tools, sports, technology, action figures- basically anything on the planet that has NOT been deemed as feminine. Then, we wonder why more girls aren’t interested in science, and why boys who grow up to be fathers are so absent in their children’s lives. To me, this is absolutely ridiculous. The very fact that “boy” toys and “girl” toys exist and are separate things proves that we still live in a very sexist, gender divided society. Some boys will grow up to be fathers and chefs and designers- they should play with baby dolls and cooking sets as well. Some girls will grow up to be scientists and athletes and engineers- and they need to play with microscopes and tools and sports equipment. So, if you’re looking for awesome, empowering gifts for ALL CHILDREN this holiday season, check out this post by Dayna at Lemon Lime Adventures:

    -Trucks and cars- always help with problem solving abilities

    -Work bench and tools-Work benches are great for fine motor development, problem solving, creative thinking, language development, and even pre-writing skills.

    -Science kits


    -Baby dolls

    -Cooking sets / play kitchens

    -Dress up clothes- dramatic play develops social intelligence in kids of all genders. Princess or pirate, doctor or ninja, cowboy/girl, — let your kids pick out their own clothes and go crazy!

    -Art supplies, coloring books, and anything that encourages creativity

    Photo Credit: Weird Nut Daily 

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