Thursday, November 15, 2012

Make the most of your time together....

As we are approaching this busy holiday time of year, let's remember that it is still all about the simple things that are children need most. Not the extravagant toys, fancy clothes or shiny new bike, but simply, your time.

There are so many things that we can do on a regular basis to give our children our time and also throw in some learning time too.

Here are some of our favorites:
  • Take a walk together
  • Fly a kite together
  • Host a tea party
  • Play dress-up or superheros
  • Cuddle on the couch while reading a favorite book
  • Color or paint a picture together
  • Play a board game
  • Play hide and go seek
  • Bake together. It doesn't have to be anything complicated. It can be slice and bake cookies!
  • Have a dance party in the kitchen before dinner
  • Have breakfast together
  • Make dinner together
  • Go to the park or play a fun game in your own back yard
  • Build a fort with pillows and blankets


We hope you will take a little time out of this craziness time of year of shopping for gifts, holiday parties and traveling and just hang out and enjoy your kids/family...the good ole fashion way. Our kids will not remember all the toys they had, but they will definitely remember the special times they got to spend with their parents. My daughter still talks about the time we played out in the snow at night and this was over a year ago! So special!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Grocery Store Games

Grocery shopping with your child may not be your favorite activity, but with a little preparation and a lot of patience, you can make this shopping trip fun and a great opportunity for learning.

Here are some ideas:

  • On the way to the grocery store, create a memory game like “we are going to Publix and we are going to buy a huge piece of bread that can take us to the beach.” Make your descriptions really silly and elaborate, adding more items to the list and see what they can remember.
  • Give them their own shopping list with pictures and give them clues on where they can find the items.
  • You could play, “I Spy.” “I spy a red fruit that is round and juicy.” “Do you see it?”
  •  Have them help you take the items out of the cart or let them help you put the items away when you get home. You can even go as far as sorting the items by type or size depending on the age of your child.
So when you are dreading that trip to the grocery store, just remember these simple little games and just have fun! You will be surprised how much you can teach your child in just that little trip to the store and back.

Things to Remember: The grocery store is a rich resource for teaching descriptive words, reading, numbers, math, and memory skills. It might take a little longer with the wee ones in tow, but you are accomplishing so much more than shopping.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Examples of Gra-ti-tudes!

"I am grateful for my pink bunny that made me feel safe during nap time today."

"I am grateful for my cookie I got from the nice lady at Publix."

"I am grateful for my soft coat that keeps me warm on cold, windy days at the park."

"I am grateful for my kids that make me smile and life each day"

"I am grateful for my mom and dad that support me and love me just the way that I am."

"I am grateful I have a warm house to live in, clothes on my back and food to eat."

"I am grateful for the sun shining and the colorful leaves on the ground."

"I am grateful for my child's school and the wonderful teachers that make them feel loved and create a love for learning."

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Be thankful present!

We know as busy moms ourselves that it is so hard to always be present for your kids or husband all the while you are trying to cook, get laundry done and maybe for some of you, do your other day job.

We know that it is a constant struggle as we are trying to find that balance between life at home and outside of home of being a mom.

As moms, we think oh I should have done that better. I should have listened more or I should have hugged on my kids a little more today instead of worrying about the dirty floors or whatever to-do list we had going that day.

We as moms naturally put pressure on ourselves to volunteer for this committee or event at our kids' school. To host a clothing or jewelry trunk show for a friend. To remember every friend's birthday and sometimes even their kids'. To make every girls night or play date. This list can go on and on!

We put soooo much pressure on ourselves not only mentally but physically. No wonder we are all rushing around like crazy people and forgetting to make those gratitude lists or forgetting to just make time for ourselves so we can be there for our family more.

We need to be more thankful for who we are now, not comparing ourselves to other moms. We are who we are! We have to remember to do what is best for us, our kids and family not do what everyone expects you to do.

Parents, please embrace this time of year. Get those "gratitude jars" out and be thankful for those little moments that seem to pass us by in a flash! This year (2012) is almost over. What are you waiting for! End this year with no regrets and a huge list of what you have to be grateful for! Because...

“To be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today”
- Anonymous

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Making the Most of Parent-Teacher Conferences

The words “Parent-Teacher Conference” have struck fear in my mind since I was old enough to understand that the very reason for a day off from school was for MY parents to talk to MY teacher about ME in my absence. The nerve!

Now that I am a parent, I appreciate these meetings for what they are: an unsolicited opportunity for two-way sharing between teacher and parent. Smoldering issues (as opposed to big burning questions that warrant an after-school phone call) that otherwise might not be discussed are brought to light. Talking in person gives both sides the benefit of reading the body language and hearing the tone of voice that is masked by email correspondence. This is a golden opportunity for collaboration, not to be wasted.

Time is of the essence, as conferences are typically scheduled back-to-back in 20 or 30-minute intervals. Do your homework to make the most of this limited time. Here are some suggestions:
  1. If you are attending this meeting with your spouse, get on the same page. Don’t waste time in the meeting figuring out what you want to discuss. Establish goals before the meeting.
  2. Choose two or three priorities and write them down in order of importance. Bring the list with you and share it with the teacher when you sit down. This communicates both your concerns and their rank. The teacher may want to jump right in to addressing your concerns, or may have other things to discuss first. Go with the flow.
  3. But watch the clock. Once half of the allotted time has passed, it is fine to politely interject that you would like to discuss your concerns if they have not already been covered. Equal time is a reasonable expectation.
  4. Be specific. If you are concerned about something, name it and claim it. If you want something, ask for it specifically. If you are unclear on something, get clarification. This is much easier to do in person than after the fact via phone call or email.
  5. Make notes during the meeting. Be especially careful to document anything anyone in the meeting (including yourself) has promised to do.
In the end, if you are dissatisfied with your conference, you have several options. One is to say, at the end of the meeting, that you would like another meeting with more time. This would also give you the opportunity to invite additional people (such as the principal) to join you. If you feel that another meeting with the teacher will not resolve your specific concerns, it is okay to move up the chain of command and meet with a director, dean, or principal. Either way, provide a list of your concerns prior to the next meeting so that everyone will come to the table prepared to discuss those issues.

Finally, try to keep things positive. Intentionally or not, teachers’ perceptions of parents do shape how they treat the children, for better or worse. Focus on collaboration for the good of your child and the best possible school year.

This post was originally published at

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

An Attitude of Gratitude

"I am thankful for my socks."

So said my daughter when pressed to come up with something that she was thankful for, besides her baby dolls and her beloved "lamby".

Even very young children can begin to develop an attitude of gratitude. An easy way to start is by asking what they like, or what they are glad about. This will most likely be physical items (especially toys!) until about age four.

By age five children can relate to the concept of appreciating family members, teachers, and friends. At about this age, we started asking our daughter what three things she was thankful for that day as part of our bedtime routine. This has become a treasured part of our day, and, as a bonus, gives me a regular barometer for what matters most to her. It has also created some teachable moments for discussing the value of relationships over "stuff".

Remember to continue adding to your "jars" that we talked about yesterday, and create a attitude of gratitude in your child.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Gratitude Jar

My daughter came home with a "blessings jar" from Sunday School the other day and I thought what a wonderful idea to remind us to be grateful for what we have and for the people in our lives. We naturally get so busy going from school to ballet or soccer practice, that we tend to forget and stop and just be thankful for what we have. For our friends, our family, our pets, our homes, where we live, good neighbors, the sweet cashier at Publix and I could go on.

My daughter's jar was simply decorated but was filled with color paper with drawings of what she is grateful for,  such as special items and names of people that my daughter adores. She listed her family members, friends, her special lovies and even her dog, Tucker.

If you knew my daughter and her relationship with our dog, you would be shocked she even mentioned him as a blessing! She is not a fan of our beagle/pug mix at the moment. He is our sock bandit and loves to sneak in some Goldfish or whatever he can nab from the hands of my little sweet peas.

So I digress... sorry! My point is that I have been inspired by this "blessings jar" and want to continue a jar for our whole family! I am going to name it our "gratitude jar" in the spirit of the season and every day as a family write down or even draw what we are grateful for that day.

Again, keep it simple. It doesn't have to take a lot of time. It is just the thoughts you put in it. I feel that the more we acknowledge our blessings and make an effort to be more grateful for them, then we are less likely to be negative or talk about what we don't have.

So are you with me Hands on Mom friends? Let's start a "gratitude jar"today and continue to count our blessings, no matter how little you might think they are.

Remember to include you children by letting them decorate the jar. The more you get them involved, the more excited they will be to participate in this project.

Examples of jars could be an apothocary jar (see below), a juice jar, hurricane glass candle holder, or even an empty plastic animal cracker jar. Get creative and just have fun with it. You will be surprised the effect it will have not only on you, but your whole family as you enjoy the spirit of the season.

After you decorate your jar, we would love for you to share pictures of them to inspire more families to get on board of being more grateful of our many blessings!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

3 Weeks until Thanksgiving-and plenty of time for new traditions

Three weeks until Thanksgiving.
(insert deep breath here, possibly accompanied by a sigh)
As parents of young children, we know that the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are the most wonderful and most busy time of the year.
So here's a thought.
It takes 21 days to make a new habit (so they say).
So, starting today, choose one thing to do every day at home with the kids.
Maybe it's reading together, sharing a cup of cocoa in the afternoon, walking the dog together, or working a puzzle. Or playing together, flipping through magazines, sharing your faith, or doing something kind for others. Or talking while you make dinner. Or creating new daily chores that will make things easier come holiday time.
If you start today it could be a habit by Thanksgiving, and that much easier to keep going through the holiday rush.
It could become an anchor of calm and routine when the kids schedules are anything but regular.
It could become that moment when you end up talking about the important stuff.
It could become what your child wants to do with you when they come home from college because it feels like home.
As moms, we are the keepers of the traditions. Not just for holidays, but everyday.
What's yours?