August 26, 2012

Tips for Parents with Back-to-School Blues

If you have little ones who you are sending off to school for the first time, or maybe this is their second, third or fourth year of school, it can be difficult. Most people try not to focus on themselves when it’s time to send their kids back to school, but for many parents with little ones, this time of the year can be emotional and somewhat sad. While we enjoy watching our kids grow and experience new things, we don’t necessarily like seeing them “grow up” and that’s exactly what they are doing when they begin school. They aren’t those little babies we carried around for so long wearing the cute little dresses or vest sets we picked out for them. Now, they’re growing up and starting to experience new situations on their own, as well as get their own opinions, without mom or dad.

Therefore, it’s completely normal for parents of young children to get the back-to-school blues too. This is especially true for parents who are able to stay at home for their children. It can be quite a shock for these parents when they walk into an empty, and silent, house for that first week (or month) after school starts. So, how can parents help get rid of the back-to-school blues?

•    Allow yourself a good cry. It’s okay to feel sad when you send your little one off to school. Once your little one is out of sight and you are able to get away from everyone for a bit, allow yourself to cry. Crying is actually good for you, believe it or not. It’s a way for your body to release emotions that are building up. Once you’re able to release all these emotions, you will find it easier to focus on other things and go about your day. Just make sure you wait until you are away from your child, the school and his/her friends before you begin crying.

•    Explore a new hobby/interest. Now that your little one is off to school, you’ve got time on your hands. Why not take advantage of this extra time to begin exploring a new (or old) interest? For instance, maybe you’ve always wanted to get a gym membership but haven’t had the time to go workout regularly? Get the gym membership and go work out after you drop your little one off at school each day. Or, maybe you’ve always wanted to take photography classes…sign up for one! Whatever it is that you’re interested in, now is the time to begin exploring it!

•    Get involved with the school. Another great way to ease your back-to-school blues is to get involved at the school. Sign up to help with parties in your child’s classroom. You can also sign up with the PTA and volunteer to go on field trips. Once you begin to get involved with the various things going on at the school, especially in your child’s classroom, you’ll notice the back-to-school blues fading.

August 22, 2012

Attitude and Behavior Charts for Toddlers

As many of you know, my son is 4 ½ years old. This is the latter stages of toddlerhood, but that doesn’t mean we still don’t deal with some of the bad attitudes and behaviors that toddlers exhibit. I’ll be honest, I’m a firstborn (if you haven’t read The Birth Order Book by Kevin Lehman, you need too) which means I’m very headstrong, legalistic and like to analyze everything. My son is also a firstborn, meaning he has many of the same traits I do. Needless to say, his attitude and behavior can easily wear me out as it’s like arguing with myself sometimes.

After doing some research online, I found a little information about attitude and behavior charts for kids and decided to try it out. Basically, all that this comprises of is drawing a chart with seven columns (one for each day of the week) and when I tell my son to do something and he does it with a good attitude or I tell him not to do something and he stops right when I tell him, he gets to put a smiley face (stamp) in the column for that day. Now, when he misbehaves or has a rotten attitude regarding something, he has to put a red X (stamp also) in the column.

At the end of each day, right before bed we count the number of smiley faces he has, write it down and then we add up the number of red X’s he has and write them. We subtract the number of X’s from the number of smiley faces and the total is how many “reward bucks” he earned for the day. I have a reward chart set up that has 10 different rewards listed on it – all worth different amounts of “reward bucks.” Some are simple and easy to reach…like snocones, candy and renting a movie. Others are more difficult and will require him to save his reward bucks…these are things like bowling, going to the movie and skate town (local roller skating rink).

We’ve only been doing this for a few days now and my husband and I have noticed a pretty big change in our son. Instead of telling him numerous times to do something, he usually does it right off the bat – and without grumbling about it too! The other thing we’ve noticed is that when he starts to get an attitude all we have to say is, “change your attitude,” and the problem stops.
My son is one who likes to “see” the progress he’s making, which is why the attitude and behavior chart has worked so well. He can literally see how good he’s been throughout the day by looking at the smiley faces on the chart. Plus, at the end of the day he gets to collect reward bucks if there are more smiley faces than X’s.

We have also started a small Chore Chart for our son too. Every day he’s responsible for doing certain things (brushing his teeth, making his bed, feeding the dog, picking up toys, etc.) and at the end of the week, we will pay him for the “work” he’s done. This has also helped eliminate many of the arguments we would have with him because now he knows he can earn his own money by doing the things on the list.

Additionally, it also helps at the store because we don’t have to go through the whole “can I have a toy, mom?” routine. He understands that by saving up his money, he can buy the toys he wants. So, whether it’s a couple of cool new shirts or the latest action figure that he wants, he is knows he’s got to save his money to buy them.

I know this isn’t the typical blog post you would expect from Kids Formal, but I know a lot of you have young children at home and are struggling to figure out how to get their attitudes and behaviors under control. The attitude and behavior chart seems to have transformed my child overnight, so I wanted to share the idea with you. Even the chore chart has made a big difference – and both charts teach something whether it’s simply math or money, which is always a bonus.
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August 16, 2012

Unscheduled Vacations and How to Pack for Them

While the majority of people are fortunate enough to schedule their vacations months (or more) in advance, there are still some people who don’t always get that lucky. Maybe you are a planner, but have recently been notified that you and your family will take an unscheduled vacation/getaway in a week or less. If you’re a parent, then your mind has probably went into overdrive trying to figure out how you are supposed to get you and your family packed and ready to go on such a short notice. Below are some tips to help you get the job done!

1. Make a List, Pronto. Shortly after you find out you’ll be taking a vacation, make a list of what you will need. Make your list around your destination. For example, if you’re going to be going somewhere close to the beach, you will need to make sure beach towels, sunscreen and flip-flops are all on your list. On the other hand, if you’re attending the impromptu wedding of a family member or friend, you’ll need to make sure your list includes dresses for girls and suits/tuxedos for boys, depending on how formal the event is. Basically, making a list immediately will help ensure that you don’t forget anything on your trip.

2. Do Laundry. One of the best tips for packing for quick trips is to do laundry immediately. Once you do laundry, pack the clothes you want to take on vacation right then. If they are packed, then you won’t wear them before leaving for your trip. In addition, you’ll have one less thing to worry about as your clothing will already be packed and ready to go.

3. Pack the Carry On First. If you are flying, then it’s best to pack your carry-on luggage first. Focus on the flight(s) and the layover(s) you will experience along the way. What items do you and your family members need the most during the in-transit time? Those are the items that should go in your carry-on luggage. Once you’ve got your carry-ons packed and ready to go, start packing the rest of your luggage. A lot of time can be wasted if you try to pack both sets of luggage at once because you aren’t able to decide which suitcase an item belongs in. However, if you pack them separately (carry-on first, bigger luggage second), you’ll find the process goes much quicker.

August 11, 2012

Getting Your Money Out of Little Suits

At one point or another, we all have to purchase a boy’s suit for our son. The problem a lot of us have with this is that boys’ suits and tuxedos cost a lot of money when you consider how quickly the little guys grow out of them. In most cases, we buy the suits for a special occasion and don’t put our little boys in them again after the event is over. However, there are a few things you can do to get a little extra money out of the boys’ suits you have to purchase.

1. Order a size bigger. Yes, I know you are ordering the suit for a specific event and don’t necessarily want it to be too big. However, if you order the suit a size bigger, the pants and the jacket should both be a little too long, but still fit decently around the body. All you have to do is take the suit in to be altered. Have the alterations person hem it so that when your son grows, you can simply let out the hem and he can reuse the suit.

2. Make it a point to wear the suit to other events. If you really want to get your money out of the boys’ suit you’ve just purchased, make sure your son wears it more than once. While you may have purchased it specifically for a wedding, there’s no reason your son can’t wear the suit to church…especially for special events like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas services. You can also have your son wear the suit to various school events also (school programs, recitals, “meet the players” sport night, etc.).

3. Keep it for later. If you haven’t finished having children, then store those expensive suits! You never know if your next one will be a boy. If it is, then you may be able to avoid buying another suit by saving your oldest son’s formal suits. This will definitely ensure that you get your money out of the suit!

4. Pass it on or sell it. If you know that you’re finished having children, then consider passing the suit on down to someone with a little boy who can’t afford to buy a brand new one. If you don’t know anyone who needs a little boy’s suit, then take a picture of it and post it on Facebook or Craigslist and sell it. There’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to get some of your money back once you’re finished with it, right?