You can read more of Beth’s fantastic advice on our facebook page.
Outsourcing can give you more time for yourself and your family. Here are a few ideas:
1. Hire a bookkeeper to keep your accounts balanced and do your monthly budgeting.
2. Hire a housekeeper to help you keep up with the odds and ends around the house.
3. Swap duties with a friend like carpooling, shopping, vacuming, yardwork etc...
4. Gather 4 friends. Have everyone one prepare one complete meal for 5 families. Then package up the meals and swap them once a week. This will allow you to save time planning and cooking. Cook once... eat 5 different meals throughout the week. As a bonus your kids will get to try foods you wouldn't normally prepare.
5. If you have kids at home and no time for yourself, find a trusted friend to watch them for you so that you can have regular date nights.
Teaching Openness and Honesty... how do you do it? Be completely open and honest with your children. I had surgery last week (nothing serious) but of course this lead to a barrage of personal and detailed questions. How did I answer them? Personally and detailed. Which of course my daughter shared with her classmates and teachers (AAAHHHH!!!). Would I do it again? OF COURSE! If you want your children to be honest with you and feel like they can talk to you about anything... then you have to be honest and open about talking to them about anything. And I do mean ANYTHING! Secretes are not ok, they are never ok. We even talk about the fact that we don't keep secretes and why. Of course there are things that you wait to discuss until the children are in bed, but you need to be open to answering if the questions that are asked. When you answer difficult questions, don't beat around the bush, don't hem and haw about it, don't use cutesy or made up words, and don't get embarrassed. Just look your child in the eye, appreciate their willingness to learn from you, and answer them completely. You can even follow up with an open ended question like, "How do you feel about that?" or "Does that make since to you?". This will allow them feel like they did the right thing in asking and build a life long open relationship.
Family outings should be fun for everyone. The sun is shinning and it is finally warm outside. For many this means it is time for family outings. This means being considerate of everyone when you make plans. Is it worth staying at an event just because the event is continuing if your children are really too tired to stay? Who is really having fun then?? Mom is mad because the kids are acting out, the kids are acting out because they are so tired everything is rubbing them the wrong way, and Dad is upset because things just aren't going according to plan. Pushing an outing too far can take a fun filled day and turn it into a nightmare. A good rule of thumb is to take the cue from your kids. The first sign of anyone whining, crying, fighting... should be the 15-30 minute warning that we are getting ready to go. It is true that in some families bickering is a continual problem. However, if you always leave within 30 minutes of problems showing up your children will learn not to display these behaviors if they want to stay. It's better to put the kids in the car and let them rest on the way home, than take a fun day and turn it into a day of family drama. Ensuring memories are fun, equals quality family memories.
Our nations holidays are a great time to begin talking to your kids about accepting cultural diversity, and the large variety of people who make up our great country. Our country was founded on the ideal that "all people are created equal". The variety of national holidays reinforces this idea. Tomorrow is St. Patty's Day. Use this as an opportunity to talk about the Irish immigrants that helped build the U.S. Introduce your children to Celtic Culture through music, dance, art, food, folk-lore....
A lot of people ask me “How do I teach my child respect?”. The truth is there is no magic answer to that. "Respect" means different things to different people. Our definition is based upon our values. If you value strong mindedness your definition is going to be a lot different from someone who want compliance. Regardless of your definition you can guild a child to understanding by first showing them respect. Respect for self, respect for others, and respect for property. Use the word 'respect' to help them understand what you mean. An example might be, "I can respect your decision not to do your laundry, but that doesn't mean I will wash your clothes for you." Part of growing and learning is to test the boundaries and disrespect your parents from time to time. If this occurs a few times in a random week, or on an occasional basis you may be suffering from growing pains. If it has escalated into a daily basis, you may want to consider getting some help.
One of the hardest, but most important things to do is to allow our children to fail. Failure can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Children learn very early on that if they are going to fall mommy/daddy will try to protect them. They also know that if they do fall, someone will be there to pick them up and make it better. At some point in a child's life they need to be allowed to make their own mistakes and that they are the ones who ultimately have to live with the consequences. An example of this might be that if they throw a fit and mess up their rooms, no one is going to clean it up for them. Ok... so no one cleans it up, and now they are living in a pig sty. What does this mean? What's the consequence? By allowing this to happen to they may experience difficulties finding thing, making their way to a comfortable place to sleep, they may have even broken some things that won't be replaced. Although this doesn't seem like much... it is teaching them that they have to take care of their own property and their own bodies. It will help them to understand that when they make poor decisions, they will have to live with the consequence. This is an important lesson to learn early on. As adults we are expected to pick up the pieces of our own lives, wouldn't be nice if our children could learn how to do that while they are under the protection of our love?
Many of us have an extended weekend this weekend. The schools are closed for the holiday. My advice, don't let this extra time with your children go to waste. Plan something fun, take a walk to the park, make cookies, rent a movie, color a poster, or go for a drive. Children are our most valuable resource, and childhood doesn't last forever. (And yes... as much as your teen may deny needing your attention... they still do, and they will value what you have given them long after they have grown and moved on.)
I met with a wonderful group of women today. As we were sharing our lives and business with each other a few good nuggets came out of it.
The first is the belief that "I AM ENOUGH!" I thought this was a wonderful thought. Do you believe that you are enough? Do you believe that your children are getting from you what they need? Are you giving yourself enough?
The second was a quote shared in the group. "It's harder to move a car in park, than if it is in first gear."
So how does this relate to parenting? If you don't feel like your enough, are you at least in first gear? The best parents are parents who know and understand their weaknesses and flaws. They accept them, or choose to work through them. These parents are living in at least first gear.
If you struggle to be "enough" or to parent with your engine running, your not unlike a lot of people. However, you don't have to live that way. Consider hiring a consultant.
Private vs. Public School
In my community there is a new new secular private school opening up next year. Many of the families I have been working with lately have started asking questions about private school.
Here are a couple of things to think about: 1. Public Schools are regulated and underfunded to the point that some can be ineffective. 2. Private schools are under regulated and some are underfunded to the point they can be ineffective.
What does this mean?? 10 ideas:
1. Many private schools can't afford to pay teachers and provide the same benefits that public schools offer. This makes it difficult for private school to compete for qualified teachers.
2. Private schools have fewer regulations. They can and often do hire people to teach who are not trained in child development or education. They also do not have continuing education requirements. This means teachers may not be up to date about what we now know about how kids learn.
3. They have the freedom to teach anything they want (even things that are not based on research. There are entire curriculum designed around the publishing companies agenda instead of actual research. ) Although most choose to follow state recommendations.
4. They can pick and choose who attends. This means your children may not be exposed to cultural differences or children with disabilities. Children need to understand different cultures so that they know how to handle our diverse America.
5. Some families send their kids to private school because they don't want the adaptations or labels being offered by public school. Or their children have behavioral issues and they are looking for a more one on one approach.
6. Public school often have overcrowded classrooms. Classroom size does make a difference to some children. There are a lot of studies that discuss the negative effects of overcrowding.
7. Public schools have more regulations. This can mean that your school teaches materials at a rate which matches state expectations rather than considering student understanding of materials.
8. Public schools can not pick and choose who attends. Children with behavioral, mental health, and developmental issues can be found across all economic and cultural lines. So the freedom to choose does not equate to children without problems. Although it can reduce this number.
9. Public schools are required to identify and make adjustments for children who may have special learning needs. (I.E. ADD, ADHD, LD....) You may not want your children identified or to have adjustments made.
10. Public schools require teachers to be certified and highly educated. (Although some states have ways to temporarily get around this) This means that they were able to pass classes and testing. It doesn't mean they will be the right teacher for your child. It does mean they have at least been exposed to and have a basic understanding of how children learn.
So what to do? There is no right answer. I am a huge proponent of most public schools. They are required to have a better understanding of children and how they learn. Despite federal regulations, all school differ. You have to ask questions, and do the research. Excellent teachers have an instinct or natural ability. They can be found in all settings. Be involved in your child's education, ask questions of them, get to know their teachers personally.
Teaching kids gratitude is an everyday event. It starts by limiting the number of toys and gifts your children receive 'just because'. It is difficult to value something that is given often, and replaced easily. This time of year, there are lots of cartoons and movies where the main character has to 'give up Christmas' in order to help someone. This is a great way to get a conversation going. Not all people can afford Christmas. Instead of giving gifts to each other you could start a tradition of giving gifts to those who can not afford them, or volunteering at the soup kitchen, Ronald McDonald House, or homeless shelter. Nursing Homes love it when Children bring homemade cards, small gifts, and carols to their facilities. There have also been a lot of news reports about homeless children and families lately. When you feel your children are mature enough, watch them and talk to your kids. Have them make some suggestions about things that could be done to help those families. Children don't have to receive 'store bought' gifts. They could do a toy exchange where they dig through their toys and find something they know someone else in the family would like to have. They can also make gifts or do something nice for family members. Ensuring there are not fights over how many toys someone got is pretty simple, everyone gets one. Just one.... It can be one from each member of the family, or one from the family. They don't need a whole pile for it to be Christmas. There are other things along the line of positive rewards and consequences you can use for fighting over gifts. Those ideas would need to be specific for your family.
The upcoming holiday season is a great time to teach patience. Kids see a wrapped gift and they want to open it. We place empty boxes wrapped in paper under our tree while our children are young from about December 1st. The fake gifts are there to provide a consequence should they open them. If you teach your kids about Santa, you could even place some "coal" in them. This way you don't have to make the holiday negative by constantly saying "no", or "get away from those". The real ones come out the night before or earlier if they are old enough. By waiting until they are ready to put the real ones out you maintain the surprise of the gift, while helping them learn to wait it out.
Often I hear teachers comment that a child is aggressive because of the parent's parenting style. Although it is really difficult in a classroom to determine if this is the root problem, research is beginning to back what teachers have suspected for years. I very strongly advocate positive parenting. Positive parenting is a very loving parenting style that supports individual choices, respect for the child and self, using natural consequences as a way for children to learn, and preventing behaviors before discipline is needed. If you feel your becoming a "No!" robot, and are spending more time putting out fires than laughing with your children; perhaps it's time to look into positive parenting.
Consider how you feel when someone one tells you that you "have to...". It could be something simple as "You have to move your car so that I can get out." or more personal like "You have to lose 50 lbs." Often the "have to's.." come from a boss or co-worker. The message that is sent is that you don't have a choice, which means you don't have any power. Now, become aware/mindful of the number of times you use "have to.." with your children. Does it create unnecessary conflict in your home? Do you use it only when your request is urgent or very important? Are there other ways in which you could have approached the situation without removing your child's power? As you think about this, share a story with the group about how you replaced the "have to's"; or a situation that really mandated your use of "have to".
Being a great parent means that you allow yourself to be human. Take care of yourself, establish a healthy work-life balance, and work on your adult relationships. Your children will always be an all encompassing presence in your life, but you can't be there for them if you aren't there for yourself first. Your children will learn how to handle stress, build and maintain relationships, resolve conflicts, and take care of their body’s by watching the most important model in their life: YOU!
Homework doesn't have to come with headaches. Try helping kids with their homework ONLY when they ask for assistance, and sticking to the 8 to 1 rule. Children need to have eight positive experiences for every negative one. You can promote positive experiences by sitting down with your children and asking them what they liked about school. The younger they are the more specific you need to be. Have them show you papers that they did really well on, or problems that they worked out without your help. Ask them what they learned during circle time, or to explain why they liked math today. Help them see the value in the work they are doing by pointing out how what they are learning ties into everyday life. We use math in the store to figure out what a sweater will cost after discounts, see science when we play outside, practice language arts when playing on Facebook...
"Friendships are not only a source of fun, they help kids grow in meaningful ways. They create a sense of belonging through shared interests: 'my friends and I like this kind of music…' or 'we play soccer.' Friendships can provide acceptance and help children feel good about themselves: 'Michelle is my friend and she wants to play with me.' Having friends also makes it easier for kids to tolerate stress, rebuffs, or aggravation. And friendship encourages children to go beyond their own self-interest. Caring about a friend, or just wanting to play with that friend, can temper selfish urges and open the way for negotiation, compromise, and even generosity."---Every Day Exchange, 10/14/2011
Young children need to be taught how to understand their emotions as well as the emotions of others. They need to learn the art of taking turns, trading, and sharing. Children also need good communication skills to develop friendships.
As they get older these early skills turn into self awareness, social awareness, self-regulation, and decision making skills. Helping your children learn friendship building skills will have a life long impact on their happiness and success. Start young by reading books and talking about how the characters feel. As they get older maintain an open dialog with them around friendship, and model these skills be sharing about your own experiences.