Saturday, July 15, 2017

How to Keep Your Home Cool this Summer

Thank you, Amy, for another informative article for The Whole Hearted Parenting blog!

By Amy Williams

Most people look forward to summer as a time to be outside, enjoying the breeze or a variety of many outdoor activities. This is especially after being cooped up all winter, so the summer season is quite literally a breath of fresh air! However, many people dread the summer for one simple reason: it’s too hot! And while this can be tolerable for short periods of time outdoors, no one wants to come inside to a muggy or sticky house, much less spend much time there. So, for those without air conditioning or those who use theirs only sparingly, follow these simple tips and tricks to keep the house cool this summer, without dramatically increasing the electricity bill.

Simple Fixes to Cool the Home
There are many small ways to cool a home that are completely free! For example, open the windows of the home on two opposite sides of the house to facilitate a cross-breeze. Another idea is to close the blinds to prevent sunlight and excess heat from entering the house through the windows. Consider investing in blackout curtains to insulate the home against both heat and cold. Another easy way to keep cool is to switch out the bedsheets every season. While flannels and warmer fabrics are great for the winter, a cooler material like cotton or silk will help lower the body temperature overnight. Additionally, change the settings on overhead fans so that they rotate counter-clockwise during the summer. For some reason, this rotation speed is slightly faster than the clockwise motion, so a breeze will move through the home more quickly.

When Using Appliances
There is a reason that so many people grill during the summer. Using the oven or stove is a great way to heat the house, which is something most people prefer to avoid during this time of year. When cooking indoors, turn on the exhaust fan over the stove to circulate some of the excess heat and avoid making the kitchen feel like a sauna. Apply a similar strategy to the bathroom. Turn on the fan when taking a shower or using hot water for an extended period of time. The fan will suck the hot air out of the room and distribute it more evenly, eventually moving it entirely out of the home. Lastly, invest in fluorescent light bulbs. Incandescent light emits roughly 90% of its energy through heat, so not only do these lights burn out faster than fluorescent bulbs, but they also incrementally heat the home, something to be avoided during the summer months.

Air Conditioning
Although an obvious topic for cooling the home, there are some changes that can be made to the air conditioning unit or thermostat itself to help reduce its cost of running. For example, if the unit is more than seven to ten years old, consider replacing it with an up-to-date energy efficient model. The newer unit will be gentler on the environment and many are even customizable for maximum indoor climate control. While any thermostat will allow the temperature to be manipulated, some devices can be put on a timer so that instead of cooling the home when no one is around, it starts running just before its owner returns home. In this way, homeowners walk into a cool house without having to pay to cool it all day long.

Other Helpful Ideas
Some days, however, the heat is just unbearable, and it seems as if nothing can be done to lower the temperature. While this may be true, focus less on cooling the home and more on cooling the body. Drink cold drinks and stick a frozen bottle of water at the foot of the bed to cool off the sheets. Many people also advocate for lightly dampening the sheets with a spray bottle of cool water just a few minutes before crawling under them. This can also be helpful for parents who may need a quick way to cool their little one’s down during the warmer months.

Overall, keeping the house cool during the summer months can seem like an insurmountable challenge. This is especially the case when the heat makes people feel sticky, sluggish, and irritable. However, by following the simple steps, the house will quickly become cooler and you can finally do what you’ve been wanting to do all summer long—relax and stay cool. 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Tips for Planning Your Next Trip

Thanks to Amy Williams for another terrific article for the Whole Hearted Parenting Blog!

By Amy Williams

Tips for Planning Your Next Trip
You’re counting the days until your next vacation, and it’s so close you can almost taste it. No deadlines, no alarm clocks, no carpools to multiple activities, and no pressures.  To get the most out of your family’s precious vacation time, plan a trip that allows everyone to relax, regenerate, and spend some quality time together. This should include planning some fun activities and being good to your mind, body, and soul. Follow these tips to get the most out of your vacation so you return to reality feeling refreshed and invigorated.

Choose a Destination
Where will your family have the most fun? Where can you get the most bang for your buck? Is this purely a vacation for fun, or do you need to tie it in with visiting family or friends? Once you decide where to go, then you can determine the logistics.  Regardless where you choose to go, try to keep it healthy, engaging, and fun for the whole family.

Keep It Healthy
While it’s perfectly appropriate to indulge on your vacation in moderation, overall there are some simple steps you can take to keep from overdoing it. If you follow a few easy guidelines, you can partake in that extra glass of wine or rich dessert without feeling guilty, and your children can enjoy some treats while still getting proper nutrition.

  If you’re driving, pack healthy snacks to enjoy on the road. Think fresh fruit, nuts, protein bars, or lowfat string cheese. These will keep you feeling satisfied and help you avoid the cost and calories of empty snacks at the convenience stores. Most airlines allow you to bring your own food on a flight, so the same can be done if you choose to fly instead of drive to your destination. This is good protocol for adults and children while traveling. Nourishing snacks will keep the grown ups from blowing their diet and prevent younger travelers from the dreaded too-tired, overly hungry meltdown.
 The same should be done when choosing your meals and restaurants.  Select restaurants with local, fresh offerings. Opt for baked or grilled entrees instead of fried ones, and choose salads or in-season vegetables for your side instead of french fries. If you stay at an all inclusive resort, be cautious with the all you can eat buffets and choose the fresh, healthy options, and keep the trips to the dessert bar to a minimum.
     Be sure to drink plenty of water, especially if traveling to warmer regions.  Make sure to drink water before you feel thirsty, typically more than you would usually drink to compensate for the warmer temperatures.This is especially true for children too as they tend to run nonstop and can easily become dehydrated in the heat.  Adults should avoid too much caffeine or alcohol because these can lead to dehydration when consumed in excess.  Enjoy in moderation with frequent drinks of water in between other beverages.

Stay Active
If you are used to exercising regularly, there’s no reason to let your vacation deter you.  Don’t use it as an excuse to get off track. Throw a pair of running shoes into your suitcase and explore your new location on foot. Choose a hotel with a gym and get a workout in before hitting the beach, and burn off that drink on the beach by taking a long walk along the water. Or, take your yoga mat and practice on the beach. Be adventurous and go kayaking or hiking instead of just sitting at your resort.  Many resorts also offer multiple classes or activities for individuals, families, and children, so research these options when choosing your destination. Introduce your kids to some new activities and perhaps they’ll find a new passion. Again, if you stay active, you can enjoy some vacation indulgences without feeling guilty.

Take Care of Your Eyes and Skin
Since the majority of Americans prefer beach vacations, it is imperative to discuss protecting your eyes and skin. Sun can wreak havoc on both. The first line of defense is sunscreen and a quality pair of sunglasses.  Sunscreen should be applied 15 to 30 minutes prior to sun exposure and reapplied throughout the day. The key is understanding the SPF (Sun Protection Factor)  and how it works with your skin type. If your skin starts to redden in 10 minutes, multiply that by the SPF number to see how long the sunscreen will protect from burning. If you will be swimming or sweating a lot, you’ll likely need to reapply every 40-80 minutes. A waterproof sunscreen is highly recommended, and make sure it is a broad spectrum sunscreen to block both UVA and UVB rays.

Be sure to use proper sun gear, as well, such as a wide brimmed hat and an umbrella for shade during extended stints at the beach. If you should acquire a bit more sun than intended, or if your skin tends to get dry from the pool, sun, or sand, be sure to sooth and hydrate it with lotions, aloe, and/or essential oils for a healthy, sun-kissed glow.

Eating healthy, staying active, and caring for your eyes and skin in the sun will leave you looking fabulous and refreshed when you return from your vacation. You can enjoy all the pleasures of vacation without any of the guilty. 

Amy Williams is a free-lance journalist based in Southern California and mother of two. As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like cyberbullying and online safety. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Tips for Brand New Dads

Many thanks to my dear friend, Robbie, for this post!  

By Robbie Gennet

I have some friends that are brand new Dads and as I changed another poopy diaper today, I was thinking of a few things to pass along. Tips, advice, whatever you want to call it~ Dads have a unique skill set that involves a lot of duct tape and ingenuity but you can only MacGyver your way out of so many situations with a baby. So now that I have a scarce window during nap time, here are a few random tidbits for you Daddios ~ any of my fellow veteran Dads want to add their 2 cents, be my guest.

1. When you take off a poopy diaper, put it far off to the side. Babies suddenly kick their feet straight out and will kick right into that poop. Save yourself the cleanup ~ and use the diaper to scrape off as much poop as you can before you start with baby wipes. 

2. Besides bringing multiple changes of clothes for the baby outings, bring an extra shirt or two for yourself (maybe pants too). I have spent many public outings roped in spitup ~ always understandable but it’s nice to be able to freshen up.

3. Unless you live in a humid area, your fingertips will dry out and crack from all the hand washing and diaper changing and whatnot. Especially here in SoCal, a good salve is a must. I use the Trader Joe’s Head to Toe stuff ~ non-greasy, natural and effective. However, Aquaphor is pretty much king so always keep a large tube handy. Great for diaper/neck rashes too. Don’t forget to monitor the folds in their neck for formula and food leakage.

4. You will never get enough sleep ever again. You will soon know what it must feel like to be Keith Richards. You will hit a wall on your way to the next wall. Important to swap with the missus to let each other catch up once in a while. And by catching up, I mean back to Keith in 1967. Disheveled? Were you ever sheveled in the first place?

5. Light roast coffee has more caffeine than dark roast. Have a selection depending on the jolt you need. And drink the good stuff ~ you will earn it, cup by cup. Coffee is the new cocaine (see: Keith 1975). Do NOT run out. Ever. Print up grocery lists that automatically include coffee at the top.

6. When you are preparing to take a diaper off of a 0-6 month old, you must be ready to replace it with a dry diaper, even temporarily until you secure disposal of the first. Think Indiana Jones with the bag of sand and the golden idol. Urine streams can really project ~ save yourself the cleanup! Getting peed on is for people who like Russian hookers. 

7. Babies get heavier as they grow. This will put exponential strain on your back, shoulders, arms, forearms, wrists and hands. As a piano player, it has at times really taken its toll. It’s not just the carrying (though that certainly wears you down). It’s more about the times they lurch left and you reach to grab them and there goes that lower back. Do strengthening exercises as much as you can. Remember your hamstrings are the secret support system for your back. Use the baby to exercise with doing gentle lifting and strengthening. Keep ice packs handy. Eat an anti-inflammatory diet. Move gracefully like tai chi. Be the ball, Danny.

8. Buy a million burp cloths. Maybe an extra half million for backup. Stack them in multiple places around the house, which is now a staging area for laundry, dishes and toys. Now go put the clothes from the dryer into the basket, put the clothes from the washer into the dryer and then fill and start the next load before you begin folding. This cycle will never end but now that you’ve given up on sleep, you have plenty of time for it!

9. Play classical and jazz around your child. If you were never a fan before, take this opportunity to expose yourself and your child to the music. I find Vivaldi and Bill Evans to be lovely bottle-feeding music. PM me and I would be more than happy to Dropbox you a nice little collection of jazz and children’s music or give you recommendations on great/easy/chill/cool records. And if you want to make your child musical, dance with them, pat the beat on their backs (great for burping) and move their hands and feet to the music. Draws them in nicely.

10. Parents always say “it goes so fast” and I can see how it can feel that way… BUT I feel that I have lived every day of my kids lives really connected and engaged and it feels like things have taken their sweet time and not leaped up on me. So stay engaged~ read, dance, talk, laugh, play ~ get off your phone and look them in the eyes and let them look you in the eyes and know how much you love them. Enjoy this time and remember it as vividly as you can a few years from now when he/she is in a tantrum and you are trying to restrain yourself from reverting to parenting styles of the 1600’s. 

11. You are going to take massive amounts of pictures and videos. Consider a system to label, store and backup these files. Start now! If you don’t, you will be trying to piece together an array of files and drives and will never feel you have it all together. Agree on a system with the missus as you will both be adding to it. Backup backup backup.

12. Nap times are like finding a wonderful little oasis in the desert. But the time will evaporate before you hear the cry from the crib and are back on diaper duty. Try to have a bit of a plan if you have things to do so the minute they are down for a nap, you can kick into gear. Sometimes, you will just be grateful to sit quietly on the couch with that fresh cup of coffee and daydream for a few minutes about what Keith Richards is doing right now… :)

Alright ~ any of my parental friends want to chime in with tips for new Dads? Mom’s perspectives are welcome too (whether we want them or not - am I right Dads? lol). 

Happy nap time ya’ll ~ xo!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Tips to Protect Your Child's Skin this Summer

Many thanks to Amy Williams for these terrific tips in her article for the Whole Hearted Parenting blog!

By Amy Williams
Our children are born with flawless skin, but with age and the elements, skin can become irritated and damaged. With the start of summer vacation only days away, parents need to stock up on skincare products to ensure happy and healthy summer skin. Because once Memorial weekend hits, our kids will be busy running outside, swimming, and playing sports.
According to, much of the sun exposure our skin receives happens before age 18.  Protecting skin at an early age helps ensure that skin receives the minimal amount of damage from the sun’s damaging UVA and UVB rays. And don’t be fooled by overcast summer skies, those sneaky UVA/UVB rays can break past the clouds.
But children’s skin is going to be prone beyond damage from the sun. Bug bites, poison ivy, eczema and even drying soaps can cause irritation and sensitivity. While parents can’t protect their child from every pesky mosquito or rash, there are products that help heal red, itchy, irritated or damaged skin. Make sure your medicine cabinets are stocked with these must-have summer skin remedies to keep your child’s skin healthy and happy!
OTC Anti-Itch Creams or Colloidal Oatmeal
The summer is the time when most kids will have a brush with Poison Ivy or Poison Oak. Parents will notice an itchy rash that might begin to ooze. To soothe itchy rashes, have a child soak in a lukewarm bath with colloidal oatmeal. Or you may also use an anti-itch cream like Cortizone to keep scratching at bay. However, always check with your child’s pediatrician before using any medication for your child. And if poison ivy rashes seem unmanageable—either in size or irritation—call the doctor!
Parents of older kids—especially preteens and teens—should stock up on products for shaving irritation. Summer is the prime shaving time, and ingrown hairs can be especially irritating…especially on the face or in areas where sweat accumulates.
You cannot go through summer without sunscreen. The American Academy of Dermatology urges that consumers look for three things in a sunscreen: one that provides a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or higher, is water resistant and that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Infants older than six months of age need to use sunscreen with “an SPF of at least 15,” according to the Mayo Clinic. Parents should not use sunscreen on babies under age six months and need to keep their skin protected in other ways. Parents also should keep infants from being out when the sun is at its most intense—typically, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
And, yes, sunscreen should be reapplied after getting wet, toweling off or sweating…or per the instructions on the bottle (no sunscreen lasts all day!).

Moisturizers and Essential Oils
Kid’s skin loses moisture just like ours does. Keep that delicate skin baby soft with a good moisturizer. Look for unscented products formulated for children or babies….but be sure to skip any moisturizers that contain a form of alcohol called ethanol which can dry out the skin.
Some parents love essential oils. Argan oil and coconut oils are great for keeping skin moisturized and soft. Be careful using coconut oil, however, as it may clog pores. With oils, a little goes a long way so don’t slather it on heavily. According to an article on, coconut oil also may be used to treat diaper rash. Opt for organic unrefined cold-pressed oils. 
Be cautious when buying moisturizers or skin products like lotions and soaps that claim to be natural. According to an American Academy of Dermatology press release that addressed the misinformation of the safety of children’s skin products, labels like organic or natural don’t equate to better quality. The release included a Q&A format featuring Dermatologist Renee Howard, M.D. and associate clinical professor of dermatology, University of California, San Francisco, who addressed common concerns about children’s skincare.
“Natural products aren’t necessarily safer, and many have had very limited testing,” said Dr. Howard in the press release. “Some of these products may not be as effective as traditional skin care products.”
Antibiotic Ointment & Gauze

Kids will fall down and scrape their knees and elbows. Accidents happen, but parents need to treat cuts properly to prevent infection. If the cut is bleeding, apply pressure to the area. Once the bleeding stops, clean the wound, apply an antibiotic ointment and use a bandage. And don’t let kids pick their scabs! While parents can’t always prevent scarring, keeping cuts cared for will help skin heal faster. For serious injuries, dial 911!
Sunburns happen even when parents are meticulous with sunscreen application. Keep burned skin cool by applying an aloe gel to the affected area. Parents also may invest in an aloe plant for the home. Break off a leaf and apply the healing gel inside to the burn.
A child’s unblemished skin should be properly protected during the hot summer months, when kids are at their most active. Cuts, sunburns and rashes are a part of childhood, but the right skincare products will help keep skin from grow up bearing the scars from summer mishaps.
Amy Williams is a free-lance journalist based in Southern California and mother of two. As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like cyberbullying and online safety.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Being Aware of Your Child's Needs

Making the transition from the school year into summer can sometimes be a little shaky, especially for children who find transitions challenging.  One tip from our book Glide into Summer: Twenty Ways to Create an Amazing Summer is to be aware of your child's needs (and your own!).  

When we get our needs met, we feel in balance.  Our “love tanks” are full.  When we help our children get their needs met in positive ways, they feel encouraged and they misbehave less.  There is no need to act out to feel powerful if our child already feels powerful and influential.

When a child shifts from the comfortably familiar classroom to his new summer activities, he is searching for new ways to belong and to feel valuable, special, powerful, and loved.  He is looking for new ways to experiment and explore.  This search for new ways to get his needs met is stressful.  The more you are aware of those needs, the more you can help him transition smoothly.  Have empathy as he looks for ways to belong with the new group at camp.  Give him opportunities to lead (make choices, teach you something, make decisions for the family) at home.  His contributions to his "school family" are no longer happening, so search for ways for him to feel valuable through contribution at home.  Even when he misbehaves, let him know you love him.  You may not like the behavior AND you love him!   

Get your free copy of Glide into Summer here

Monday, May 15, 2017

Great Summer Vacation Ideas!

Many thanks to Amy Williams for another terrific article for the Whole Hearted Parenting Blog!
By Amy Williams
As the school year comes to a close, families are beginning to make their summer plans. According to, 45 percent of Americans head off for a vacation during summertime and almost 20 percent of those trips will be destined for Florida.
While Orlando is an especially popular retreat for families, resorts and parks like Disney, SeaWorld and Universal Studios can be overwhelming with the summer crowds of tourists. Disney might be many children’s dream vacation, but it’s best to schedule a trip during off-season…and not the busy (and hot!) summer months! 
Kids and their families can discover exciting adventures this summer without getting caught in major tourist traps…and fighting through the crowds and long ride lines. If you’re still looking for the perfect family destination, check out these kid-friendly hotspots:
Holiday World (Santa Claus, Indiana)
Holiday World is the ideal family theme park; offering rides that range from extreme to toddler-friendly. Each area of the park—and the accompanying attractions--is themed for a different holiday, including Christmas, Halloween, Fourth of July and Thanksgiving. Kids can ride in giant turkeys, soar in an eagle, and take a ride on the Mayflower (it’s a giant swinging boat)! Parents will love the variety of attractions and the free sunscreen, soft drinks, Wi-Fi…and parking!
Wisconsin Dells (Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin)

Marketing itself as “The Waterpark Capital of the World, The Dells features both indoor and outdoor parks and a whole lot of family fun. While the Dells might be known for its water parks, the area also hosts multiple amusement parks, museums (including the Mid-Continent Railway Museum), and skiing. Parents can head out to enjoy wineries and breweries.
Grand Canyon National Park (Grand Canyon, Arizona)
Childhood isn’t complete without visiting the Grand Canyon. Go on a trek down the canyon, white water raft or just take in the view. There are many options for lodging, and families may also camp…just make sure to make reservations in advance!
Knott’s Berry Farm (Buena Park, Calif.)
Roller coasters, water rides and…Peanuts! The characters hanging around Knott’s Berry Farm come straight out of the imagination of Charles Schulz. Kids can snap a picture with Snoopy and Charlie Brown and other favorite characters. While you’re enjoying the park, don’t forget to check out the jams and preserves…it is, after all, Knott’s Berry Farm.
Road Trip!
Pack your bags and hit the road. Map out a route with fun destinations along the way. Make stops at fun roadside attractions, grab a bite at local restaurants or pay a visit to national landmarks. Get together as a family and talk about the sites you plan to visit and where the family will camp or stay. Or surprise kids with a top secret trip! It’s all about the destination!
There are so many places to visit this summer. Research the areas of the country your family wants to see and begin planning your trip now. Make sure to set a budget, so you don’t get overwhelmed with the costs. If a certain destination seems out of your price point, research similar areas or shop around for discount tickets and deals. You will find your family’s ideal summer vacation…Bon Voyage!
Amy Williams is a free-lance journalist based in Southern California and mother of two. As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like cyberbullying and online safety.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The When, Why, and How of Getting Your Child Their First Pet

Many thanks to Amy Williams, our guest blogger, for another terrific article!

By Amy Williams

Many people grow up dreaming about finding their dream job, getting married, having children, living in a nice house, and perhaps buying a family pet. Of course, dreams don’t always work out the way they were supposed to, and that’s what makes life so interesting. If you do go on to have children who want a cat, dog, or any other animal, how do you decide what to do?

Many parents can testify to having purchased a pet for their children – only to see these same children lose interest and balk at cleaning after Sammy the dog, changing the litter box for Pretty Paws the cat, or filling up the water bowl for Hammy the hamster. So how do you figure out if your children are ready for their first pet?. Read on to learn the nitty-gritty on how to decide.

It goes without saying that owning a pet is a serious commitment and is best done following careful consideration.  Depending on the type of animal you choose, you may be taking care of it for perhaps 10 to 15 years or maybe even more in some cases.  If you've mulled it over and think that it is time to get your children their first pet, how do you decide when to do so?

Consider this: If your children are both old enough to and willing to shoulder some of the responsibility for taking care of a cat, dog, or other animal, they might be ready for their first pet. You might be interested in knowing that the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says that children between the ages of five and 10 are usually old enough to get a pet that requires only a small amount of care like a gerbil or a goldfish. You, as the parent, will still need to help with cleaning the animal’s living environment, feeding it, and doing other things that may be outside of the scope of your children’s' capability. If you want to get a dog, for example, consider the size of the animal so that you choose a dog that your children can manage.

There are various reasons why you might decide to give your children their first pet. For instance, you might observe that they are old enough and responsible enough to do their fair share in caring for the animal – providing that they truly want a pet. You might also see having a pet as a way to teach them to shoulder duties such as cleaning a fish tank, taking a dog for a walk, or feeding a pet rat. There are also health benefits to having a pet. Pet ownership can help people to safeguard their mental health, to remain asthma-free, and to get exercise.

In terms of how to go about it, you need to kick things off by first deciding what sort of pet should be your children’s first pet. Then you need to do some research to find out as much as you can about the type of animal you plan to bring welcome into your family. This is a good time to get the children involved. They’ll love learning more about their future pet in anticipation of the day you bring it home. You’ll also want to ensure that you have the necessary equipment and supplies to properly take care of their pet so that there is a smooth transition once you make the introductions!

Getting your children their first pet time will be an exciting experience for them and for you. Before making the final decision, consider when, why, and how to go about it. Once you’ve feel satisfied with answering these three questions, you’re good to go!

Amy Williams is a free-lance journalist based in Southern California and mother of two. As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like cyberbullying and online safety.