Winter Hibernation: How to Help Your Child Stay Active in the Cold Weather

Warm weather is perfect for keeping your kids outside and staying active, but what happens when winter comes? The days are getting shorter and it’s starting to get much colder outside. When the winter season approaches, it’s common that kids (and maybe you, too) start to go into hibernation mode. While curling up on the couch with a good book or movie is ideal at times, it’s also important to keep your kids getting fresh air and physical activity. What are some ways you can help your child stay active this winter?

  1. Make the Most of It When It Snows

It might be cold, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing! Whether you live in a place that usually gets feet of snow or somewhere that makes a big deal out of 2 inches, take advantage of it! Get the entire family bundled up nice and tight and head out on an adventure through the yard or neighborhood. Have snowball fights, build igloos and go sledding. There is so much you can do in the snow to stay active. Just make sure everyone is wearing enough layers.

  1. Go Camping Indoors

One thing that’s great about cold weather is that since your child will likely be spending more time in the house, more quality time can be spent as a family. Being stuck indoors is a great time to pretend you’re outdoors. Try moving furniture aside and pitching a tent. Put the kids’ sleeping bags inside and let them go all out with camping activities. This is a great opportunity for them to use their imaginations.

  1. Play Active Video Games

Video games don’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. There can be really great video games that also involve physical activity and brain exercises. Check out games on the Wii for options that can engage your whole body.

  1. Cut to the Chase

When it’s too cold to go outside, it might be time to allow a little running in the house. Hide and seek or games of chase can be really fun for your kids, especially when you pretend to be the monster. When they’re a bit older, turning it into a game of tag can be exciting.

  1. Jump Around

Now is a better time than ever to go wild with your kids! Throw on some fun music and get the whole family’s blood pumping. Dancing is a great way to stay active without purposely “exercising,” and it’s always fun to get silly every once in awhile. If your kids are small enough, they’ll most likely love being twirled around, dipped and tossed in the air.

Keep an open mind when it comes to indoor activities. Let your creativity run wild, and let your kids help come up with awesome ideas for staying active.

How To Cultivate Healthy Communication And Structure In The Age of Technology

The saying “Home is where the heart is” is a very true statement. Our home is what we make of it. It should be a place of safety and nurture for our families. Sometimes busy schedules and adult responsibilities can get in the way of cultivating a healthy and consistent environment at home. You may not always have the time to have family dinners together. Yet providing a positive environment for your children is essential to their personal growth and development. Home life sets the tone for their lives. That’s big responsibility!

Be present and purposeful

The truth is that there’s no rule book for parenting. Yet if you want to learn how to be good at something, then you learn from someone who’s already successful. Don’t be afraid to read books, articles and even seek out counseling that will help you provide a productive homelife. Make sure that you make time for your kids and make communication a priority. Be an active participant in your child’s life. What you teach and instill in their lives will stay with them forever.

Encourage Manners At Home

Teaching our children respect is one of the most important aspects of parenting. You have the wonderful opportunity to instill in your children morals and values that will help guide them for the rest of their lives. Your children are a reflection of what they learn at home, and as a parent, you set the tone and standard for them. There are awesome ways that you can help your children cultivate empathy and tolerance in and out of the house. It all begins with you!

As a parent, you model the behavior that you want in your home. Children need consistency and structure. Have family dinners together. Talk about your day and keep communication open. If you and your spouse raise your voices, you are showing your children that yelling is acceptable behavior. Children are like sponges. They take in everything that you do and say, so be conscious of how you communicate in front of them. Show your children the value of listening and communicating in positive ways. Model empathy and understanding.

Be Intentional

Being a parent is a daily job and responsibility. You would never say, “I fed my kids last week,” or “I already cooked yesterday.” Create structure in your life as much as possible. Have each member carry out a job and work as a team. Caring for your family is an everyday task. Be intentional. Create a to-do list if you must to keep track of your daily responsibilities. Structure adds security to your children.

Turn Off The Distractions

As much entertainment that the television offers us, watching too much can invade our time, distract us, and even steal quality time from us. Ever been to a restaurant and watched each family member on their cellphone or tablet not having conversations. Give technology a timeout every now and then. You can’t ever get a day back once it’s gone. If you enjoy watching movies together as a family, try to designate one day of the week, preferably the weekend for television and movie-watching. Give your children specific times to play on the tablet or to play their favorite games. Maintain healthy boundaries and structure.

Have a plan for the weekend and make the most of family time together. Create an instagram account and make happy memories as a family! Enjoy your loved ones!

How To Help Your Child Deal With Bullying At School

Being a parent comes with many adventures and responsibilities. Raising children is the toughest job in the world. You as a parent know it well. Aside from sickness, our kids can experience challenges along the way. A health issue, a broken bone, and physical or emotional disabilities.It is important that you carve time out of your schedule for open dialogue with your children. Creating an environment of safety and respect is important for the development of your children. Helping them deal with challenges like bullying at school in a healthy manner is important.

You can’t always control what happens outside your home, and for parents that can be difficult, especially when your child is being bullied. What do you do then if your child is being bullied at school? Where do you turn? Let’s explore some healthy ways to approach the situation.

Some practical and healthy ways to cope

Reach out for help. If your child is dealing with a bully at school, it is imperative that you reach out to their teacher or another authority figure at school to have them know the situation. Your child needs to know that they are safe and taken care of. You may want to set up a meeting with the family of the bully to speak openly about the situation and seek problem-solving methods.

Family counseling. If your child is experiencing a bullying situation at school, they need the space to talk about their feelings. Being picked on can be harmful to young children. Some have hurt themselves, taken other’s lives, or their own because of the trauma of incessant bullying. Having someone abuse them verbally and even physically can be traumatic. Allow your child to express himself in his own way and time. Children need to know that they are heard and that their feelings are valued and matter.

Invite healthy and open dialogue Never underestimate the importance of conversation. Your children aren’t born knowing what they should or shouldn’t do during conflict, it’s your job as a parent to create a safe environment that leaves room for healthy dialogue. If your child is the bully at school, help them understand the importance of respect every day. Children learn by example so set a good one. Speak to them at their level and explain the consequences of negative behavior.

Find a mentor. Kids need positive role models that they can look up to. They sometimes find it easier to open up with a stranger than their parents. You may want to consider signing your child up for music lessons or even karate. Children need space and activities to explore, learn the importance of discipline, and extracurricular activities open the doorway to socialization. It’s also a confidence booster!

Take it seriously

Bullying is no laughing matter, and children are scarred when told hurtful words. Help build their self-esteem by validating them in positive ways at home. You may even want to find a peer group and support system that assists bullied children and parents. The worst thing to ever do is ignore the situation or dismiss it as something small. Bullying can be detrimental to a child’s self-esteem and sense of safety. Be sensitive to your children’s emotional responses and needs. Become involved!

Your Child’s Schedule

schedule for kids

When Lucy was 10 years old she loved swimming, dancing, and being a Girl Scout. Upon her daughter’s request, Lucy’s mother signed her up for the swim team, ballet, church youth group, and Girl Scouts. Within weeks, Lucy’s parents discussed how busy their lives were becoming due to Lucy’s schedule, but Lucy insisted that she wanted to keep participating in every extracurricular activity.

Three mornings a week, before school started, Lucy had swim practice. One evening a week she had youth group and Girl Scouts and two evenings a week she attended ballet classes. Most evenings, Lucy didn’t get home until 7 pm and she often did homework and ate dinner in the car. On the weekends, Lucy often had swim meets or activities at church. After six months of a full schedule, Lucy began to complain that she felt tired and she started to worry about things she never worried about before. Additionally, she started to complain that her stomach hurt in the mornings and she didn’t want to be on the swim team anymore. After visiting her pediatrician, Lucy’s parents decided that Lucy needed to pick at least one activity to give up. After she chose to stop swimming and only do ballet one night a week, she returned to her “old self”.

Is Your Child’s Schedule Too Full?

As a parent there’s lots of pressure to make sure that your child is involved in extracurricular activities. Not only will his or her participation in sports, art, and volunteering look good on a college application, but extra curricular activities are supposed to help children stay active, learn to be social, and stay away from trouble or boredom.

However a good question to ask is, can there be too much of a seemingly good thing? Before you answer that, think about your child’s extracurricular activities. Is he or she signed up for various activities because he or she wants to or because you want him or her to have a busy and “enriching” schedule? If your child is busy because of you, you may want to reexamine the purpose or intentions and see how your child really feels.

If your child has a busy schedule full of after school activities, there’s a good chance that he or she could end up feeling burned out. Here are some signs that your child may be too busy:

Feeling Tired, Anxious, or Unhappy

If your child is physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy, he or she should not be tired, anxious, or unhappy on a regular basis. While every kid has a bad day every now and again or he or she complains of being tired a few times a month, it’s important to monitor these complaints or signs to see if they become more frequent and if they are, it’s time to consider some changes in your child’s schedule.

No Schedule for Free Time

If you begin to notice that your child rarely has time to do absolutely nothing, then it’s time to rearrange his or her schedule. Keep in mind, it’s okay for kids to be kids and do fun things without a goal or a purpose. Has he or she stopped having playdates? Does he or she have no time to care for the family pet or keep up on household chores or homework? Are his or her grades dropping or does he or she show general disinterest in things that he or she used to love? If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, it’s time to free up your child’s schedule and let him or her enjoy childhood a little bit more.

Two’s Company: Preparing Your Preschooler For A Baby Brother Or Sister

baby sister

When you have your first baby, you’re completely wrapped up in protecting and caring for them. All eyes are on them – 100% focus on making sure they have exactly what they need at all times. The second time around can be a little bit different. You still have this new, tiny child to care for, and you’re so excited for everything that’s in store with this new chapter of your life. But it might have a slightly different feeling than that to your firstborn.

Your now preschooler has spent almost five years getting all of the attention – having everything revolve around them. This definitely doesn’t mean your preschooler is spoiled – it just means things are about to change for them, when they’ve never known any different. So what can you do to prepare them for this next step? How can you make sure both children’s needs are being met?

Talk To Your Older Child

First and foremost, talk to your child before they hear other family members discussing the news in front of them. You might want to show your firstborn your growing stomach to help explain what’s happening.

This is also a great time to go ahead and provide them with a role in the process. Ask them to help you decorate the nursery in preparation for the baby. Explain to your child that the baby will be eating, sleeping and crying, and that they won’t be able to play right away.

Answer Questions

Get ready to answer any questions your child might throw your way. They might ask where the baby comes from – don’t be afraid to explain, but keep the conversation at a level they can understand. Explain when the baby will finally come by using a frame of a reference they’ll be familiar with, like in the summer when it’s hot out or near Christmastime or another holiday they recognize.

Bring them to doctor’s appointments, let them feel your belly when the baby kicks, read books to them about childbirth and being a big brother or sister.

Your child will also be aware of any changes you may be going through physically, emotionally and energetically. Sometimes a child can start to resent the baby for “making you” feel this way, so take care of yourself. It’s much more difficult to properly care for others when you’re not feeling great yourself!

Stick To Their Routine

Try to stick with their usual routine as much as possible, and try to make few drastic changes. If they’ll be moving into a new room, try to do that as quickly as possible so they have lots of time to get used to it before the new baby comes.

Help them understand the things that won’t change after the baby is born – they’ll still go to school, they’ll still have the same toys, and you’ll still read their favorite books with them.

Encourage Involvement

This is crucial. Most of the issues will arise in the fact that your firstborn might feel ignored or as though they aren’t receiving as much attention as they once were. Let them be involved in the preparation of the baby as much as possible; and after the baby is born, keep them involved.

Make sure they know how important their role is as a big sibling, and remind them of the benefits of being the older child, like staying up later, reading books and playing fun games. Though there may be a period of adjustment, ultimately as long as you explain to your child how important their role is and reassure them of how much you love them, they’ll get excited to be an older brother or sister.

 

Family Pets & Teaching Children About Responsibility

family pet

If you don’t already have a family pet, your child has most likely expressed interest in having one. While an animal companion can be a perfect addition to any family, you must make sure the timing is right. Additionally, many parents allow a child to select a pet, with hopes of teaching responsibility, yet it’s still important to add a pet to your home only if you have the time and resources.

When is it the Right Time to Introduce a Pet?

 

Although the look on your child’s face, when he or she sees a cat or dog, may be priceless, you shouldn’t base a major family decision on “wants” alone. If you are a busy family, like many families, and aren’t home for the majority of the day, you should be careful about the type of animal you choose. While many families have a desire for dogs and cats, they need more attention throughout the day than animals like goldfish or hamsters.

 

While it’s not fair to call any animal a “starter” pet, there are some animals that may be easier to care for and are more suitable for younger children. Although some experts argue that no child, under the age of five, should be responsible for a pet, others agree that small animals like goldfish are perfect animal companions to start teaching responsibility.

 

If you already have dogs or cats in your home, it’s never too early to teach your child how to care for an animal. If you have younger children, never leave your child unattended with your beloved car or dog as a biting incident may occur. Younger children may not always know what’s appropriate or respectful behavior and it’s natural, for even the nicest of pets, to react negatively to pulling of fur or tails.

What Pets Can Teach Your Child

 

Whether your family has an aquarium full of fish, a parakeet, a guinea pig or a dog, your child can learn how to be respectful and responsible. By allowing your child to be part of the daily routine of feeding, watering, exercising, and cleaning up after the pet, he or she will understand that caring for a pet is more work than just having some fun when he or she wants.

 

In addition to teaching about being responsible for “life essentials” like food, family pets may also teach your child:

 

  • Compassion: Children of all ages should learn about and be reminded of compassion. Caring for a family pet allows children to look beyond themselves and focusing on the needs and well-being of the pet.
  • Self-Esteem: When children have responsibilities, their self-esteem can blossom. Knowing that they are excelling at feeding the cat, walking the dog, or cleaning out the gerbil’s cage, can encourage them to continue to take pride in what they do.

 

  • Get Active: Living and caring for an animal is a perfect way to get active. Encourage children to spend more time with the family pet than watching tv or engaging in “screen time”. Whether they’re walking the dog around the block or tossing a cat toy around the living room, your child is getting active.

 

 

  • Learning About Loss: Anyone who has ever had a pet knows how difficult it is to lose a beloved animal. While it’s never easy to see your child in pain, but he or she will also learn how to remember the good memories and how to cope with a significant loss.

 

 

Choose a family pet that everyone can enjoy and engage in responsibility. If your child really wants a snake, but you are terrified, wait until you know they are old enough to take for all responsibilities.

 

Family Pets : What To Consider

Family Pets

Family Pets can bring a tremendous jolt of joy to a family. Animals are fun, cute, and endlessly entertaining. Most children will be thrilled at the opportunity to share their home with a furry living creature.

 

A pet can provide many benefits for your family, but a pet can also become a burden in many ways. Families that thinking about pet ownership should weigh their option carefully; if you don’t think you can handle the responsibilities, you shouldn’t get a pet. Here are some of the things every family should know about the joys and troubles that a pet can bring into the living room.

Family Pets Bring Energy and Love

The best thing a pet brings to your home is love and happiness. Pretty much any family will benefit from having a cat or dog to share their space with. Kids, especially, will be constantly entertained by your pet; it’s like a living toy that moves and plays on its own. And kids will be fascinated watching a cat stalk around the house and solve puzzles. A pet will energize your family for sure. People who grow up with animals in the home are frequently joyful and fulfilled.  

Family Pets Teach Valuable Lessons

Having a pet can be a great teaching tool for kids. Pets need to be washed, walked, played with, and generally taken care of, even if you aren’t in the mood to do so. This sense of owing something back to another being can instill a strong work ethic and sense of responsibility in children. And of course, pets pass away, which can teach your kids about the inevitability of death. A dog will give your kids work to do, teach them about life’s mysteries, and make them realize that they’re not always the center of the world.  

Family Pets are a Lot of Work

Pets aren’t all fun and games. You will need to walk a dog and clean up after it every day, and sometimes even more often than that. Pets need food, and they need to be entertained. Sometimes they want to play when you’d rather be doing something else, and sometimes they’d prefer to sleep when you’d like to play. You won’t want to take a walk when it’s cold out and you’ve had a long day at work or school, but you’ll have to. Before getting a pet, make sure you and your family have strong communication skills and is going to be willing to give the animal the care it needs.

Family Pets Can Be Expensive

Pets need tons of care, and that care can cost a bundle. Vet visits are really not so different from medical visits, and your health insurance probably doesn’t extend to the family hamster. You have a responsibility to give your animal the best care they can get, so think twice about potential surprise veterinary costs that could pop up after you bring your animal home. Additionally, food and other daily living expenses can added up and leave a big mark in your pocketbook.

Books for New Parents

Trusting in your parental instincts is the best thing that you can do when it comes to your child. However, it never hurts to learn from other people’s experience. Especially when it can save you from learning the hard way. When you become a parent for the first time, reading complicated literature can be quite daunting. Finding the time to read can be even more complicated. To help reduce the time spent searching for proper information here is a list of the 5 best books for any new parent.

Baby Love: This has been regarded as the number one baby book in Australia. This book gives you the insight into the practical approaches that you need to take when you are caring for your little one during the initial years of his or her life. These are the days when you may be extremely confused. Baby Love will break down all the most important details of this phase. The author of the book, Robin Barker, is a registered nurse, midwife and an early childhood specialist.

The Gift of Sleep: The Title of the book will instantly ring true with any new parent and can easily lead to an impulse purchase. The unique value proposition for this book is based around tips and tricks that can help turn your night owl baby into a normal evening sleeper within 3 days. This book is by Elizabeth Sloane who is also known as the baby whisperer of Australia. It is absolutely a must read.

The Five Love languages of Children: This book talks about the parent’s relationship with their child. It primarily focuses on how they adapt to words and actions and how these can impact their development. The book gets into granular detail on how micro expressions are interpreted and gives recommendations on how you should behave with your child during each stage of their development.

Breast, Bottle, Bowl: The Best Fed Baby Book: This book has been recommended by the Australian Ministry of Health and can help new mothers develop proper nutritional awareness. The primary focus is on helping the new mother understand the effect of food on child development. It is a great educational resource and can help parents learn how to ensure proper nutrient intake for their child.

What to Expect When You Are Expecting: This is a famous pregnancy book that has received rave reviews for years. There are multiple reasons why this has been a worldwide bestseller for years and has been referred to as the pregnancy bible. It uses an easy step by step method that covers every stage of the pregnancy cycle. It even has sections that are dedicated to the father of the child. This book comes highly recommended by many health care professionals and should be in every mother’s library.

Is there a book that you think should have made our top 5 list? Have you read one of your top 5 books? Please leave us a comment below.

Tragedy: Tips for Talking to Your Children

When tragedy strikes, we keep the television and radio on for all the up-to-date coverage. We  become immersed in our smartphones and tablets, browsing through photos and watching videos. While this may be the only way to stay informed and get answers when we feel helpless and hopeless, children may be in the background absorbing the same information. If the information that we absorb is difficult to process, imagine how confusing it can be for a child.

 

As parents and caregivers, sharing information with children is a hard decision. Ideally, we’d love to present the world to our children in a soft and loving light, but the reality makes it feel like a lie. Although it’s important to keep our children informed, as it’s likely they will hear or see snippets of news, how much is too much and how should it be presented?

 

You have the right to deliver news to your child the way you see fit, but if you’re struggling to find the ways to have an age appropriate discussion, here are some tips and ideas:

Don’t Be Afraid to Talk to Your Child

 

Just because your child hasn’t talked about the latest natural disaster or mass shooting, it doesn’t mean that he or she doesn’t have questions. Chances are, he or she may be scared, confused, and anxious, yet unable to ask or find the right questions. Many parents are afraid to bring up a sensitive subject like tragedy because they don’t want to bring up negative news just in case the child hasn’t heard anything about the recent tragedies.

 

While he or she may have no idea what’s going on in the world, it’s only a matter of time before he or she sees a graphic picture of violence, hears a snippet from other adults, or even hears a confusing version from a friend. Make the move to have a conversation, it’s always better to hear it from you first.

Answer Questions, Don’t Overload Child with Information

 

When talking with your child about a tragic event, answer any and all questions that come up. Don’t ignore a question, but rather try to answer it with an age appropriate response. For example, if trying to explain a school shooting to your school aged child don’t go in detail about how many children or parents were killed. Instead, you can explain something like, “Someone went into a school and hurt a lot of people. It’s very sad news, but you are safe in your school and at home.”

 

You can also show your child a map or globe and point out the distance of the tragedy from where you live. Avoid letting your child watch the news as much of the information is repeated often and a younger child may have a hard time understanding that it’s a “recap” of information.

Take Your Child’s Anxiety Seriously

 

Even if you’ve told your child that he or she is safe, he or she may still feel anxious or have feelings that are difficult to explain; this is natural. Don’t get upset or frustrated with your child for feeling scared. Tragedy affects everyone differently, how does it make you feel? In efforts to keep life “normal” do just that. Maintaining a routine schedule can help children get past some anxiety. Maybe your son or daughter is terrified to go to school and you let him or her stay home for a day or two. If you continue to allow days off, you’re actually enabling the anxiety and your child may continue to perceive that school is an unsafe environment.
If concerns or issues continue, contact your child’s doctor or a psychologist for further tips on talking with your child.

A Season of Gratitude: Passing it On to Your Child

During the holidays, we are often reminded that it is the “Season of Gratitude”, a time when we reflect on what we have in our daily lives and be thankful for what surrounds us. Although gratitude should be and is practiced daily by people across the globe, some of us need reminders to take a break and really focus on what matters. Even more importantly, children should learn about gratitude; the earlier the better. As a role model, whether you are a parent, a relative, a caregiver, or an educator, it’s up to you to lead the way and teach a child about the importance of gratitude.

Gratitude is More than “Thanks”

 

Many parents start to encourage their young children to say “thanks” even before they become fully conversational. While saying thank you is important, sometimes it becomes too monotonous, a little mimicky, and even said without any meaning behind it. Parents want to have a polite child. Not only is it important to be a conscientious member of society, but it makes parents look a little better. Let’s face it, children are often a reflection of their parents and no one wants to be accused of having a rude child. If your child resists a simple “thank you”, it may not mean that he or she is rude, but it is important to teach gratitude and how to show it to others. Basically, “thank you” is not going to cut it in this world. If you want to have a grateful child, you’ll have to go a bit deeper.

Gratitude Costs Nothing

 

Teaching your child gratitude costs nothing, in fact, it may actually save you money in the long run. A grateful child is less likely to get everything that he or she wants and may actually start asking for less. Does this mean that you should say “no” to everything that your child wants? Of course not, but the more you say “not this time” may lead to less whining and hearing less of “life’s not fair”. It’s a hard thing to do, saying no, particularly if you grew up with little and what to provide more for your child. However, simply filling their lives with material items will not automatically create a grateful child. Gratitude is made for everyone and you don’t have to be affluent, academically minded, a believer of organized religion, or have lived a life of hardships to teach and practice the art of thanks. So, there’s really no excuses to not be thankful.

Going Beyond Material Rewards

 

When talking with your child about gratitude, remember that there is no right or wrong answer. You can guide him or her through the process of identifying what he or she is grateful for, but you shouldn’t decide for him. Let’s say a five-year old boy is thankful for his super hero toys, his bicycle, and chocolate ice cream. These items are essentially materialistic, but discuss how these things help him be a better person. For instance, you can discuss how super heroes are “good guys” that do nice things for others, a bicycle is a good way to be healthy and many people are thankful for good health, and the chocolate ice cream is a treat that many people do not have the chance to eat.

 

As they become older and gratitude discussions become more frequent, children begin to gain a better understanding on their sense of purpose and why helping others is important, as well as showing and practicing gratitude. Whether a child writes a thank you note to his or her grandparent or simply thinks of someone other than him or herself, he or she is slowly becoming a grateful individual.  Be patient and don’t forget to model gratitude year round.