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Before Screen Time Activities

As promised in my last blog, I am going to share some details of my family’s summer with you.  One of the things I feel strongly about is not letting my kids spend hours on their screens every day.  Yes, there are some awesome educational activities on electronics, but for the most part, our kids are not engaged in these activities.

Below is our list of “Before Screen Time Activities.” My daughters must complete these before they are allowed to play on their phones, watch a movie, or be involved in any other screen time. I hope if you were looking for ideas that our list inspires you to create a list that works for your family.

I’ve included a link at the bottom of the post where you can get a copy of a ‘pretty’ version to print out.


This is such an important meal for growing (and aging) bodies.  It is important to me that my girls get a healthy start to their day.  They are old enough to make their own breakfast, so I don’t have to be in charge of that. I will encourage them to eat a variety of things so we don’t get hooked on a “cereal every morning” path.


This is a quick run through on our main floor to make sure that all of their stuff has been put away.  I prefer this to be done in the evening before bed, but sometimes…life happens.


We have daily and weekly chores.  Daily chores include things like setting/clearing the table, unloading the dishwasher, and feeding the dog – most of which are done in the evening, so it would be hard to check this one off early in the day.  Weekly chores are bigger and these are the ones I expect to be done for this list.  Some examples of our weekly chores include doing laundry (my girls have been doing laundry since they were 4!), vacuuming, mopping, cleaning their bathroom, and making a healthy dinner for our family.

READ 30+ MINUTES (something NON-electronic)mom and daughter reading

My girls love to read but, now that they are older, they don’t read as many ‘fun’ books during the school year.  Summer is a great time for them to read for fun.  We ask friends what their favorite books are and check out the library summer reading program for ideas, too.  Speaking of which, most libraries have a reading program for children of all ages (adults, too) with events and prizes, so make sure to visit your library this summer!


My girls are very active during the school year with PE, soccer, band, running, Tae Kwan Do, and more.  I worry that if exercise is not something intentional this summer, it might not happen.  That’s why it is on this list.  I’m pretty flexible with what they do (hanging out at the pool, running, playing soccer, walking the dog) and I will allow them to listen to their electronics while exercising.


I went back and forth on how long I wanted ‘writing’ to be.  The goal is to encourage 30 minutes of writing, but I don’t think that is realistic every day.  I will provide my daughters with a fun basket full of stationary, stickers, colorful pens and envelopes.  They can write letters to grandparents, family, friends, or they can create poems, stories, or scavenger hunts.  If they get stuck, I also have a lot of writing prompts.


When my girls were young, they would earn one minute of screen time for each minute of violin practice and one minute for each song they played.  It was a great motivator and they really didn’t spend much time on screens.  At that time, most kids did not have their own cell phones so I could regulate when the tv/video was on or when they played on the computer.girl playing violin

Now, cell phones are how kids communicate with each other, mostly texting, not actually talking on the phone.  It is their way of “play” so I am a little less strict. However, some of you reading this will think my rules are crazy strict. 🙂  I do try to limit their screen time, as you might have guessed by this list.  My hope is to get my daughters engaged in other activities, so they reach for their phones/screens less often.


It’s summer! I always tell my kids that I am extremely generous with sun screen (slop it on).  I’m a lot less generous with chocolate!  Being outside is something that can be done in conjunction with many of the other activities (i.e., exercising, reading, writing).


I want my kids to learn that they are part of the family and that means participating in everything.  Some days I might have big tasks to answer this question (help clean the basement) while other days the tasks could be relatively small or easy (give me a hug! Bake chocolate chip cookies).


Click on the link below to download a PDF:





It’s Almost Summer – Are you ready?!

Summer Break is coming! 

For some parents this is an exciting time.  You look forward to hanging out with your kids, having a more flexible schedule, and getting to travel. 

For others, the thought of having your kids home full time and the lack of structure strikes terror in your hearts!

I am very much a parent who looks forward to not having to get up super early to pack lunches and send my kids off to school every morning.  I’m also looking for a break from the hours I spend in my car driving to multiple activities after school and on the weekends.  However, I am anticipating a lot of together time which can occasionally lead to fighting, messes and sibling squabbles.  Ugh!

So what can you do?

Be intentional.  Take a few moments, maybe before the kids get out of school, and think about what it is that you want for this summer.  What do you want for your family?  What do you want for your child(ren)?  What do you want for you?

By thinking about what you want, you will be able to lay out a game plan for the summer.  Here are a few of the things I have planned that might help you get intentional about your summer.  Feel free to check in with me at the end of the summer to see if I actually accomplished these goals and had an intentional summer!

Bucket List:  By creating a Bucket List, I will get input from everyone in the family as to what is important to them to make this feel like a great summer.  I anticipate some of these items being big (travel, amusement parks, camping) while other items can be quite simple yet meaningful quality time (picnic lunch, paint toenails, eat s’mores).  One of the things my family is great at doing is brainstorming.  I will have to be careful not to put too much on our Bucket List.  I want this to be a fun and enjoyable summer, not a stressful one. 

Free Time: I want my kids to be creative and use their imagination.  This means, I want them off electronics, so they can be out exploring and creating.  I plan to create a “Before Screen Time Activities” List (see next week’s blog where I will provide you with my list and examples). One of the things on this list will be 30+ minutes of creativity each day.  Are you sensing a theme here?  I happen to be a list person…

Responsibility: I am a big believer in teaching kids to grow into responsible adults.  All kids can and should do chores to learn how to be successful in life.  By teaching kids how to do chores, they learn responsibility and life skills.  These chores can become habits that will continue on through the school year reducing mom and dad’s workload (=stress levels) and allow us to have more family time together.  Daily and Weekly chores will be added to the “Before Screen Time Activities” List.

Together Time (also known as Quality Family Time): I’m looking forward to more game nights!  During the summer, we are not rushing in 100 directions after school and on the weekends.  We’re able to spend more time together.  For us, playing board games is a fun way to do this.  We’ve also spent time hanging out reading together outside, going for hikes, and volunteering together.  I’m going to look at our Bucket List and try to make sure we have at least one “Together Time” activity each week.

Special Time (also known as Quality Parent-Child Time): Spending One-on-One time with each of your children is priceless.  I know this can seem challenging when you have a lot of kids, and especially during the school year when you are running in multiple directions at once.  However, summer is a great time to schedule One-on-One time with your kids.  Really take time to get to know them at this age.  What do they love? Is something bothering them right now? What are they successful at doing?  Is there something they are struggling with and how can you help guide them to overcome this struggle?  What is a special trait they want to work on (courage, kindness, self-discipline)?  What dreams do they have?

My daughters will be going to different camps this summer, so I anticipate a full week with each of them as “only” children.  I hope to fill those with a lot of Mother-Daughter Special time.  Looking at our Bucket List, I plan to pick one bigger activity and a few smaller ones (cooking a meal together, walking the dog) with each daughter during her week.  We will definitely aim to spend Special Time together at least once a week throughout the summer, not just during the “only child” week.

Me Time: I saved this for last because it can often be the hardest one for me to do, but I need to, and so do you.  Self-care is not a luxury, it is a necessity for us to be good mothers, good partners, and good citizens in this world.  By taking care of me, I can fill up my emotional, mental, spiritual and physical ‘bank accounts’ and be better able to take care of others.  By taking care of me, I am modeling self-care for my daughters.  I would like this to become a necessary part of their beings, not something they struggle to squeeze in or feel guilty doing. 

I’m sure that some of my Me Time might include my daughters directly or indirectly.  If I plan a lunch date with a friend, we might have our kids in tow and let them sit at a nearby table.  If I’m wanting a pamper session, I might invite my daughters on the back porch to paint nails or make fruity facials. However, I will get to pick the music, it is my Me Time after all!  Some of my Me Time activities will be just for me (solo or date night with my husband or a girls night out).

There you have it!  My intentional summer game plan outlined above.  The one thing I didn’t mention is that once my family has created our Bucket List, I will take all of those ideas and anything else I have (Free Time, Together Time, etc.) and start putting them on the calendar. 

I know some of you are saying that you love the flexibility and looseness of summer and can’t wait to ignore your calendars for a few months.  For me, and for many of the families I have worked with, scheduling things makes the summer easier. There is a better chance that we will realize our intentions if we put them on the calendar.    We’ll still have the flexibility to change things as needed, but if it’s on the calendar, it is more likely to happen.


Hey!  Since you read this far, I have a special gift for you!  Enter your name and email in the circle below to receive my  eBook:  Top 10 Tips for Surviving Summer Break




I did NOT see that coming! Mother’s Day 2018

My youngest daughter provided me with a brand new, unforgettable Mother’s Day experience this year!

The day before Mother’s Day was wonderful.  I volunteered at the MS Walk in the morning with my Girl Scout troop.  When I got home, my older daughter had finished the laundry and washed the dishes!  Then I got to volunteer with my younger daughter, helping the local Food Bank collect food from the National Postal Workers Food Collection. 

When we got home, the dog had already been fed.  We were off to celebrate a former babysitter’s graduation from college.  This meant that we not only got to celebrate but also that I didn’t need to make dinner (happy dance)!  To wrap up this great day, my family went to the Wind Symphony.  This is always wonderful, but this time they featured Rhapsody in Blue, one of my favorite classical pieces. After the show, we enjoyed visiting with a few band members (my daughters’ music teachers) and some close friends. But the day was not over yet.  I was treated to my daughters playing, or attempting to play, duets with new music they just bought that day. The evening lasted much later than planned, but I couldn’t interrupt the joyful sound of music and laughter coming from the other room!

And then Mother’s Day happened. 

M in ambulance

In last week’s post, I wrote how often times Mother’s Day dreams and expectations can be derailed. This is especially true if we do not make our wishes known or have unrealistic expectations.  I knew that this year I would be spending most of my day at the soccer field.  I decided not to plan or expect anything other than some time with my family.  My husband had a game at 11 and we did not have enough time to get home for lunch before my daughter’s team warmed up.  And while it wasn’t a fancy Mother’s Day meal, Subway was still lunch I didn’t have to prepare (another happy dance).

The first game went as well as can be expected in what my husband refers to as the “Old Man’s League.”  There were no major injuries or fights, so we consider that a win!  And my husband’s team did actually score one goal more than the other team, but it is really not about winning for most of the players in this league. It’s about not getting hurt, having fun/exercising, and then hanging out with adult beverages after the game.  Yes, in that order.

The second game, my daughter’s game started and the teams seemed pretty well matched and determined to win.  Towards the end of the game, the other team was up by 1.  Then we heard some thunder and I glanced up to see the lightning in the far distance. When I looked back, Megan was down.  She started to get up and then rolled over back onto the ground.  It looked like she was holding her arm.  Not the arm she broke (humerus bone) playing soccer in the Fall 2016 season, the other one. 

She didn’t get up and the coach was called.  She appeared to be talking but was not moving.  I know they were telling her to be still, but she wasn’t moving her legs at all.  No words can accurately describe the feeling of watching that from a distance.  My stomach varied from butterflies (maybe it was nausea?) to what felt like crushed glass rolling around.  My heart was in my throat, my breath being held and my brain was screaming for Megan to at least move a little so I would know she was going to be OK.  Someone from the other team left the sidelines and went to help and then my husband, who had been standing down at that end of the field went on. I  waited for them to call me over

After what seemed like an eternity, I didn’t wait for the call and I went out.  They thought at that moment was that she had possibly pinched a nerve in her neck.  She could move all of her extremities, but her entire left side hurt. I had a flashback to the season where she was kicked in her left leg and ended up with nerve damage.  She was eventually diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.  It wasn’t pretty, but it was much better than what was flashing through my mind moments earlier on the sideline.

Mother’s Day 2018 was not at all what I expected – but I did get to spend a LOT of time with my younger daughter.  We experienced a lot of “Firsts” together.  We had our first ambulance ride.  Megan had her first IV, visit to the ER, her first CAT Scan, her first CT arterial Scan and her first MRI… she also got to spend 9 hours in a C Collar to prevent her from moving her neck while the trauma team tried to figure out what was going on.  Megan couldn’t eat or drink until the results came back.  Besides the uncomfortable C Collar and a sense of restlessness from lying around and only being able to see the ceiling for hours, not being able to eat and drink was probably the hardest part for her.  She hadn’t eaten since noon, just played most of a tough soccer game and was very tired, hungry and thirsty.

Hospital Humor

Hospital Humor

After checking into the pediatric wing of the hospital at 1:30 am and waiting for the trauma doctor to bring results, the collar was removed and Megan was allowed to eat and drink.  We celebrated with chicken strips and fries at 2:30 am.

The good news, ALL SCANS were within normal range.  They aren’t really sure what happened or is happening, but there was nothing that the trauma doctors and neurosurgeons could see that scared them.  Megan was to remain under close watch for 24 hours.  It seems as if my soccer player has a common football injury known as a “stinger” (brachial plexus injury).  It will be a bit of work (PT) and a while before she is back to her active self again, but she should be fine.

As I sit in the hospital waiting for the final doctor visit and our release papers, I will gladly admit, I did not see that Mother’s Day adventure coming!  I am so grateful for Megan’s health and lack of severe injury.  I am grateful to the doctors, nurses, and hospital staff who provided excellent care during our 23+ hours with them.  I am grateful to the concerned parents and players on both sides of the field. I am also grateful to the EMTs and Firefighters who took care of Megan on the field and kept a sense of humor (taking the picture in the ambulance) so I could remain composed and so Megan wouldn’t be as scared.

I was held together by our extended family and friends who continued to text and support us during the wee hours of the morning.  It helps that my sister’s family lives in a time zone that is 9 hours ahead!  And even though I am not proud to say this, I was also grateful that my daughter could text and connect with her friends through social media.  It really helped distract her, although my arm did get tired holding the phone in a position over her face so she could see it.  Megan was not able to see the TV with her neck in the C Collar so her friends provided entertainment and support.

So parents, please hug your babies of all ages close tonight.  Everything can change in a second.  I know I talk about the Self-fulfilling prophecy a lot.  Look for the good in your child(ren) and you will find it.  You will also find more of the good and less of the other stuff if you are actively looking for the good.  It’s in there!

Going Home!!!

Going Home!!!


Since I didn’t get a chance to post this on Monday, here is a brief “Follow Up.”

We haven’t heard anything about Megan’s lower body – and now that I can stop and think things through a little more clearly, I’m realizing they didn’t do any lower body scans.  We’ll follow up at her doctor’s appointment on Friday.  However…

Amazingly as of today, the Tuesday after Mother’s Day, Megan is back at school! She’s using crutches and has access to an elevator.  She is still very weak on her entire left side, but her arm is much stronger. She is able to use crutches to and from classes as long as she rests during class.  I’m on call for when she needs to leave early.  She will be missing the Biking Unit in an elective class that she is re-taking because she missed it last year when she broke her humerus… but she IS up and moving!  We are so thankful!!!


4 Resolutions to be a Better Parent in 2018

If you are looking to improve your parenting, you are not alone.  It’s one of those areas that anyone who is trying to parent continually works on, sometimes daily, even those of us with fancy academic degrees and lots of experience.  What is beautiful about improving your parenting, is that your kids benefit, too.

As with any resolution, it is important to honestly examine where you could be doing better.  What are areas you feel you need to improve?    If we’re being honest…  I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions in the ‘typical’ sense.  My resolutions tend to be ‘Enjoy Life More’ or ‘Eat More Chocolate!’  So, maybe this blog should be called “4 Non-Resolutions to be a Better Parent in 2018.”  Or maybe my first parenting resolution should be to make a resolution?

All kidding aside, I do try to create a list of goals for the year that I re-visit often.  Once I have this list, I pick one goal – just one – to start with.  I tend to go with something that is just out of reach, but highly achievable so I won’t fail…  Some people have criticized me for not making “real” resolutions, but I find that success leads to success.  If I can accomplish something almost “do-able” then I can accomplish something else.

This is true when you are working on your parenting skills, too.  You might have a long list of things you want to work on and that’s ok.  However, if you choose one that you are pretty sure you can do without a huge amount of change or effort on your part, you can be successful.  Then you can move on to being successful at the next skill and the next skill.  Maybe a more challenging skill won’t seem so hard after all of the “do-able” improvements are taking shape.

Here are 4 parenting resolutions, or non-resolutions, to get you started in 2018.  These are areas that many parents express need improvement in their lives. I’ve included a few suggestions with each to help you be successful.

1. Connect With Your Child.

When you are with your child, be WITH your child.  Give them your full attention.  Listen, respond, engage.  Give them the attention they long for.  Put down your phone, don’t let email or Facebook interrupt your time.  You don’t need to spend hours with your child every day (unless you can!).  Even 10-15 minutes of quality time, focused completely on your child, will make a huge difference in your parenting over time by decreasing arguments and increasing your bond.

2. Let It Go. 

Take time to think about the things that are most important to you and those that aren’t.  Are you concerned with what others think about your parenting? Let it go.  Please don’t compare yourself to anyone on social media.  People tend to only post the perfect side of themselves, so you don’t see the sink full of dishes or the toys strewn all over the living room or the crying child on the floor kicking his feet in the air…

Are you concerned that your child doesn’t measure up to developmental achievements?  Let it go. Children develop at their own pace… in ages and stages, not according to a set schedule.  Kids tend to walk, talk, read and write when they are ready, not necessarily when the book says they should be.  My mom once said, “she won’t be walking down the aisle with a pacifier in her mouth.” You can substitute any word you need for pacifier (i.e., diaper, training wheels, etc.).

Focus on the things that are most important such as connection, sleep, healthy food, and being a good person who is kind and cares about others.

3. Yell Less.

This can be a tough one when you are feeling overwhelmed and are at your wit’s end.  And I haven’t met a parent yet who can claim he/she has never yelled at his/her child at least once.

Easier said than done.  Remember the last resolution?  Let it go.  Think about what is important.  It is nice to get out of the house and to school on time – especially if you’re concerned about what other parents think when you show up late.  However, you, or your child, might be having an off day.  It’s better to slow down and be a few minutes late than to constantly yell at your child.  Yelling can cause lower self-esteem and behavioral issues in children.

Ground yourself.  You’ve probably already heard that you should take deep breaths or count to 10 to stop yelling.  Try focusing on your feet being on the floor while you do this.  As you lower your stress-response, you will be able to respond better, in a calmer manner.

Please note – it’s still OK to yell if your child is in immediate danger.  If you don’t yell often, this might scare your child.  If you yell all the time, this might not phase your child.  In case of danger, be ready to act, too, not just yell.

4. Take Care of the Care Taker.

I talk about this a lot.  As parents, we are constantly taking care of others.  Parents give so much of themselves, especially if they have young children, and are often exhausted as a result.  Constantly taking care of others while forgetting to take care of yourself causes resentment and burnout.

Remember how I said that kids benefit from our working on our parenting skills?  While all of these resolutions will benefit your child, taking care of yourself provides one of the biggest benefits to your children.  When you take care of the basics (sleep, nutrition, and exercise) you feel better and can be a more effective parent.  Things that might bother you when you are stressed out and overwhelmed are less of a big deal when you feel somewhat ‘human.’  When you take care of your emotional self (getting together with friends, doing meaningful things, being creative, spending time alone), you enjoy your life more and model being a happy person for your child.

You Can Do It!

Which one of these resolutions seems like it will be easiest for you to be successful? 

Can you schedule 10-15 minutes of special time with your child this week and next? 

OR Can you try to figure out what is most important and what are things you can let go – and then work on actually letting one of those things go this week?  Does your child really need a bath and shampoo every day, or can they get by skipping one this week to spend special time with you? 

OR Will you set up some kind of system to yell less over the course of the next 48 hours? 

OR Can you schedule a date for yourself (with your spouse, a friend, or even with yourself!)?  One moment that you write in your calendar, in pen, to take care of yourself…

Remember, mistakes happen.  Mistakes are actually a great opportunity to model for our children that we are all human.  We can pick ourselves up, learn something, and try again.

I know you can do this.  Pick one resolution above and go for it!  Here’s to your small successes leading to more success!



As always, I am here to help you on your parenting journey.  Whether you gain insights from my blogs and emails, sign up to get my (almost) Weekly Tips (hey, I’m a parent, too!), or you’re looking for more personalized parenting advice and direction.  I am excited to welcome and interact with you.  I am here to encourage and help you to be the best possible parent you can be.



It’s that time of year – with El Nino and winter storms roaming about, kids (and parents) can start to get Cabin Fever.

Well bundle up and have the Hot Chocolate waiting!

Here are a few ideas gathered from my Weekly Tips to get you out of the house and connecting with your child in a fun way:

Make Snow Angels. Imagine what different animal snow angels might look like and try to create them.

Build a Snow Man or a snow family.  Use sunglasses and sombreros or find other creative ways to decorate your snow people.  Don’t forget to make some snow pets.

Follow the Leader. Have one person create a path that another person has to follow.  It can involve jumping, zig-zagging, or even crawling through a snow tunnel (or under low branches).

Tunnels and Igloos.  If you live where the snow is deep, create an igloo or a snow tunnel.

Snow Cones.  This is one my kids love, even when there isn’t a foot of snow on the ground.  We gather clean, white snow in a cup and then pour juice over it to make homemade snow cones.

If it’s too wet and cold to go outside, or if you don’t have any snow… you can still have fun connecting with your child.  Here are few in-door ideas:

Snow ball pictures.  Grab some glue/glue sticks, cotton balls, and some construction paper and create a snow scene.

Indoor Snow ball races. Using a table or the floor, blow cotton balls to race them across a finish line.  You can add to the fun by blowing the cotton balls with straws.

Finger paints in the bathtub.  Turn on the heat, put on the bathing suits and plop your child in the tub to with finger paints (or bath soap/paints).  We have tile on our walls, so I just let my daughters paint right on the walls.   It was great fun, a little messy, but in the end both the bathroom and the girls got clean.

Baking/Cooking.  While cooking can be a challenge with kids, if you plan to cook something together, and get things planned out in your mind ahead of time, it can be quite fun.  Not to mention the fact that baking/cooking can help heat up a cold winter day.

I would love to hear from you in the comments below what you do when your kids, or you, start to go stir crazy with Cabin Fever.


Chores Shmores!

Do you feel like you are doing all of the work around your house?

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a little help so that you could play, too?

Young children love to help!  If your children are young, you have a huge advantage here, please don’t let this slip away.  If your children are older, it’s a bit more work, but in the end, you will have well rounded, knowledgeable children who can take care of themselves when they are off on their own- not to mention a little more time for yourself before they leave!

It’s important to find age-appropriate chores and to realize that you will need to teach, and re-teach these chores on occasion.  It’s also important that you pick chores you can live with being done at a ‘child-level.’  If you need to have the mirrors wiped without streaks, or it will bother you all day long, this is not a chore you should give to your child. If you don’t care that there is a smudge here or there, give it away and put your feet up for a few moments!

Obviously young children will need more help and supervision, and older children will need to be taught and supervised in the beginning, too.  Just remember, you are training your child for the long run.  If you can stick with it, the benefits are worth it.

Here are some examples of a few age appropriate chores and a few tips:

Young Children (3-5 years old)

  • Pick Up Toys:  You can make a game of this or have your child race a timer.

  • Set/Clear the Table:  If you put the items on the table and have taught your child (or continue to teach) where to put the plates, napkins, forks and spoons, your child can start this task as early as Smiling Breakfast3-4 years old.  Encouraging your child to clear his/her plate and silverware can start as early as they are able to carry something from the table to the counter.

  • Vacuum/Mop:  Young children love to help.  In the beginning, a toy vacuum is a great way to have children help and enjoy doing the chore.

  • Laundry: Children love to make pairs and find matches.  Have them help by sorting socks.

5-8 Year Olds

  • All of the above chores with a little more responsibility.

  • Pick up Toys: We have a saying at our house: “Whatever you take out, you must put back.”

  • Set/Clear Table:  Your child can set the table with items you have put on the table and can also start helping to bring food to/from the table.  Clearing can include not only his/her place setting, but also parent place settings, too.

  • Vacuum/Mop/Dust Mop: Children can start using ‘real’ vacuums and mops at this age.

8+ Years Old

  • All of the above chores and…

  • Pick Up Toys and Crafts:  At this age we added the saying: “If you can’t clean it up withing 15 minutes, it might be too much.”  My daughters prefer to spend more time playing than cleaning, so this saying seemed to resonate with them.

  • Load/Unload Dishwasher:  When my children first started unloading the dishwasher, they were too short to put some of the dishes and cups away in the high cupboards.  They started by putting the things on the counter and I would put them away. As they grew, they were able to stand on a stool to help them be tall enough to finish the job.  And, yes, for those of you who know me, I have to use the stool sometimes, too!

So, there you have it.  A list of a few age-appropriate chores you can try at your house.  My suggestion would be to pick one or two chores and experiment with those chores, not to try all of them this week.  Once you have established a routine, or a system that works with one or two chores, you can add another one.  Slowly, over a few months, you can continue to increase the responsibility.  Just don’t forget to figure in the “Fun Factor” to keep things from seeming too much like work.






Check out my upcoming Webinar:

How to Get Your Child To Cooperate and Complete Chores

If you sign up through this link: 

by May 25th, 2016, you will be able to attend this $27 Webinar for FREE!

There are a multiple dates/times available.




A Bad Case of the “Gimmes”

Does your child have a bad case of the “Gimmes” or the “I-wants”? “Give me this” and “I want that!”


Parents often struggle with providing for their children while keeping their child from feeling entitled or falling into the “spoiled” category. Many parents feel like they are earning enough, so why shouldn’t they provide everything for their children? It’s also easy to want for your children what you didn’t have. Watch out and think twice before you provide everything!  Material things end up meaning less if they are easily available.


If you want to break the “Gimmes” or “I-wants”, or if you are lucky enough to be reading this when your child is very young and want to prevent these sneaky creatures from entering your home, you need to have a plan. As a parent, you are in charge. You do not need to be mean, but you do need to think about your priorities and teach them to your children. Will you give them everything they need at any time, or only when you feel they need something? What about things they ‘want’ (the $200 pair of jeans, when you can get very nice jeans for $20-30). Will you provide an allowance and ask your child to provide for herself (clothing, activities, outings)?  Will you ask your child to split the cost of the extras (movies, shopping for items that are not needed-just desired, such as his 8th hockey stick)?


If allowances or a demand for new things aren’t the problem but you feel like your child has too many things (notice a big mess around the house or things that get ignored for months?), think about having your child clean out his toy box right before the holidays or his birthday. See if you can find a homeless shelter, women’s shelter or another ‘real-life’ place to take your child to donate the old toys.   Help your child understand that these children might not get any toys/clothing if you did not help out. Explain that these children can still be happy and healthy and loved, but their families most likely do not have enough money for fun things or things above and beyond the necessities.


And what about shopping trips to the grocery store or for another person’s birthday? As a parent who needs to take a child on a shopping trip, you face extra challenges than someone shopping alone. I’ll be the first to admit to buying a toy from the $1 section on more than one occasion to entertain my child throughout the shopping trip… See my blog on The Joys (not!) of Shopping with Children for more. If you buy your child something on every shopping trip, he will learn to expect it (and the “Gimmes” will be there in full force). If you give in to a tantrum because he wants something you are not willing to buy, he will learn that throwing a tantrum gets him whatever item he wants.


Some parents have children keep a list of things they want. Every time a child says “I want” something, they are politely told to write it down on the list. Parents review the list with the child close to birthdays, holidays and special occasions to see if the things on the list are still relevant. If they are, they can be shared with relatives or others interested in buying a gift for your child or the child can be encouraged to save and buy the item with her own money.

It’s not too late to get rid of the case of the “Gimmes” or “I-wants.” If there is something your child really wants, have her earn part of the money to pay for the item. Helping a neighbor or doing extra chores around the house can help a young child earn some spending (or saving) money. This is a good practice even when it’s not around the holiday time!


3 Ways to Beat Holiday Stress!

Let’s face it. In America, holidays are a stressful time of year, no matter what religion you practice. From mid-November through the end of December there are family dinners, travel plans, presents to wrap, extra concerts and activities, school assignments, not to mention meetings and gatherings or parties at work and wrapping up the end of the year activities. (Breathe.) All of that can add up to stress! If you are stressed, your kids will pick up on your stress and become stressed as well.

So what can you do?

  1. Write down exactly what needs to be done, everything you can think of and a guestimate of how much time it will take. Remember things often take longer than anticipated, especially with little helpers or frequent interruptions, give yourself some extra time. Please don’t get overwhelmed, you are going to be able to tackle this list. Note what day/time each of these items needs to be done. Mark the items you can do in advance and start doing them. This will help prevent the last minute rush.

  2. Prioritize. How many of these things need to be done? What can you honestly live without? Do you need place tags at your family dinner table for Thanksgiving? Do you need to make every dish for your big family dinner or can you let someone else prepare a meal for the family to eat? It is OK to share and let someone else enjoy a compliment, even if it’s just for a side dish or hard boiled eggs.   Do you have a teen aged neighbor who would like to earn a few dollars by playing with your children while you get things done? Or maybe that teen is willing to do some chores around the house or yard so that you don’t have to do it all. Give yourself permission to drop a few things from your list that would probably be lovely, but not absolutely necessary. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness, and it also lets other people feel useful and needed.

  3. Take Care of Yourself. In the middle of all of this crazy-ness, plan some Anti-Stress activities. Of course, you can go to an all day spa, but taking care of yourself does not have to be super expensive or time consuming when you’re feeling stressed for time. Take a few moments to sip your favorite tea. Go to the gym or take the dogs out for a quick 10 minute walk if that’s what helps you to calm down. Give your child a big hug! Call or email friend you haven’t talked with in a while.

Remember to breathe and to compliment yourself! You CAN do this!!


3 Things For Which I am Thankful

I have many things in my life to be thankful for. I have learned, however, that just being thankful, is not enough. Thinking about why I am thankful for these things and verbalizing them outloud or writing them down has brought my gratitude and happiness to a whole new level.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be sending out tips on how to enjoy life and focus on gratitude – so if you haven’t subscribed to receive my Tips, check out the box on the right side of this website and sign up!

  1. I am thankful for my health so that I can enjoy all of my senses.

  • I can hear the laughter of my children.

  • I can taste chocolate – hot chocolate in the winter, chocolate chip cookies year round-and I am fortunate to have the capacity to be able to drink/eat whatever I choose to drink or eat.

  • I can smell of roses, and babies, and bread baking on Friday mornings.

  • I am able to see snowflakes and beautiful sunsets and occasional sunrises.

  • I can feel hugs and wet puppy noses on my cheek.

  1. I am thankful to have grown up in America and to have been able to live in a foreign country for a few years when I was younger.

  • I am free.

  • I am a female who can do many things.

  • I have had and still have many opportunities many people don’t have.

  1. I am thankful for you.

  • You ask fascinating questions and are brave enough to ask some questions that many other parents want to ask, but don’t have the courage to do so.

  • You have the courage and strength to ask for help or guidance to get your life to a place that is easier and more enjoyable.

  • You share your life and experiences with me and teach me so much.


Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy finding things to be thankful for this week and always!


Catch Someone Being Good!

While I have often challenged parents I work with to catch their children being good, a few years ago I decided to challenge my family to catch each other being good. I think it was a busy time of year and we were all tired and running in multiple directions. It seemed as if there were more complaints and arguments than usual. I wanted to shift our stinkin’ thinkin’ from the negative to the positive.


I cut long strips of colored paper and put them, along with a few markers, in a box labeled “Can You Catch Someone Being Good?”   The goal was to make a chain with all of the strips of paper. I was surprised that this was difficult for my daughters at first, and will admit there were days that this was hard for me to do, too. However, after a little while, when the girls realized that being good didn’t mean doing big things, it almost became a competition to see who could catch the most people being good.


Each day I tried to find something that was good about my children and to look for a variety of things as often as possible. Here are some of the things I wrote on my slips of paper:

Alanna went to bed nicely tonight.
Megan brushed her teeth well for 2 whole minutes.
Alanna fed the dogs.
Megan played with the dogs.
Alanna held the door open while Mommy brought in groceries.
Megan walked to school with a friend so her friend wouldn’t have to walk alone.
Alanna donated allowance money to a friend who was in a jump-a-thon at his school.
Megan asked for items for the Humane Society instead of birthday presents at her birthday party.


Here are some of the things my girls wrote on their slips of paper:
Mommy put away the dishes from the dish washer (this was before it became a ‘life-skill’ assigned to my children…)
Daddy, Mommy and Alanna – for being you
Mommy walked the dogs today when they needed exercise.
Megan shared her toys.
Alanna is good at Irish Dance.
Megan played soccer great today in her game.
Alanna played dolls with me.


So, what do you think? Can you Catch Someone Being Good?!