Thinking Other Moms’ Homes are Neater Than Yours?

July 9, 2010 by  
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Playroom
Image by Elizabeth/Table4Five via Flickr

Do you ever visit other moms’ homes and wonder how they keep it so neat? Do you ever sit around in your own home with toys strewn over the floor, laundry piles (both clean and dirty) beckoning for attention, and three meals worth of dishes stacked next to the sink and wonder why you are the only mom on the planet who cannot keep up with her home?

If you answered yes to either of these questions, then you may be suffering from “TOMHANTY” Syndrome (Thinking Other Moms’ Homes Are Neater Than Yours). The symptoms of this terrible disease are guilt, envy, stress, and even withdrawal (did I mention guilt?). You look around as you walk from room to room wondering how it could have gotten so messy since yesterday. You believe that the new friend you just made from your weekly visit to the library could never let her house look like a tornado just went through it. You are sure that your friend whose house you visit occasionally for a scheduled playgroup would never have dust bunnies the size of . . .well, a bunny.

Welcome to the Real Moms Club, where it is not just about being a mom, but being real and knowing that you don’t have to be a perfect housekeeper. Maybe in the days of our grandmothers when society said that kids could roam unsupervised and free around town, but a mom’s house was a reflection of who she was as a woman. Today, there is a different set of priorities for many moms, and a perfect house is not usually the highest on the list, although we still imagine we are being judged on everything from how we raise our children to how much education we pursue to how great a job we land and finally to how tidy we keep house. Moms of today are stretched and pulled in many directions. Life is rarely as simple as a clean house. Stop telling yourself that you are not a good mom because your house is not always as neat as you think other moms’ homes are. Most moms are struggling to keep up as well. What is the cure to TOMHANTY Syndrome, you ask?

Well, you could drop by a friend’s house unannounced with the pretext of delivering some home-baked cookies; you could watch her face turn beet red with shame as she turns to survey the wreck of toys, laundry, and dishes behind her; you could listen to her offer up every reason why her house is in such disarray; or maybe you could just take me at my word when I say that you are not alone.

Release your guilt by making a list of what you DID accomplish today: got kids dressed, dropped kids off at school and picked kids up after, washed and folded a load of laundry, paid bills, took dog to vet, fed family for the day. It all counts toward making your house a home in which your family can grow and feel loved.

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Jennifer Tankersley is the creator of ListPlanIt where you can find 400 lists and planning pages including cleaning schedules, daily to do lists, grocery lists, and holiday/party planning to put your world in order.

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Potty Training Made Easy!

June 11, 2010 by  
Filed under Parent Product Reviews

Looking for a “fun” and easy way to potty train? Look no further. The folks at BabySigns, Inc, have created a wonderful Potty Training kit that makes it easy on you and on your baby! Here’s their promo video:

And you can purchase the potty training kit when you click here for the BabySigns, Inc, site.

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How to Prepare Your Home for a Foster Child

November 11, 2009 by  
Filed under Articles

25 Things About Me (I've Been Tagged)
Image by DQmountaingirl via Flickr

A significant part of preparing your home for a foster child is preparing yourself. A prospective foster parent must prepare his or her heart to deal with the sacrifice, the pain (sometimes foster children have truly tragic stories), and the joy.

It’s also important to see to it that the child is comfortable in his or her new foster home. Of course, if you are prepared mentally and emotionally, that adds greatly to the child’s comfort. There are some practical things, too, that you can do to make the foster home a place of refuge and love.

* Know your state’s requirements

Much of the physical aspects of your home – types of toys, sleeping accommodations, etc. – are determined by the state. An inspector or case worker will come to your home and determine whether it is suitable for a foster child, looking for proper safety measures (such as smoke alarms), number of bedrooms (some states require a separate bedroom for each foster child), etc. It will make the process go a lot more smoothly if you find out your state’s requirements ahead of time.

* A welcoming home

Besides state regulations, you probably want your home to project a welcoming and peaceful atmosphere. Try to keep the household quiet on the day of the foster child’s arrival. Let your children know they will need to be quiet and calm, but not stifled. Make sure the house is free of clutter which can be overwhelming to a child who is already feeling traumatized. If you have pets, especially big dogs, put them outside or in a separate room at first.

* Put valuables away

Keep any “tempting” items, such as jewelry, electronics, or other valuables out of sight. As you adjust to this new child and discover his strengths and weaknesses, you will learn where you can relax the rules and where you need to tighten them up.

* The child’s own space

Remember that a foster child is going through something traumatic, and may have known little but trauma for most of her life. She will need a space of her own where she can go to process her thoughts and feelings when she feels overwhelmed. Prepare this special space, most likely a bedroom, by making it welcoming and peaceful – a comfortable chair, a neatly made bed, some books, and maybe some stuffed animals. Quiet, soft toys are a good place to start.

* Preparing your other children

Of course there will be a period of adjustment, and some bumps along the road are to be expected. To prevent any big set-backs, though, it is a good idea to prepare your children for the foster child. Let them know how things are going to be different, and why you are taking a foster child in to your home.

The whole family can participate to make the fostering experience a joyful and rewarding one for everyone involved.

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Teach your Child to Be a Good Sport

September 8, 2009 by  
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It is good sportsmanship to shake hands with y...
Image via Wikipedia

Children learn what they see modeled before them. When it comes to being a good sport, are you demonstrating how to be one? You may not have thought about how to teach your child to be a good sport, but it may be something to consider – especially if you think they’ll want to play organized sports.

Sportsmanship can be defined as the way you conduct yourself suitably to all participants in sports. Included in this idea is playing fair, striving to do one’s best, and losing gracefully. If these are qualities parents want their children to display, why is it there have been newscasts from around the world of parents acting just the opposite?

Your children may wonder why good sportsmanship is important. You may be wondering how to instill good sportsmanship in your children from an early age so it will be evident as they get older and need it.

Most children instinctively want to win and considered to be the best at everything. Unfortunately, the desire to win may cause some children to display poor sportsmanship rather than good. You might want to use some of these tips to help your child learn how to be a good sport.

When children are preschoolers their parents may have a tendency to let their children win. Although this is usually done from a parent’s love for the child, it can give them the impression that they can win at any game because they won against their parents. The better choice might be to teach your child how to play a game and then “let the chips fall as they may.” They might actually learn more about the game, and being a good sport, by losing at an early age.

If they complain and whine about not winning, let them know how much practice it took for you to become good at the game. You could also offer to play with them whenever they like, as long as you’re not in the middle of something else, so they can get better at the game and possibly beat you in the future.

Model good sportsmanship while watching sports on TV or in person. Cheer for your team, of course, but make positive comments about the opposing team. Say something about the good defense or how well the team works together. This teaches your child to enjoy the game, be a fan of one team, but respect the players on the other team.

Encourage your child and praise them when they show good sportsmanship, no matter what the game. If they’re not quite the good sport, acknowledge and address the negative behavior. Good sports play fair and follow the rules. Children need to understand the difference between being a good sport or a bad sport; your praise for positive behavior will reinforce that knowledge and entice them to choose the higher ground.

As a parent, you want your children to play fair. When you teach your child to be a good sport, remember they learn a great deal by watching you. If you’re a good sport, your children will be more likely to follow suit.

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Happy Parent = Happy Family

September 4, 2009 by  
Filed under Articles

Young girl in Roller-skates, Bay St. Louis, Mi...
Image via Wikipedia

Parenting isn’t an easy job. If someone tells you it is, they obviously aren’t a parent! As a parent, you may be involved in many things – caring for the home, children, working outside of the home, and possibly volunteering. You may not have the time to care for your own needs, but it’s important that you do; a happy parent equals a happy family.

Take time out to pursue your own hobby or interest. Nearly every parenting book will espouse the need of parents to pursue some of their own interests to avoid burn-out. Perhaps you played a sport before becoming a parent. Being active will keep you healthy, show your children how to be healthy through activity, and increase endorphins in your body which will improve your mood.

Include your children in your hobby. Maybe you loved to roller skate as a teen. It may be time to take up skating again. Get skates for the whole family and everyone can have fun together.

Maybe your interests lie in another direction. Are you fixing up a room in the house? Children can learn how to help with do-it-yourself projects as well. They generally like painting even if they can’t reach the ceiling. Why not let them help? You’ll be able to share your interest with your child and get more accomplished at the same time.

Give yourself a time out. This might be associated primarily with disobedient children, but time outs can be a great idea for helping you to de-stress, which can definitely improve how you feel. This can also help you be a better parent because you’ll be calmer and more able to handle your children.

How do you know when you need a time out? Here are some indicators:

* You might talk louder
* You may clench your teeth
* You may feel your heart race
* You may feel your muscles tighten

If your children are safe, try leaving the situation. You can also ask another adult to keep an eye on them until you’ve cooled off. Go to your room or the bathroom where you can be alone for a few minutes. Take some deep breaths and then call a friend to help you talk thing through before returning to the stress-causing situation. When you’ve calmed down, you’ll be able to handle the situation better.

It’s important to realize you can’t do things for others – whether partner, children, or boss – if you’re tired, worn out, and frazzled. The old saying goes, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” That may apply to parents in general, so do what you can to make yourself happy. Experts agree a happy parent equals a happy family.

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Advantages of Family Chore Charts

August 29, 2009 by  
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Summer Chore chart
Image by SharkeyinColo via Flickr

When my children were younger the one thing that saved us was having chore charts. This article talks about the advantages of a similar system.

Do you use chore charts and rosters? Would love to hear about your experiences!

If your family has several members, it’s quite likely everyone has activities to attend. It’s also a good bet the parents expect the children to help with chores around the house. There are many advantages of family rosters, or charts, to keep your house running smoothly.

Chore Charts can make daily and weekly chores easier. By making a roster, you’re able to write down all the chores that need to be done and who is responsible for each chore. Then you can create a centralized roster for the whole family or give each person their own roster of chores.

Consider having a family meeting to discuss changes being made in regard to chores. Explain that each person, except infants, will be expected to help. You may also want to determine consequences for not doing chores in a timely manner. Some families even go as far as writing up a chores contract that each person is expected to sign, showing they understand their responsibility in helping keep the house running smoothly.

Start by knowing what each family member is able to do. Make a list of chores each person can do and then assign each one to the person best able to do them. Of course, if you have several children close in age, you may want to switch out days so they share duties. Continue to assign chores based on ability until all household chores are assigned and rosters made.

Don’t expect everyone to do their chores perfectly the first day. In fact, you may want to give yourselves a week to get used to the new family rosters. Once everyone learns what they’re supposed to do and actually does them, your house could begin to run smoother than it ever has.

One advantage of having family rosters is the fact that one person won’t be responsible for everything. It wasn’t uncommon in the past for women to “keep the home” while the men cared for everything outside. Times have changed, and traditional roles for caring for the home have changed as well.

Another advantage of family rosters is the work should get done quicker. The old proverb “many hands make light work” is true. If everyone is working to get their chores done each day, there won’t be so much work to do on the weekend. This will free everyone up to do things they enjoy rather than tackling chores at home.

Perhaps your family hasn’t been successful at keeping a family roster. Put past failures behind you and start afresh. When your family realizes the advantages of family rosters, they may be more willing to give it another try. Before long, your family will know what’s expected of them, do those things, and the house and family will thank you.

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How to Encourage Children to Feel Good about Themselves

August 27, 2009 by  
Filed under Articles

Many thanks for this guest post on self-esteem in children. Enjoy!

Children can be cruel by calling each other names or making disparaging comments about one another. As an adult, you can process unkind comments made to or about you without them affecting you deeply. You may want to know how to encourage children to feel good about themselves; these ten suggestions may help in that endeavor.

Feeling good about yourself simply means liking or believing in yourself and your abilities. It is developed as we love and care for our children which reinforces their importance in our lives. They see themselves through our eyes as they grow. Having a supportive and loving family will help them develop and maintain this vital self-worth.

The following are things parents can do to encourage children to feel good about themselves:

1. Tell your child that you love them often and sincerely. Let them know how glad you are about the person they’re becoming.

2. Spend time with your child. Listen to what they have to say. Support their dreams by being an active participant in their life. Your presences show their importance because time is a precious commodity.

3. Expect their best without expecting perfection. You can expect their best effort in school; however, accepting a lower grade as their best is important if they have worked hard for that grade. No one is perfect; expecting perfection damages their self-esteem rather than encouraging it.

4. Take an interest in your child’s schoolwork by being supportive. Help them with homework but don’t do it for them. Support after-school activities or volunteer at events in which they participate.

5. When helping your child with schoolwork, try to focus on more than the areas they’re struggling with. Give them the opportunity to show you their strengths. This will bolster their confidence before tackling something they may not be well-versed in yet.

6. Encourage them to have friends over. Make their friends feel welcome and take an interest in them. Allowing your child’s friends in your home also lets you see what type of influence your child’s friends will have on your child.

7. Children want to feel they have something to contribute. Expect them to help with family chores at their level. Younger children can fold clean clothes or set the table for dinner. Older children can do chores which don’t require your supervision. It’s also important for your child to be responsible for cleaning up their own messes, including keeping their bedroom clean.

8. Ask your child to help you with something. With all the new technology today, they’re probably better than you at some skills. Getting their help on a project requiring technology could whet their appetite for a new hobby as well as helping you with something important.

9. Allow your child the opportunity to fail. Children learn problem-solving skills by having to figure things out for themselves. If you solve your child’s problems, they won’t learn these skills.

10. Celebrate their achievements and successes. Encourage them with positive reinforcement. Be sure, however, that your praise is genuine as children are able to tell the difference between genuine praise and platitudes.

Children, like adults, want to know they are accepted and appreciated by those they love. Following some of these suggestions, you can learn how to encourage children to feel good about themselves. Once you’ve learned, don’t forget to put the suggestions into practice and watch your child’s self-esteem soar.

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Ten Ways to Ease Sibling Rivalry

August 23, 2009 by  
Filed under Articles

Two Sisters by William-Adolphe Bouguereau
Image via Wikipedia

The nature of children means they are bound to fight with one another; it’s part of being human. Sibling rivalry may be common, but that doesn’t mean you can’t to do something about it. Try using one or more of these ten ways to ease sibling rivalry to bring peace to your home.

1. Ask your older children to help with the younger ones. This will encourage your children to feel proud of being an older brother or sister and will help them build a better relationship.

2. Do your best not to compare your children, especially while they’re in the same room. It’s obvious that your children are different, but you don’t want them feeling as if there’s something wrong because they’re not the same. It may also cause your children to believe you love one of them more than the other.

3. Let them handle their own disagreements. It may not be easy to do, but it’s important to let them resolve some of their own conflicts. You also want to avoid taking sides because it might give the impression you favor one child over the other.

4. Explain to your children that however angry they might get, cruelty and violence are unacceptable. Let them know you won’t stand for hitting, kicking or hateful words. When your children resolve their problems peacefully, be sure to praise them for doing so.

5. Take your child out of the room if you must punish or scold them. It’s important not to do this in front of the other children because it may cause the child not being scolded to tease the one who was.

6. Have a special date each month for you to spend with each child. Spending individual time with each child doing things they enjoy will let them know how special they are to you. It will also help your children have your undivided attention, if only for a little while.

8. Set limits as far as what is acceptable behavior and what is not. Hitting, name-calling, and putting one another down are not acceptable and you’ll want to step in if your children begin using any of those tactics. You may not want to act like the police, but it may be necessary at times.

9. Family meetings can be helpful for letting children voice differences or complaints. They’re also an opportunity for parents to restate family rules about how to treat one another, or add new rules.

10. Choose your battles wisely. You know your children aren’t always going to agree, so you might spend all of your time coming between them if you don’t let them handle things on their own. Squabbling about who had a toy first isn’t that important, but pestering until they feel they have no recourse but to strike out definitely needs your attention.

Having children can be a joy; however, it can also be stressful for parents when the children argue and fight. Using one of these ten ways to ease sibling rivalry may work for your family. It can’t hurt to give them a try.

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24 Reasons to Gather Around the Dinner Table

July 14, 2009 by  
Filed under Recipes

The Fisher family at Claire's farewell dinner,...
Image via Wikipedia

If you’re like most families, you probably don’t have dinner together as often as you’d like.
It’s understandable. Family life gets busy. Often if both parents are working outside the home it’s hard to schedule a workable dinner hour. Children have activities to go to, and Mom’s got to drive them all over the place.

Really, who’s got the time and energy to even cook dinner every single night?

You, that’s who! Eating together is good for you and your family. So let’s find out a way to make time and find the energy to make home-cooked meals and sit down and eat together more often.

Researchers have found many benefits to home-cooked meals. Watch this video to learn about some of them.In our family we’ve made it a priority to dine together almost every evening. And here are 24 reasons I have found to share family meals more often:

1. Families who eat together eat healthier, because home-cooked food is healthier than fast food.

2. Family meals allow busy families to catch up with each other.

3. Young children learn a lot of verbal skills just by eating with and communicating with their family members.

4. A family dinner hour gives each member of the family a chance to unwind after a busy day.

5. Having family meals more often forces you to end your working day and other obligations in time for dinner.

6. You’ll save money! Home cooked meals are not only healthier, they’re also cheaper than takeout food or eating out.

7. Eating together forces everybody to tell stories. The first few meals together might find some awkward silence but once the habit is in place, you’ll be laughing and story telling like crazy!

8. Cooking at home motivates you to be creative with your meal planning and cooking.

9. Children can get involved in cooking meals. It’s a great way for them to prepare for adult life ahead.

10. Cooking and eating together creates happy childhood memories.

11. Eating together is an opportunity to explore different cuisines.

12. Eating with your family is more fun than eating in front of the television (or the computer). It really is!

13. Eating together gives parents a chance to talk about current events from their point of view, injecting their personal values without giving a lecture.

14. Eating together helps family members bond and get to know each other better.

15. You’ll be surprised what your kids reveal when you’re in a relaxed environment, such as a family meal.

16. Kids are less likely to roll their eyes when you reminisce and tell stories from your childhood while eating a meal together.

17. Family meals can be good teaching moments, even for small children. My toddler learned how to count by counting after-meal treats on his high chair.

18. Eating together is a good opportunity to teach and model good manners.

19. Family meals give a good transition from work or school to home life.

20. Family meals are also good times to share music together.

21. Family meals teach everyone valuable life skills, such as sharing and taking turns.

22. Stopping and sitting down to a meal gives everyone a chance to quiet down and regroup.

23. Family meals provide an additional occasion for family members to pray together.

24. Eating home is more eco-friendly than eating out or ordering food – less waste!

If you think having family meals is too much work, don’t despair. You can get help for everything from meal planning to putting your weekly grocery shopping list together. Check out Dine Without Whine for kid-tested, quick recipes that will help you put together family meals with less effort. Dine Without Whine’s weekly shopping lists will also help you get food shopping done much faster, and even save money on groceries.

As you can see from the list above, the extra time and effort you spend to have family meals more often are worthwhile.

Dine Without Whine – Helping Families Re-Discover the Pleasure of the Dinner Hour

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