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    March 30, 2015
    The Best Books For Single Parents

    Being a parent at all is one of the hardest jobs in the world. Being a single parent is the difficulty of parenting, times two. My sister is raising my nephew by herself, and the amount of work she does is absolutely astronomical. She’s lucky to have myself, and our parents to help her out. Even with the extra babysitting, not having another adult living with her puts all the work and responsibility on her shoulders. Talk about pressure! But it is possible, and millions of people do it every day.

    \I firmly believe that reading about any situation always helps shed light on it. Books can lend you their advice and experience, and they help you know that someone else has been there (and survived). That’s why I love this post by Debolina Raja Gupta at Mom Junction that has a list of the best books for single parents:

    -Single Parenting That Works By Dr. Kevin Leman

    -The Single Mother’s Guide To Raising Remarkable Boys By Gina Panettieri And Philip S Hall

    -A Complete Guide For Single Dads By Craig Baird

    -A Complete Guide For Single Moms By Janis Adams

    -Surviving Single Parenting By Dawn Isenhart

    Photo Credit: Parker Knight 

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    March 23, 2015
    Dealing With Unwanted Parenting Advice

    No one gets more unsolicited advice than new parents. For some reason, people think it’s totally acceptable to put their noses in other peoples’ business when dealing with kids. Maybe it’s because they feel like they’ve been there before, and most of the time it is pretty well meaning. Sometimes it’s even STRANGERS that feel like they know better for your kid than you do. But for the parents, well, usually nothing is more annoying and unwanted. Read this article by Katie Joiner at Happily Ever Mom for the most common pieces of “advice” you will get as a new parent:

    -People think you just have no clue. Be prepared for, “you don’t know what you’re in for.”

    -People will stop and swoon- which is especially awkward for shy parents.

    -People will stop and stare rudely-  Just let it go.  You’re allowed to live your life as usual…even with a baby

    -Most advice from strangers has nothing to do with you and your baby. Instead, it comes from their experience with their babies.

    Photo Credit: Derek Swanson

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    March 10, 2015
    New Study Shows That Narcissistic Kids Are Caused By Parents

    Keeping your child’s self esteem high is crucial. Children and teens with low self esteem are more prone to depression, anxiety, eating disorders, distorted body image, negative self worth, and even suicide. While I believe it is absolutely crucial to give your children the praise they deserve, this article by Clare Wilson at New Scientist suggests that too much of a good thing is, well, not so good. Too much praise may lead to an increase in narcissistic traits, where they have an “inflated sense of self worth” and become arrogant:

     Although parental warmth had no effect on the children’s narcissism, there was a small but significant link at each stage between how much parents praised their children and how narcissistic the children were six months later.

    The solution? Always be warm, supportive, and loving, but use praise sparingly- only for big accomplishments.

    Photo Credit: Dennis Brekke 

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    March 9, 2015
    How Does Your Child Express Love?

    A few months ago, I first learned about love languages. Now, I usually don’t go in for hokey, new-age, self-help foolishness like this. But, I saw it all over Pinterest and decided to check it out. I took the quiz, and was pretty impressed by the results. My primary love language is “words of affirmation” followed by “quality time.” Yep! Pretty dead on. I don’t think I’m very insecure, but hearing “I love you,” or that I look nice, or really anything romantic makes me feel loved- more so than anything else, and I wasn’t really getting that in my relationship. Then, I made my boyfriend take the quiz (to lots of eyerolls from him), and found out that his top “language” was also quality time- but his lowest was “words of affirmation”. Well. That explained a lot. Since then, we’ve both put in work to add in more of each other’s “love languages,” and I feel like our relationship has really improved.

    On the site, you can also take the quiz with your children. If you have a different love language than your child, you might need to work extra hard to make sure they feel loved and appreciated. Check out this post by Angela at Together With Family for more:

    The love languages are: touch, words, quality time, gifts, and service.

    I encourage you today to look out for your children’s love language.  Once you do, make sure you keep it in mind when you are parenting that child!  I bet if you do, you will see that relationship grow, this is especially great to do with a child you are struggling with!  It will make such a difference.

    Photo Credit: KaramSingh 

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    March 3, 2015
    Kids/Teens and Cell Phones

    Time for me to go on a soapbox rant. I work part time as a substitute teacher, and I tell you, every kid has a phone. Even in elementary school. Now, I’m not one of those geezers who constantly condemns technology and insists that things were “better in my day.” In fact, I think cell phones are great. Yes, even for kids. They let you have instant communication with your children, and allow immediate access to the educational wealth of resources on the web. Plus, they’re fun! However, there is a fine line that needs to be balanced when dealing with kids and their phones. On one hand, you need to monitor them to make sure they are using them safely and not giving out personal information (or god forbid, inappropriate photos) online or in messaging. On the other hand, I feel like it’s important to trust kids and let them have their privacy.

    I got my first cell phone in 8th grade, when I was about 13 or 14. My parents’ rule was: if you have any sort of after-school activity where you need us to pick you up (instead of riding the bus), you can have a phone to let us know when to get you. Once you have a schedule that varies, and you make your own decisions about what to do in your free time, you are old enough for a cell phone. I think that rule worked pretty well. Undoubtedly, some kids these days are just TOO YOUNG for cell phones. Some of the older ones also don’t seem to be mentally ready for them as well. Then again, you don’t want to be the parent of the 16 year old who is left out of everything because she doesn’t have a phone.

    All in all? Know your kid. I don’t think that bestowing a cell phone has a numerical age. If your child has demonstrated that they are responsible, and that they understand that anything they put online is THERE FOREVER, they may be ready.

    Still nervous? It’s normal, and probably a good thing. Personally, I love this post by Rachel at It has a cell phone contract that teens must agree to before getting a phone! Check it out for some great ideas.

    Photo Credit: Garry Knight 

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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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