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‘For Purpose Kids’ Helps Make Kindness a Habit

Be Kind. Do Good. Make the World Better.

For Purpose Kid’s simple motto is one we should all strive to raise our kids by today. 

How can we habitually make kindness and goodness an authentic part of childhood despite the self-serving culture that we are raising our kids in?

We must decide that it’s important enough to live these important values out regularly. Thanks to the value-based Toolkits from For Purpose Kids, parents now have tangible tools to use to teach younger children important character traits.

It’s a parent’s duty to purposely instill the pertinent lifelong values that will develop children of character who can go into the world and make it a better place.

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Founder Misty Castañeda started imagining how different the world might look if we, as parents, consciously raised kids to be kind and caring, so she created an interactive learning program known as For Purpose Kids.

The For Purpose Kids Toolkits inspire children 5 to 10 to learn about being kind and doing good for people, communities, animals, and the environment through activities, books, and events. Built upon a subscription model for ongoing, interactive learning, the Toolkits engage young kids in meaningful conversations using multicultural characters and stories.

Misty graciously sent our family the Do Good Starter Kit, so my youngest son and I kicked off summer break by opening it up and talking through its contents.

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In our family, we focus on showing kindness and love, so this subscription box fits the values we are already authentically trying to live out.

My son cut out the characters and had the idea to write their names on the tops of them. We were able to read through the descriptions of each character, and he decided that Deepu was his favorite because of his love for animals.

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The journal was our favorite product in the box. Even though you can buy a journal anywhere, this Yoobi one felt special because it was specifically designed to use for our journey in showing kindness. We thought it was a perfect idea to write down our Random Acts of Kindness that we already authentically do in our lives. It will be even more fun now having somewhere we can log all of our fun and kind moments together.

Read my post on For Purpose Kids – Why We Need to Prioritize Serving With Our Kids!

This journal will be a great tool to help my son work on his writing and storytelling skills. He is excited about the journal because it came in this subscription box. If I had pulled out a blank book and said he was going to write in it, I’m sure this opportunity would not feel as fun.

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For every For Purpose Kids Toolkit purchased, five meals are donated to kids at the Sunnaay Foundation, an organization in New Delhi, India that provides basic education, nourishment, and support for underprivileged children. For Purpose Kids is not affiliated with any non-profit or religious organization, so you can incorporate your personal beliefs and faith alongside what is provided. 

In our family, we added Biblical scripture to further discuss why we live a life of kindness and love to others.

1-John-3:8

For Purpose Kids is offering my readers a 15% discount code until August 31 using ParentonPurpose.

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Sharents: Why You Need To Pause Before You Post

We’re headed off on a week-long family trip, and in our excitement, we post pictures on Facebook of our departure from the country.

Our son receives a prestigious award at school, so we proudly post him holding his certificate on Instagram. #proudmom

It’s our daughter’s birthday, so we lovingly celebrate her by sharing a collage of pictures throughout her life even though she’s not even on the social platform.

Yes, we are proud of our offspring.

Of course, we want to share our child’s cute face and shining moments for friends and family to see.

Naturally, we’re excited to head off on that much-awaited family vacation. 

But, should we be sharing our kids’ images and our precious family moments online?

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With June being Internet Safety Month, it made me think about my ‘sharenting’ habits and question if it’s a problem posting all that we are on our social feeds?

Are there risks to our ‘sharenting’? 

Dr. Lisa Strohman, Psychologist and Founder of Digital Citizen Academy, says absolutely and it’s why she doesn’t do it. She is a mother of two tweens who you won’t see anywhere on her social media feeds. She and her husband purposely keep their children offline.

“Neither one of us post anything about kids on social media,” says Strohman. “I’m really specific what I allow to be tagged as well. It’s not my right to post on my child’s behalf when it’s not their choice.”

Where do we draw the line between our freedom as a parent to post and a child’s right to privacy?

“I am a full believer that kids should come into adulthood with as little digital footprints as they possibly can,” says Dr. Strohman. “As a parent, I feel it isn’t our place to ‘brand’ them at a place in time with something that could come back and haunt them later. I mean, who would want our hairstyle from the ’80s to show up in any searchable database?”

Why we may need to change our ‘sharenting’ habits

Parents need to understand that the choices they make today could impact their child ten years from now. “If I’m sharing something about my child that they did when they were seven, who is going to see that?” questions Dr. Strohman. “You have zero control if you post on social, where those images go.”

Podcaster and Writer, Meagan Francis witnessed this firsthand when someone lifted her photo from Facebook and turned it into a meme that quickly went viral. Having a stranger turn her difficult mom moment into a viral meme was never her intention when she originally posted her picture, yet it’s the reality that can happen to any of us who post our images and stories online.

Allow your child to create their own digital identity.

“I recommend that you don’t post about your kids. You are creating a digital footprint on behalf of them that they haven’t created themselves or wanted to,” says Strohman. 

But, if you must post, think long and hard about what information you are putting online. What is the purpose of posting that image or story?

Most parents say they are posting on social media to keep families up to date with the latest photos of the kids. “The problem is when you do this publicly rather than in a file sharing program that doesn’t make it public like Dropbox or Google Drive, then you have no control who will see them, rip the images and use them in a way that you could be horrified to find out later,” says Dr. Strohman.

Put your child’s pictures back in the photo album where they belong.

Sharents need to mindfully print and preserve precious family photos instead of constantly posting them on the internet.

Rachel Musnicki spoke for many kids in her article on Your Teen Magazine, “We hate it when you tell our friends embarrassing stories in person; it’s worse when you post them on Facebook. Remember, nothing ever goes away on the Internet. We don’t want to be followed by that embarrassing nickname or baby picture on the Internet forever. I’d be mortified beyond belief if pictures of me with braces were on the Internet. Some images should remain hidden in a photo album.”

Consider removing images you’ve already posted of your child.

My daughter is embarrassed that when you google my name, a photo she doesn’t like comes up of her from five years ago on our RV sabbatical around the United States. At the moment she was okay with me posting the image, but five years later she wants it removed from cyberspace.

Fortunately, I know the owner of the podcast where it appears, and she agreed to take the image down. Other photos will remain online as they are attached to freelance articles that I’ve written, so they may unfortunately forever live on the web.    

Make a conscious choice to find other ways to connect with family and friends.

When prom season rolled around, I had to refrain from adding my teens’ pictures to the feed. Several good friends asked to see photos, and I was able to share the images with only my closest family and friends. 

My sons posted their prom pictures on their social media accounts, which is how it should be. We want to let our child create their digital footprint, instead of us building it for them.

What if we’re not ready to stop our ‘sharenting’? 

What should we consciously do before we post our child’s images and information online?

3 Things You Should Never Post

1. Don’t post your travels in real time.

You should never post ahead of or during a vacation.

“You are absolutely inviting people to your home especially if you are listed on the state website listing homeownership,” says Dr. Strohman. A driver’s license or a travel itinerary shared online could be valuable information for identity thieves and burglars. At least wait until you are back before posting your memorable moments.

2. Don’t post celebratory birthday messages.

With just a name, date of birth, and address (easy enough to find in a geotagged birthday party photo on Facebook, for example), bad actors can store this information until a person turns 18 and then begin opening accounts.

 “There is a lot of information people can pull from knowing your birthday,” says Strohman. “It takes away a huge unknown variable, for instance, if you are trying to steal someone’s identity.”

Get-Kids-Permission-Before-Sharing-on-Social-Sharents

3. Don’t post images of your child that they didn’t approve.

Always ask your child permission to post their image online and then respect their wishes if they say no. Also, understand that even if your child says yes today, they may later be embarrassed or upset about that photo living online later. 

Never tag your child or use their real name when posting their images either.

Remember that less is more when it comes to our ‘sharenting’.  Let’s be more mindful about the risks and consequences of posting on our child’s behalf. 

Have you experienced any issues from posting your child’s or family images online?

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How To Avoid a Passport Family Fail

As I scrolled Facebook, a post from a writer friend in California stopped me in my tracks. Arlene Pellicane announced that her family had to cancel their epic Italian vacation because the kids’ passports weren’t in compliance for international travel.

Next, I received an email newsletter from my professional organizer friend, Danielle Wurth, talking about how her family trip to Mexico was derailed because of a similar scenario.

Hearing their stories got me thinking about how you and I could avoid the stress and disappointments that they experienced. 

CHECK YOUR PASSPORT NOW

Seeing my friends’ international travel plans thwarted due to passport issues caused me to head directly to our safe to check our passport expiration dates. Low and behold, my husband’s passport was due to expire in 6 weeks.

We don’t have current plans to travel internationally, but thanks to my friends’ mishaps my husband was able to send in for his renewal and already has his passport back (valid for another 10 years) in hand for when he may need it. If my friends’ didn’t tell of their passport fails, we would’ve surely been in the same position when it came time to travel out of the country the next time.

3 Things My Friends’ Passport Fails Taught Me

1. Really smart people make mistakes

That means you and I are going to make mistakes, so we can relax knowing that failure is a part of life. My friends, Danielle and Arlene, are amazingly bright, talented business owners who have their acts together. It just goes to show you, that everyone makes mistakes.

Danielle’s husband was working on their boarding passes the night before they were to leave on their family trip to Cancun when Phil announced: Honey, my passport is expired!”

Now what?

2.  It’s an opportunity for the kids to see how you handle disappointment

When negative experiences happen that affect our families, it’s important that we use the time to teach our children lessons on how to handle disappointments, frustration, and failure. It is good for kids to see that their put-together parents even make big mistakes sometimes.

“The best part as a parent was, as it was all happening and we were realizing our trip was off, my kids (ages 9, 12, 14) didn’t get upset or blame me,” said Arlene.  “They said things like, “Mom, how could you have known about the passport? I mean, it was still valid (it expired in June, our trip was in March)” and “Mom, I’m so sorry for you, you’ve spent so much time planning.”

Arlene said, “It was a wonderful lesson on disappointment and that sometimes what you are excited about doesn’t come to pass…and that life moves on.  That was a really good lesson for all of us.”

What an inspiration to see how the Pellicane family regrouped and made the most of their family time together!

At the airport, the Wurths found out the only option was for Danielle and her sons to fly to Mexico as planned and for Phil to drive on Monday morning to the main passport office in Tucson (2 hours away). Danielle says, she hated to leave him behind and start their vacation without him, but they had no other choice.

“It was a gut-wrenching experience traveling internationally without Phil, who worked hard to plan the trip, and then was the one left behind,” said Danielle. “Having family dinner on vacation with one empty chair was bizarre and felt so out of place.” Luckily, he was able to fly out and join the family on Tuesday.

3. Our mistakes help other people

I’m so happy that my friends chose to vulnerably put their stories online in order to help others learn from their mistakes.

“Mistakes happen and lessons will be learned, but it’s important to be flexible, create a new game plan and a year from now it will be a great story in our family,” says Danielle.

Warren-Buffet-Quote-It's-good-To-Learn-From-Your-Mistakes

Use social media as a way to help people learn and grow from your experiences and mishaps. My friends’ stories helped our family and just maybe their misfortune will help you too!

3 Ways to Avoid a Passport Fail

1. Always keep your passport current

In today’s Amazon culture, we are used to being able to get anything we need immediately. Unfortunately, Passports are not one of them. You have to plan ahead.

Even if you don’t have any upcoming international travel planned, a family member might be traveling overseas and you want to be able to fly to them if necessary.

My friend, Kim McAvoy, learned this the hard way. Her mother was traveling in Budapest, Hungary when she fell stepping off a tour bus, hit her head and ended up in the hospital where she later died. Kim was unable to travel with her Dad and brothers because her passport had expired.

TIP: Make it a habit to check the expiration dates of your family passports at the beginning of every year.

2. Ensure 6 months of validity beyond your scheduled travel dates

Go ahead and renew your passport 6-9 months before you are to travel. Many countries won’t allow you to board the plane if your passport will expire in less than 6 months from your departure date.

Passports for applicants 16 and older are good for 10 years. Passports for children under the age of 16 are only valid for 5 years. Go ahead and renew early so you don’t have any emergencies.

Travel Smart: 6 Epic Travel Fails to Avoid 

Depending on where you live there are Emergency Passport locations which will expedite the process for a hefty fee. Desperate times call for desperate measures, but why not be proactive and avoid wasting your hard earned money.

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3. Make sure your passport is in proper condition

An expired passport is a common mistake, but it’s not the only one. You also need to make certain that your passport is not damaged in any way and also has enough blank pages available for travel.

Many countries require travelers to have at least two consecutive blank pages in their passports, while some even require four. Be sure to have more pages than you need for entry requirements. Passport and visa requirements can vary widely from one country to the next, and even seemingly insignificant violations can derail your travel plans.

For extensive online travel information, go to: https://travel.state.gov/

To avoid getting left behind at the airport, stranded at a border crossing or having to cancel your trip all together, make it a priority to keep your passport up to date and in good condition. 

Have you ever had a passport fail that derailed your travel plans? 

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6 Things You Should Do When Your Kid Has a Smartphone

Who’s bright idea was it to think that giving our youth iPhones was a good idea?

And why have we continued to follow along knowing that giving our kids iPhones isn’t smart?

I’m not sure how our family fell into society’s technology trap, but we did. Our teenagers have personal smartphones, but they don’t come without limits, rules, and restrictions.

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1. Have a family cell phone contract

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Purposely Plan Your Summer with The Essential Calendar – GIVEAWAY

Summer fun doesn’t plan itself!

With our busy family schedule, I was thrilled to find The 2019 Essential Summer Vacation Calendar. It’s the perfect tool to help me visually lay out how we are going to spend the kids’ nine weeks of summer break.

When do we have scheduled summer camps or organized activities?

When do we have time to fit in some family adventuring?

What about time away alone as husband and wife?

Do we have pockets of downtime in between organized activities for boredom and free play?

The Essential Calendar- Summer Vacation Edition- is a perfect tool to help anyone who wants to be organized and make memories this June, July, and August.

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The 2019 Essential Calendar Summer Edition runs from the weeks of Memorial Day through Labor Day. Featuring easy-to-read bold type on lightweight 18″x 24″ sheets, this simple calendar runs $15 and allows you to purposely plan your precious summer season.

9 Ways to Deliberately Design Your Summer

I had so much fun sitting down to colorfully decorate our calendar with what our busy family of seven already has scheduled. It’s perfect to post on the wall for all of our family members to see so no one has to keep asking me when they leave for summer camp or when we’re headed to California. It’s all there for them to see. They can also add anything to the family calendar as well!

Save Your Sanity with a Screen Time Strategy

The Essential Calendar owners, Crystal and Lindsay, are graciously giving away a summer vacation calendar to one of you, my lucky readers! Just comment on this post WHY you need this calendar to help you purposely live out your 2019 summer for your chance to win!

One winner will be randomly selected on June 9! Winner must reside in the United States for shipping purposes.

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HAPPY CAMPERS: New Book Review and Giveaway

Our screen-obsessed, competitive society makes it harder than ever to raise happy, thriving kids. But there are tried-and-true methods that can help. Instead of rearing a generation of children who are overwhelmed, anxious, depressed, and who struggle to become independent, responsible adults, parents can create a culture that promotes the growth of important character traits and the social skills kids need for meaningful, successful lives.

There are many reasons my husband and I choose to send our teenagers away to overnight camp far from home for a few weeks each summer. I love that Camp Owner and Mother of 5, Audrey Monke compiled the most important lessons gained at summer camp into her book Happy Campers: 9 Summer Camp Secrets for Raising Kids Who Become Thriving Adults. Whether you send your kids off to camp or not, Audrey gives us the secrets to live out the camp ideals in the comfort of our homes.

5 Reasons We Send our Kids to Sleep Away Summer Camp

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Research has proven that kids are happier and gain essential social and emotional skills at camp. A recognized parenting expert, Audrey Monke distills what she’s learned from thousands of interactions with campers, camp counselors, and parents, and from her research in positive psychology, to offer intentional strategies parents can use to foster the benefits of camp at home.

In Happy Campers, Audrey shares nine powerful parenting techniques- inspired by the research-based practices of summer camp- to help kids thrive and families become closer.

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3 Actions You Should Take During Screen-Free Week

Screen-Free Week brings awareness to the most significant battlefield we face as parents raising children in popular culture today- Technology. However, technology is not the problem- our time and habits on our screens are the real issues.

I know the importance of purposely providing kids with a screen detox. It’s one of the reasons we send our kids to tech-free sleep-away summer camp, and since our teens will soon be living in the woods without their beloved devices, we will not be shutting off their screens this week.

How can National Screen-Free Week empower us to create healthier screen time habits?

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4 Tips For Giving Kids an Allowance 

Don’t pay your kid for scoring goals in a game.

Don’t pay them for achieving A’s on their report card or for eating their vegetables.

Don’t pay your child for doing the dishes, sweeping the floor or scrubbing their toilet.

Instead pay your child a consistent allowance because he is a contributing, valued member of your family and you want to raise a financially responsible person.

The pay-for-performance debate has been a subject of discussion for families for generations. If we don’t tie the money we pay our kids to chores, grades or other accomplishments, then why give them an allowance at all? 

One way we can teach children financial responsibility is through giving them a consistent allowance and then helping our son or daughter learn how to save, spend and give their money away.

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The Promposal: Is it Modern-Day Chivalry or Nonsense?

It’s that time of year when teenage boys around America are expected to put on a production to ask a girl to the traditional high school dance.

Is the Promposal modern-day chivalry or plain nonsense?

After a long day of school and varsity baseball practice, my son and his friend trudged through our house carrying an armload of art supplies and poster boards.

When my son should be spending time on his physics homework or hanging out with his grandparents who are visiting from out of town, he has to design a sloganed poster to invite his girlfriend to the upcoming junior prom.

Promposal-Production-Is-it-Modern-Day-Chivalry-or-Nonsense

My parents, who attended high school prom together, can’t believe this is what’s going on today. Knowing teenage boys don’t naturally do this sort of thing, my Dad asked his grandson and his friend if they feel like decorating posters? 

“Not really. But, the girls want us to do it.”

Sure they like the girl. Sure they want to take her to the dance. It’s been a high school rite of passage through the generations. Neither my Grandpa, my Dad nor my husband ever had to invite their date to prom with anything other than their words, so why are our sons now expected to conjure up a themed presentation to ask a girl to the dance?

As if teenage guys don’t have enough on their plate today, they must now come up with a cheesy proposal production as is the societal norm. He’d better not think of asking a girl to the dance without at least a decorated poster board in hand or he would be considered unthoughtful, uncaring or rude.

Why are our sons expected to put on a proposal production to ask a date to prom?

What happened to just a good guy asking a sweet girl to the high school dance?

How come that’s no longer acceptable?

Why do we insist on turning what should be a simple invitation into a production today?

Because there wouldn’t be anything post-worthy for social media if there weren’t a production, and we all know how much everyone loves a good curated photo for the feed.

And forget the decorated poster board. Some take it to another level buying oversized teddy bears, shoes, jewelry, and the list goes on. I’m sure the bigger, the better. Check out this post or your kids’ social media feeds if you don’t believe me.

The promposal production seems like another great way to try and one-up each other too. Oh, your guy only decorated a poster for you? Well, check out what my man (or his Mom) did for me…. and the comparison game is on. Just what our youth need.

I’m having a tough time wrapping my head around the concept and why we’re accepting this nonsense to be commonplace now.

What type of marriage proposal are girls going to expect one day if they need a song and dance to accept an invitation to a high school dance?

Our daughter said she thinks the promposal idea is “cute.” I explained to her that it’s adorable when she and her girlfriends make posters for one another’s birthdays and bring them to middle school to celebrate. There is nothing cute about expecting a young man to design a presentation to ask you to prom.

Let’s stop putting pressure on kids to have to put on a post-worthy show for what should be a simple invitation to a timeless high school event.

Let’s put our efforts into raising confident and kind young men and women who don’t need a showy production to feel good about themselves or to enjoy their lives.

Let’s begin to tell our kids that a post-worthy promposal production is not necessary.

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How to Start a Blessing Jar Tradition

See a penny pick it up, and all the day you’ll have good luck.

Or perhaps the copper coin can instead bless another as you drop it into your family Blessing Jar.

For years, I wanted to start a Christmas Jar in our family. I loved the idea, wanted to do the tradition, but I constantly forgot to start it…. until last year. And now this particular tradition is one of our family favorites.

We renamed it our family Blessing Jar and use it a little differently than is expressed in the Christmas Jar book, but the overall purpose is the same- to take the time to think of giving to others throughout the entire year.

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How to Start your Blessing Jar Tradition

While raising my five children, I seek out ways to naturally teach my sons and daughter how to think of others before themselves and regularly be a blessing to other people in simple and significant ways. The Blessing Jar is a perfect way to authentically teach the values I want my kids to have as well as build an overall giving family culture.

What You Need to Begin Your Blessing Jar Tradition

Grab a random empty glass jar and set it in a prominent area of your home where your family members frequently reside. Designate the jar as your 2019 family Blessing Jar and begin dropping coins and bills into the glass jar all year long.

Fill the jar with unexpected money you find or receive throughout the entire year.

We fill our Blessing Jar with coins that we find laying on the ground in parking lots; bills that were accidentally left in pockets and appear in the dryer; unclaimed piles of coins left around the house and money received for helping people who wouldn’t accept our help for free.

This year’s jar reminded me of precious moments like the time when we were vacationing in California, and two of our sons pushed a dead golf cart up a steep hill to get it home for a group of stranded girls. The boys tried to refuse the cash the girls insisted they take for helping them. So, they gave it to me and asked me to put it in our Blessing Jar.

Without this intentional tradition in place, I guarantee that money would’ve just gone right into their pockets because there would’ve been nowhere else for it to go. We must intentionally give our children opportunities to bless others before themselves and the Blessing Jar does precisely that.

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At the beginning of the year, my husband came home from the gym and dropped this crumpled one dollar bill into our jar. He said no one was around to claim it, so he picked it up to add to our Blessing Jar. If we didn’t have this tradition, I guarantee he wouldn’t have cared even to grab that money. I most certainly would’ve never heard about it even if he had.

Make One Purposeful Choice

Each year, I purposely don’t purchase or do something I would usually do in December and instead gift that money to the jar instead. For instance, this year is the first time I didn’t send out a photo Christmas card of our family and instead put that money I would’ve spent in our Blessing Jar.

The Blessing Jar is a simple family tradition that gives us an avenue to authentically talk with our children about our spending choices and our giving. It’s so much fun to watch the jar organically fill up throughout the year and even more meaningful to gather together as a family the week before Christmas and decide who we want to receive our Blessing Jar.

4 Ways to Create Meaning in A Glass Jar!

A Blessing Jar is an intentional way for your family to have a small, collective purpose throughout the entire year.

It’s simple traditions like this that teach our children the values we want them to leave our home with one day. If you’re looking to begin a meaningful family tradition that will last all year long, consider starting a Blessing Jar of your own come January 1!