Loading...
Browsing Category

Parenting

Helping You Quit Overparenting Your Kid

In the stream of operating smartphones and working social media, experiencing rigorous academics well before formal schooling, and filling up the day with multiple lessons and competitions, some developmentalists — count me in here — worry that we’re also taking away opportunities for kids to develop the kinds of skills and values that get established early in life and last a lifetime.

Part of the problem is that in pushing so hard for our kids to be “advanced” and to “achieve” we are reducing essential learning that will help kids become doers — people who will be able to navigate what will undoubtedly be an uncertain future and in the process be primed for defining, chasing and securing their own vision of success.

We don’t have to eliminate all of the modern features of growing up today but we can make sure that we aren’t doing away with the seminal experiences kids need to learn how to do for themselves.

continue reading

How The Most Successful Parents Keep Their Kids Learning In Summer

During the Summer Slow Season

Summer may have kids feeling too cool for school, but it’s the ideal time for learning according to one of New York’s most respected educators: Caitlin Meister, founder of The Greer Meister Group.

She and the tutors at her private tutoring and educational consulting practice are among the most experienced and accomplished in the city, and they’ve been teaching children of all ages for more than a decade.

This summer, they are giving parents tips to ensure that their kids don’t suffer the “summer slide.”

 “You don’t have to be in a classroom to learn,” says Meister. “Summer provides an opportunity for learning experiences that we’re too busy for during the school year. There are wonderful ways for parents to keep their children engaged over summer; the key is doing it. It’s a long time to be out of school. We can help make those ten weeks feel exciting rather than daunting.”

In fact, recent U.S. studies confirm that students lose 2.6 months of grade school equivalency over the summer. Teachers spend 4-6 weeks at the start of each school year reteaching material from the previous spring.

“Kids can naturally feel burnt out from school-style learning and want to enjoy the summer,” Meister says. “The key is to make summer learning fun and interesting.”

She has five suggestions for keeping kids engaged and learning over the two-and-a-half-month break:

DEEP DIVE! Let your kids tell you what they want to learn this summer

“Choose a topic that interests your child and take advantage of the unparalleled opportunity that summer offers to deeply explore that subject – without the limitations of a bell ringing or a teacher saying, ‘It’s time to move on,’” Meister says.

Whether it’s dinosaurs, electricity, mythology, or unsolved mysteries, there are books, games, projects, museums, and day trips that kids can enjoy with parents, caregivers, or independently as they dig down and immerse themselves in a subject.

“The trick”, says Meister, “is to make sure that it’s something that your child wants to learn about and that you can devote quality time to it.”

MAKING CONNECTIONS: Helping your kids analyze and make inferences

“One of the most important skills that we can teach our kids is how to make inferences and connections among what they read, their own lives, and the world around them,” Meister says. Summer doesn’t have the same constraints that the school year has, so it’s the perfect time to foster your child’s skills.

Try reading together and relating what you read to your child’s life, something else they’ve read, or to the greater world. What are the similarities? What are the differences? How could one benefit the other?

Just one conversation per day can help teach kids to be critical thinkers, adept analyzers of literature, and give them a foundation for interdisciplinary learning. Beyond those benefits, developing inference skills can also help foster kids’ compassion and empathy. Finding time for it doesn’t have to be a burden.

Even if you only have a few minutes to read together at bedtime, the conversations can continue throughout the week – in the car, while running errands, or at the breakfast table. Do your kids FaceTime with a grandparent or other relative?

Encourage them to read the same book so that your kids can have conversations with people who offer different perspectives based on their own life experiences.

LOGICAL REASONING: Playing with patterns

“Strong logical reasoning skills will support your child in any discipline. Patterns underpin math, science, language, art, music… They are everywhere,” Meister explains. It can be simple: Look for opportunities to identify trends, patterns, and sequences. Ask your child, “What comes next?” or “What would happen if we changed this piece?” According to Meister, “Logical reasoning is something that parents can teach in a few minutes throughout the course of a regular day.” Learning doesn’t have to mean sitting at a desk or using a book or worksheets! You can invent puzzles.

Try asking: “If A and B happened, what would happen next?” While out for a walk, try asking: “We usually walk to the left here to get to the store, but if we were to turn right here and then left on the next corner, what would I see?” Or you could ask, “When we get home, we usually take off our shoes, wash our hands, have a snack, and read a story on the sofa. If we decided to do those things in reverse order, what would we do second?” Even something as simple as setting the table for dinner presents opportunities for playing with patterns.

If your child has learned a particular pattern for placing napkins, plates, and silverware, change something about the pattern and ask her to identify it, or ask her to devise a new pattern and see who in the family can figure it out. There is also a great opportunity when reading stories with any sort of cliffhanger: Pause to ask your child to make a prediction about what will take place next. “Patterns and sequences abound in our daily lives,” Meister points out. “All you need to do is teach your child where to look for them.”

LISTEN UP! Audiobooks for the whole family

“We all know that reading is one of the best ways to avoid the ‘summer slump,’” Meister says. “But if your child isn’t a self-motivated reader, summer reading can feel like a battle that you’d rather avoid. Who wants tension when you’re on vacation?

Audiobooks are a great way to make reading more appealing.” A study done by the University College London measured participants’ physiological responses when listening to an audiobook versus watching a movie adaptation of the same scene.

Participants were more engaged with the audiobooks than the movies! According to the researchers, people “had stronger physiological responses for auditory stories including higher heart rates, greater electrodermal activity, and even higher body temperatures.

We interpret these findings as physiological evidence that the stories were more cognitively and emotionally engaging when presented in an auditory format. This may be because listening to a story is a more active process of co-creation (via imagination) than watching a video.”

Another study, conducted by education nonprofit WestEd, found that students who listened to audiobooks as a component of their literacy instruction outperformed their peers in motivation to read, vocabulary, and reading comprehension. “Listening to audiobooks is an activity that the whole family can share,” Meister explains, “and it’s something that you can do almost anywhere, including while on the go. It’s the perfect way to keep up summer reading.”

WHAT’S NEW? Expanding young minds one summer at a time

Remember the first tip about child-driven learning? How about exploring something new? “Children are growing, they are developing perspectives, and they are exploring new ideas every day. The world is full of opportunities that they might not know about yet,” Meister says. “The school year is scheduled, and there isn’t always time or energy to take a chance on something completely unfamiliar.

The summer is the perfect time to choose an area that your child hasn’t been exposed to yet and enroll him/her in class, go on a field trip, or put together hands-on, project-based explorations at home. When a child isn’t in school all day, there are a lot of opportunities to take risks and explore.”

The Greer Meister Group is a private tutoring and educational consulting practice specializing in content mastery, cognitive flexibility, resilience, and academic independence and perseverance. The group’s tutors are among the most qualified, accomplished, and inventive educators in the tri-state area – Ivy League graduates, published authors, internationally-renowned performers, learning specialists, and more.

No, There’s Nothing Wrong With A Child Sitting in A ‘W’

There is a wives tale and old school of thought that says children who sit in a W stance may harm their legs or joint development but that theory is totally false, and in fact, has been long since debunked.

W-sitting is not harmful and was debunked 20 years ago.

According to Dr. Charles Price, Director of the International Hip Dysplasia Institute and pediatric orthopedic surgeon with Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children Level One Pediatric Orthopedics:

There is no scientific evidence that W-sitting is harmful, or that sitting posture causes intoeing. W-sitting does not cause intoeing, but some children have bone structure that allows them to sit in the W-position. This is a natural condition similar to being left handed.”

Here’s a bit more…

Differences in bone and joint structure allow different people to excel in some sports and not others.

Gymnasts, basketball players, swimmers, football players, runners, etc. often have different physical characteristics that allow them to excel in their sport.

W-sitting is one more example of the wide variation in human form that makes each of us unique.

Many children have intoeing gait but intoeing adults are exceedingly rare.

Those rare adults who intoe are often above average athletes. W-sitting reflects a different bone structure that is not influenced by posture, shoes, or braces.

Since bone structure changes as the child grows, the ability to W-sit usually disappears by age 12.

Intoeing also disappears naturally in almost all children. 

There you have it! Sometimes old wives tales and myths passed down from generation to generation are better left unsaid…or at least “Googled”

Share this article or this one shared on TODAY a few years back with a friend! Link on the left!

Prep Kids In Advance In Case They Get Exposed to Adult Content Online

 

The internet is a powerful tool – you can learn a lot, communicate with others, shop and even date. Its wondrous vastness is even more impressive in the eyes of the young and inexperienced. Kids can learn a lot but they could also be exposed to unsuitable content online.

 Studies show that 42 percent of internet users aged 10 to 17 will see adult content online. Of these children, 66 percent saw the content unwillingly.

 As a parent, you’re responsible for preparing your child. You have to prepare little ones for the exciting aspects of life, for embarrassing and even dangerous situations.

 When kids have the knowledge, they’re equipped with the tools to address uncomfortable or confusing situations.

 While talking about adult content is difficult, it can have a profoundly positive effect on the development of your child.

 Provide The Right Kind of Sex-Ed

Sex-ed should be age-appropriate and it should occur before a child ever has the chance to view adult content online.

 There are many books and resources you can rely on to determine what’s appropriate at the age of five, at 10 or 15.

 It’s Not the Stork!, for example, is a great choice for children aged four and up. The book presents anatomical terms and aspects of human sexuality that kids within the age range can understand. Their questions will be answered and more complex issues will be addressed as they grow older.

 Talk about Online Safety

Understanding one’s sexuality is just one part of the process. To prevent online exposure to online content, however, you should also address the issue of internet safety.

 Exposure to online pornography when kids aren’t prepared may have serious consequences.

 Thus, you should address some of the dangers lurking online. You should also talk about the ways to stay away from such dangers.

Kids should know what to do if they come across inappropriate content online.

Tell kids that such images and videos are meant for an adult audience and they should never be seen by children.

Tell kids what to do if an adult ever sends them inappropriate content. You should build trust so that little ones come to you immediately in such situations. If children believe that something inappropriate has happened and they keep the information from you, chances are that the consequences will become even more serious.

It’s only a matter of time, before your child becomes a teen or tween and young adult and eventually get exposed to popular dating sites that are mentioned in memes, YouTube videos and the sort, like DoULike.com and others. 

Let Your Kid Ask Questions

While giving information is very important, you should also listen to your child.

Give your child a chance to ask questions, whether they’re curious or they’ve already seen something they shouldn’t have seen. 

Be prepared for such conversations. 

Your child could ask about issues that may shock you, that you feel uncomfortable with. If you freak out, however, you will potentially lose some of the trust that you’ve already established. 

Give yourself a moment to calm down and provide an age-appropriate explanation. If you’re worried, ask your kid about whether they’ve encountered a term or an activity. Keeping the conversation going, even if you’re worried out of your mind, could help for the best possible resolution.

Set Some House Rules

The model you establish at home will affect many aspects of your child’s behavior at school or when they visit friends.

Make it very, very clear what’s permissible and what’s not.

You may also want to use browsing filters to limit access to certain types of websites or content. Parental control software can accomplish numerous goals and choosing one option or the other depends entirely on your preferences and the level of control you are to achieve.

Don’t Get into Too Much Information

While an open discussion is a key to preparing your child for unexpected situations, there’s such a thing as TMI (too much information).

There are issues that aren’t appropriate for kids and that little one cannot understand. A child’s maturity level and the information you’ve already provided will be determining for what’s appropriate to discuss and what isn’t. 

Even if your kid has questions, you’re not obliged to answer comprehensively. Tell them that a specific conversation can be had later on or that they’re too young to understand the specifics. Telling your child to remind you about the question, later on, is a good way out of the situation.

 Having a discussion about adult content is not easy but this is a normal part of life. Online media and the tech-savvy nature of little ones both contribute to new parental challenges you will have to handle as an adult.

 If your child has already been exposed to inappropriate online content, you will first of all have to comfort them. There are websites out there that could be pretty disturbing even to an adult audience.

 Tell your child that they haven’t done anything wrong. Once the initial emotions subside, you can move on to answering questions and providing a bit of important education. Remember that this is an ongoing process and maintain your involvement, even after the original discussion has been had.

Your Baby Called; He Said Quit It With the DIY Portraits Recreations

Before Pinterest and Instagram and those perfect photographed maternity and newborn photos, we had photographer Anne Geddes who created phenomenal and creative portraits.

We could only imagine recreating them ourselves but in these days and age with the onset of digital cameras, reasonably priced props, any mom or dad can try their hand at recreating some of the most adorable and beautiful portraits they’ve seen in social media!

The devil is a liar because Lord knows our babies are not interested in taking part in any of these shenanigans yet…they are thrust into a DIY prop set and well…take a look at how some of these have panned out compliments of a curated roundup by Habit Life of 60 hilarious images.

These are my faves:

“Whyyyyyy? No really, Whyyy dad?!”

“Listen, you really have to stay off Pinterest, mom!”

“Nope! Nah! I said noooooo!”

“You didn’t feed me enough pop tarts to make this work, ma but Ima give it a try anyway!”

“Nope. Still no neck muscle strength yet. Try again in a month, mmm kay?!”

“If you insist but you cannot make me smile!”

“Seriously, folks, this wool is itchy!”

“Not again…”

“Now who thought this was a good idea?”

“This thing is cold. And I can’t fit, ma! I. Cannot. Fit!!!”

“I said no pigtails!”

“If you people electrocute me, I swear!!”

Prep In Advance In Case Your Kid Gets Exposed to Adult Content Online

Photo by bruce mars from Pexels

The internet is a powerful tool – you can learn a lot, communicate with others, shop and even date. Its wondrous vastness is even more impressive in the eyes of the young and inexperienced. Kids can learn a lot but they could also be exposed to unsuitable content online.

Studies show that 42 percent of internet users aged 10 to 17 will see adult content online. Of these children, 66 percent saw the content unwillingly.

As a parent, you’re responsible for preparing your child. You have to prepare little ones for the exciting aspects of life, for embarrassing and even dangerous situations.

When kids have the knowledge, they’re equipped with the tools to address uncomfortable or confusing situations.

While talking about adult content is difficult, it can have a profoundly positive effect on the development of your child.

Take Control Over How Your Child Gets the Information

Sex-ed should be age-appropriate and it should occur before a child ever has the chance to view adult content online.

There are many books and resources you can rely on to determine what’s appropriate at the age of five, at 10 or 15.

It’s Not the Stork!, for example, is a great choice for children aged four and up. The book presents anatomical terms and aspects of human sexuality that kids within the age range can understand.

Their questions will be answered and more complex issues will be addressed as they grow older.

Talk about Online Safety

Understanding one’s sexuality is just one part of the process. To prevent online exposure to online content, however, you should also address the issue of internet safety.

Exposure to online pornography when kids aren’t prepared may have serious consequences.

Thus, you should address some of the dangers lurking online. You should also talk about the ways to stay away from such dangers.

Kids should know what to do if they come across inappropriate content online.

Tell kids that such images and videos are meant for an adult audience and they should never be seen by children.

Tell kids what to do if an adult ever sends them inappropriate content. You should build trust so that little ones come to you immediately in such situations.

If children believe that something inappropriate has happened and they keep the information from you, chances are that the consequences will become even more serious.

It’s only a matter of time, before your child becomes a teen or tween and young adult and eventually get exposed to popular dating sites that are mentioned in memes, YouTube videos and the sort, like DoULike.com and others. Make sure they can recognize when they’re getting re-routed.

Let Your Kid Ask Questions

While giving information is very important, you should also listen to your child.

Give your child a chance to ask questions, whether they’re curious or they’ve already seen something they shouldn’t have seen.

Be prepared for such conversations.

Your child could ask about issues that may shock you, that you feel uncomfortable with. If you freak out, however, you will potentially lose some of the trust that you’ve already established.

Give yourself a moment to calm down and provide an age-appropriate explanation. If you’re worried, ask your kid about whether they’ve encountered a term or an activity. Keeping the conversation going, even if you’re worried out of your mind, could help for the best possible resolution.

Set Some House Rules

The model you establish at home will affect many aspects of your child’s behavior at school or when they visit friends.

Make it very, very clear what’s permissible and what’s not.

You may also want to use browsing filters to limit access to certain types of websites or content. Parental control software can accomplish numerous goals and choosing one option or the other depends entirely on your preferences and the level of control you are to achieve.

Don’t Get into Too Much Information

While an open discussion is a key to preparing your child for unexpected situations, there’s such a thing as TMI (too much information).

There are issues that aren’t appropriate for kids and that little one cannot understand. A child’s maturity level and the information you’ve already provided will be determining for what’s appropriate to discuss and what isn’t.

Even if your kid has questions, you’re not obliged to answer comprehensively. Tell them that a specific conversation can be had later on or that they’re too young to understand the specifics. Telling your child to remind you about the question, later on, is a good way out of the situation.

Having a discussion about adult content is not easy but this is a normal part of life. Online media and the tech-savvy nature of little ones both contribute to new parental challenges you will have to handle as an adult.

If your child has already been exposed to inappropriate online content, you will first of all have to comfort them. There are websites out there that could be pretty disturbing even to an adult audience.

Tell your child that they haven’t done anything wrong. Once the initial emotions subside, you can move on to answering questions and providing a bit of important education. Remember that this is an ongoing process and maintain your involvement, even after the original discussion has been had

8 Great Gift Ideas for New Moms

Author: Benjamin Lee

Whether you’re a spouse, family member or friend, the birth of a new baby is always a joy. To celebrate this joyous occasion, it’s natural to want to shower both baby and mom with plenty of gifts. 

Ideally, your gift should be both heartfelt and thoughtful. However, in a market saturated with baby gifts, it can be difficult to make a choice. Not all of us are particularly great at gifting. While the thought really does count, buying the new mum a wrong gift is a major boo-boo.

Oftentimes, new mums are inundated with baby shoes and clothes amongst others. Get to know the mother first and who knows, maybe she is a sports fan and you can give her a themed baby gift. You would be surprised, but since we are in the NFL preseason, do you know the American football league has a section for toddlers, with bodysuits that have the badge or logo of the different teams?  

But what about mum herself? Doesn’t she deserve to enjoy herself to? To lend you a hand, here are some great gifting ideas for the new mum.

1. Gift cards

While not the most original, gift cards allow the new mum to buy herself or baby something nice. After the initial stress of childbirth, she should be allowed to reward herself. For a different take, you can also put together an assortment of gift cards for the new mum. This allows her to pick and choose gifts for her and the baby.

2. A spa session

While we can all agree that childbirth is a beautiful thing, the entire experience often leaves new mums drained and tired. This is why a comprehensive spa session may be just what the doctor ordered. From relaxing deep tissue massages to cleansing body scrubs, she’ll leave the spa feeling refreshed and energized. 

3. The Amazon Echo Dot

Chances are mum’s gonna have her hands full caring for her bundle of joy. Why not lend her a hand with the Amazon Echo Dot, a voice-controlled virtual assistant. With the Echo Dot, let Alexa lend a hand around the house. Whether you’re making appointments with the pediatrician or checking the weather, the Echo Dot is a great gift for tech-savvy mummies out there.

4. Personalized clothing

The birth of a child should be a commemorative affair for the entire household. For something a bit special, personalized clothing like a t-shirt for mum and a jumper for baby are a great choice. The t-shirt and jumper can have baby’s name and date of birth or something cutesy like a picture embroidered on.

5. A yoga mat

Post-birth, mum would most likely be very eager to shed off those pounds. So why not help her out by giving her with a yoga mat. Yoga is a low-impact form of exercise that helps new mum’s shed weight. Along with this, yoga helps to relax the mind and reduce stress, all of which would be extremely helpful for a new mother.

6. Baby car seat

For any parent, the safety and wellbeing of their child is number one. This is even more so for the mum and dad of a newborn baby. Give them the gift of safety with a top-quality baby car seat. These car seats are designed to transport a new-born baby safely and comfortably thus giving mum or dad peace of mind when they’re on the road.

7. Baby accessories

Besides being absolutely adorable, baby accessories also ensure that baby is warm and comfortable at all times. With their weak immune systems, it’s fairly easy for a newborn child to catch a chill. A baby cap will protect the little one from catching a chill while baby mittens will protect him/her from accidentally scratching themselves.

8. Maternity bras

Nursing the newborn baby can be a challenge for any mum as breastfeeding can mean sore or tender breasts. So, give her all the support she needs with a quality maternity bra. These bras are specially designed to be soft and easy to wear while also making feeding baby a cinch.

All the Reasons College Is the Right Next Step For Your Child

Teen with backpack

We want what’s best for our children and when it comes to education, the more opportunities we give them, the better chance they have at achieving a job that they love and are passionate about.

That’s something that’s rarer than we’d like to believe to be, so here’s why it’s important to encourage your children to study further education.

Adds More Strings To Their Bow

Depending on the career path they take further down the line is also caused by how much experience, skills and knowledge that they’ve learned and earnt throughout their early years.

So, you should be exposing your children to opportunities from the very moment that they’re able to understand what’s going on in life. Think about different classes that you can take your children to whether it’s cub scouts or language classes.

Encouraging them to take part in extra-curricular activities is important because it will all be on their CV when it comes to securing their first job. By studying further education, it’s adding an extra string to their bow that will likely come very much in handy when they apply for their career jobs after graduating.

The more further education they get, the better. It’s also good to know that there are courses like this MA in business administration through distance learning, meaning that there are still options to study, even if they don’t want to leave home. 

It Gives Them Memorable Life Experiences

You’d give your children the world if you could, but the least you can do is to encourage them to take up further education. Going away to study, away from home, gives them memorable life experiences that will last a lifetime. \

Being away from home, you have to become independent, and that can be difficult if you’ve stopped your child from exploring this independency by going on school trips or joining groups that go out and learn about fending for yourself.

Further education is where your child is likely to make friends for life and more importantly, learns how to budget their own money and to look after themselves without you. Yes, it’s probably not something any parent wants, but there will come a time in your child’s life where you need to let them spread their wings and fly. 

Encourages A Natural Eagerness To Learn

By exposing them to more opportunities, you are building up their passion and eagerness to learn. It’s also influenced by how much you are interested in learning. Maybe that’s taking a trip to the local museum together or reading a book. If they see that you have a passion for learning, then they’ll want to do the same thing.

Children are certainly influenced by their surroundings and that includes their parents. Make the most of school holidays and instead of staying in, go out and do some exploring. Use every opportunity the chance to learn something new, and they’ll grow up hopefully, with that same natural eagerness to learn.

Hopefully, that means they’ll be more inclined to pursue further education when they are old enough to do so.

It also helps with discipline. When studying, they’ll need to be able to control themselves and to manage their own work without a teacher telling them what to do. Sure they’ll have lectures, but that lecturer is only going to be made available to them at the lecture.

It’s unlike high-school where they have teachers giving them guidance and telling them what to do. This all contributes to the discipline that they’ll need when they come out of further education.

It’s needed for their job and whatever they eventually do with their lives.

More Chance Of Being Financially Stable

Money can end up controlling your life and the way you live. It’s important though that money is not the be-all and end-all when it comes to living. However, that being said, the more education and skills you attain, the more chance that your children will be financially stable.

It’s not so much how much money is coming in from their paycheck but more about being able to live comfortably in relation to their lifestyle that they live. So that doesn’t mean that they need to be earning triple figures to be living comfortably.

Some examples of how they’ll use their finances through higher education are when they receive any grants or loans to help pay for their living costs. Having to pay rent for the first time and any bills that go along with it. Knowing how to budget and what they’ll need each month to be able to get by.

These skills will all be important for when they go into adult life and when times get tough financially. 

It Helps Spark New Ideas And Changes Perspectives

Having more life experience and education can help spark new ideas, but it also changes a lot of perspectives.

When we open ourselves up to learn more and to involve ourselves with cultures and experiences that are new to us, we grow as individuals. That’s what you want most for your children, is that they’ll become a well-balanced individual who has learnt to be brave, to fight for what they believe in and to listen to those without a voice.

With as much life experience as possible, they’ll want to explore things that are new to them and hopefully help influence and change the way the world currently is. That they’re contributing to a better world, right?

A Bigger Social Network

Further education reaches out to people across the globe, so no matter where they end up studying, they will likely meet people from all over the place. It’s important to do this because they’ll then have a bigger social network that reaches beyond their hometown.

Having more social connections is rewarding, but it’s also helpful in widening their opportunities that come from having such a wide range of friendships. Imagine all the free stays they could get with friends across the globe?

The more connections that your child knows, the more it will help benefit them throughout their lifetime. That’s why it’s so important that your child continues to pursue higher education beyond high school. 

You can encourage them to socialize from an early age, and it’s good to take them to sports classes and other activities where they can get that opportunity to make as many friends as they choose to.

These friends might be temporary, but it will teach them the social skills they need in order to not be afraid when approaching someone they don’t know. 

Further education should always be something that is a choice for your child, and it’s up to them if they want to do it or not.

Yes, it does bear a financial cost but the experience, skills, and knowledge they get from it, isn’t really something they’d get by just going through adult life. So when it comes to reminding yourself why it’s important to encourage further education, here is a recap. Remember that it adds more strings to their bow and will open up more opportunities further down the line in terms of career prospects and experiences.

The life experiences that they earn from further education will certainly be a memorable one. It will encourage a natural eagerness to learn and a discipline that they’ll need in life. It sparks new ideas, a different perspective, and a bigger social network too.

And finally, it helps bring a bit of financial stability, so what’s not to like?

Make Vacation Hotel Stays More Fun For the Kids

family in hotel entertaining selves

If you’re on vacation, chances are there will be a lot of down time in the hotel room. Your child may find the lack of space in the room restrictive, which could prompt unruly behavior or temper tantrums. Help them avoid boredom or cabin fever with some fun games and toys. It’s unrealistic to bring the contents of the playroom with you on vacation

. However, you can bring along some compact game and toy options, or you can create your own activities that require little to no equipment.

Here are some ways you can keep your little ones entertained during your hotel stay:

Dress-Up

If you have a little girl, have a mini-fashion show in your hotel room. The two of you can get her prepared for her debut with outfit preparation followed by spa services. Perform a special facial, paint nails and create a fun hair-do. You can easily pack a few accent pieces in your suitcase, like ribbon, costume jewelry or your daughter’s favorite dress. This activity is ideal for the child who enjoys planning and is enthusiastic about dress-up. It will require some patience on her part– but if you keep the energy high and have fun, it will keep her occupied and the two of you will have a blast.

Puzzles

Puzzles are time-consuming activities that can keep a child’s attention. If you have enough room in your luggage, pack some jigsaw puzzles. The two of you should pick out a jigsaw that is your child’s favorite animal or animated character, so they’re excited about the final product. The more enthusiastic they are about the content, the more time they’ll commit. If you have limited space for jigsaws, you can bring along some printed word puzzles. Include terms or words that are at your child’s reading level. You can make the theme of the puzzle reflect your child’s favorite hobbies, books or movies.

Card Games

Cards are compact and can be easily transported–they make a great alternative to board games. You can bring along a pack of regular playing cards for games like go fish, speed or gin rummy. Bicycle offers a six pack of kids card games that include Go Fish, Slap Jack, Memory, Matching, Old Maid and Crazy Eights. These cards are well-illustrated, colorful and designed especially for kids. Uno is another fun card game that is great for the entire family, as you can incorporate many players.

Music Video

Get the creative juices flowing and produce a music video with your kid. They can choose their favorite song, and the two of you can storyboard the visual elements. You can orchestrate outfits and practice choreographed dance moves. The video can be recorded on your tablet or smartphone. Many smartphones have video editing capabilities or apps, so you can instantly assemble the footage and polish it up for presentation. Your child will love to watch themselves perform and it is a fun, creative activity the two of you can do together.

Bath Adventure

Liven up bathtime and make the tub an adventurous oasis. The tub is like a mini pool where your kids can hang out and play with their bath toys. Bring along the essential rubber ducky or foam figures, so your child can entertain themselves with these toys. You also can go one step further and create an exciting bath adventure. You can purchase themed bath kits at toy stores.

The Pirates of the Tub play set includes 36 foam pieces that make pirate figurines, islands, a raft, boats and the Jolly Roger flag. The pieces will stick onto tiles, the wall or sides of the bath tub. The set also includes three pirate squirters that your kid will love.

What to Do When Your Stepchild Screams, ‘You’re Not My Mom/Dad!’

By Clark Rich Burbidge and Leah Dee Burbidge

This phrase has been heard in most blended families at one point or another.

When we were married in 2005, there was scant practical literature ‘How To” addressing the challenges faced in blended families. In addition, it was an uncomfortable public topic.

The conversation inevitably turned toward one’s personal story, an awkward subject at best.

We’ve learned a few things in the trenches since then and are thrilled to discuss one the most basic principles of long-term success…developing effective cross-border communication.

In doing so, we borrow heavily from our new book on this topic.

Start from where each child is.  Most blended family members have experienced the dislocation of absence, divorce or death.

The associated trauma is real.

Remarriage can produce additional disruption due to relocation, separation from support groups, re-establishing social structure, sharing space with strangers and new parental and sibling relationships among countless others.

The key to communication is often found in where parents begin. Spend time listening to understand each child. Knowing better where each child is, and how they perceive their new reality, sets the stage.

You cannot progress from where you think/expect a child should be or where they are supposed to be. Starting from where a child IS NOT ensures daily feelings of inadequacy and failure. A parent must begin from where that child is. This is usually different for each child.

However, when you begin from where they are, every step is a success. Why? Because you are experiencing it with them as your relationship grows naturally from the new soil in which you are both planted.

Respect the Bio-Compass. There is usually a deep pre-existing relationship between the bio-parent and their child. The non-bio parent may be a fantastic person and have a developing bond with the non-bio-children, but it takes time and may never be the same.

That is both normal and okay. The non-bio parent will have opportunities for positive interaction but there will be times when only the bio-parent can respond. Recognizing these and being willing to take a step back while the bio-parent leads is a learned skill and a gift to your children. This often requires a parent to swallow their pride and remain selflessly silent in the moment.

This does not mean withdrawing. In fact, it requires that the less involved parent actively support and sustain the bio-parent. Rest assured that, as you respect this relationship, it will be noticed.

There will come a time when your input is sought.

Misdirection works. We have discovered over the years that the best response to a child’s dramatic or traumatic moments is not the frontal assault. Here are three more effective approaches.

First, progress is often better realized not in the moment when emotions are high. A better time will always become available. Second, distraction works. If two of your children argue over a particular toy, work together and get them separately interested in something else. As they grow older it is more likely to involve mean kids, perceived unfairness, disappointment in school or social feedback or falling short in achieving a goal or dream. It never hurts to turn the conversation in another direction.

Finally, when tough conversations or discipline are necessary, we often tell the end first. None of our children like to be asked to join mom and dad in the study.

They know what that means. We have found that the best way to help them focus, rather than waiting with anxious distraction for the other shoe to drop, is to start the conversation with, “We want you to know we are not mad.” Or “…you are not in trouble.” This relieves pressure and allows more effective learning.

The key trait for blended family success. One evening a teenage son came to us asking about the most important trait he should look for in friends and ultimately a spouse.

We let him name several then made one addition to his list…Kindness. We have discovered in blended family relationships or choosing a spouse, friends or mentors that kindness is always near the top of the list. Kindness opens the door to all other virtues.

If a person is kind, they will more likely be patient, honest, thoughtful, respectful, selfless and able to love unconditionally. We teach and expect such traits to be exhibited by each child and try to consistently provide appropriate examples.

While we often feel painfully imperfect, we celebrate each step of the journey. Our blended symphony encourages each instrument its solo voice. But we also recognize that beautiful music created together is something more than what could have been produced individually.

If we can do it from where we started, anyone can. Each blended family member is good enough to make a priceless contribution.

About the Authors: Clark and Leah Burbidge are 14 years into their blended family experience and loving life more than ever with ten children and their eight spouses, eight grandchildren and counting. Their practical ‘autobiographical/how to’ guide is contained in a new Gold Medal award winning book, Living in the Family Blender: 10 Principles of a Successful Blended Family, July (2019 – Deep River Books.)