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?

February 15, 2014

Discipline: It’s Never the Same with Kids

I’ve only been a mom for 6 ½ years and one thing I’ve learned is that consistent discipline is necessary for those of us who want to raise well-mannered children who will grow to be a value to the communities they live in. While consistent discipline is necessary, that doesn’t mean it’s easy and it especially doesn’t mean that it’s a “one-size fits all” kind of thing either. Every child is different.

They have different personalities and therefore, what motivates one child to follow the rules may have no effect on another child. In addition, while a stern lecture or even a spanking may work one week doesn’t necessarily mean the same will work next week when the child acts up again. Probably the biggest lesson I’ve learned from my 6 ½ year old regarding discipline is that it is ever-changing.
My husband and I are constantly thinking up different consequences for bad behavior because just when it seems like we have figured out the perfect form of discipline it seems to lose its effect on our son. I know I’m not the only parent out there who has had this issue, right? In fact, I’m willing to bet that most kids are this way. They seem to adapt to various types of punishments and eventually aren’t as worried about these consequences as they once were.

For me, at this particular stage in parenting (I know my view will change as my kids get older), staying on top of the discipline game is the hardest part of parenting. The reason it’s so dang hard is because I know it needs to be done (when I don’t want to), I have to be consistent in it (I can’t let things “slide” or the behavior will get worse, and I have to keep up-to-date on which particular type of discipline is working for my son on this particular day/week.
Of course, like I said above, after a while of the same discipline tactics, my son begins to slack off a bit because he isn’t worried about the consequences. After all, he’s been through it before, right? Therefore, I’m constantly trying to keep a short list of unique forms of discipline to fall back on when the discipline of choice stops working.

Below are just a few creative discipline strategies I’ve come up with that seem to work (for a while).
1.      Bedroom Grounding – As my son is only 6, we don’t ever “ground” him for longer than one evening and generally this is reserved for when he misbehaves at school and the teacher sends a note home. My son loves to be where all the action is so he hates being confined to his room for the evening. When he is in his room for the evening, the only time we allow him to come out is to take a shower, work on homework and eat dinner. And there have been times when we have had to bring him dinner to his room because he didn’t seem to be taking his punishment very seriously. (He hates eating dinner in his room) As I said, this is probably our most severe punishment for the little guy, and since it isn’t used much, it is one of the most effective.

2.      Cleaning the Backyard – Usually my husband and I help our son pick up the backyard as it gets littered with toys quite often. However, when he has a bad day, we will have him go and clean the backyard by himself – this includes using the pooper-scooper to pick up our dog’s weekly deposits. It will take him about 30-45 minutes to clean the entire back yard, and for his age, I think this is an appropriate punishment.

3.      Cleaning his Bathroom – Okay, now this is one that obviously I can’t let him do alone, but it is very effective because he hates cleaning the toilet (typical boy thing, right?). Obviously I stand right there and watch him do it (while he’s wearing rubber gloves) as I wouldn’t let a child that age use cleaning supplies without supervision. I also don’t expect perfection because he is only 6, but I expect him to do it with a good attitude. Once the stool is clean, I have him clean the countertop and sink. I leave the mirrors and floor for me to do (and I usually go back over the toilet once he’s in bed too). This may sound a little harsh, but it is another effective punishment.
Above are just a few of the creative discipline techniques I have used, but there are plenty more. For me, it’s not so much the type of discipline that is important, but that we stay consistent in our disciplining that is the most important. If we let our kids get by with one thing today, then they will probably do it again tomorrow…and eventually it will morph into something different altogether.

Therefore, staying consistent is really the most important thing. Not only will it ensure that our kids grow up to be men/women who are respectful, have good character and are a value to their respective communities, but when we discipline our children (in a loving manner), we reinforce the fact that we love them very deeply, which is something every child should know.

February 11, 2014

Saving Money in the New Year

I’m not sure about you, but one of my New Year’s resolutions is to get serious about my family’s finances and get the little “piddly” things paid off. In fact, it is my goal to by the end of the year only have my mortgage and vehicle payments left…everything else needs to get paid off. If I can do this, which I know I can, then my family will have a lot of extra money freed up every month.

One of the ways that I am going to accomplish this is by cutting unnecessary costs and applying the money I save to the monthly payments I’m making for those pesky bills. Once I start doing that, things will get paid off rather quickly as money saved adds up quickly. So, what types of cuts can I make to save money this year? Here’s my plan…and maybe you can even benefit from it!

1.      Change my grocery shopping strategy. The first thing I’m going to modify is my grocery shopping strategy. I’ve gotten a little lazy when I buy groceries and have bought more prepackaged/frozen foods than what I should be. Prepackaged/frozen foods add a lot of money to the total grocery bill when you take the time to figure out what the ingredients would cost you separately…especially when you consider that a lot of times those same ingredients can be used to create another dish. Therefore, as of right now, I am going to start buying more fresh foods and preparing my own dinners at home. Yes, that means I will spend a little extra time in the kitchen, but the extra money I will save as a result will be worth it.
2.      Start hand-making certain products. I used to make my own laundry soap. In fact, I did this just a few months ago and still have about 2.5 gallons left of it. I figured it up once and making my own laundry soap actually saves me at least $500 a year, if not more. While that is great, I’m going to expand the products  make on my own this year. Some of the products I plan to make include shampoo/conditioner, hand soap and deodorant. Think about the amount of money you spend every year on just these three products. If you could make them yourself for next to nothing, then doesn’t it make sense to save your hard earned money in these particular areas.

3.      Get creative with clothing. Like most women, it is totally possible for me to go out and spend money on new clothes when I have a ton of really great pieces at home. Therefore, this year I plan to use my old clothing and make new outfits by either changing them up entirely or mix and matching for a new look…or swapping with a friend! The same is true for my kids’ clothes too.

4.      Cut back on the “extras.” I admit, I like a good manicure and pedicure just as much as the next woman…in fact, I may like them a little too much. It isn’t a rarity for me to go at least once or twice  a month for my hair and nails. I have highlights in my hair, which costs me $100 every six weeks to redo and get a haircut. My manicures and pedicures are another $80-$100 per month  (if I go twice a month) and my monthly massages add up too. These are all things that I am choosing to go without until we get everything paid off except our vehicles and mortgage payment. I figure this will save me at least $250-$300 a month.

It’s not that saving money in the new year is going to be hard, it’s enforcing the willpower to refrain is what will be the hard part. So, what about you? How do you plan to save money this year?

January 14, 2014

Kid Birthday Party Planning Tips

I think I’ve mentioned a few times over the last couple of months that my oldest son is about to turn six. His birthday is next weekend and while we usually do a big BBQ with family and close friends for his birthday, we promised him that we would let him have a birthday party with his school friends starting when he was six. So, this year we are entering the world of “kid birthday parties.”

Planning a child birthday party for little ones and their friends always looks like a fun thing to do when you are pregnant or your child is still an infant. However, when the time comes, it is just a tad bit stressful. At least that’s how I am feeling right now. However, I have learned a few things during this party planning phase that have kept my stress level to a minimum. You may benefit from one or more of these tips:

1.      Pay for a venue. Over the last 5 years, birthday parties have always been held at my house. While they are always fun as we have a lot of family and friends attend, the cleanup portion isn’t so much fun. And, when hosting a party at home, I can never predict how long it will last. This year, since there will be a lot of little ones attending, I made the decision to book the party at the gym where my son takes gymnastics. Here’s why:

·         It’s in contained area. (children will not get lost)
·         The party can only last a maximum of 2 hours.
·         I don’t have to worry about cleanup other than what I bring (cake, presents, etc.).

2.      Make your own invitations. In the past, I have always had really cute photo invitations made for my son’s birthday. I know these are great keepsakes for family members and some of our close friends. However, the invitations that will go to school with my son and be distributed by the teacher will most likely end up on the refrigerator and tossed in the trash once the party date is past. Therefore, why waste the money on nice picture invites? This year, I went on Etsy and paid $9 for a lady to design a cute Jake and the Neverland Pirates invitation and just printed them on white cardstock at home. I couldn’t even buy the cheap invitations at the store for what I spent on these. And it was simple!

3.      Order party supplies online. Believe it or not, you can save a lot of money by ordering party supplies online instead of shopping locally. My favorite place to go for party supplies is Ebay. I was able to find balloons, party gift bags, party favors and even an edible cake topper on Ebay for less than $40 and I didn’t have to leave the house. As for the cake, I will be taking the cake topper to a local bakery and have them put it on a cake, but for this party, the cake is the only thing that I will have to get out and purchase. Being able to do everything from home makes the process a lot less stressful!

I’m looking forward to my son’s 6th birthday party now that all the legwork is done. The three tips above saved me a lot of time and money, but more importantly, stress. Hopefully, you have found the tips above helpful. Please share any of your kid party planning tips that you feel make the planning stage easier!

December 30, 2013

Mothering 101: The Importance of Maintaining a Healthy Body Image of Yourself

As women, most of us worry about our weight and the current state of our figure. As the Trace Adkins song goes, “You want that body back you had a 17…” – I know that is true for me. I mean, really….what woman doesn’t want to look like she did in high school? Back when our skin was tight, gravity hadn’t affected us yet and we had no idea what a “muffin top” was.

While most of us worry about our appearance and work to get it back into shape (or the shape we used to have, anyways), for those of us with children, it is incredibly important that we keep a healthy perspective about ourselves and our bodies. Why? Those little people are studying us.

In fact, our children are better than spies. They watch everything. They pay attention to the things we say to people, about people and especially how we talk about ourselves. They learn what is right and wrong with the world by the things we say. Therefore, if we are constantly saying, “I need to lose weight,” or “I wish I looked like that,” then our kids are going to believe that we’re right and there really is something wrong with us because we don’t look like the models on the magazine covers.

For those of you with young girls, I can’t stress enough how important it is for you to make peace with your body. When mothers are so focused on the way they look, or appear to be to their daughters, this attitude will pass on to their girls. As the girls grow, they will begin to critique their own bodies and, if they aren’t happy with what they see, they could develop an eating disorder, low self-esteem or some other unhealthy habit.

While those are all bad, the worst is probably the fact that these girls will hold their self-value in their appearances. It won’t matter how smart they are or that they have a large group of friends who like them for their personality, all that they will focus on is their looks. I’m fairly certain that this is not something any mother wants for her daughter. Therefore, she needs to change the way she talks about herself in front of her daughter. Sure, we all have imperfections and it’s okay to work on those imperfections, but we shouldn’t focus on them to the point that we don’t see the beauty in anything else.

For those of us with young boys, it’s still important that we maintain a healthy body image of ourselves. Our little boys are looking to us, their mothers, to show them what qualities are desirable in women. I know that I don’t want my boys to grow up to be so shallow as to believe that the only beautiful women are those who are “skinny.” True beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and is much deeper than skin deep. That is what I want my boys to know as they get older and begin to date.

I don’t want them to date girls only because they believe them to be pretty on the outside. I want them to date the girls who they believe are pretty inside and out. And, believe it or not, it starts with me.

December 27, 2013

How to Save on a New Year’s Eve Dress

Although we often focus on Christmas at the holidays, Christmas isn’t the only holiday during this time of year. For most Americans, there are three holidays they celebrate within a 2 month period: Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. The reason we are so focused on Christmas is because that is the busiest of the three holidays. It’s also the most expensive, which causes many people to look for ways to cut costs at this time of year and I’m one of them!

By the time we reach the day after Christmas, most of us are a bit relieved, but still feeling the financial strain the holiday placed on us. However, we have to press on in order to make it through New Year’s Eve. After all, what is New Year’s Eve without the customary celebration? It’s boring!

Okay, so you can’t cut a lot of costs of New Year’s Eve by eliminating the party, but you can save money when shopping for the New Year’s Eve dress with the tips below.

1.      Wear an “Old” Dress – Gasp! I know, I just suggested you reuse one of your holiday dresses for the New Year’s Eve party. Before you freak out about it, think about it rationally. Choosing a dress you already own for the party will save you a ton of money. And, when you accessorize it differently that you have before, most people won’t even realize that you are wearing the same dress! For example, wearing different jewelry, adding a bolero jacket and/or adding an accent belt at the waist are all simple ways to create a new look with an old dress.

2.      Swap with a Friend – Another great way to save money on a New Year’s Eve dress is to exchange dresses with a friend who is close to the same size as you. Basically, you and your friend should take turns shopping for a dress in the other’s closet. Although the dress belongs to someone else, it is still new to you and everyone at the party!

3.      Hit the Sale Racks – I’m not sure why, but some women have a phobia about purchasing dresses from sales racks. Don’t be one of these people. If you have to have a new dress for this event, then shop the clearance rack at the stores. Most likely you will find the perfect dress for a fraction of what it would have cost brand new!

Remember that the amount of money spent on a piece of clothing is not what really makes a dress “great!” What makes a dress great is the woman wearing it. If she is confident about what she is wearing, then she will naturally be in a good mood. Therefore, don’t focus so much on money when it comes to the perfect New Year’sEve dress. Instead, look for one that makes you feel beautiful without breaking the bank!

December 19, 2013

Holiday Treats for Kids

We are right in the midst of the holiday hustle and bustle as Christmas is less than a week away! What does this mean, aside from the shopping and wrapping? It means that the kids are about to go on Christmas break for a couple of weeks!

I have to admit that sometimes I get a little apprehensive about the school breaks as it is hard to keep little minds busy and out of trouble. However, at the holidays, I do look forward to spending extra time with my school-age son and his little brother, together. One of the things that I make a point to do with my little “big” man is to get him in the kitchen with me so we can bake some of our favorite holiday treats.

These moments are precious to me because I know that my boys are going to outgrow the age where they enjoy cooking with their mom soon. Plus, we never know when our last breath will come so it’s important to make the most of the time we have with our children.  Anyways, if you are looking for some holiday treats that the kids will enjoy making and the whole family will love, here are a few recipes!

Pistachio “Christmas” Cookies

1 Pkg. Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix
1 Box Pistachio Pudding/Pie Filling Mix
1.4 C. Flour
½ C. Melted Butter
2 Eggs
1 C. Shelled & Chopped Pistachio Nuts
½ C. Dried Cranberries

1.      Preheat oven to 350°.
2.      Stir cookie mix, pudding and flour together in a large bow.. Then, add the eggs and butter. Stir until mixed well.
3.      Fold in pistachios and cranberries.
4.      On parchment lined cookie sheet, place rounded spoonful about 1 inch apart and bake for 8-10 minutes.  (Makes about 2 dozen cookies)

Not Your Ordinary Peppermint Bark

Starburst or Jolly Rancher Candy Canes, Crushed (I use the strawberry, cherry and mixed berry flavors. Will need 1 cup of candy)
2 lbs. White Chocolate
2-3 t. Peppermint Extract

1.      Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or, if in a hurry, the microwave.
2.      Add peppermint extract and then fold in the crushed candy canes.
3.      Evenly pour/spread mixture on a wax-paper lined cookie sheet and freeze for 20-30 minutes.
4.      Break apart into pieces and enjoy!

Famous Kiss Cookies

1 C. Creamy Peanut Butter
1 C. Sugar
1 Egg
1 t. Vanilla
Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Cookies

1.      Preheat oven to 350°.
2.      Stir the peanut butter and sugar together until well mixed. It may appear to be “fluffy.” Next, blend in the egg and vanilla.
3.      On a greased cookie sheet, place cookie dough balls about 2 inches apart and bake for 10-12 minutes. (The tops should be slightly cracked.)
4.      Once the cookies are out of the oven, set cookie sheet on a wire rack and immediately press one Hershey’s kiss into the center of each cookie.
5.      Let cool. Enjoy! (Makes about 2 dozen cookies)

If you haven’t ever taken the time to bake with your kiddos at the holidays, try to carve out a small block of time this year. You and your kids will both make memories that will last a lifetime…and yummy treats that’ll last about 2 days (if you’re lucky!). 

3 Cool Christmas Gift Ideas for Young Boys

Have you started your Christmas shopping yet? Last night, I finally got on the ball and did a little shopping via the internet (my favorite way to shop!) and “knocked off” three people from my holiday shopping list. They were all little boys…as the mom of two boys myself, it makes shopping for other boys much easier and they are usually the first ones to get scratched off the list.

However, just because I am able to get the little boys gifts before all the adults on my list, that doesn’t mean that I don’t have a hard time coming up with ideas for them. This is why I start shopping early for them. As a result of my online shopping trip last night, I actually found three cool Christmas gift ideas for young boys and I wanted to share them with you because I know that some of you are at a loss for what to get your little men this year for Christmas…and possibly even their birthdays?

1.      Heavy Duty Metal Trucks – It’s common knowledge that little boys enjoy playing with trucks. For the last 5 years, my son has continuously asked his grandparents, aunts and uncles for trucks for birthday and Christmas gifts. However, boys are ROUGH on those trucks and sadly, not many of them have withstood his rough playing habits. This year, my husband and I are going to get him a big truck for Christmas, but it will be a heavy duty metal truck that he shouldn’t be able to break. These trucks are more expensive (usually starting at $50 or so), but when you figure how much you (and relatives) will spend on cheaper trucks that break, the extra money is well worth it…and, at Christmastime, you can’t go wrong with the big trucks!

2.      Magformers – If you have a little man who enjoys building, then check out the Magformers. I just discovered these last night, but it is my understanding that they have been around for years. Magformers are building sets that consist of different shaped pieces (hexagons, triangles, pentagons, rectangles, squares, etc.) that are all magnetized so that they can easily connect together to construct three-dimensional items. While you may be concerned when you see the price for these sets, based on the reviews I have read, Magformers are great quality and keep kids entertained from as low as age two (2) to age fifteen (15). Plus, there are a wide variety of sets available at all different prices ranges and each set can be combined with other sets so they sound like a pretty good investment. I ended up purchasing three sets, one for my son and one for each of his two cousins.

3.      Etch A Sketch – I know, this is definitely a throwback for most of us, but do you remember how cool it was to draw something with an Etch A Sketch? For parents who are looking for creative gifts to help keep their boys entertained while using their imaginations (and not bouncing off the wall), an Etch A Sketch is a great option. Not only will it help boys concentrate, but it will also help young boys work on their fine motor skills and hand/eye coordination. 

December 16, 2013

Winter Safety Tips

I know the winter season brings a lot of anticipation and excitement for kids and adults alike. However, even though there are so many fun things associated with this season, we do need to remember that winter can also bring a lot of hardships to those who aren’t prepared. Frozen pipes, loss of electricity and hazardous driving conditions are just a few of the many problems that are often associated with winter. The good news is that these problems and those occurring as a result of these issues, can often be prevented with a little preparation. Below are some winter safety tips to ensure you and your family aren’t caught off guard when “Old Man Winter” comes knocking.

1.      Thoroughly Inspect the Heater and Its Components: If you haven’t already done so, now is an excellent time to go and check over your heater and all of its components to make sure everything is in good working order. Many people find that their heater malfunctions at the beginning of winter due to the fact that it hasn’t been ran in nine months or more. You can prevent any hardship resulting from this issue, by checking it out ahead of time. If it looks like a potential problem may occur, call in a professional to inspect it and fix any issues it has.

2.      Check Gasoline Levels in the Generator: It’s important that you keep your generator full of gasoline at all time because you never know when a serious winter storm is going to hit. Sometimes storms that don’t look bad turn serious very quickly and there may not be time for you to fill up the generator if the electricity goes out. It’s also a good idea to fire up the generator every so often to ensure that it is still in good working order.

3.      Replace Bad Tires: If the tread on your tires look like they are close to being dubbed “bald” then you need to get them replaced before the heart of winter arrives. When snow and ice get stuck to the road, you really need all the traction you can get from your tires to help keep you out of the ditch. If you live in an area where chains are used to help maneuver through these hazardous conditions, get them out and have them ready to go before any bad weather arrives.

4.      Keep a First Aid Kit in the Car: Even though you may have a newer car, new tires and are experiencing no car trouble, that doesn’t mean something unexpected can’t happen and leave you stranded somewhere in a snowstorm. Make sure that you have a first aid kit in the vehicle as well as a thick/heavy blanket and some non-perishable food items that you can get to in case of an emergency. It’s always better to be over-prepared than to not be prepared at all.

I am hoping that no one has to go through any winter hardships this year, but just in case something unexpected happens, it’s best to be prepared to soften the blow. The above list should help you with that. Are there any other winter safety tips that I have forgotten?

December 11, 2013

Bedtime Routines and the Holidays

What are your thoughts about bedtime routines for the kids? Before I became a parent, I didn’t really think a lot about them. I honestly don’t remember whether I was for or against them. However, now that I am the parent of two kiddos, one of whom is in Kindergarten this year, I can assure you that I am a huge fan of the predictable bedtime routine.

Why support regular bedtime routines? I believe that children need routines. Routines give children a sense of security in the crazy, fast-paced world that we live in. Why? They are routines, therefore, they are predictable. In other words, they’re safe and our kids feel happier when they feel safe.

While routines give our kids the security “blanket” they need in order to help ensure they have better, less stressful days, routines also help parents too. This is especially true around the holidays! How exactly do bedtime routines for the kids help parents during the holiday season.

1.      Provide extra time to catch up. I’m not sure about you, but I tend to be a bit of a procrastinator and it shows every year when the holidays run around. It’s literally all I can do to get all of the Christmas gifts bought, goodies made for the neighbors and parties, and the house decorated, let alone get the gifts wrapped before our Christmas celebration. This is why I love continuing the bedtime routines throughout Christmas Break…it gives me the time I need to get the kids’ Christmas presents wrapped.

2.      Happy kids make for happy adults. If there’s one thing that gets on my nerves faster than a fly buzzing around, it’s listening to whiney children. Not really so much other people’s kids, but when my kids are whiney, it really gets on my nerves…fast. I have found that keeping the bedtime routine throughout the long days of Christmas break actually keeps my kids in better moods because they are continuing to get the same amount of sleep (if not a hair more) than they were when they were in school. And, when they are happy and a pleasure to be around, I’m happier.

3.      Much needed “down” time. Another reason it’s important (at least for me) to keep the bedtime routines going during the holidays is because when the kids have a set bedtime, that means we have a set “down” time. You may not think that it’s important to give yourself a little “me” time, but during the holidays when the kids are home all day, every day for a couple of weeks, just knowing that there is a scheduled for when the questions and sibling fighting will stop, is enough to make me stay relaxed.

So, what are your thoughts about holiday bedtime routines? Do you keep them, lighten up a little about them but still try to stick to a “roundabout” time or just throw them out the window? Why?