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    July 21, 2014
    Raising Grateful Kids

    In my life, I’ve found that being grateful is a huge key to being happy. If you constantly focus on what is wrong with your life, wishing you had more money, more things, a different body, a different job– you’ll always be unhappy, and will never be satisfied no matter how much you improve yourself. Instead, I try to focus on what makes me fortunate: I have a roof over my head, a supportive family that loves me, food every day, my dream job, time to relax and create things, I’m relatively healthy– there are so many things I feel incredibly grateful for every day. In fact, just being alive is astounding. Do you know how nearly impossible that is? We’re the only planet (that we know of) with intelligent life– check out the Drake equation for all conditions that need to be met for a planet to support life– it’s almost impossible. Then, when you think about everything in the past that must have happened in order for you to be here: all your ancestors, all the decisions they made, all the chance encounters for thousands and thousands of years that has lead to you existing and being where you are now. It’s enough to make anyone grateful. There are plenty of ways to connect with your kids and make them understand feelings of gratitude as well. Teaching kids to be thankful for what they have will help them become happier, kinder people (and prevent them from becoming spoiled brats!) Check out this post by Debra Dane at Home Life Simplified for activities:

    • Create a gratitude journal – older children can write on their own / photograph things they are grateful for and younger ones can be part of a family journal
    • Reflect together on the best parts of their day – doing this regularly can help them pause and find the good in their days
    • Volunteer formally in your community if kids are old enough (preschoolers and primary kids can often get involved in  nature conservation or animal shelter assistance in many places)
    • Volunteer informally amongst your local community

    Photo Credit: Brianna Lehman 

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    July 10, 2014
    Common Potty Training Mistakes

    All parents can’t wait until their babies are potty trained, but the training process itself can be a nightmare. Kids usually are pretty reluctant to learn- after all, pooping whenever you want and having someone else wipe it up for you is a pretty sweet deal. The idea is not that hard: you sit them on the toilet and teach them that’s the time to go. In reality though, it can be so, so difficult. To avoid a large chunk of tantrums and mess, check out this post by Anne at Zephyr Hill blog for common potty training mistakes:

    -Don’t be unrealistic- make no assumptions, try not to establish timelines.

    -Don’t pin all your hopes on friend’s and family’s advice- every child is different.

    -Don’t buy too much stuff- until you know what works for you

    -Don’t lose patience and don’t take it personally!

    Photo Credit: makelessnoise 

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    July 8, 2014
    Money Conscious Kids

    Raising kids that know about money is extremely important if we want an economically secure future. There are too many adults now who spend more than they make, and that is exactly what caused that recession. That, and lenders that let them get away with it. While our credit-based economy is partially to blame for that– when was the last time you paid cash for a car, a college degree, or a home?– you can’t help but wonder that if kids were taught better about money that they’d actually know what to do with it when they grow up. Check out this post on raising your kids to be financially responsible by Kerri Anne Renzullo at

    -Tie a “No” Today to a “Yes” Tomorrow- show that you are not spending on pizza and games tonight in order to save for vacation next month.

    -Let them make spending mistakes- having buyer’s regret over a $3 toy is better than a $3,000 mistake down the line.

    -Show them that work is rewarding- pay them for chores.

    Photo Credit: Hobbies On A Budget 

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    July 3, 2014
    Older Kids? How To Prepare Them For The New Baby

    Going from being an only child to being a big brother or big sister is a huge change in every child’s life. Sometimes, they might not be very accepting of the fact. Sometimes, they get extremely excited! Or they may be somewhere in between. But, helping them adjust to the changes can be easier if you start before the baby is born. Check out these tips by Paula at Beauty Through Imperfection:

    -Practice with a baby doll: little girls AND little boys need to learn how to be gentle with a baby- a doll can be good practice.

    -Read books about the transition

    Here are some of my mom’s personal tips:

    -At the baby shower, make sure the older sibling gets presents as well, so they feel included

    -Some hospitals offer big brother/ big sister classes! How fun! They also will give you tours of the hospital and the nursery, so your child knows what to expect.

    -When a baby is born, it’s extremely easy to get caught up in the excitement. They need tons of care, and lots of time: just make sure you constantly let your older child know how much you love them and don’t forget to give them attention as well!

    Photo Credit: 

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    June 30, 2014
    Don’t Worry About “Ruining” Your Kid

    I don’t have kids, but something I constantly stress about is whether or not I will be a good parent. I used to be uncomfortable even with holding babies or watching them until my nephew was born. Now I’m more confident around kids, but they used to terrify me. I was constantly worried about saying the wrong thing, doing the wrong thing, making some comment that would “ruin” them forever. Now that I’m living with a baby, the feeling is similar but much stronger. I’m always worrying about how clean the place is, the cats being near him, whether or not he’s getting enough mental stimulation, hoping I’m talking to him enough to help him learn….The worries are endless, and he’s not even my kid. I can’t imagine how bad I’d be about my own. Having bad anxiety also doesn’t help. Does this sound familiar? Are you constantly worrying that you’re “not good enough” for your child? Are you an obsessive perfectionist? Stop. Take a deep breath. You are good enough. If you love your child and do what you can to make sure they have a good life, you are a fantastic parent. Check out this post by Alissa Marquess at Creative With Kids for some inspiration:

    Me.  She needs me.  She doesn’t want that other mom who always keeps a clean living room and sings like Snow White.

    She doesn’t waste time comparing me to the Should Mama.  She wants her mama here being patient in the dark.

    You know what will ruin my kids? It’s not any of those thing on the list of shoulds.

    What will ruin my kid is if I let all of those “shoulds” bury the things that make me, me.

    Photo Credit: kelticsol 

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    June 9, 2014
    Correcting Lying

    There is a stage in every child’s life where they become very comfortable with lying. They like to test your limits, and see just how much they can get away with- and it’s completely normal. In truth, it is a natural reaction that everyone has. We do something wrong, we don’t want to get in trouble, so we try to deny it. But, it’s important to show children that they need to fight that instinct: they need to own up to their mistakes, apologize, and correct them. Check out this post by Amy McCready at Positive Parenting Solutions for ideas on how to approach lying, and how to inspire more honest behavior in the future:

    Don’t set up a lie. If you can see piles of laundry on your daughter’s floor, don’t ask her if she’s cleaned up her room yet. When we ask questions to which we already know the answer, we’re giving our children the opportunity to tell a lie. Instead, emphasize ways to address the situation. 

    Celebrate honesty. Even if you’re upset that there’s a sea of water on the bathroom floor because your daughter tried to give her dolls a bath in the sink, commend her for coming to you and telling the truth.

    Walk the talk. Remember that your kids are always looking to you and learning from your actions. Those little white lies we tell, whether it’s to get out of dog sitting for the neighbors or helping with the school fundraiser, aren’t harmless – they’re showing your kids that it’s okay to lie.

    Photo Credit: Artotem 

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    June 2, 2014
    What Parents Need To Know Before Kindergarten

    I wrote a post a little while back about what emotional intelligence skills kids need to have before starting school. Of course, there are also some mental milestones that need to be met too. However, there is one part that is often overlooked: getting the parents ready for kindergarten. Up until now, if you haven’t used a daycare service, you’ve spent every waking moment with your child and attended to his or her every need. Even if you have used daycare, sending your kids can still be hard: there are hurdles that every parent must cross and lots of things to learn about your child’s education. If you have a young one that is going to start school in the fall, you definitely need to read this post by Hilary at Pulling Curls:

    -Your teacher loves your child: It is VERY scary to give your child to someone else.  SO scary.  I get that.  Kindergarten teachers are a special, wonderful breed.  So thankful for each one.

    -Actively participate.  There are SO many studies about how important it is for parents to take an active roll in their child’s education.

    -Find some friends.  I have found some of my VERY MOST amazing friends at school.

    -Enjoy it!- You may cry at first, but enjoy the time you’ll now have to yourself!

    Photo Credit: Jason Lander 

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    May 27, 2014
    What Happens When Mom Always Says Yes? An Experiment

    Everyone knows you can’t say yes to your child about everything. You don’t want him or her to become a spoiled brat, plus they often want things that aren’t good for them (like candy 24/7) or that are unrealistic (I want to live in Disney World!). Or so you’d think. But, sometimes parents get caught up in the automatic “No’s” all day that they don’t stop and listen to what their child is actually asking. Sometimes, what makes a child happiest is nothing more than a simple request: more time with Mom and Dad. Kim Sorgius at Not Consumed decided to see what would happen if she said nothing but “yes” to everything her kids asked for a day. It sounds like that could be disastrous, but her results were surprising and more than a little heartwarming:

    I had envisioned this day to be one filled with bossy kids on a sugar high. I assumed I’d find myself annoyed at filling their requests, but instead I found myself totally blessed.

    The night would end in a tickle fest and stargazing on the back porch way past bedtime.

    The day came and went with no electronics, no fighting, and no sad faces. But there was certainly no lack of giggles and laughter. Hugs and smiles. Talking, playing, and memories.

    You absolutely have to read the entire post. I admit it made me tear up a bit. The comments were inspiring as well.

    Photo Credit: Abhi Ryan 

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    May 21, 2014
    Wordless Wednesday: Parenting Done Right

    Photo from Cheezburger 

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    May 13, 2014
    How To Make Kids LOVE Chores

    I know what you’re thinking…. “Yeah, right!” Getting kids to do chores is a battle. And forget about them liking it. Looking back, I feel bad now about how horrible I was to my parents when they just asked me to do the dishes, or take out the trash, or feed the cat. But, it doesn’t have to be a fight! The key is incentives. Check out this post by Ursula at Homemade By Carmona for creative ways to get your kids excited about chores:

    -Use a fun, colorful chore chart.

    -Work for hire: pin money and chore names to a bulletin board, let the kids decide what they want to do.

    -Practice consistency! Make it an every day habit

    -Motivate: set goals and make sure that they are accomplished

    -Reward: Sweet treats, fun activities, and hugs are great rewards.

    Photo Credit: woodleywonderworks 

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