raisingkidswithlove

You don't have to be perfect to be the perfect parent!

This Valentine’s Day, Commit to 4 Goals….


Valentine

Commit to your relationships with 4 simple goals…..

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Walking into Target, the aisles are full of pink and red and signage promising if you purchase this your Valentine will forever be yours! Yes, Valentine’s Day may be a marketing ploy more than a real day to celebrate love, but it is a great time to stop and think about your relationship at home. Let’s be honest, parenting can be tough. It takes a lot of effort to raise children, and there are points during the child raising process that there just does not seem time for anything else! Bu the fact is, time spent on your relationship with each other is vitally important for your happiness and your child’s. So often the blessing of children results in both parents totally concentrating on their children and not putting any effort into their relationship with each other. I was guilty of this at times. When our four children were younger, I can remember times when the only conversation I had with my husband revolved around if we had enough milk and who was driving to the next sporting event! Not a whole lot of romance there….but more importantly not a whole lot of relationship building. A relationship will not stay healthy for 18 years if there is only effort put forth on raising children! So as Valentine’s Day approaches, take a moment and thing about investing in each other……a few thoughts to get the process going….

One of the best pieces of advice I ever read was from a book Creative Counterpart. Over the years I have put this philosophy to work, recommitting to this over and over again when life became unbalanced.

Set four goals each day.

  • One goal should be for you. Something that you will do that day to “fill yourself up.” Remember an empty pitcher cannot give anything. Some days that might be 30 minutes of reading, maybe time to reflect, maybe a run, or possibly a big bowl of ice cream and chocolate! Something for yourself.
  • A second goal should be for your husband. Not something for him to DO, but something you do for him. I call it every day intimacy…this might be concentrating that day on giving a compliment or two, maybe leaving a post-it love note, an extra kiss or cuddle for no reason…something to build relationship.  Get creative!
  • A third goal should be for your child. Something little you will do extra with him or her. Maybe you will read an extra story, or you finally will get the finger paints out, or bake cookies, or just a few minutes of extra cuddle time before bed.  Again, these are small goals…nothing crazy like trips to Disney.
  • Finally a goal for your home. Kids and life can result in chaos in a home. I am not talking about a goal to wash walls and baseboards, but a small daily goal to control the chaos. Maybe today you will wipe out all the bathroom sinks, tomorrow you will put the laundry away, or maybe you will dust or vacuum one room.  These small goals will result in a home that feels more content rather than chaotic.

Those four daily goals will bring balance to your life. Every day kindness will become a habit and some of the negativity that creeps into many relationships when kids become the center of life will be squelched. Take time to remember why you fell in love.

Recommit to living your life and not being dragged along for the ride. Fill yourself up, give to your relationships, and take a bit of control in your home. Now fold to the pressure and go buy Valentines for your special someones…everyone needs to be reminded that they are loved.

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

Milk…it does the body good….in the right amount!


milk glass

Milk…it does the body good, in the right amount!  16 oz a day is what your young child needs!

When your child is an infant, you are asked how nursing is progressing, how many times a day your baby nurses, or how many ounces of formula a day your baby drinks.  Your baby’s main nutrition in the first year is from breast milk or formula!  The first year flies by and then you are hearing….introduce cow’s milk in a cup and don’t let your child “drink too many calories”.  Wow what a difference a year makes and what happened to the age-old advice to “drink all of your milk”?

During the toddler years your child should be consuming healthy calories through eating solid foods and drinking some milk.  Full fat milk is usually recommended until age 2, unless your child is overweight or there is a strong history of heart disease in the family.  After age 2 your child should transition to 1% or skim milk to decrease fat intake.  After infancy, your child’s diet should not center on milk, it becomes complimentary to your child’s diet.  So how much milk does the typical young child need?

A recent study published in the January 2013 issue of Pediatrics shows that two cups (16 oz) of cow’s milk a day is probably about perfect.  Two cups a day provided an adequate amount of vitamin D for most children and maintained good iron stores too.  Milk is fortified with vitamin D and is an easy and convenient  source of vitamin D and calcium for most children.  However, too much milk consumption can lower iron stores in children.  Milk has no iron and if a child drinks too much, he or she may consume less iron rich foods, and the increase in calcium will prevent the absorption of iron in the body.  Children who drink too much milk often will become anemic (low iron) which can have a detrimental effect on learning and development.

So, it is important that children have vitamin D fortified dairy in their diet, but just not too much!  Two cups a day seems to be the perfect balance for vitamin D intake and to maintain iron levels.  So…milk does do the body good, but in the right amount!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

the right amount!

 

Baby Sign…why?


Signing with your child opens up his world to communication!  

Picture this:  your sweet 1-year-old child is lying on the floor screaming.  You ask what this sweet child wants, and the screaming escalates.  You then run around the room holding items up…”Do you want your milk?”  “Oh I bet you want your paci!”  “You want to read your book?”….and the game continues.  Waiting for your child to be able to express a want or need can feel like an eternity, especially when you have a 1-year-old lying on the floor in a meltdown.  It is a frustrating experience for you and your child when your child is not able to communicate a need or something he or she is excited about.  In recent years many parents have begun signing with their children.  Some ask, “Is this just another passing fad or another attempt to make our children “super kids”?”  Others ask, “Won’t this delay verbal speech?”

The fact is, parents have used “sign language” for years with their babies.  Babies need to express needs and parents want desperately to find out what their child wants or needs.  So, often we will see gestures, whines, and partial syllables that mean something to a parent.

We know that children develop the fine motor muscles in their hands before they develop those needed for speech.  Most babies develop their own “signs” to communicate.  Games like “Patty Cake”, “How Big is Baby?”, “Waving bye-bye” and other finger plays show that babies can communicate before they are actually verbal.  Children follow directions and understand verbal commands before they are able to verbally communicate also.  So, it seems natural that American Sign Language (ASL) could allow a child to express needs, emotions, fears and memories without using words.

Imagine the decrease in frustration, the increase in interaction, and how much fun it would be if your child could express wants, needs, and excitement to you about all the new discoveries in his toddler life.  Often children that have signed also develop verbal speech earlier.  Kids that sign understand that a symbol, the sign, actually means something, a gesture connects to an item.  These connections help link words to things too, and even the written word to the verbal word.  It is all about connections or links.

So besides decreasing your child’s frustration and helping your sanity….here are a few more advantages to Baby Sign:

  • A child who signs can communicate needs at an early age.
  • A child who signs learns the art of conversation.
  • A child who signs will have an understanding of language at an early age.
  • A child who signs may learn to speak verbally at an earlier age.
  • A child who signs may have an above average ability to learn a second language. Learning ASL develops that portion of the brain that learns language!
  • A child who signs may have an increased love of books.  Think about the interactive reading that can occur with both of you signing as you read!
  • A child who signs often will be more expressive later using gestures.
  • A child who signs feel empowered!
  • A parent who signs will have a lower frustration level.
  • A parent who signs may have an increase in bonding because of better communication.
  • A parent who signs may experience a higher level of satisfaction in parenting.

So there are many reasons to start signing with your child.   If your child is between 6 months and 36 months, it is the perfect time to introduce the concept.  There are few things more exciting for a parent and a child than the realization that a child has linked a sign or a word to a meaning and can communicate.  Warm up those hands, and get started “talking” with your baby!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

The potty dance, M&Ms and other potty rewards!


The reward of choice at our house during potty training… one M&M for peeing, two M&Ms for pooping and Mommy always got some too!

We have talked about when to start potty training, how to “ditch the diapers” and get moving on the process, what to do with some “potty pitfalls” and a technique to help a resistant trainer…now, for the question your toddler will think is the most important…“What do I get when I potty?”  

As a parent, we quickly learn that children respond to reinforcement.  We can encourage behavior that we like with reinforcement, and unintentionally, we can encourage behavior we don’t like with reinforcement!  Rewards or reinforcement come in many different forms and different ones work for different kids!

The first thing to remember about children is that your attention is the biggest reward or incentive to a child.  That attention is so important in your child’s development.  This is the important part, attention is attention to a child.   Negative attention, lots of yelling, words, emotion and time spent on a negative behavior will probably increase that behavior!  So lots of yelling, words, emotion and time spent on potty accidents or pottying resistance will increase that type of behavior.  Ignoring or giving very little attention to potty accidents or pottying resistance will decrease that type of behavior.

So let’s talk about some incentives that have worked for toddlers that are working on that huge task of potty training.

  • Positive attention.  Hugs, words of praise, clapping, high fives, song singing, and yes the potty dance.  A little dance celebrating that poop or pee in the potty!
  • Stickers.  Many children after the age of 2 respond well to stickers and a sticker chart.  Let your child pick out stickers at the store and place that sticker on a chart when your child sits on the potty at first, and then later as they go poop or pee.  Some children prefer to “wear” their sticker, or even get to wear one and place one on the chart too.
  • Treats.  M & Ms were the treat of choice in my house with potty training.  As I have said, I used them to reward myself too for the success!  Again, you would start out rewarding for sitting on the potty and then eventually for going potty.  Other suggestions would be raisins, marshmallows, suckers, or any other treat that your child would not receive routinely.  Sometimes a jar of these treats placed in plain view is a motivator for children.
  • Dye the toilet water.  Put a few drops of red or blue food coloring in the water, when your child pees…wow it changes to orange or green!  A motivator for learning to pee on the toilet!  Also helpful when little boys are learning to aim a bit better.  A handful of Cheerios as targets also work.
  • Stamps.  Some children are more excited about stamps than stickers.  Put a stamp on your child’s hand, cheek, tummy, let them decide!  The problem may be convincing them to wash them off in the tub!
  • Coloring book.  Pick out a coloring book together.  Every time your child has success, let them color a page.
  • Marbles or coins.  Every time your child is successful, let him place a marble or coin in a jar.  After a certain number of marbles or coins, he gets a prize.  This works well for a child that has been progressing in potty training and is trying to go several days without accidents.  Not a good choice for the very start when children need an immediate reinforcement every time there is a success.

I know there are other incentives or reinforcements that have worked.  The point is, your child has to think the reward has value to him and it must be a reward and not a bribe.  A bribe is given before the potty success…a reward is given after a potty success.  Always reward, don’t bribe.  Rewards that are temporary also seem to be more effective too.  The sticker will be taken off, the stamp washes off, the candy is eaten…..this gives incentive to get another!

All of us respond well to positive reinforcement.  All of us like to be rewarded.  Find one that works for your child and your potty training experience will be a little easier.  It might be nice to find one for yourself too….wish they would have had peanut butter M & Ms when I was potty training my kids!

Share a potty training incentive that worked for you and your child!!  We all are in this together.  🙂

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

You both are ready…ditch those diapers!


So, your little one is growing up!  You are starting to see signs that potty training just might be in your child’s immediate future.  You are ready to help this process along….so what next?

When you think the time is right…

  • When you are ready and have no major stresses in your life.
  • When your child is showing increased interest in the potty.

1. Go buy “big girl” or “big boy” pants together.  Talk about not getting those special pants wet and dirty!

2. Start by using the potty several times a day on a routine.  Put your child on the toilet 20 to 30 minutes after every meal, before naps, right after naps, before bath…develop a routine.

3.  Feed your child fruits and fibers to keep stool soft.  Give your child plenty to drink so there are many opportunities to potty.

4.  You might try letting your child play in lukewarm water with toys as he or her sits on the potty…..it may encourage “peeing”.

5. When you are ready to potty train full go—-ditch the diapers!!  Diapers or pull ups make it difficult for a child to feel when they start to wet and give a sense of security.  Even the feel and learn type pull ups are not like the good ole’ fashioned cotton underwear!  You can put rubber pants or a disposable pull up over the underwear to help contain accidents.  Do not switch back and forth from diapers to underwear, this becomes very confusing for a child.  You can purchase car seat protectors for your trips out and about.

6. Start setting the timer for every hour and a half to two hours and announcing “it’s potty time!”  Try staying home for a few days and close to the potty to get the process started.  A weekend is a great time to start!

7.  Try letting your child run naked with a long t-shirt outside or inside on non carpeted floors for periods of time.  When you see your child begin to pee or poop, bring them to the potty.  This allows your toddler to feel and learn very easily.

8. Handle accidents with patience.  Very little reaction…just “oops next time we will use the potty!”  Remember this is a process!  When there is an accident, place your child immediately on the potty to “finish”.  This will help them equate the potty with the action.

9.  Be sure your child is really ready.  If you start too soon the road will be more difficult.  If you meet resistance, take a break for a couple of weeks and then try again.

10.  Adjust your attitude.  It is important that children are never forced, shamed or manipulated into using the toilet.

11.  Celebrate success.  Success is just sitting on the potty at first!   Decide what reward system you will use and what works for your child.    Some parents find sticker charts, songs, high fives, M & Ms or other special treats will do the trick.   M & Ms were perfect for us….one for my child and two for me!   Do not over celebrate as this can cause stress for some children, especially children who are real “pleasers”.

12. Do not teach any other difficult tasks during this time.

13.  Remember the mantra “two steps forward one-step back”.  Often children start well and then lose some interest or start having accidents.  Remember, it takes a lot of work for a toddler to figure this out!  Sometimes concentration is lost!

14.  Be sure to teach good hygiene.  Teach toddlers how to wipe bottoms, wash hands, and flush toilets with the lid closed.  Toddlers will not be able to completely wipe themselves, especially after a bowel movement, without help for some time, often until about age 5.

15.  Potty train for daytime only…leave night time training for later.  This is a different process!  Use diapers or disposable training pants for night time use, you can call them “sleeping pants” to keep from confusing your child.

So, give it a try if the timing is right!  Both you and your child will feel so accomplished.  Practice that celebratory “potty dance” and pick up some M & Ms to reward your child and yourself.  Tomorrow…a few “potty pitfalls” that can make potty training a little more challenging.

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

Will preschool help your child be academically successful?


kels on swing

Preparing your child for school success includes outings like this!  School readiness is not just about letters and numbers!

It is that time of year when parents are beginning to look at preschools for next year.  Sometimes I feel that there is more pressure on parents to find “just the right preschool” than deciding on a college!   Preschool is a must for some children, but it is NOT a must for every child.  Studies have shown us that children who have engaged parents who read to them and provide various activities at home but don’t attend preschool are not at any academic disadvantage.  Some recent studies continue to show us that any academic edge a child may receive from preschool may fade by the 3rd grade.

So, do I think preschool is a waste?  Absolutely not, I feel it is very advantageous to those children that have fewer opportunities.  I also think that with Kindergarten now being a full day, a year of preschool often helps children adjust to the rigor of school.  It has become more necessary for children to have at least one year of preschool to help with the adjustment, prepare the child for following directions, learning to sit still for periods of time, and the general routine of school.  However, I do think that the choice of preschool attendance for 2 and 3 year olds from families who are able to provide outings, hands on activities, and reading at home is an option.  Many children LOVE their preschool experience, and Moms often enjoy some time to themselves.  Children also can learn very valuable social skills and have the opportunity to participate in some play activities that are not always offered at home like finger-painting and other messy play.  However, everything that a quality preschool offers can be offered at home by a loving, involved and active parent, if they would like.  At times I think parents are sent the message that they are not capable of providing the necessary experiences for their child to develop well and be successful in school.  Parents feel inadequate in the task of preparing their preschooler for academic success.  This is simply not true.  Attending preschool will not insure that a child will be more successful in school and unfortunately will not guarantee admission to Harvard!  More important than letters and numbers, a preschooler needs to develop life skills, social skills, self-confidence, and emotional maturity to be successful in school. To help with success in kindergarten, a child needs these basics:

  1. Good physical health so their natural abilities can grow and mature.
  2. Appropriate emotional maturity and self-confidence so they can accept new challenges.
  3. Good language skills so they can ask questions and participate in group activities.
  4. Good social skills so they will be able to share and interact with other children.
  5. Good listening skills to be able to follow directions.
  6. Familiarity with letters, letter sounds and numbers.
  7. The ability to sit still for short periods of time.

We are finding that a child does not need a structured academic program in a preschool; he or she needs the opportunity to develop social and emotional skills.  Children who do not have that opportunity at home will benefit from a preschool program.

Young children learn best through playing, exploring, and discovering.  Imaginative play will actually improve high level thinking which improves a child’s chances of school success. Forcing pencil and paper academics and academic drills too early might actually decrease a child’s natural desire to explore and learn!

What makes a good preschool?

  •  A preschool should be convenient for parents!  If it causes stress to get to school because of location or time of day, it will not be worth it to you or your child. 
  •  Children should be active in the classroom playing and/or working in groups or stations.
  •  There should be hands-on materials and activities available.  Pretend play items; dress up clothes, water play, easels, painting, clay etc.
  •  Children should have individual time and group time with the teachers.  There should be 1 adult/teacher for every 4 to 5 children.
  • Children should have their work displayed in the classroom…and it should not all look the same!  Children should have the opportunity to be creative with projects.
  • The learning of numbers and letters should be embedded in activities throughout the day, not in concentrated lessons or drills.
  • There should be outside play daily (weather permitting).
  • There should be a developed curriculum that provides some structure to the day.
  • Teachers should have an Early Child Development background/education.
  • There should be a stable teaching staff with little turnover.
  • Music should be incorporated into the curriculum.
  • Daily life skills should be incorporated into the curriculum like buttoning, shoe tying, putting on jackets, picking up toys, sitting for short periods to listen and following directions.
  • There should be opportunity for children to socialize in play with other children freely learning sharing, taking turns, and other social skills.
  •  Children should be read to in groups and individually.
  • “Field trips” to experience the world should be included in the curriculum.  Trips to apple orchards, parks, the zoo, nature centers and other community destinations are important.

What can you do at home?

  •  Provide time for imaginative play.  Be sure that you have toys that encourage creativity and imagination.
  •  Provide time to use paint, clay, scissors, crayons, chalk, water play, and other tactile fine motor play.
  •  Provide outdoor play daily (weather permitting).
  • Expose your child to the world by going to the grocery store, post office, library, zoo, park, nature center, apple orchard, pumpkin patch, and other places.  Talk about your outings!
  •  Read daily.  Provide books that your child can “read” alone.
  • Talk about stories that you read.  Ask your child what will happen next!  Let your child tell you the story.
  •  Provide music.  Sing songs and dance.  
  •  Point out letters on signs, talk about funny words, find words that rhyme, talk about the sounds that words begin with.
  •  Point out numbers, count items when playing, incorporate counting into everyday life.
  •  Have a routine at home; following routines will help when your child has structure and routine at school.
  •  Allow your child to dress himself. Practice buttoning, shoe tying, independently going to the bathroom, hand washing, and other    independent life skills.
  •  Give your child directions to follow. Start with one step directions and then move to two steps, and three and four step directions. 
  •  Give your child developmentally appropriate chores or responsibilities.  (Pick up toys, carry dishes to the sink, put dirty clothes in the hamper etc.) 
  •  Provide sorting and sequencing opportunities.  Use a muffin tin for your child to sort different cereal, colored pompoms, letters, or other items.  Let your child help you sort socks!
  •  Help your child recognize his or her name in print.
  •  Talk about shapes your child may see around the house or outdoors.
  •  Provide opportunities for your child to play with children his or her own age.

We all want our children to be successful in school.  I believe however that the most important skills our preschool aged children need are not academic but social.  Children are very pliable; we can teach a child to do many things at a very young age.  We can teach a 2-year-old to recite numbers and letters, and we can even teach many 4 year olds to read….but I question at what cost?  Will our children develop those skills that are truly needed for success in school?  The skills that will allow him or her to problem solve, interact socially in a respectful and appropriate manner, follow directions and listen, and think with innovation and creativity; those are what are most important.  So whether your child is in preschool or at home, be sure you are opening up the world to him or her, not pressuring academics too early and then your child just might end up heading to Harvard!  What are your thoughts?

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

           

The child care dilemma, how do you choose?


Tragically, we sometimes see in the news a report about a child’s injury or death in a day care setting.  This is certainly rare, but the safety of child care is a topic that needs to be discussed for all new parents.  As parents, there ARE times that we will not be able to care for our child.  Some of us work outside of the home, and all of us need and deserve the occasional day or evening away.  Finding  daily child care or just occasional child care is a source of worry and anxiety for most parents.  How do you find a caregiver that you trust for your precious child? First START EARLY!  It takes time to do your research and find the best caregiver for your child!  Do not rush the process and always trust your gut! If a child care center, home or sitter does not feel right to you, then it isn’t!   Ask friends, family members, and other parents for their suggestions.  The best referral comes from a parent that uses the child care provider.

There are resources in each state that will help you get started with your search.  Child Care Aware is a website that you can access.  This site will direct you to your area’s child care referral system.  This will give you the local licensed and unlicensed day care centers, in home day cares, and church ministries.  By using the Child Care Aware website you will also be able to access any violations these centers may have. The  National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care produced a list of guidelines for parents that are looking for childcare.  These guidelines are as follows:

Supervision

  • Are children supervised at all times, even when they are sleeping?
  • How do the caregivers discipline children? (Hint: Discipline should be positive, clear, consistent, and fair.)

 Hand washing and Diapering

  • Do all caregivers and children wash their hands often, especially before eating and after using the bathroom or changing diapers?
  • Is the place where diapers are changed clean?
  • Do caregivers always keep a hand on the child while diapering?
  • Do caregivers remove the soiled diaper without dirtying any surface not already in contact with stool or urine?
  • Do caregivers clean and sanitize the surface after finishing the changing process? (Hands should be scrubbed with soap and warm running water for at least 20 seconds and then rinsed and dried. The water faucet should be turned off with a paper towel.)

Director Qualifications

  • Does the director of a child care center have a bachelor’s degree in a child-related field?
  • Has the director worked in child care for at least two years?
  • Does the director understand what children need to grow and learn?

Lead Teacher Qualifications

  • Does the lead teacher in a child care center have a bachelor’s degree in a child-related field?
  • Has the teacher worked in child care for at least one year?
  • Does the teacher give children lessons and toys that are right for their ages?

Child:Staff Ratio and Group Size

  • How many children are being cared for in the child care program?
  • How many caregivers are there? (Your child will get more attention if each caregiver has fewer children to care for. The younger the children are, the more caregivers there should be. For example, one family home caregiver should only take care of two infants.)

Immunizations

  • Is your child up-to-date on all of the required immunizations?
  • Does the child care program have records proving that the other children in care are up-to-date on all their required immunizations?

Toxic Substances

  • Are toxic substances like cleaning supplies and pest killers kept away from children?
  • Has the building been checked for dangerous substances like radon, lead and asbestos?
  • Is poison control information posted?

Emergency Plan

  • Does the child care program have an emergency plan if a child is injured, sick, or lost?
  • Does the child care program have first-aid kits?
  • Does the child care program have information about who to contact in an emergency?

 Fire/Emergency Drills

  • Does the child care program have a plan in case of a disaster like a fire, tornado, flood, blizzard, or earthquake?
  • Does the child care program do practice drills once every month?

Child Abuse

  • Can caregivers be seen by others at all times, so a child is never alone with one caregiver?
  • Have all caregivers undergone background check?
  • Have the caregivers been trained on how to prevent child abuse, how to recognize signs of child abuse, and how to report suspected child abuse?

Medications

  • Does the child care program keep medication out of reach from children?
  • Are the caregivers trained and the medications labeled to make sure the right child gets the right amount of the right medication at the right time?

Staff Training/First Aid

  • Have caregivers been trained how to keep children healthy and safe from injury and illness?
  • Do they know how to do first aid and rescue breathing?
  • Have they been trained to understand and meet the needs of children of different ages?
  • Are all child care staff, volunteers, and substitutes trained on and implementing infant back sleeping and safe sleep policies to reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, crib death)? (When infants are sleeping, are they on their backs with no pillows, quilts, stuffed toys, or other soft bedding in the crib with them?)

Playgrounds

  • Is the playground regularly inspected for safety?
  • Is the playground surrounded by a fence?
  • If there is a sandbox, is it clean?
  • Are the soil and playground surfaces checked often for dangerous substances and hazards?
  • Is equipment the right size and type for the age of children who use it

National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care (1-800-598-5437)

What do you do when you need an occasional babysitter?

  1. Start early—don’t wait until the last moment to try to find a sitter.
  2. Recruit from relatives, friends and neighbors.  Ask friends, neighbors, and co-workers for suggestions.  You can ask churches, high schools, your doctor, local colleges.  Network!
  3. Think about “training” a sitter.  Use a “mother’s helper” while you are in your house.  Have a younger sitter come to your house and help you out while you are there.  Gradually give more responsibility until you are comfortable leaving for shorter and then longer periods of time.
  4. Ask questions about a potential  sitter.
  • What other childcare experience do you have?
  • What are the ages of other children you have watched?
  • How would you handle certain, possibly difficult situations that might occur?
  • What do you do in your spare time?
  • What kind of activities do you enjoy doing with children?
  • Tell me about school, sports, activities etc.
  • Do you know CPR or emergency procedures?  If you have a sitter that you may use frequently—why not pay for him or her to become CPR certified and take a safe sitter class?
  • How much do you charge?
  • References?
  • Questions for me?

5.  Orient a new sitter to your home.   Point out where phones are, fire extinguishers, circuit breakers, first aid kit, what is off limits to the kids, how to lock doors etc.

6. Discuss how they are to get in touch with you.

7.  Review rules of the home including those for meals, pets, TV, computer time, and play.

8.  Explain possible behavior problems and how you would want them to be handled.

9. Introduce the sitter to your child and let them get to know each other.   Allow some time together before you leave.

10.  Leave a list of activities that your child would like and any bed time routine.

11.  Make sure you leave your address, nearest crossroads, and any emergency numbers written by the phone.

12.  Discuss what food is available to the sitter and what activities for the sitter  you feel are appropriate once the children are in bed.

13. When you return home ask the sitter how things went and if your child is verbal, ask your child how he or she liked the sitter!  Children are very honest!

Your work is not finished once you find the child care facility or occasional sitter for your child.  As a parent, you must stay involved.  Continue to ask questions and make surprise visits. Your child is your most precious possession, and you must be your child’s advocate for safe and loving care when you are not there!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

It is a New Year…New Beginnings for 2017


2017….What are your hopes for your family?

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Here it is the 3rd of January and I am just beginning to think about this New Year!  Our holiday season was filled to the brim with family, fun and wonderful memories.  The time certainly went quickly and suddenly it is the 3rd of January 2017!  There really is no magic to the first of January (or January 3rd!), but this time of year always brings me to moments of reflection (after the holiday chaos calms down!).  I usually have thoughts of ways to improve, some new goals and maybe a new mindset.  However, the first of January really is no different from the start of every day, it is simply a new beginning.  New beginnings are wonderful; it is a clean slate…a chance to do better or be better, a chance to enjoy more…a chance to love more.  So here is to new beginnings…whether it is January 1st 2017, January 3rd 2017, or even the new beginning of every morning! (I love the idea of starting over each day…kids are great at this!)  Here are a few hopes/goals that I have for families in 2017….(and that includes my family!)

  1. Families will begin each day with excitement and end each day with gratitude. My mantra this year will be “Grateful no matter what!”  I believe every child should go to sleep thinking of the good things of that day and wake up with thoughts of the good things to come.
  2. Families will put down the phone, IPad, or turn off the TV increasing time for creativity, imagination, discovery and reading both for parents and children! Children need to see us be creative and read…I am going to read at least 6 books strictly for pleasure this year. (I now have it in writing….with witnesses!)
  3. Families will all live and love in the moment, realizing that parenting is a process over many years.  One success or one failure does not determine our effectiveness as parents! Children have good days and challenging days…every day presents moments to love, teach, and cherish.
  4. Families will use words to build up each other …positive words results in positive feelings and actions. Less yelling and more praising.
  5. Parents will share positive parenting stories. So often I feel we pull each other down when we only talk about negative parenting experiences. Let’s help each other be positive about our lives as parents and families!  Share today what makes your family wonderful!
  6. Families will eat together at least a couple of times a week and will try some new and healthy foods! I have a few new healthy recipes ready to go…new grains and vegetable combinations in many of them! (I will report back…there was a bit of groaning with the recipe I am trying tomorrow!)
  7. Families will embrace the temperament and personality of each family member, building on strengths and uniqueness and accepting each others’ weaknesses and challenges. After all, this is how the world works!
  8. Families will find ways to foster service. Together we will look for opportunities to volunteer, serve others, and help children to develop a passion for doing good for others.  This can only result in a better world in which to live. Find one new way to make someone else feel good this year…do it as a family!
  9. Parents will take time for themselves both individually and as couples. They will nurture adult relationships and friendships, and take the alone time that is needed for rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation. Happy parents make happy families!
  10. What is your hope for parents and families in 2017???  Share your ideas for number 10!!

Let us all start each day with the resolve to love more, enjoy more, smile more, be grateful and be our best.  That mindset will allow us to parent in the best way…one moment at a time.  Happy New Year!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

Keeping the Fun in the Holidays, and the Stress Out!


Every year when the holidays approach there is a “to do list” that can seem daunting.  The fact is, your child will enjoy the season more, and you will too, if you limit that list and some of the stress that comes with it! 

This year, promise yourself to enjoy the season and its magic with your child….here are a few suggestion that might help your level of holiday stress.  Share your tips with us too!

  1. Set priorities.  Sit down and discuss which traditions, decorations, parties truly matter to you and your family.  Sometimes more fun results from doing less!
  2. Accept help.  Consider if you really need and want to host family gatherings this year, and if so split the responsibilities with others.  Remember, a clean house only lasts a minute when you expect a houseful of guests!  Make your home presentable but not necessarily ready to pass the white glove test!
  3. Plan ahead.  Break big jobs down into small steps.  Try to be realistic about how long it takes to get things done with young children in the house and allow for the unexpected.
  4. Stop negative thoughts.  If you find yourself feeling inadequate or thinking that you are letting others down remind yourself that your little one is who is most important.  You are a Mom or Dad first!
  5. Keep a sense of humor.  Even the worst holiday disasters have the makings of great family memories.  Everything looks more perfect when looking back!
  6. Keep your child’s age and temperament in mind when planning the schedule.  Do not schedule too many special events in a row.  Try to be sure that your child has quiet time or “down time”.  Touch can calm stress in a child and you.
  7. Shop on-line. Buy the same gift for as many people as possible. (Think picture gifts…your child smiling face is the perfect gift for so many!)  Think about limiting your gift list now.  What about a family name draw? White elephant gift? Shopping takes patience and shopping with a young child takes a saint!  Try to swap babysitting.  Have a plan when you do shop, children do best when on the move.  Bring plenty of snacks and know when it is time to stop.  Be the adult, don’t melt down when your child does!
  8. Make Santa a solo event! If a visit to Santa is in the plans, do just that!  Visit Santa when your child is well rested.  Children that have entered the stranger anxiety phase, which can begin around 7 to 8 months and last into toddler hood, often don’t enjoy the Santa visit.  Read about Santa, talk about Santa, wave at Santa from a distance and then try a visit.  TRY…don’t force your child to sit on Santa’s lap if there is anxiety and tears. Stand next to Santa for the picture or sit on his lap with you holding your child.  If all fails…photo shop Santa into your picture!  www.icaughtsanta.com  Love this website!!! 
  9. Make 12 dozen of the same kind of cookie rather than 12 different types.  Concentrate on the people rather than objects.  It is more important to have fun making cookies than have beautiful cookies.
  10. Make your tree child friendly!  I am often asked if I think a tree is worth it when there are active toddlers in the house.  ABSOLUTELY, remember family traditions glue your family together.  Make your tree family friendly.  Decorate it from your child’s eye level down with safe unbreakable ornaments with plastic hooks.  Let your child explore those ornaments.  (Our tree was redecorated from 2 feet down on many days!  That is what made it so beautiful!)  You might think about anchoring the top of your tree with fishing line to the wall, which will prevent a little one from pulling it over.  A wide based tree stand is a must.
  11. Don’t expect perfection from yourself or your extended family.  Family visits are not times to reform your nieces and nephews or discuss parenting views!  Your child is your responsibility!  Any comparisons of children are not important.  If your child or you are criticized, ignore, if you or your child is complimented…enjoy!  Do not pick battles with family members during gatherings, those battles are seldom worth it to you or your child.  Be flexible!
  12. Exercise, breathe, remember to eat well and take a break each day. 
  13. Include your child in holiday activities—it creates roots, bonds, and traditions that will strengthen your family and will create joy and many memories.  Appreciate the moments, they are but a moment!

What are your tips to enjoy more and stress less???

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

 

Does your child have “selective hearing”?


Selective hearing?  Yep, every kid has it!

Selective hearing…every child has it, (some adults too!)  I can remember thinking one of my children in particular may have had a hearing deficit, but it only showed up sometimes!  Asking her to pick up her shoes resulted in a no response, but she could hear my husband and I whispering in private from upstairs!  Children often learn how to “tune out” certain conversations during the preschool and school age years, but there are a few things parents can try in order to help them switch their hearing to the “on” position!

1.  Don’t give too many details at once…or no details at all!

Kids can only pay attention to a few instructions at the same time, but if there are no details children may ignore your request because there is no specific instructions.  When you are asking your child to do something, keep it simple.  “Put the book away, go upstairs, put your p.j.s on, brush your teeth and crawl in bed.” will not work but neither will “Get ready for bed.”  Try breaking your instructions down into two parts.  “Put your book away it is time for bed.”  “Now let’s head upstairs to put your p.j.s on and brush your teeth!”  Dwelling on a topic for too long with lots of instructions will make your child “tune out” and giving no direction may result in your child either not taking you seriously or skipping important steps (like tooth brushing) in the process.

2.  Deliver the message with your eyes and hands!

Children “hear” you better if you engage more than just their ears.  In other words, make eye contact and use touch.  Face your child when you are speaking, maybe even getting down to his eye level (or up in my case now!)  and put your hand on his arm or shoulder when giving instructions.  This will help your child put his focus on what you are saying.

3.  Ask your child to repeat what you said.

Often children will say “O.K.” and have no idea what they just agreed to!  If you want to be sure your child has really heard what you said, ask him to repeat.  This will prevent the claim that he never heard you!

4Don’t get stuck on “replay”!

If you continually repeat the same instructions over and over with no consequences, kids get conditioned to the sound of your voice and realize that they may be able to wait to respond until the 5th request before you get serious.  Give instructions, if there is no response, repeat them with a consequence tagged on the end.   If there still is no response…the consequence must happen.  “Time to pick up the toys for dinner, please.”  No response…”If the toys are not picked up now, they will be put away for tomorrow.”  No response…the toys that are out are in “time out” for tomorrow.  If this happens consistently, then your child will learn to listen the first time.

If your child does respond on the first try…be sure to compliment the good listening he had!

5.  Make listening fun.

Try adding a few “fun” instructions in the mix.  “Time to head to bed, let’s leap frog to the stairs.”  Be a little goofy…put some fun in your life, add goofy instructions and get a laugh and a child who really concentrates on what you are saying.   Try listening to other sounds too.   Let your child “tune” their ears in by listening to music, birds on a walk, the crunching of leaves, the sound of water…point out other sounds in the world and develop your child’s listening skills.

6.  Try whispering.

Really?  Yes!  I found that sometimes the quieter I spoke, the more important my children thought the message was!  If you get good eye contact and speak softly…children have to stop and really listen.  My kids knew that if I was talking quietly, I was serious…and I usually got some results!

7.  Set a good example.

Think about it…how often do you give your child undivided listening?  How often do you simply respond, “In a minute” or “Maybe”.  How often are you on the computer or your phone when your child is trying to talk to you?  If you don’t show your child how to pay attention and truly listen, then your child may not see the importance or develop the skill.  Focus on communicating with your child…that means no texting as your child is trying to tell you about his day!  Make eye contact, respond to his words, and ask questions.  Your child will feel valued and will understand what it feels like to have someone engaged in their words if you take the time to really listen to him.

So try these tips for the “selective listener” in your house….hmmmm my kids are gone, but I may have a husband that this may work on too!  🙂  Happy listening!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

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