June 17, 2014

The Importance of a Father

In honor of Father’s Day, I wanted to write a piece explaining just how important a father is in the life of a child. The only way that I know how to do this is to share with you the role that my father has played in my life. So, here you go:

 While we all know there aren’t any special skills required to make a baby, those of us with great fathers know that it takes a special man to earn the title of “dad.” And, in a lot of cases, those who are called “dad” are not the biological fathers of the children who look up to them. I know because this is the exact same relationship that my father and I have.

While I was growing up I didn’t appreciate all the things this man sacrificed for me. I had no idea just how much of a handful I was or how much time, money, frustration, worry, etc. was spent on me throughout all of those years. However, now that I am a mother, I finally understand just how much of himself he gave to me and that it was all given out of love; love that he did not have to give.

After all, I was not his biological daughter. I was two when he and my mom married. (Shortly after that time, my biological father stopped paying child support, as well as, visiting me.) So, you see – he walked in to a “ready-made” family. And while he was not my “real” dad, he was the only father-figure I had in my life.

Because he chose to love me like his own and raise me in the way that he would raise his own child, I grew up one pretty lucky girl. I never grew up feeling as if there was something (or someone) missing from my life or wondering what I did wrong to cause my biological dad to cut off communication with me.  Instead, I grew up knowing that I was loved and that I was exactly who I was supposed to be. The fact that I had another “dad” somewhere never caused me any concern. As far as I was concerned, this man…the man my mother married when I was two, was (and still is) my father. My only dad.

In addition to being an amazing father to me, my dad has also shown me over the years what it means to be a man of true character. Through his example, I have learned the value of working hard, being honest and living up to your word. I have also seen what it takes to create a marriage that’s filled with love, respect, patience and appreciation for your spouse; the kind of marriage that will last a lifetime.

All of these things I have learned from a man who did not have to be my father. It is because of this man that I have grown into the woman that I am and have married a man who loves and respects me and who is, in turn, an awesome father to our two boys. It is safe to say that my life would not be the same today if I had not been raised by the man that I call “dad.”

Like I said previously, there are no special skills required to make a baby. However, it takes a lot to fulfill the role of a father.

For those of you who have grown up with amazing fathers, as I have, take the time to let them know just how much you love and appreciate them and all the sacrifices they’ve made for you over the years. And, for all of the fathers out there, remind yourself daily that the example you set will have a major impact on your children’s lives. Whether it is good or bad depends on you.

Do you have a story regarding the influence that your father has had in your life that you would like to share? If you do, please feel free to share! 

June 4, 2014

Outdoor Features for Kids

With spring and summer right around the corner, many people are beginning to think about what outdoor yard projects they need to put on the “to-do” list. My husband and I are included in this group of people as we have a pretty bare yard that needs a lot of TLC in order to fulfill our family’s needs and dreams.

As many of you know, we built our house just a couple of years ago and having the yard sodded was not an option as our front yard is roughly 10,000 sq. feet with the back yard about three-fourths the size of the front. Therefore, the past two springs and summer we have focused on killing the weeds while improving the grass. We also completed a landscaping project last fall as we put in our own stone-lined flower beds in the front.

While we are still looking for ways to improve the overall appearance of our yard, we are more focused on finding some fun outdoor features for the kids this year. Having a few outdoor activities for the kids will encourage them to find things to do outside during the warm weather instead of sitting inside watching the television. Below are a few outdoor features we are considering for our kiddos. Maybe they will give you some fresh ideas for what you can add to your backyard for the kids to enjoy this year!
Jungle Gym/Monkey Bars: As a child I can remember spending hours outside playing on the monkey bars that my parents had for us in our backyard. While I thought I was having a blast swinging from bar to bar, I was also getting some much needed exercise in. A jungle gym/monkey bar set is a great thing to add to your backyard as kids can swing, climb, flip on it all spring/summer long!

ATV: I understand this is not something everyone wants to have for the kiddos to play with, but we are strongly considering one for our oldest son (6) as we have 2.5 acres of land and most of the neighbor kids have one. Of course, we will be purchasing one that has a speed control and the automatic off option if the child falls off and he will be wearing a helmet. My husband grew up with four wheelers so this is something he feels like our boys will thoroughly enjoy. If you have the space available, it may be something your kids will enjoy too. 

Tetherball and Basketball: For some reason kids of all ages enjoy playing tetherball and basketball, making these two very easy outdoor activities to add for your kids, especially if there are other kids in the area. They are both outdoor features that your kids will enjoy for years to come! 
So, what are some of the outdoor activities that your children enjoy? Are you going to be adding any outdoor features this spring/summer? If so, what will you be adding?

June 3, 2014

Preparing for Summer Break

I’m still in shock that we just finished up spring break. I mean, it seems like we just started the school year and here we are a little over a month away before school lets out for the summer! Time just seems to fly by faster with each passing year for me.

While I am very blessed to have a job that allows me to spend most of my time at home with the kids, summer breaks can get long for the kids and I both if I’m not adequately prepared for the 12-week break. For instance, last year, I wasn’t quite prepared for the break and about four days into summer break my son asked when he was going to get to go back to school.

Since I don’t want a repeat of last year, I have created this to-do list for preparing for summer break to help ensure that the kids and I both enjoy the entire summer break!

1.Shop the dollar stores. My kids are both young enough that they are still easily entertained with the cheap/silly toys found at the dollar stores. The dollar stores have lots of great toys for parents to whip out when the kids come and say, “mom, I’m bored.” Hula hoops, puzzles, bubbles, sidewalk chalk, etc. are just some of the treasures you can find here – and the best part is that they are all affordable!

2.Book summer activities. One of the best things that I managed to do last year for my school-aged son was enroll him in a couple of week-long summer (day) camps. He participated in two art camps and a science camp. One of the camps was a half-day (from 8am until 11:30am) and the other two were all day camps (8am-4:30pm). Not only did he really enjoy himself, make new friends and learn new things, but I was able to get quite a bit done around the house that I am not able to do when I’ve got the boys with me all day. While summer camps are great activities to send your kids to a couple times throughout the summer, they are not the only summer activities that are activities that require a little planning. Things like swimming lessons, t-ball, a trip to the zoo, etc. are all fun summer activities that are best planned (“booked”) in advance because they give everyone something to look forward too.

3.Make plans for play dates. Get in contact with friends who have children the around the same age as your kids and make plans to schedule play dates throughout the summer. They don’t necessarily have to be every week, but every other week is good for both the kids and you as you will get a little “adult” social time in too. You may even be able to switch off hosting play dates with a friend or two so that the kids can play while the non-hosting parent gets a few hours to run errands in solitude (aka: peace).

4.Create a chore chart. This is one that I am for sure doing this summer. My son is old enough to know that things cost money and he has no problem asking me to buy him stuff when we are at the store. Well, guess what? He’s also old enough to help out around the house and learn what it means to earn his spending money. This year, I am creating a chore chart that will be ready to go on the first day of summer break. My son will have a list of chores that he is responsible for every day. When he completes a chore, he will be able to put a sticker in the box next to the chore that he completed. At the end of the week we will count how many chores he did that week and he will get paid for those chores. Now, these chores will be the “special” chores that are not part of the routine responsibilities he has (making his bed, picking up his toys, brushing teeth, etc.). I’m thinking about chores like emptying the trashes and setting the trash by the road on trash day, unloading the dishwasher, folding a load of towels, etc. Not only do chores help teach kids about responsibility and earning money, but they also help keep them busy too.

5.Prepare “school” work. No, I’m not a drill sergeant mom, but I am one who plans on giving my son a little bit of school work to do throughout the summer. He will be going to 1st grade next year and one of the most important things I can help him work/improve on is his reading. We will continue to read one book a day Monday thru Friday, as well as, work on sight words, writing and math. You can purchase age-appropriate workbooks for math, reading and writing at most bookstores or online. One or two worksheets a day isn’t anything to extraordinary to expect from the kids throughout the summer.

Hopefully the “to-do” list above has given you some ideas for how you can prepare for the 12-week summer break that’s quickly approaching. Do you have any additional ideas to help us get ready?

June 2, 2014

Gearing Up for Summer: Fun Activities for the Kids

As we’ve rounded the corner of winter and are headed straight for spring, it’s time for us to start thinking about summer activities for the kids again. Summertime is a fun time for kids as they enjoy being out of school during the days and getting to spend their time doing whatever they feel like doing (and that mom and dad approve of). However, for parents, summer break can be a little bit stressful and many parents work and aren’t able to be home with their kids during those long summer days.

And, then there are also the parents who are fortunate enough to be able to stay at home with their kids. They too feel the strain of summer break as the days seem to drag on and on as summer rolls on by. The days can go by extremely slow when the kids aren’t involved in any summer activities. Therefore, pre-planning a few summer activities for your kids can be very beneficial for both you and your children! Below are a few fun summer activities that your kids may enjoy.

1.  Horseback Riding Lessons: Learning how to ride a horse is not something everyone gets to do, making it a privilege for those who have the opportunity. If there is a nearby horse facility that offers horseback riding lessons during the summer, then this may be the perfect summer activity for your child. And, who knows, maybe it will be something they will want to pursue further! Regardless of whether it’s just a one-summer thing or turns into a passion for your child, horseback riding is an experience they won’t forget.

2.  Swim Camp: We have all heard about traditional summer camps, but what about a summer camp that’s for kids who love to swim? If you have a child who knows how to swim and enjoys the sport of swimming, then consider enrolling him/her in a summer swim camp. This will be a great way for them to get some much needed exercise while perfecting a skill that they love. It’s also perfect for those who are considering competitive swimming!

3.  Summer Art Camp: If you have a child who enjoys art, regardless of whether its oil painting, filmmaking, dance, acting, etc., then a summer art camp should definitely be considered. Even if your child doesn’t have a particular area of interest, but enjoys art and the freedom to explore his/her imagination, then art camp is most likely something that he/she will enjoy.

There are so many summer activities for kids to participate in that it’s unreal. The three listed above don’t even begin to scratch the surface. These types of activities are beneficial for kids to do over the summer because it keeps them busy and out of trouble, keeps them thinking and their creative juices flowing, helps them make new friends and can also aid in exercise (depending on what type of activity they participate in).

Did you have any favorite summer activities that you enjoyed as a child?

May 24, 2014

Sick Kiddos: Always be Prepared

I have to admit that I have been pretty lucky over the last six years as my family has always managed to stay pretty healthy, even when the cold and flu season was in full-swing. Sure, there have been a few times over the past several years when one of us has been “down” due to a 24-hour bug, but we haven’t had anything major (knocking on wood now).
However, last night at around 11:30 p.m., my 6 year old got up, went to the bathroom and then came out to tell me he was sick. The thermometer confirmed his conclusion as he had a 99.8° temperature. The poor little guy was up and down several times between 11:30p.m. and 3:00 a.m. when his fever finally broke and the stomach cramps subsided. Although he woke up this morning without a temperature and his happy-go-lucky attitude had returned, I could not send him off to school without knowing for sure if he was really back to normal.
Having sick kiddos at home is definitely no fun and for whatever reason, it always seems to start when we are least expecting it. I mean, my son had been in bed asleep for 4 ½ hours before he got up and suddenly got sick. Thankfully, I was prepared and didn’t have to rush out in the middle of the night (or first thing this morning) to get anything. While it can be miserable to have sick kiddos, it’s definitely worse when we aren’t prepared. Below are a few things that you should always have on hand so you’re prepared when the sickness strikes.

Working Thermometer: There have been many times when I’ve thought that my son has had a fever when in fact he didn’t. And, there have been other times when I’ve thought that he just wasn’t feeling that great but discovered that he was running a 101+ temperature! In order to accurately gauge our children’s temperature we all need to have a working thermometer in our medicine cabinet so we can get to the bottom of the temperature mystery as soon as possible.

Pedialyte: Those of us with young children, need to keep at least one bottle of pedialyte in our fridge ready to go when the diarrhea and vomiting start. Since children are so much smaller than we and many eat/drink less than we do, it’s important that we stay on top of their vomiting and diarrhea to ensure that they don’t get dehydrated and begin to lose the nutrients they need to fight the sickness. Pedialyte is the way to do this as the “medicine” tastes like flavored juice but is packed full of nutrients that our bodies need to function and fight off illnesses. 

Soup and Sprite: Most doctors recommend that those with stomach bug or flu-like symptoms stick to clear liquids such as sprite, as well as, wholesome soups such as chicken noodle soup until their bodies are able to handle regular foods again. But, the last thing you are going to want to do is head to the store when you’re kids come down with something. I always keep a 6-pack of sprite in the pantry as well as a few cans of chicken noodle soup.  

New Toothbrushes: It is recommended that you change out the toothbrush of the person who has been sick each time he/she recovers from an illness such as the flu or a stomach bug. The reason is because our toothbrushes collect a lot of germs when we brush our teeth and if some of the flu, stomach bug, etc. germs remain on the toothbrush, then it is possible to catch it again a couple weeks later. Therefore, keep a couple extra toothbrushes on hand so you are ready to switch them out when needed!

May 23, 2014

Summer Break Activities for the Whole Family

Summer is just around the corner which means most of us are going to be looking for some activities that are enjoyable for the entire family. As a mother of two young children (ages 6 and 1), I know how difficult it is to find things that our family can do and everyone enjoy themselves. Obviously, when we are looking for family activities, our focus is on finding activities that our children will enjoy but that doesn’t mean that we (the adults) don’t want to have fun either, right? Below are some ideas for summer break activities that your entire family can enjoy.

·         The Beach – If you live within a few hours of a beach, then plan a day to take the family. There is just something about a family beach day that puts everyone in a good mood. Maybe I am a little biased as my family didn’t live close to a beach, which has made me come to realize just how awesome beaches and the ocean are. My family loves spending a day together lounging around on the beach. We suntan (well I try when the dad and the boys are busy playing), wade along the shoreline, build sandcastles, play Frisbee and a number of other things. It’s a fun, relaxing and inexpensive way to spend the day together as a family.

·         Aquarium – In many states, the summer heat can really play a toll on people, making it almost impossible to get outside in the middle of the day when temperatures have skyrocketed. Days like these are perfect for family trips to the aquarium. My children love visiting the aquarium as they enjoy watching and learning about marine life. My oldest son is at the age where he is fascinated with sharks so a trip to the aquarium always gets him excited.   

·         State Parks – Visiting state parks together can make for fun family outings during the slow, summer days. We haven’t taken our youngest son yet, but when we have gone in the past with our oldest son, we would go in the morning before the temperatures get too unbearable. Usually we would bring a picnic basket along with us stocked full of sandwiches, fruit and water so we could enjoy our lunch outdoors before heading home. Our oldest has always enjoyed these excursions because he likes to get out and explore. Again, visiting a state park is another inexpensive activity that families can enjoy together. (Just a FYI: If you live in Texas or will be visiting and have young kids, try to visit the Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, TX!)

·         Fishing – If you haven’t ever taken the family fishing before, it is definitely a unique experience that everyone will remember. This is an activity that will require a little planning ahead as you probably need to get a fishing license from the state for you and your family members, but once that is done, you’re all set. (Assuming you have the rods and tackle.) Plan to leave in the morning when it is cool so you can be packing up and heading back home before the heat gets bad. Usually, we only spend a few hours fishing when we go and that’s plenty. It’s an activity that we all enjoy doing together. Now that our youngest is walking he will get to join in on the fun. He’ll probably play in the riverbank and with the rocks, mud, etc. but it will still be fun for him!

Hopefully the ideas listed above have given you some new summer family activity ideas that you and your kids will enjoy doing together! What are some of your favorite summer activities to do as a family?

May 22, 2014

Romantic Vow Renewal Ideas

As you know, the wedding industry is one of the biggest industries around. In fact, it’s quite a ludicrous industry to be in because there will never be a shortage of couples who desire to take their relationships to the next level. And while we hear a lot about what it means to plan a wedding – venue, wedding dress, bridesmaids’ and flower girl dresses, the honeymoon, etc., we don’t hear a lot about vow renewals.

Is this because there aren’t many couples out there who desire to renew their vows? No, it’s really because full-fledge weddings are more profitable for those in the wedding industry than vow renewals as most couples looking to renew their vows don’t find it necessary to spend the amount of money on the ceremony as couples getting married for the first time do. However, that doesn’t mean that we should overlook the couples wishing to renew their vows!
Today, I want to talk to the couples out there who are thinking about renewing their vows.

Many couples struggle with the decision about whether or not they really need to renew their vows and, if so, how should they choose to renew them? Below are a few tips and suggestions that answer these questions.
1.      Do we need to renew our vows? The answer to this question is one that varies from couple to couple. Some couples feel like they were married once and they have no desire to renew their vows. If this is how you and your spouse feel, then by all means, don’t spend the time, money and effort planning a vow renewal. But, if you and your spouse have the slightest desire to renew your vows, then make the plans to do it – you will be glad you did!

2.      How should we renew our vows? Again, the answer to this question depends on you and your spouse. What do you guys want? The fun thing about vow renewals is that you and your spouse get to plan them without worrying about what others think (unlike most wedding planning). Therefore, you guys get to choose exactly what you want! Below are a few ideas:

·         Small, Intimate Ceremony – Many couples renewing their vows choose to have small, intimate ceremonies where they only invite their family and very close friends because these are the people who have been there for them throughout their marriage and know them the best. These types of ceremonies usually take place in backyards, small parks and other small venues.

·         Large, Grand Ceremony – However, there are still those who can’t imagine renewing their vows without all of their family, friends and other acquaintances present, which is absolutely okay too! These vow renewals are a lot closer to wedding ceremonies in the fact that the guest list is quite large, therefore, the venue is too. Catering, entertainment and other “wedding-like” expenses are generally spent in these vow renewal ceremony.

·         Destination Ceremonies – Just like with destination weddings, couples can plan destination vow renewals. Most of the time, couples wishing to renew their vows elsewhere tend to keep these ceremonies intimate, meaning that a lot of destination vow renewals are just with the couple and possibly their children present. Of course, the benefit of destination renewals is getting and all-inclusive renewal/vacation at the same time. I can also see how these vow renewal ceremonies would be very relaxing for couples looking to recommit to one another without a big “hoopla.”
So, what are your thoughts about vow renewals? Is this something you want to do in the future? Or, have you already renewed your vows? Please share your thoughts with me!

May 1, 2014

Tips for Holiday Savings in 2014

I’m not sure what your take is on the current year, but mine is that it is going by entirely way too fast. The school year is already coming to an end and I swear it feels like the year just began! While I am like many of you who are beginning to focus on the upcoming summer months, I am also beginning to look even further and plan for the holidays.
Yeah, I know, it may seem a little crazy to start my holiday planning this far in advance, but I tell you what, when you start planning six to eight months in advance, the ability to save money is greater. An additional benefit is experiencing a lower stress level when the holidays do arrive. Below are a few tips I have for how you can save on the holidays this year.
1. Start buying gifts now. One of the easiest ways to ease the financial burden of the holidays is to spread the expenses out throughout the year. If you have a lot of extended family and friends that you buy Christmas gifts for, then start watching the sale flyers for your favorite stores. When you see something that you know one of people on your gift list would like, go ahead and buy it. Sure, you will have to store it but you’ve saved money and you have one less gift to buy. Therefore, it’s worth it!

2. Set money aside every pay period. Another great way to make sure you are financially ready for the holidays is by setting money aside each pay period. For example, I take out $50-$100 of every paycheck and put aside in a fund (within my budget book) labeled “Christmas.” Regardless of what the amount is that you can afford to set aside, the cool thing is that these bi-weekly deposits add up pretty quick. I’ve actually been doing this for several years now and it has worked really well for my family and I. In fact, because I know that I have the money set aside when it’s time to start buying holiday gifts, I am able to have fun shopping because I’m not worried about accumulating a lot of credit card debt or running my bank account dry buying gifts. This is probably the one tip that can save you the most stress during the holiday season, if you follow it.

3.  Buy stamps for holiday cards several months in advance. This one may sound a little silly, but have you ever added up just how many Christmas cards you actually mail out? I know a lot of people who have done away with mailing actual cards out for the holidays and opt for e-cards instead, but I personally feel like receiving a card in the mail is more personal. Anyways, to ensure I’m not caught off guard by the cost of stamps for my Christmas cards, I purchase forever stamps several months before Christmas and store them until the holidays roll around. I do still mail some of my bills so I make sure to keep the “Christmas” stamps in a separate place so I’m not tempted to use them. An additional benefit to this is that a Forever stamp is good forever so if the cost of stamps goes up after the time you bought the Forever stamps, you will be saving even more money when it’s time to mail those cards out!
4. Shop online. Believe it or not, there are a lot of great deals to be found online. While it does take time to browse the online deals at various stores, it can definitely pay off. An easy way to stay up-to-date on the online sales is to create a special email that you use only for receiving newsletters from your favorite stores and check this email once a day or once every other day. It makes it easy as you shouldn’t be receiving any mail in this account other than the stores’ flyers that you’ve signed up to receive. And again, don’t be afraid to order early. If there is a sale going on for an item you know will make the perfect Christmas gift for someone, then order it and cross the person off your list!

5.  Be frugal when buying holiday décor. The marketing teams at department stores are comprised of very intelligent people. They know how to decorate a store for the holidays with their products. When customers come in to shop they notice the décor and the various items that have been used for the décor and marketing teams know this translates into purchases. The issue is that most of these items are not going to be on sale and they’re overpriced anyways. Therefore, take the time to shop for your holiday décor items at discount stores such as Ross, TJ Maxx, Dollar General, etc., as well as, at garages sales. You never know what you will find at these places and when you get the items home and set up with the rest of your holiday décor no one will know that you didn’t pay full price for these items.

Believe it or not, the majority of stores make most of their profits for the year during the holiday months. The holidays are big business in America (and elsewhere), but that doesn’t mean you have to go into debt at this time of year!

How to Spend Your Tax Return

The first of the year brings the dreaded tax season with it. It’s the time of the year that many Americans dread because we don’t know if we are going to end up owing the government money or if we will be getting some money back. I’m not sure about you, but this time of the year makes me anxious until I get the call from my accountant telling me the “verdict.” Like everyone, there are years when my husband and I have come out ahead and received a tax return but then there have been other years when we have had to pay Uncle Sam.

For those who will be receiving a return this year, it can be pretty tempting to go out, splurge and spend it all. After all, it is your hard earned money being returned to you right? I know how tempting this is from experience. While spending a well-deserved tax return will feel liberating at the time, chances are it will be followed with a feeling of regret when all the “extra” money is gone. Below are a few suggestions for how you can spend your tax return without experiencing “buyers’ remorse” afterwards.

Open a Savings Account: Studies have shown that the majority of people are living paycheck to paycheck with very little money saved, if any at all. In fact, the average American hast more debt than they do savings. If this is you, then why not open a savings account with that tax return? Let that money stay tucked away in case an emergency arises in the future. There are some savings accounts that earn interest, which is always nice.

Pay down Debt: As mentioned above, most Americans owe more than they have in savings. If this is you, then paying off a credit card, medical bill or another outstanding balance is a great way to start working your way out of debt. There isn’t another feeling quite as good as making a final payment on something. If you have some money left over, put it in savings or opening a savings account is still an option worth considering.

Buy an Investment Property: While debt is generally considered a bad thing, there is a time when it isn’t bad and that’s when the debt is making money for you. For instance, most business owners have to take out a loan when they start up a business, but the money they make from the business pays for the business and then some, making that a good kind of debt. You may not be ready to start your own business but are looking for a way to increase your net worth, then buying an investment property is an option worth considering. Investment properties are a great way to increase your monthly income while building your investment portfolio. Your tax return can be used to purchase the house and make necessary improvements before you find a tenant…or resale it for a profit. It is worth noting that while investing in real estate is a good thing to do, getting rid of all your little debt (credit cards, student loans, etc.) should be your first priority.

Hopefully the ideas above have given you some inspiration for how to spend your tax return. Do you have any other ideas for spending a tax return wisely?

March 20, 2014

Mothers Stand United

Today as I was scrolling through Facebook, I saw a post from a friend of mine from high school, who is also a mother now herself. Her post was about how new mothers should really stop and think before they do the “cry it out” method, which I didn’t really have a problem with because she has a right to express her opinion – and she did so in a very friendly manner. However, as I read through some of the comments that were posted in regards to that post, it became clear that there were several mothers who were very verbal in their opinions about whether one should use the “cry it out” sleep method or another technique.

While I do have an opinion on this particular topic, it really isn’t of any importance because the issue that I have with all of this is the manner in which many mothers choose to verbalize their opinions on topics like this.

We all have our opinions and preferences when it comes to mothering our children, but does that necessarily mean that our way is better than another mother’s way of mothering? I don’t believe that it does (unless, there is abuse involved). As we all know, children differ in their personalities, learning abilities, emotions, etc., teaching parents how to adapt to each of their children’s individual needs. Basically, what works for one child may not work for another child in areas such as school, discipline, learning, etc. So, doesn’t it also make sense that mothering isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of thing?

So what if one mother chooses to sleep train her child with the “cry it out” technique and you don’t agree with it? Does that really make her a bad mother? Does that mean she doesn’t love her children just as much as you do? Absolutely not – all it means is that she has a different way of doing things.

The same holds true for mothers who breast feed versus those who bottle feed; mothers who prefer the attachment parenting style; mothers who believe cloth diapers are the only way to go; mothers who co-sleep with their children until they’re in kindergarten, and the list could go on and on.

The point I’m trying to make here is that, as mothers, shouldn’t we be supportive of each other regardless of whether we agree with the parenting choices our fellow mothers are making? I mean, we all have a big thing in common: we’re mothers. As mothers, we all have to deal with the same things at one point or another: sleepless nights, sick kiddos, whining/nagging, loss of privacy (what’s it really take to use the restroom in private?), getting the kids fed, bathed and in bed on time, etc. All of these things are stressors that every mom faces, so shouldn’t we be there for one another instead of looking for ways to “one-up” our fellow mommies?

Does this mean you should change your views in regards to parenting? No, it doesn’t. All I’m asking is that, as mothers, we make an effort to accept one another for who each individual is and that includes each individual parenting style. It’s okay to disagree, but (unless there is abuse involved) do so in a way that is non-condescending and doesn’t make the other mom feel inadequate. Mothering is hard enough, the last thing we need to do is make it harder by bickering amongst ourselves about the “petty” things that really won’t matter when our kids are older anyways.

March 9, 2014

How to Raise Children who Care about Others

I’m not sure about you, but lately I have been noticing just how rude and inconsiderate people are towards one another. While most of us have come to realize just how self-centered the majority of adults are, a lot of us don’t think about kids being the same way. However, the sad truth is that they are just as guilty as adults.
The difference between children and adults is that adults know better and it’s us, the adults, who are raising the children. Therefore, in most cases, the behavior of rude and inconsiderate children is a result of what they are learning from their parents at home.

Personally, I do not want to be responsible for turning young adults out into the world who only think about themselves and don’ t care about the people surrounding them. These are not the people who are going to further their communities and help make a difference in the world. So, as a parent, what can I do to raise kids that care about others?

1.      Show compassion. Think about it. How are children supposed to learn how to be compassionate towards others if they are never shown compassion? I have to admit, I have found myself being less than compassionate towards my children from time to time. Like the time, my son ran into the slide in our backyard because he wasn’t paying attention to where he was going. Instead of asking if he was okay, I laughed and said, “you’re okay – brush it off and get back to playing.” Yes, my son was okay and I could tell he was by the way he was acting, but he didn’t necessarily feel that way right at first. If I want my children to show compassion towards others, then I have to be careful as to teach them what compassion is through my actions.

2.      Help those in need. I do believe that it’s important to help those in need, but this isn’t something that I have always felt strongly about. I can remember my mom always taking the time to help those who needed help when I was young, but as a young child I would get annoyed because it was keeping us from the fun things we had already planned. However, today I can see how much she cared for others by the way she took the time to help those who needed it. And, she taught me the importance of helping others by helping others in front of me. While many of us donate money and other tangible items to those in need, how many of us take the time to stop what we’re doing and help people when we are on our way somewhere – with the kids in tow? Show your kids what it means to help others in need because this is a learned behavior.

3.      Don’t give them everything they want. It can be difficult to tell our kids “no” when they ask for something that we know they would enjoy, but it’s important that we don’t teach them that they get everything they want just because they want it. I recently saw a story about a teenage girl who was trying to sue her parents because they refused to continue paying for her private high school education (they stopped paying because she refused to abide by their rules). The girl was trying to get the judge to order her parents to pay for the remainder of her high school education and her college education. Thankfully, the judge ruled against this girl, but the issue to me was that this girl felt entitled to get what she wanted. This isn’t okay. When kids begin to feel entitled to things, they get very self-centered and become rude and inconsiderate of others. One of the only ways to prevent this from happening is for parents to not give in to their children’s every whim. If there is something that they want then show them how they can earn the money to buy it – don’t just give it to them.

4.      Talk kindly to one another. For some reason people tend to take the people they care about the most for granted, yet treat others more respectfully. If you want to teach your child to care about others and their feelings, you have to start by treating those at home with more respect. Talking kindly to one another (at home, as well as, out in public) is one of the best ways to instill an attitude of respect in your children because they learn how to treat people by watching how you treat people, especially by how you treat your spouse and your children on a daily basis.

What are your thoughts on this matter? Do you have any additional ideas for how parents are to raise children to be kind and compassionate towards others?