School age

The effects of screen time on your kid’s brain (and how to avoid them!)

Screen time for kids is a big issue right now! Everywhere you go, children are exposed to phones and TVs. There are even tablets marketed exclusively to children!

If you’re a parent who tries to avoid screen time for your kids, you know how exhausting it can get. TVs are everywhere you go: restaurants (why?!), Target, even some children’s clothing stores. And if you visit friends or family who keep their tv on all the time out of habit, it can be even more difficult to control exposure to screens.

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Toys that encourage free play for kids

magnatiles

Early childhood is such a critical period. And it seems everybody who sells toys wants to tell you how their product will help your child learn. So what should you choose?

Toys billed as educational, like those that say letters and numbers, initially seem to be a great choice. After all, they’re teaching your kids to read!

Or is there something potentially dangerous going on with these talking toys? Learn more about the roll of toys in a child’s life, and how interactive toys affect early childhood development! (more…)

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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Positive parenting vs. spanking: The research

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.

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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). (more…)