Preschoolers

Easy Valentine’s Day crafts for kids

little boy dressed for Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day is in just a few weeks! My kids love making “art-crafts,” so I thought I’d discuss some ways to allow kids to be creative while celebrating.

Let me be up-front: These ideas aren’t meant to be Pinterest-worthy, beautiful masterpieces. The goal of these ideas isn’t necessarily a perfect looking keepsake for Grandma. This is more about allowing kids to have fun and to learn through doing (and maybe to keep them occupied for a few minutes so you can get something done or simply have a break!). I’m a big believer that it’s better for kids to do crafts on their own terms than for me to hover and make sure that everything is perfectly in place, so if that means that a googly eye is glued kinda wonky, so be it. I want my children to take pride in their own work!

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Why is positive parenting so much more effective than spanking?

If you’re a a late Gen X or Millennial parent, you’ve probably noticed that parenting advice and styles seem a lot different from when we were kids. Or perhaps it’s just that parenting advice is a lot more available now than it was when our parents had us (thank you, interwebs!).

Either way, times have changed, and there’s a lot of emphasis on positive parenting, gentle parenting, responsive parenting, or whatever you want to call it (and yes, there are subtle differences among these, but I’m just putting them together for now).

My experience growing up, at least, is that kids were expected to be kept “in line.” After all, the world works on the premise that there is always someone who has authority over you, and you need to obey that authority. One day we would be all sent out as adults, and we needed to know how the world works.

If you show up late, you’d get written up.

If you don’t perform at your job, you’d be fired.

If you break the law, you’d get arrested.

Therefore, it was imperative that we learned that misbehavior led to punishment, so we wouldn’t screw up too badly later once the stakes were too high.

Of course, this is only my experience, and it’s influenced by the cultural, social, and religious atmosphere I was brought up in, but I’m sure there are more of us who were exposed to these ideas. But wow, what a dismal view of the world… there’s not a lot of grace in this scenario!

While of course I want my children to accept responsibility for their actions and to respect others, I don’t want every choice they make to stem from a place of fear! So that’s why I’ve started looking into more positive parenting styles. I want my children’s actions to flow from a heart that is secure in love.

I want my children's actions to flow from a heart that is secure in love.

And as it turns out, science has shown that the way many of us were raised actually isn’t even effective! So let’s look at one of the most contested old-school styles of discipline, corporal punishment, and why positive parenting (or responsive parenting) is so much better.


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How mindfulness can make you a better parent

mindful parenting

Mindfulness can make or break a whole afternoon with your child! How can this concept teach you to use responsive parenting instead of reactive parenting?

Case in point: A week or so ago, I unexpectedly ended up being the one to pick up General Leia from school. When she saw me, the first words out of her mouth were, “Can we go over to Nana’s and Poppa’s to do my art project?”

I won’t lie, I was a little disappointed. I was hoping for a “Hooray! I’m so happy to see you, Mother dearest!”

But I told her cheerfully, “Sorry, we can’t play go to Nanna’s and Poppa’s house tonight. We have to go get your brother and sister and then go home.” This started a whole dramatic ordeal in which Leia’s world was ended and she cried as I walked past the other moms picking up their own cherubs from school. Awesome.

My instincts in that moment were not MOTY material. Ungrateful little kid, you could at least pretend you liked me. Honestly, I wanted to be snarky with her, because my feelings were hurt.

But I thought about where she was coming from, how I wasn’t who she expected that afternoon. Perhaps she had been thinking about doing that art project all day, and then there I was instead, blocking her from painting and creating. So I tried to stay positive, and after a bit we somehow made going to the pharmacy to pick up a neti-pot into a little adventure (you get adventure where you can!).

Of course, I don’t always do that well when my kids are in a bad mood. It’s hard to do!

But what if, instead of reacting according to our instinctive, negative emotions, we stopped and evaluated our thoughts first? 

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The only three family rules you need

With children, you never know what they’re going to do on any given day. No wonder you need some great family rules!

Case in point: A few days ago, my husband and I came home from a trip with some chocolates that I’m really looking forward to. Even though we don’t do a lot of sweets for the kids, we also got them a few chocolate covered pretzels and let them have a piece the night we got back into town. So my kids knew there was chocolate on the counter.

I came to the kitchen yesterday to see that Bella Bean, my three year old (and scrounger), was about to get into the candy. I moved it to the top of the fridge (where they couldn’t reach even with a stool) and then put all three kids to bed.

The next morning, we got up and I started getting dressed. I noticed a suspicious quiet (you know what I’m talking about, parents of toddlers). Continue Reading

11 steps to calm tantrums

temper tantrum


We’ve all had that moment out in public where your child freaks out and it feels like everyone is looking. Or maybe you’re running late for an appointment, and of course your three-year old picks that day to lose his mind about not getting to wear snow boots in July. It can be so stressful when your young child falls apart, especially whether you are in public or you just don’t have time to handle a meltdown.

Are you desperate for effective parenting strategies to calm toddler tantrums? Or perhaps your preschooler (or older!) is having frequent meltdowns and you need help dealing? After all, the mindset of just. make. it. stop. isn’t enough. You want to help your child grow through these experiences, and heck, maybe for you to have some personal growth too. Here are some gentle parenting strategies to help you do just that.  Continue Reading

Use play to reconnect with your child

preschooler meltdown



You know those days when your precious little cherub is just driving you nuts? When you are about to lose it, and in your defense, she really isn’t at her best either?

Yesterday was one of those days. I was at home with the three kids (five, three, and one and a half), and the oldest had gotten really whiny. She was wanting some screen time and it just wasn’t in the schedule at the time.

“But Momma, I’m missing my game time…”

“Please let me play?”

I tell her it’s not time right now.

“Just please let me play?”

I say, “I’ve already told you no.”

“I just can’t think of anything else to do.”

Getting irritated, I say, “You can either play or help me put up laundry.”

Ensue crying. “I don’t want to do either of those things.  I only want to play my game!”

And so it went on.  My patience was wearing super thin.

It was just after Halloween, and both my little girls had chosen to be witches (they were adorable, by the way). Bella Bean, my three-year old, had put on her witch costume while all this whining was going down, and kept walking into the middle of the swath of folded laundry surrounding me as I was trying to get it all put away (also a pet peeve of mine). Suddenly, I had an idea to try to help everyone get it back together. (more…)