We have spent many summer days at the pool or beach! It is a part of summer and kids!
Memorial Day Weekend is fast approaching. That means the beaches and pools will be open! Summer water fun can be wonderful for children; most of us have great memories of the lazy days of summer spent at the pool or beach. As a parent, those lazy days have a new meaning. No longer will you be sitting in a beach chair with a book. When there is water and children, there must be close supervision. Drowning is the 2nd leading cause of accidental death in children, and most drownings occur when there has been less than 5 minutes of unsupervised play around the water. What can we do to make our children’s pool and beach time fun and safe?
- A child can drown in just a couple of inches of water. All water must be supervised, even blow up backyard pools.
- If you have a pool, provide layers of protection for your child. Think about fencing your pool, locking a gate, locking the backdoor from the house, an alarm, and/or a protective pool cover that will bear a child’s weight.
- Inflatable above ground pools should have the ladder removed when not in use. Children are very “top heavy” and children can fall head first into soft sided inflatable pools when they lean against them.
- Empty small child pools after use and turn the pool over. Remember it only takes a few inches of water to be dangerous.
- Hot tubs and decorative water features in yards are a danger too!
- Keep toys away from the pool when it is not supervised; toys tempt children into the water.
- Always provide “touch supervision” for your child. Your child should not be farther than arm’s length away from you in the water.
- Always “pass the baton” of supervision. Do not assume that other adults, and that includes even other family members, are watching your child if you leave the pool or beach area.
- If a child is missing, always check the pool, lake, retention pond or any other water first. Seconds matter in drowning.
- Keep rescue equipment by the pool and a phone with emergency numbers programmed in it.
- Do not rely on floatation devices like “floaties” or “water wings” as your child’ supervision.
- If your child has had swim lessons, do not rely on those lessons as your child’s supervision…”touch supervision” by an adult is a must!
- Only swim in designated swimming areas on a beach with lifeguards.
- Teach children to enter lakes and oceans feet first.
- Take a CPR course! There are many parent focused courses in the community. Contact local hospitals and the Red Cross for classes.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children age 4 and older take swimming lessons.
- Children between the age of 1 and 4 can take swim lessons, but children at this age usually are not coordinated enough to swim well. Classes with parents are fun for children under the age of 4.
- Babies younger than 1 can also enjoy the water with an adult. Be sure that the water is warm enough and your baby is protected from the sun. A child that shivers is too cold!
- There should be no classes that force a child to go under the water before the age of 4. Many children will swallow or “inhale” water and there is a risk of “water intoxication” in a very young child.
- Most children will be able to swim well if they have taken lessons by about age 5.
- Swimming lessons do not “drown proof” your child or replace adult supervision near the water!
Prevention of Illness
- Remember swim diapers are not leak proof. They are mainly for the purpose of stopping bowel movements from entering the water. Urine and stool does seep from the diaper. Always change the diaper when your child has a bowel movement, and make it a practice to change swim diapers every 60 minutes to prevent leakage.
- Do not let children swim with diarrhea.
- Never change a diaper poolside. Always use the locker room changing area. Wash your hands well after a diaper change.
- Take young children to the bathroom frequently to prevent pee in the pool!
- Do not let your child drink pool or lake water.
- No swimming with contagious illnesses like pink eye.
So, put on that swim suit ( Ugh!), slather on the sun screen, find a sun hat and sun glasses, and pack up the pool and/or beach essentials and head to your “swimming hole”. Kids love it, and what is summer without water! Be safe! Share your experiences at your favorite “swimming hole”!
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.
I have had the privilege of being a Mom to these 4 kids….there have been a few bumps….but many more blessings! Motherhood is a gift beyond gifts…..
As I sit here in my PJs drinking my morning coffee, I am reflecting about my years as a Mom. Hard to believe that I have been mothering for 30 years! The journey has had its bumps….but more than bumps it has had its blessings. The world will often tell Moms that their role is difficult, that it is full of sacrifice and sometimes that sacrifice is too much. Society tells us that Moms give up too much, and they put aside too much of themselves for their children. As I sit here this morning in my slippers and glasses, not feeling too beautiful, I realize that my life has been completely beautiful. I have been given the greatest gift and have experienced the four greatest blessings.
As a Mom I have been given the privilege of loving four children to adulthood. I have had four children looking at me with eyes of trust and open hearts. I have had the gift of teaching them right from wrong, caring for them in the middle of the night, kissing their skinned knees, attending their school musicals, cheering their athletic endeavors, pointing out their talents, discovering this wonderful world again through their curious eyes, celebrating their successes, loving them through their disappointments and praying for them each and every morning and night. I have been given the privilege of seeing my children grow up into people who I like and respect; I am reaping the fruits of my labor.
My children have made me a better person…I am more patient (I am sure my kids are saying, really?), I have learned the gift of self-sacrifice, I have learned more about my own talents and yes, my shortcomings, I have learned that I am tough….I can handle stress….and I have a lot of love to give. I have had the opportunity to see the world again and again through new eyes which has increased my appreciation for simpler things. Having children has increased my love for my own Mom…because now “I get it”. The blessings continue each and every day of Motherhood, I am blessed beyond words. So are you, Moms…enjoy this amazing gift of being a Mom…it truly is something great. Yes, there are a few bumps…but so many more blessings. Have a Happy Mother’s Day, you each deserve it!
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.
When Mom ain’t happy…no one is happy. We have all heard that saying and in actuality it has a lot of truth to it. If Moms are unhappy, then their families suffer. Moms that are stressed have less patience with their spouses and children and have less fun and engagement with their family. Families benefit when Mom feels good! So lose the guilt and do something for yourself….after all you are helping your family!
How do we do it?
A Mom who is out of balance probably has too much on her plate. There must be a balance between kids, work, and the home. Everyone needs 15 minutes a day of time alone. I am an early riser and that is my time for a few minutes of reflection before my day begins. Find out when you can fit those 15 minutes in your day to balance yourself. Then during that time, reflect on your day and decide your priorities and put some perspective to those priorities. Always ask yourself, “Is this a have to…and what would happen if I didn’t?” Suddenly your life will become a little more balanced by embracing what is most important during this particular season of your life. Remember, there is a time for everything in life. You can have it all, just not all at once!
2. Delegation without guilt.
Ask for help and then allow your kids and your spouse to help without guilt. Build chores into your child’s daily life, giving responsibility helps your child build self-confidence. Ask for help from your spouse and be happy with the help you receive! Remember you must ask not just wish for help! Give Dad a job to own, and let him do it his way! Moms who are “gatekeepers” for their baby discourage Dads from parenting. You don’t have to do it all….if you try everyone will be unhappy!
3. Carve out time creatively.
Moms can actually carve time out for themselves right in the middle of caring for their kids! You need to learn to be ready to grab those minutes here and there throughout the day. Bring that magazine or book and read it in carpool, or waiting for a sports practice to be over. Play a book on tape or music that YOU enjoy when you are running errands with the kids in the car. Build some exercise into your day when you take the kids to the park. Soak those feet in the tub while your kids play in the tub and give yourself an at home pedicure. Find ways to take care of yourself while still caring for your kids! It is important for your children to see that you value yourself, that builds their respect for you. Don’t give up who you are when you become a Mom! You can still keep your interests, a Mom is a big part of who you are, but not the ONLY part of who you are!
4. Plan a monthly date with your spouse and a date for you alone.
Reconnect with your spouse at least once a month on a “grown up” date. Keep it simple and keep it cheap but it must be time away without kids. The rule is: No talking about the kids, just talking with each other. This will allow you to connect with each other! Set a date once a month for you too…this can be a Saturday of shopping, time for a haircut, nails, a walk in the park, time to take a class whatever you alone would like to do. Get both of these dates on the calendar…make it a standing date. Treat it just like an appointment, no cancellation allowed! You must refill yourself in order to give of yourself!
Remember…if Mom ain’t happy….then no one is! Give your kids a gift; take care of yourself so you can take care of them. Keep the family happy! Happy Mother’s Day to all of you great Moms!
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.
I feel like we need to talk about this topic at least every 6 months….and what a better time than right before Mother’s Day! So, I am posting this again so we all will be reminded that taking care of ourselves is a must in order to be good Moms. Sometimes we don’t feel wonderful and full of bliss after our baby is born. Those first few weeks and months are difficult! The lack of sleep alone can play havoc with a new Mom’s emotions. New Moms…take care of yourselves, and if you don’t feel like yourself or others tell you that you are not like yourself, ask for the help you need.
You have waited 9 long months for this. You survived the back aches, the weight gain, the heart burn, and the cravings. You went to prenatal classes, read books, watched the “Baby Channel” on cable for hours and the nursery is perfect. Everyone is thrilled…everyone is happy…everyone but you. You feel alone, guilty, not yourself. You try to “pull yourself out of this funk”; but you just can’t shake the feelings. Why?
Today I want to talk about just those often unspoken feelings of postpartum depression. Nearly 80 percent of new moms have the “baby blues”. Hormone changes after birth can cause many to have some mood swings, tears, feelings of being overwhelmed in the first couple of weeks after delivery. Overall, a mom who has the “blues” still describes herself as generally happy. Postpartum depression is different.
At least 20 percent of moms experience some degree of postpartum depression. That is 1 out of every 8 moms! There are probably more but because of guilt, many moms never seek help. I am sure someone you know has experienced this. It is the most common pregnancy complication! Postpartum depression or perinatal mood disorder can occur anytime during pregnancy and the first full year after your baby is born.
Some Signs and Symptoms:
- frequent crying
- sleep and appetite changes
- feelings of loneliness, helplessness
- mood swings
- repetitive, sometimes scary thoughts
- anger, frustration, irritability
- difficulty bonding with baby
- anxiety, panic, excessive worry
- feelings of being trapped
- lack of interest in life, fatigue, exhaustion
- feeling speeded up or wired
- fear of being alone with the baby
If you are feeling some of these signs and symptoms…or if people close to you are telling you that you are just not yourself. Please talk with your doctor. Seek the help you need to feel better. The good news is that you will get better, treatment works, you will be yourself again.
All new moms can do a few things to help themselves feel better.
- Sleep. Sleep deprivation can result in depression, and we all know that a newborn doesn’t sleep as much as we thought! We are not used to waking every 2 hours at night! Try to nap when the baby does. Ask someone to stay with the baby while you sleep. Listen to your body and rest.
- Eat healthy and remember to eat! A new mom can’t survive on a handful of cookies, and believe me often that is all you have time to eat! Keep healthy food in your house and accept those meals that are being offered!
- Exercise. Just a walk 3 to 4 times a week increases those “feel good” hormones. It is good for you and good for your baby to get out in the fresh air, even in the winter.
- Natural light, find the sun! Sunlight is a mood booster. Stand in front of a window whenever the sun is shining and get light on your eyes.
- Get out of the house. Even a trip to the grocery store is a trip out! Wow, the definition of going out really changes after kids!
- Ask for help. Being a new mom is lots of work. You do not have to be super mom! You can’t do it alone. Remember, being a mom is not like what you see on TV!
- Find other new moms. Look for support groups, MOPS groups, church groups, wherever there are other moms…being around other moms is essential. We all need to stick together!
Remember…ask for help.
You are not alone, you are not to blame, and with treatment you will get better and be yourself again….I promise.
It is that time of year when I am doing a bit of grumbling about all the work, but also looking forward to getting my perennial beds cleared and blooming, my cut flower bed planted and preparing my vegetable garden for this summer’s crop of tomatoes, beans and of course sunflowers. I definitely am not a Master Gardener, but I have a special place in my heart for gardening and getting a little dirty. I have very fond memories of my Grandfather and his vegetable garden and beautiful roses. I would walk through his garden when I visited and help water and weed. With his garden gloves on and a hat perched on the back of his head, he was a true farmer at heart. He showed me how to eat a fresh tomato right off the vine and how to pinch a peach so the fuzzy skin would pull back and I could eat the sweet inside. I guess my love of gardening started by watching my Grandpa and then my own father take pride in their gardens.
So many of our children have no idea where their fruits and vegetables come from or even what a fresh tomato really tastes like! With the new fruit and vegetable pouches, I sometimes wonder if many toddlers even know what a real vegetable LOOKS like! There are many life lessons that can be taught by simply taking a small plot of land or a small container and growing something with your child! There is no better way to instill a love of nature and to encourage healthy eating than growing a fresh fruit or vegetable as a family.
Children are natural gardeners—they are curious, they learn by doing, and they love to play in the dirt. Gardening is good for families, it gives your family time together outdoors, and time to let your child get dirty for a purpose! Children love to look for worms, love to plant seeds, water, watch plants grow, pick their crop and even try the harvest they have grown. What a great way to get them to try green beans! This helps cultivate their curiosity about nature, the earth and maybe even foster a love of gardening. Children will also love the special time they spend with you. Gardening teaches patience, responsibility and is like having a science lesson without even knowing it! You might even find yourself feeling a little proud and definitely loving the taste of a fresh homegrown tomato!
Tips on gardening with children.
1. Plan a small container garden or a small plot of land that is theirs. Talk about a plant’s need for sun, water, and food. Put the garden in an area that can be seen easily by your child. A plastic storage bin or any other container with holes poked in the bottom for drainage works great for this! Keep it near your back door so your child can see it often. Tomato plants or lettuce can actually be grown in just a bag of topsoil that you open and plant the seedlings in the bag. What could be easier?
2. A “yardstick” garden is plenty big for a child. Take a yardstick and measure a garden that is 3 foot square. A young child can reach all sides of the garden and will take pride in that little plot he can call his own.
3. Gardens do not have to be square. A “pizza” garden can be planted with wedge sections. Put different plants in each wedge. Plant ingredients that would taste good on a pizza! This is a great way to grow an herb garden!
4. Use a little imagination, children will love a sunflower house! Plant large sunflowers in a semi-circle. As they grow, tie the top of them together and your child can have a “secret” hiding place in your garden!
5. Watering and weeding is not as much fun as planning and planting ( I don’t like it as well!). For older preschoolers or school age children, put a gardening calendar in the kitchen or in your child’s bedroom with tasks to be completed. Don’t force it, remember you are instilling a love of gardening! Keeping your child’s portion of the garden small should keep the time necessary to only a few minutes a day. Using a container garden really keeps it easy!
6. Child sized garden tools make it easier and more fun. I have seen tools in the dollar area of Target! I know if I had young children, the gardening boots and clogs I have seen would be a must, so cute!! A gardening hat is a necessity, protect yourself and your child from the sun. What is cuter than your toddler gardener in a wide brimmed hat! Don’t forget the sunscreen too.
7. Let your child dig the holes for the seeds or the plants that have been bought. Digging holes is a natural for kids!
8. Encourage your child by planting seeds that mature quickly and are easy for them to handle. Radishes and lettuce are great. They germinate in a couple of days. Bean seeds and sunflower seeds are easy to handle.
9. Be sure to put the seed packet on a stake in the garden to remind them what they have planted and what it will look like. Some discount stores even have little garden stakes that your preschooler could decorate!
10. Children love the unusual. Many vegetables are available in different colors or sizes. Speckled beans, red carrots, miniature cucumbers and pumpkins, purple beans, and grape tomatoes are just a few examples. Try something really unusual by taking a cucumber or pumpkin bloom and placing it inside of a 2 liter bottle. Shade the bottle with leaves from the plant and let the pumpkin or cucumber grow inside the bottle. It is a great “show and tell” item when there is a large cucumber or pumpkin inside the bottle!
11. Add a bird bath to attract birds. Children can be responsible for refilling the bird bath!
12. Think about planting bright colored flowers that are known to attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Exploring the garden for butterflies, bugs, worms and caterpillars is great fun!
13. You might want to set a part of the garden for digging all summer. Put your sandbox in the middle of your garden to make your garden kid friendly. There were always a few cars or trucks around in the dirt of our garden.
14. You can have your child make garden stones or markers for the garden. Find larger stones and let them paint designs on the stones. These make great Mother’s Day or Father’s Day gifts for Grandparents!
15. Have your child help build a scarecrow for the garden. This can be a fun activity for late summer especially.
16. Measure the sunflowers that you plant once a week and chart their growth. If you have older children, planting sunflower seeds that mature in about 90 days is a great way to measure the length of summer. When they bloom, it is time to go back to school!
17. Try to grow organically as possible. Mulch is a great way to cut down on weeds which will prevent the need for weed killer and mulch will keep the soil moister during dry spells. Mix compost and/or topsoil into your garden each year to provide nutrients needed for plant growth. By growing without chemicals, your child will be able to eat a tomato right from the vine…there is nothing better!
18. Let your child harvest their own vegetables. There is nothing better than picking your salad fixings for the day! This will encourage your child to eat their vegetables I promise! Your child will love to eat “garden to table”!
19. Keep it fun…start small! Most new gardeners try something too big and then quickly become discouraged with the experience. Just grow one tomato plant and supplement your “garden” with a trip to the Farmer’s Market! We always had enough green beans from our small garden for at least one dinner. The kids would always ask, “Our these our beans?” With a little white lie, our kids ate green beans the whole summer!
There are some great children’s books that can be fun to read with your child as you start your garden:
Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert
Pumpkin Pumpkin by Jeanne Titherington
Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens
This is the Sunflower by Lola M. Schaefer
Whose Garden Is It? by Mary Ann Hoberman
The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss
The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle
Oliver’s Vegetables by Vivian French
Stone Soup by Marcia Brown
Alison’s Zinnia by Anita Lobel
Get a little dirty….plant a few seeds and you will see your child’s excitement grow as the plants grow, and who knows you might just raise a kid that likes his vegetables!
Final tips….add your own to the list!
31. Respect your child’s likes and dislikes
- Allow your child to develop their own passions, likes, and dislikes.
- Provide opportunity for your child to experience many things to discover passions, likes, and dislikes.
- Your child may not like the same things that you do, and that is OK!
32. Be a team with dad and other people who parent your child
- Don’t be a gatekeeper, allow Dad or other important people in your child’s life to participate in parenting.
- Realize that there is benefit in doing things differently, different is not always wrong.
- Have a united front with Dad; this gives your child a clear message of expectations. Never disagree about parenting issues in front of your child.
- Parents, who are not on the same page, will be manipulated.
33. Always set expectations
- Defining your expectations helps your child determine expected behavior.
- Setting expectations beforehand gives better results.
- Frequent discussions about what you expect from your child helps him or her develop a good moral compass.
- Manners and respectful behavior will help your child be successful.
- Your behavior that your child observes is more important than the words you speak.
- Make sure that your actions show respect of your child.
- Provide the example of gratitude.
35. Talk quieter—not louder when you are very upset
- This will defuse a frustrating or angry situation.
- Everyone will remain calmer if voices are quieter.
- Your child will have to calm down in order to hear you.
- Yelling usually accomplishes nothing.
- Following through on discipline in public will allow you to leave your home!!
- Children learn very quickly when and where you will not follow through with consequences…and they will behave accordingly.
37. Sometimes look the other way
- Your child will hear “no” many times, save it for the important things.
- Pick your battles, some are not important enough to pick!
38. Don’t reward everything. Let your child learn the valuable lesson of being proud of himself .
- Let your child develop an inner drive to success.
- Constant rewards and praise result in a child that is externally motivated, driven by the outside things.
- Internal motivation results in a child who does the right thing because it feels good, not because he will “get something” in the end.
39. Know your child’s friends, open up your home to them
- Knowing who your child’s friends are gives you a glimpse of their life away from you.
- Know the parents of your child’s friends; parenting together gives you a sounding board and more parenting power.
40. Forgive yourself for not being the perfect parent
- Your child does not expect or need perfection.
- Being too hard on yourself, makes you not trust your parenting.
- Expecting perfection from yourself sets the example for your child that only perfection is acceptable.
- We only need to be “good enough”…not perfect. Lighten up, there is always room for silliness.
- Unconditional love trumps parenting imperfections!
- Being a parent should not doom your life to worry.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff.
- No child will starve themselves, temper tantrums are part of childhood, embarrassing behavior happens, you can’t protect your child from every illness and injury, and your child can be happy without the latest and best video game or pair of jeans….and many, many more worries that are not worth the energy!
- Adequate sleep makes everything look better.
- Children are wired early to bed early to rise.
- Early bedtimes provide evenings for you to refill, recharge, and reconnect.
43. Don’t view your child’s life through a camera lens
- Documenting your child’s life in pictures is important, but don’t miss the moment by trying to always have the perfect picture.
- Step away from the camera and really enjoy the moment.
- Sometimes the memory is better when you are actually playing in the pool with your child and not photographing it!
44. Don’t wish time away
- Don’t keep thinking life will be better when…..my baby sleeps through the night, my child is potty trained, my child is in school all day—with every stage is a new challenge and a new joy.
- Enjoy each moment and each stage…they are all special.
Let’s make this an even 50! What are your tips to share with others? Share your wisdom…and help us all to enjoy every challenge and every joy of being a parent. Like Raising Kids with Love on Facebook and join in the conversation!
A few more tips that I found out work over my 30 years and counting of parenting….what are your tips?
16. You are your child’s parent, not friend
- You must parent, which means you may not always be liked
- Making difficult decisions that may cause your child to be unhappy at the moment, is the definition of a good parent
17. Nagging does not work
- Saying “pick up your shoes” 100 times will not make it any more likely to happen
18. Don’t buy a lot of “things” for your children
- Buying does not equal love
- Your child does not need a lot of things
- There will be a new “gotta have it” every week
- Time with your child is important, but your child must learn how to play without you. This builds self-confidence, ingenuity, and your child will learn how to “work his world”.
21. Don’t over schedule
- Your child does not need to be involved in every lesson, sport, and club to become successful.
- Down time is important to children, our children are often over stimulated and overly tired.
- Teach your child the art of being alone….turn off the technology and be comfortable with alone time.
22. Eat together as often as you can
- Meals together reconnect a family.
- Families who eat together have children that are more successful and less likely to be involved in alcohol and drugs.
- Remember, a family meal can be a frozen pizza!
- Breakfast counts as a family meal too!
- Make at least one meal a week together a must.
23. Have family fun together
- Plan activities together. Don’t fall into the habit of everyone going their separate ways. Family time builds connectivity.
- Children that have a strong family identity have higher self-esteem.
- Read and play board games, go back to the basics for family time.
- Children remember the good in family time–even if it seems like a trip or outing was disastrous!
- Tradition and ritual defines a family.
- Tradition endears your child to home.
- “That is how we always do it” means it is important!
- Allow your child to finish a task on his own.
- Allow your child to experience consequence for behaviors.
- Do not “rescue” your child from every hardship.
- Let your child do his own homework and projects.
- Give your child age appropriate responsibilities.
26. Parent with your heart and gut
- Experts are great, but don’t rely only on what you hear and read, trust yourself.
- If it doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t.
- What is right for your family may be different from what is right for your next door neighbor’s family.
- Your child wants your attention, whether it is negative or positive.
- Lots of talk about negative behavior gives that behavior lots of attention.
- Try to give most of your attention to positive behaviors, not negative.
- Do not try to treat each of your children exactly the same.
- Every child needs something different from you as a parent.
- Have the same rules in your home–but your approach to those rules may be different with each child.
- Trying to keep things “equal” often increases sibling rivalry, give every child what he needs when he needs it.
29. Keep TVs and computers out of bedrooms
- Parents must monitor their child’s exposure to TV, computer, and video games.
- There is never a good reason to have a TV in your child’s bedroom; it decreases family interaction, reading, and creativity.
- Keep the computer out in an area that is full of family activity.
- Know what websites your child has been using.
- Be tech savvy, your kids will be!
30. Know when to let go
- There are times when you must trust your child–and let go.
The last few tomorrow…join in this conversation! What are your favorite parenting tips?! We all have them, share so we can all benefit from each other. Like Raising Kids with Love on Facebook and join in the parenting talk!
All of us have a few parenting tips…let’s share them this week!
We all know that there is not an “official” parenting tip book…wouldn’t that be nice!! But, in actuality, it is best for parents to develop their own “parenting book”. Parenting your child is unique to you and your child. Develop your parenting instruction book by reading, watching others, and asking parents you admire what their best advice is. Trust yourself and your ability to be the best parent to your own child. Over the next few days I will share a few of my tips. They are in no particular order, just a few tips that have worked for me over the last 30 years. Share some of your own too! We all can use a little advice!
1. Show your unconditional love for your child every day.
- Use your words of love verbally, and written.
- Use your touch with physical hugs and kisses even as your child gets older; older children need that loving touch just as much as younger children! Even if there is very little reciprocal hugging, the need is there.
- Teach your child to express his or her love with words, touch, and actions.
- Begin each day and end each day with “I love you”. No matter how the day has been or what is in store, those three words make everything start or end well.
- Really listen, stop what you are doing and give your child your attention.
- If you have more than one child, carve out a few minutes every day to share with each child individually. A few minutes on the bed talking each evening worked for us!
- Stop what you are doing when your child needs to talk, put the phone down, the computer away, and turn off the TV.
3. Make your child feel safe
- Keep adult problems adult problems; don’t share them with your young child or teen.
- Don’t belittle your child’s fears; monsters can be very “real”.
- Comfort your child when he is scared first, and then teach coping strategies.
- Show your child that you will keep them protected.
- Protect your child from violent TV, videos, and inappropriate web sites.
- Discuss current events and news—don’t ignore what is happening in the world, but don’t dwell on world problems that are too adult for your child to emotionally handle.
4. Provide order and routine in your child’s life
- Routine brings stability and security to your child.
- Routine and order helps a child manipulate his world.
- Routine and order helps a child become a better student.
5. Consistency is the key to discipline
- Responding in a predictable way to your child’s behavior results in a child who knows what behavior is expected.
- Sporadic discipline and consequences results in poor behavior.
- A child who receives inconsistent discipline will push the envelope until a limit is set.
6. Keep life fun, break the rules sometimes
- Do the unexpected—eat ice cream for dinner, stay up too late, break your routine occasionally.
- Enjoy a few minutes of fun every day.
7. Take care of yourself
- You cannot care for your child if you do not care for yourself.
- Teach your child the lesson of self respect by “refilling your pitcher”.
- Show your child your passions, your child will learn to develop his own.
- A good parent is one who likes himself or herself.
8. Take care of the significant relationships in your life
- A happy marriage is the best gift you can give your child.
- Your child should be the satellite of your marriage, not the center.
- Healthy adult relationships teach children what relationships should involve.
9. Apologize when you are wrong
- Teach your child that you make mistakes too.
- Saying “I’m sorry” and meaning it repairs nearly any parenting mistake.
- Teaching your child to apologize with true meaning is one of life’s greatest life lessons.
10. Admit when you do not know the answer
- You do not have to know everything to be respected by your child.
- Work together to find answers.
- Your child feels more secure when he or she knows that you are not “pretending” to know.
- Your child will figure out that you don’t know everything eventually…trust me!
11. Give your child chores
- Teaching responsibility is key to becoming a productive adult.
- Chores help a child feel like a valuable member of the family.
- Self esteem is built on accomplishments—including small accomplishments like chores.
- Chores help a child learn how to time manage.
12. Encourage your child to listen to the voice in his or her heart
- Help your child develop his or her inner moral compass.
- Develop a group of core values that represent your family.
- Talk often about right and wrong, and what feelings and emotions are connected with each.
- Encourage your child’s moral judgment, role play how your child would react in situations that would call for that judgment.
13. Find your spiritual guidance
- Successful families have a spiritual core of beliefs.
- Make those beliefs clear in your words and actions as a family.
14. Surround yourself with like-minded parents and families
- It is easier to parent when you have the support of others who agree with your parenting values.
- It is so helpful to be able to bounce parenting issues off other parents for advice.
- Your child will benefit from other families with the same moral guidelines.
- Your child needs other adult role models in his or her life besides you!
15. Every day is a new day
- Each morning brings a new start for you and your child.
- Let yesterday go, your mistakes and your child’s mistakes should not be dwelled upon the next day. Start every day with a new beginning.
The first 15…more tomorrow. Can you add a few to these today?
Easter always brought out the hats, gloves, and even with my husband’s protest….plaid shorts and sweaters for Connor! The dress will be a little different this weekend, I am sure! 🙂
I am so very blessed to have all four of our children home this coming weekend to celebrate Easter. It is easy to plan the weekend, because it is almost exactly the same every Easter! The girls will not be wearing white gloves and Easter bonnets like they did when they were young, but all four will be dressed up for church Easter Sunday morning. The eggs will be colored Saturday evening, the Easter dinner menu will include the traditional ham, “Easter cole slaw”, and other favorites, and of course there will be an egg hunt. As the children have gotten older, of course there are a few changes…the egg hunt now includes eggs filled with quarters or maybe a few gift certificates and a few “golden eggs” with a little extra cash for pizza or a movie. There is a real feeling of serious business as they head out for the eggs! The sweet little egg hunt they had when they were young with their cousins has become a race to the finish with winning in mind. The last few years we had a couple of the kids’ college friends join us and I always wondered what they thought when I handed them a basket for the egg hunt. Things will eventually change a bit again when our season in life brings us grandchildren, but the basics of the celebration will always remain the same….because as our kids say, “That is how we always do it!”
If we are smart we listen to our children when they say “That is how we always do it!” even when we have only done it that way one other time. Your child is not just talking about the good time he had, but the fact that it meant something to him and he thinks to you too. One of my favorite quotes is from the book The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, “We live not by things, but the meaning of things.” It is not what you do or eat that is important, it is the meaning and feeling that comes with what you are doing that is so important to your child.
Creating your own special rituals now and faithfully repeating them throughout your child’s life will provide your child with a sense of security, stability, belonging and pride in his family. It is never too early to start your own family traditions.
Four reasons tradition is important to a family:
1. Traditions helps make life predictable. Rituals that are followed daily, weekly, and yearly such as family dinners, nightly stories, spring picnics, holiday songs etc. helps make children feel secure. Their world is often unpredictable—keeping things predictable at home gives security.
2. Traditions give families a time to connect. Sometimes we can feel unconnected when we get busy. Family meals, stories, game nights etc. help us reconnect and start talking. Soon we know what is going on in our children’s lives.
3. Family traditions teach children what their family values are. Service work, religious ceremonies, concern for the environment and many other values can be established through family traditions and activities. These are values that when they are reinforced with traditional activities, your child will bring with him to adulthood.
4. Tradition forms family identity. Build a family group for your child to feel connected to and this will often prevent them from trying to find other less suitable groups to identify with. A child’s family is a huge piece of their identity.
Traditions can be very simple…it is the act of repeating them, allowing them to change with your family’s “season in life” and keeping them fun that is the key. If something is not fun anymore, then let it go!
Don’t get hung up on creating the prefect rituals, let them happen naturally based on what your family enjoys. Many traditions just happen. The wonderful thing about becoming your own family is that you get to create your own traditions from scratch. Some you will come up with on your own, some you will borrow, and some you will discard from your past, but the traditions will become part of who your family is.
Some suggestions to try that might be fun:
1. The Easter Egg hunt…definitely a tradition.
- Hide a combination of plastic filled eggs and hard boiled
- Hide baskets
- Fill plastic eggs with clues to a bigger prize
- Use “bunny prints” to guide your child to his or her basket
- Put out carrots for the Easter Bunny
- Purchase a “special” basket for each of your children to be re-used each year
- Hard boil the eggs, let them cool slightly and let the kids “color” on them with crayons. The heat of the egg will melt the crayon just enough to make it easier.
- Use stickers to decorate the eggs until you are ready to tackle egg dye.
- Have an egg decorating contest
- Glitter eggs…roll eggs is glue and glitter
- Use fine tip markers to decorate detailed eggs
- Try marbling eggs by adding a little vegetable oil to the dye you are using
- Tear up different colored tissue paper and glue it on the eggs for a stain glass window look
- Traditionally at the end of a Lenten fast, many families indulge in sweets, find an Easter dessert that you can make together.
- Find a menu that everyone enjoys, and make it your own! Spring marks the start of lots of fresh local foods. I can’t wait for the fresh new asparagus for our Easter dinner!
What do you know about lead screening in children? Many parents think that lead exposure is a thing of the past. It is true that the risk of lead poisoning in children has improved over the years with removal of lead from gasoline, paint, and other environmental improvements, but the fact is many of our children are still at risk. Lead affects nearly every bodily system and is especially harmful to the developing brain in unborn children and young children. Even low levels of lead in the blood can affect IQ and academic achievement so it is important that we screen children who are at risk.
In the past, lead levels in children below 10 were not of concern. Recently the Center for Disease Control has lowered that level of concern to 5. This allows parents and health care providers to address the lead exposure quickly and prevent higher levels and damage to a child’s developing brain. The recommendation for chelation (treatment to remove lead from the blood) remains the same. This therapy may be provided when a child’s blood test results show lead at 45 micrograms per deciliter or more. However, we know that even small amounts of lead can be a problem, and there are steps parents can take to reduce a child’s exposure.
What can you do? What child should be screened?
- Share with your child’s health care provider if your home was built before 1978. There are lead testing kits that can be obtained from the local health department to test if your home has lead paint and dust.
- Test your home prior to doing renovation like sanding, painting, or other repair that could disturb paint.
- If you see dust or paint chips on window sills or other areas due to peeling paint, dust the areas frequently with a damp cloth. Clean your home regularly damp mopping frequently.
- Don’t let your child play in the dirt next to an older home, plant grass in bare areas in the yard.
- Remove shoes when you come in the home to prevent tracking in dirt with lead.
- Wash hands before eating and provide a healthy diet. Children who eat a healthy diet absorb less lead.
- If you live in an older home, run your tap water for a few minutes before using it to cook or drink or mix formula.
The only way you can know if your child’s lead level may be elevated is with a blood test. Your child usually will have no symptoms of lead exposure. If you are concerned that your child may have lead exposure, especially if you live in a home built before 1978, talk to your doctor about screening. Children often are screened starting at about the 9 month checkup. Be your child’s advocate! Learn about how to protect your child from lead exposure, because even a little is too much. For more information visit http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/ and www.healthychildren.org.