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 Kidshealth.org, 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.
Sunscreen
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 Babble.com, 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!
Aloe
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 Statisticbrain.com, 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.

When
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.

Why
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.

How
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.

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Difference Accountability and Respect Can Make


A part of The Peaceful Project's Community in Unity Program centers on respect for self and others.  It means seeing yourself and others from their highest place, which could be higher than the vision the person has of themselves in that moment.  It means speaking respectfully to others as well as internally, having respectful self-talk. There is also accountability for behaving in a way that reflects one's highest self.  The best example of this in action was shared by a teacher at a school we had recently visited.  I love this story!

The fourth grade teacher was aware that a one of her students was coming to class with a shaved head. The student's mother had shaved her head because her daughter didn’t wash her hair. [The mother's reaction is an entirely different topic.]  The teacher made all of the students aware of what happened before the young girl got to school, and everyone in the class welcomed her warmly.  There was one student who didn't hear the teacher's explanation of what had happened to his classmate because he had arrived to class late. When he saw the girl with the shaved head, he began to mock her. Two students rose and stood between the girl and the boy who was mocking her.  The two students literally quoted the trust agreement that we had done in the workshop, holding the boy accountable for his agreement to respect his fellow classmates, reminding him that mocking her was not respectful.  The teacher was thrilled with their leadership and that they handled the classroom conflict without her intervention. 

That is the power of Community in Unity!  I invite you to support our work by making a contribution to The Peaceful Project on May 11th, GiveSTLDay.  Simply click here to reach our page with the St. Louis Community Foundation.  

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Benefits of Yoga for Children

Many thanks to our guest contributor, Amy Williams, for another great article!



by Amy Williams 

Being a child today is not the same as growing up when we were kids. Our children are faced with many more stressors at a much earlier age than any previous generation.  They engage in ‘school’ and social groups before they can walk and talk, begin playing sports earlier and with higher performance expectations, talk about college prep and SAT scores prior to hitting puberty, face temptation from every direction with unlimited access available at their fingertips, and every bit of their angst and typical preteen awkwardness is captured on social media for the world to witness. This doesn’t even include the historical difficulties children have always had to face.

In other words, being a kid today is tough. Fortunately, there are some simple remedies to help combat all the negative stressors in their young lives. One of the best is getting them involved in yoga. It is pretty commonly known that yoga builds muscle, improves posture, reduces stress, enhances mood, and increases focus in adults. These benefits are being found to be even more meaningful for children when taught correctly and practiced regularly. Yoga has been shown to help children mentally, physically, behaviorally, and socially.  It teaches skills that support them at home, in the classroom, on the playing field, and in their relationships. In turn, these are skills they will be able to carry into their adult lives.

One of the primary aspects of yoga is teaching mindfulness. This influences children by cultivating a peaceful mindset, enhancing concentration and focus, teaching tools for stress management, reducing anxiety, and encouraging kindness.  For example, yoga teaches children to utilize deep breathing, to clear their minds of negative thoughts, and to have patience with their poses. It teaches them to accept where their body will currently let them go, as well as how to cooperate with other children in the class who may be at different levels. It teaches acceptance and positivity without competitiveness.

Additionally, yoga is an excellent way to increase self-esteem and body awareness as young children learn what their bodies are capable of doing. By maintaining and increasing flexibility and strength as they grow, they become more confident and self-assured while also learning self-discipline.  Posture and muscular development improves, as well as their overall physical and mental health. Adding even more benefit, there are child specific yoga classes that encourage creativity as they are guided to imagine different settings and create their own poses.

The benefits of yoga for children are bountiful and very easy to implement. Whether you find a yoga class for your child or do it with them at home, start with the simplest poses such as cobra, mountain, tree, and downward dog.  Child’s pose is also appropriate, as the name itself proposes. These are easy for children to master and are packed with benefits. As your child becomes more involved and their skills increase, you can add more poses and create your own routines together. Ultimately, they will be able to continue with an independent yoga practice as they journey through the teenage years into adulthood, reaping the benefits along the way.

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, April 2, 2017

Developing Motor Skills with Outdoor Spring Activities


By Amy Williams

Spring is in the air and that means green grass, fresh flowers, and sunny days are here at last. As the remnants of winter finally melt away, the warmer spring weather is a welcome reprieve from those long unending days of being cooped up inside. This change of seasons provides you with the perfect opportunity to get outside and explore fun activities to develop your children’s motor skills in a supportive and natural environment. 

Motor skills are broken into two main categories – gross and fine motor skills – each focusing on different muscle groups and movements. Gross motor skills focus on movements that are large in nature and require the larger body muscles to move. Running, jumping, skipping, and throwing are good examples of these skills. While these are important skills to develop balance and stability, fine motor skills are also needed. This skill set uses smaller muscle movements often found in the wrists and hands. Fine motions help kids write, tie their shoes, open doors, and zip their coats. 

Our child’s happiness and well-being makes it important for us to include plenty of opportunities to develop gross and fine motor skills by building them into their routines. It is recommended that we work on developing motor skills at least 3 times a week. Thankfully, Mother Nature has given us the perfect spring backdrop to make this a reality.

Here are some fun ideas for building motor skills:

Play a game of shadow tag. Use the sunlight to play a fun running game of tag. Take turns being “it” and try catching each other by stepping on the other person’s shadows. This is a fun way to spend a sunny afternoon and learn about shadows in the process.

Visit the park. Take advantage of the local playground and use these neighborhood gathering spots as a resource this spring. Encourage kids to learn how to swing, climb equipment, or run around the play areas to provide opportunities to use gross motor skills.

Hop to it! Encourage motor skills with a game of hopscotch. This game combines both groups of motor skills in a fun and entertaining game. Have children draw the classic ladder of boxes on the sidewalk with chalk to practice writing and controlling the smaller muscles in their hands. Then, take advantage of the throwing and hopping to strengthen gross motor skills. The beauty of this game is its adaptability for all levels and varieties of fine motor skills.

Have a ball. Today’s children might love their technology, but they still enjoy playing with balls. Play a game of catch or kick the ball back and forth. For more fun, branch out and teach the kids how to bounce or dribble the ball.

Blow up some fun. Nothing says spring like bubbles! Allow kids to blow, chase, or pop the soapy orbs to develop hand-eye coordination while encouraging the use of large muscles needed for running.

Create a backyard training course. Take direction from the popular American Ninja Warrior show and design a course for the kids. Most children love the challenge obstacle courses provide and they won’t even be aware of the fact that you are helping them work on gross motor skills. 

Fly a kite. Spring gusts can provide the perfect afternoon entertainment, and kite flying requires a combination of gross and fine motor skills. 

Grow something green. Grab some seeds and head outside to plant some veggies or flowers. You don’t need to commit to an entire garden.  A container of herbs or pot of flowers for the kids will suffice. Digging in the dirt, hauling water, planting, and pruning are wonderful ways to work small and large muscle groups.

Get artsy. Bring out the sidewalk chalk or paints to let children color the neighborhood. Unending sidewalks allow for unlimited creativity and provide chances to develop fine motor skills as they draw.

Play in the sand. Sand play is a wonderful way to encourage both sets of motor skills. Kids can dig and carry buckets to build strength, while manipulating sand helps develop finger dexterity.

How do you develop motor skills in your children?

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, March 21, 2017

Creative Ways to Encourage Your Child to Fall in Love with Reading


By Amy Williams

Everyone always says that reading to your children is one of the most important things you can do as a parent, but how necessary is it really? Well, as it turns out, it really is as vital as they say! Reading helps develop creative thinking skills, helps kids practice critical reasoning, gives them examples of morality and wrongdoing, and instills a strong sense of creativity. Even better, all of these goals can be accomplished before your child is even old enough to walk!

How can you get your child to fall in love with reading? Making your children sit down and read for a set amount of time each day is certainly not the answer. Getting your kids to become passionate page-turners takes a bit of work. Fortunately, we have a few ideas to make your job a lot easier!

Be Colorful Pick books that are colorful, sturdy, and have lots of visual features, such as illustrations. This will help to keep their attention tuned into the book, instead of whatever may be happening on the other side of the room.

Tag Team It Once your child is old enough to begin learning how to read, ask them to read along with you. You can take turns reading one page after another, ask them to read to a sibling, or even ask them to spell out words that they don’t understand. You know your child best so rely on your intuition in figuring out what your child needs the most!


Make It Cozy Do you have an independent reader? It might be time for you to create a reading nook where they can go to enjoy their favorite books and stories. Soft cushions, a well-stocked bookshelf, and a cozy blanket can go a long way when it comes to turning your children into lifelong readers!

Cuddle Up Kids love physical contact (and depend on it)! Take advantage of your snuggle time by using it to fill your children’s brains with words. Even just a short book can help grab their attention and get them thinking. Remember – a little bit of reading adds up to A LOT of knowledge over time!

Take A Trip There’s nothing more exciting for a child than being let loose in any kind of store. On the next rainy afternoon, take your children to the local bookstore or library and allow them all to pick out one or two books. As soon as they have finished those, you can make another trip to the bookstore or library!

Set An Example Remember – you are the best possible example for your children! If they see you reading often, chances are good that they too will become avid readers. Talk openly about your favorite books, and encourage them to start a collection of their own personal reading treasures.

Raising readers is one of the best things you can do for your children. It will benefit them in both their education and careers, and we can guarantee that they’ll thank you for it down the road.

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.  

Friday, March 17, 2017


Raising Well Balanced Children: 
How to Best Support Their Journey
By Susie Walton
 
Often times when given advice as to what to do when parenting, we're left wondering, but HOW do I do this...or that?  It seems as though what may come easily to one parent, may not come so easily to another parent.  This article will be giving some suggestions on (HOW) with   Heartfelt Optimum Ways one can begin to implement some parenting skills to expand their parenting toolbox!  Or one can simply think of it like adding recipes to their existing recipe box.
 
Let's start with the most reliable predictors of adult success; according to Daniel Goleman, PhD., the most reliable predictors of adult success are not grades in high school or even a collegiate pedigree, but rather these six qualities of emotional intelligence:
  1. Empathy
  2. Optimism
  3. Flexibility
  4. Good sense of humor
  5. The capacity to function as a team player
  6. The ability to respond to setbacks
Before I go through each one, it's important to note that it will be easier for your kids to attain these if the parents model them:
 
Empathy
  • Understand before being understood
  • Be Heartfelt ~ see through your heart
  • Acknowledge ~ empathy creates connection
Optimism:
  • Celebrate Mistakes ~Mistakes are wonderful opportunities to learn
  • Gratitude feast: each person shares what they are grateful for
  • Look for the gift ~ the silver lining
Flexibility:
  • Go with the flow
  • Keep things simple
  • Self Care ~ taking care of yourself helps you become a better parent
A Good Sense of Humor: 
  • Have fun
  • Keep it light
  • Don't take yourself too seriously
Capacity to Function as a Team Player:
  • Discover each family members strength 
  • Encouragement feast ~ each person shares what they love about each person
  • Mind Trust ~ when you have a problem with a family member you go to the person
Ability to Respond to Setbacks: 
  • Allow Children to Have Their Feelings
  • Natural Consequences ~ If We Allow A Child To Experience The Consequence Of His Acts, We Provide An Honest And Real Learning Situation
  • Self Reliance
Allowing your children to have their feelings sets the foundation for their self-reliance!!  Why?   Because as children go through life, their ability to respond to setbacks is primarily based on their ability to move themselves through all of their feelings.  When a child can move themselves from one feeling to another, they are building a very rich and strong internal guidance system.  This guidance system is what guides them to move closer to or away from someone or something.  It is what guides them into or out of situations that are healthy or unhealthy and when in an unhealthy situation (or setback) to move themselves through it.  Over time, and with enough experience, their trust in their command of their feelings develops self-confidence!  This process is done primarily through Natural Consequences...so let those consequences (when in good reason) play out.  This requires the parent to be aware of his/her feelings in order not to mix their own emotions into the child's process.  Parent's often times want to make it better or take care of the child (hoping that their child doesn't have to experience sadness, disappointment, anger, hurt, etc.) and the result is a robbing of their children's rich opportunities to build their own emotional muscles!!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Books on Love and Friendship




Many thanks to Cindy Hudson, author of Book by Book The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs, for allow us to share her article on books on love and friendship!

By Cindy Hudson

Love comes in many forms: between parents and children, between siblings and other family members, among friends. And Valentine's Day is a good time to celebrate the love all around us with books that focus on special relationships of all kinds.

Here are a few books to check out for several age groups.

Picture Books
Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle - as Flora and the flamingo dance around each other, they learn about the power of friendship and how friends can bring out our insecurities as well as help us overcome them.

If I Could Keep You Little by Marianne Richmond - Special moments moms and dads would hold onto if they could are featured, things like singing lullabies, holding a child's hand, kissing cuts and scrapes, and finger painting.

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn - This modern classic helps reassure children that their parents love them even when they can't spend the day together with them.

Ages 9 to 13
The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White - Louis the trumpeter swan may not have a voice, but he knows how to let the ones he cares about feel his friendship and love.

The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook by Joanna Rocklin - Oona comforts her younger brother, and helps him learn to read while nursing their sick cat.

Laugh With the Moon by Shana Burg - Clare learns from villages in Malawi to honor loss by celebrating life.
Teens
A Match Made in High School by Kristin Walker - Laugh out loud funny look at what happens when two teens are paired up in a mock wedding during senior year to teach them about responsibility.

The Cardturner by Louis Sachar - When Alton is roped into turning cards at bridge games for his blind Uncle Lester, he ends up learning a lot more than how to play cards.


Sorta Like a Rock Star by Matthew Quick - Amber is an eternal optimist, despite her difficult life, which is why she is driven to help people others often ignore.  

Friday, January 20, 2017

Inspiration for the New Year


Many thanks to Susie Walton for this beautiful article on inspiration!  

by Susie Walton

When I was asked to write about this topic my first thought was, "Where does my inspiration come from?" Immediately what came to me was, 'my family'.
I then looked up the definition of inspiration: "the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially something creative."
My kids were my catalyst, my inspiration, to begin teaching parenting courses over 25 years ago and once again they were my inspiration to write my book, Key to Personal Freedom: How Myths Affect our Family Lives ...25 years later they are still my source of inspiration as they inspire me to be the best that I can be and when slacking a bit, they challenge me on it.
My favorite quote is: "It Takes A Village To Raise A Child" It has been the source and inspiration for much of my life's work so I decided to turn to my village, my kids, a niece and nephew of mine, to find out what inspires them - what is behind their inspiration when parenting and what are some things that keep them inspired as parents: I am honored to share their words with each of you:

Tuffy and Gina:
Having faith in God that he would not give me more than I can handle.
Parenting is a never-ending work in progress. It's a daily learning experience. I often remind myself that while I teach my kids all about life, in the midst of the crazy, they are actually teaching me what life is all about. The attempt at perfect parenting has been a struggle of mine, yet I find comfort in knowing there are no perfect parents, no perfect children but there are many perfect moments along the way.
I love this quote from C.S. Lewis:
"Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work."


Nate and Ali: 
It is the most inspiring thing to be able to wake up everyday and share new memories as a family. We have had the time of our life having all these "firsts" together the past 16 months of Willa's life. 

Becoming a parent has really enriched my relationship with my husband. To be able to see Nate interacting with our daughter is completely awe- inspiring and pure magic. I get inspired seeing so much of him in her.  As I watch her, I get to imagine what my best friend was like as a child.


Being a mom has given me a greater appreciation and a deeper love for my own parents. I get inspired everyday thinking about the things I can't wait to share with Willa as well as the things my parents shared with me. I get to be a child again!!! I get to rediscover the world again!!! However, my challenge is to not get ahead of myself...it's hard for me to pace myself because there is so much of the world I want to show her right now!!! It's hard to stay in the moment, I find myself getting excited about doing things with her in the future that I miss out on what is happening right now.  There is such an excitement of a new day where I get to help her learn new things!!! It has inspired me to educate myself more, as I want to fulfill her physical and developmental needs that are changing by the millisecond!!!! It has made me want to be the best version of myself for her. This is a constant challenge. She reminds me of my values and who I am at my core.
Luke and Bre:
It is the best and without a doubt the HARDEST thing I've ever done. I love the challenge of trying to make everyday fun and stimulating for my kids. Parenting tests my creativity, patience and yet, never amazes me how much love I can feel for another person. To be able to see these little pieces of perfect develop their own personalities and all the while my job is to try and teach them to be good, kind, loving and compassionate people. To hear my kid say "please" and "thank you" to a complete stranger without being prompted feels like such a WIN. The days are long and the months seem to fly by and day in and day out, without fail, I realize that kids are born to LOVE. They are programmed to know nothing other than LOVE. I realize as a mom how many amazing people we have in our lives that love our kids and how lucky I am to be surrounded by so much love and support.


Adam and Tracy:

Things that inspire my parenting:  
-Being away from my kids and missing them
-Your Infinite Life classes
-Remembering that the days are long but the years are short
-Remembering that hard work with parenting now will pay off later when my kids are older
-Remembering that everyone deserves everything they want in life


Kam and Jamie:

Knowing that what I do and how I treat other people are teaching my kids a lot more than the words that come out of my mouth inspires my parenting. I know I don't always have the perfect way of saying something or teaching a specific lesson but I always go back to the golden rule. I try my very hardest to lead by example: focusing on giving to, listening to, and loving on others so that my kids will see how one should act. Recognizing that we can only really mess them up as kids (cause they are born so darn perfect) I'm constantly trying to stay aware of being non-judgmental, and try not to influence them with my beliefs but allow each of them to form their own beliefs and be the best person they can be. And to be honest, it also inspires me to know that no matter how hard I try, I'm going to mess up (lose my temper and yell, literally after the 30th Time of asking them to leave their dang muddy shoes outside), but the best part is that kids are the quickest to forgive and love me anyway (thank God). 
We had a great speaker in church a few weeks ago that said something that resonated with me - he said, we have no right to be in self-pity when there is so much hurt in the world - and then he quoted the great John Wooden and said, "MAKE EACH DAY YOUR MASTERPIECE". Bottom line, we are all so blessed to have the families that we do, healthy kids, live where we do, and have all the love that surrounds us. That should be inspiring enough to go out and be the GOOD each day and live life to its fullest with no regrets, with kindness and respect for all. And teach our kids those same values along the way.
So there it is... I am so honored, blessed and inspired to call these people my sons, daughter in laws, niece and nephew.


Some Tips on Inspiration:

R. Kay Green wrote a blog, 'What is the true meaning of Inspiration?'
Here are 3 steps to inspiring others:
  1. Act and Show
  2. Provide Others with a Blueprint
  3. Become a Mentor
On a personal note, one way I was able to bring back my inspiration in those days where I found myself overwhelmed, yelling and being grouchy with my kids was at night, when they were finally asleep, I would go into their rooms and look at their angelic faces. Every single time a wave of love, inspiration and joy would make itself known to me again.


I now invite each of you to take a moment to reflect on what inspires you along with what will be your inspiration for 2017.