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6-Ways-to-Make-Your-Child-Feel-Loved this School Year

As parents of school-aged kids, many things feel uncertain and out of control right now heading into a new school year.

We have little control over whether our kids get to go to the classroom right now or if they have to be schooled virtually from our kitchen table.

One choice we do have, despite our circumstances, is the ability to make our child feel especially loved in our home this school year and beyond.

6-Ways-to-Make-Your-Child-Feel-Loved this School Year

1. Light a Candle of Honor

One of our favorite family dinner traditions we regularly did around our dinner table when our kids were younger was the Candle of Honor.

Each night (or whenever you want), choose one child (or adult) to honor because of a positive character trait they showed or something they accomplished that day. Light a candle in front of your honoree, acknowledge why you chose them before the meal, and let them blow the flame out while everyone gives them a round of applause.

The candle of honor tradition is such a small, simple, and fun way to acknowledge and impact your family members.

Be prepared for younger children to get upset or complain when they aren’t chosen. Thankfully, this too shall pass as they learn that their turn will indeed come around. The Candle of Honor becomes a strong family tradition as you teach your children to celebrate one another regularly in your home.

2. Turn an ordinary moment into an extraordinary one

As a mother of five, it can be difficult to feel like I’m giving everyone the attention they need or deserve. So, I’m always seeking out simple opportunities to celebrate each of my sons and daughter so that they feel uniquely cherished in our family.

Our youngest got to go back in person to school first, so on the night before he headed back to the classroom, I threw a little after-dinner celebration focused on him.

candle-of-honor-simple-celebration

  • Instead of just handing our son the variety pack of camouflage washable masks I had purchased him for school, I used it as an excuse to throw him a little Back-to-School after-dinner celebration.
  • I googled how many days had passed since his last day of school before the pandemic shut everything down and wrote on a blank notecard, “After 192 days, you get to go back to school.” Yippee. Hooray. Whoo-hoo.
  • After dinner, I lit the Candle of Honor and presented him with a slice of cheesecake (that Kneaders mistakingly gave me when I ordered a cherry pie for myself) and a recycled gift bag with his set of masks and a hand-me-down chapter book from a friend.

This simple celebration cost me nothing but a little time. I threw the idea together in a matter of minutes yet my intentional effort made my son feel special and loved.

This is the name of the game friends.

Be on the lookout for ordinary moments that you can simply turn into extraordinary ones with a little extra effort this school year.

3. Talk around the family table 

It’s so vital that we create space in our families to talk around the table, breakfast bar, or wherever you gather with your people regularly. Get to know who is in your child’s world this school year- virtually or in the classroom. Know the names and happenings of their friends, enemies, teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and the other people they encounter every day.

Ask your students what’s bothering them about their school year so far?

What are they enjoying? And in turn, tell them what’s going on in your life.

Our homes need to be a haven where we gather consistently with our people over meals and speak truth and love to one another.

4. Encourage contribution

Find ways for your children, from toddlers to teens, to help out around your home. Even though your son or daughter will most likely complain about unloading the dishwasher, doing their laundry, or scrubbing a toilet, having regular chores helps children feel a sense of belonging which equates to feeling loved.

raise-Contributors-kids-chores

Not only should your son or daughter be contributing to the good of your family home, but it’s essential that they also learn to contribute to your local community and the world at large.

5. Create a meaningful school year photo album

One of my favorite back to school traditions is putting my sons’ and daughter’s annual school photo into their You are Loved School Days album (which I happened to design.)

School-Photos-Keepsake-Album

When we take the time to intentionally create a meaningful keepsake book with their school photos each year, it tells our child that they matter and that they are loved.

If you haven’t started an annual school year album, you can check out my simple product to help you do so HERE.

6. Start a dialogue journal

A dialogue journal is a perfect way to begin one-on-one communication with your child by writing back and forth to one another in a simple notebook.

Grab a barely used notebook and start a dialogue journal with your school-aged kids to help them improve their penmanship and to get more comfortable expressing their thoughts, feelings, and ideas through the written word. It also makes a fun keepsake to look back at later in life.

To learn more about starting a dialogue journal with your student, click HERE.

What other ways are you striving to show love to your student this school year?

college-first-aid-kit

One of the most important things we can do as a parent is to teach our kids how to take care of their personal health.

Many doctors and nurses see college students coming in with minor aches and pains that could easily be remedied in their dorm room instead of the emergency room.

What can we do to give our young adults the confidence to care for their minor aches and pains?

We can begin teaching our children today how (and when) to treat minor illnesses and injuries and make up a first aid kit to give them the tools they may need to do so when they are off living independently.

College-Student-First-Aid-Kit

Here are the 19 Items I Included in my Sons’ College First Aid Kits:

1. Digital Thermometer 

2. Nasal spray for cold symptoms such as Afrin

3. Pain reliever tablets such as Ibuprofen or Tylenol

4. Emergen-C

5. Antibiotic Ointment

6. Cold & Flu medicine

7. Anti-diarrhea medication such as Immodium

8. Assortment of bandages

9. Cough drops

10. Sunblock

11. Tweezers, mini-scissors, nail file

12. Hand sanitizer

13. Lip balms

14. Instant Ice Packs 

15. Tums antacids

16. Saline nose spray

17. Allergy medicine

18. Insurance cards, immunization records, and any doctor’s information in a Ziploc bag

19. Hidden note of love from Mom and/or Dad

*This list includes affiliate links that will earn me a few cents if purchased!

college-first-aid-kit

  • Remember, this kit is to help your child remedy minor pains or sickness and doesn’t contain items regularly used, such as vitamins, sleep aids, or prescription medications.
  • Try to go over all of the included items with your child before sending this along with them. Make sure your son or daughter understands how to use everything so they won’t have to use Google or contact you in the middle of the night for advice.
What else would you include in your student’s college first aid kit?
Create-Significant-Summer-Systems-Kids-in-Kitchen

As we head into summer, let’s talk about how we can use this June, July, and August to strengthen our family systems and raise kids who are contributors!

LISTEN IN as my author friend, Danielle Wurth, and I talk about one chapter of her new book- KIDS IN THE KITCHEN– and how we can use the summer months at home to teach our kids what it is we need them to know in the kitchen while having fun doing it! Now there’s a summer win-win!

7 Ways to Create a Summer of Significance in 2020

  • Grab the Summer Skills Lists in my ‘How to Create A Summer of Significance in 2020 Printable Pack HERE!
  • Download Danielle’s Kitchen Zones Printable HERE
  • Want to make a Family Recipe Binder? Download Danielle’s Printable HERE
  • Check out Danielle’s Books HERE 
  • Get Danielle’s favorite label maker HERE 

Kitchen-life-skills-for-kids

 

 

 

12-gifts-to-give-high-school-graduates

As I prepare to graduate my firstborn sons from high school and launch them from the safety of our nest this fall, I want to talk about what are the best gifts we can give our Seniors at this special time in our lives.

And guess what….. these gifts won’t cost you much, if anything, at all!

LISTEN IN as my author friend, Dennis Trittin, and I talk about 12 gifts that we think are important to give high school seniors before launching them off into adulthood.

  • Download Dennis’ Resource List: HERE
  • Download Amy’s mock Health History Questionnaire for Teens to practice filling out: HERE
  • Download Amy’s Life Skills for the Launch: HERE
  • Get your personalized college stationery HERE

Who needs some strategies to give your kids Wings, Not Strings, and to launch young adults who can soar with confidence? Wings-Not-Strings-Parenting-Book

 

6-things-you-should-do-when-your-kid-has-a-smartphone

Whose 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 these powerful digital devices 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.

6-things-to-do-when-your-kid-has-a-smartphone

1. Have a family cell phone contract

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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 by giving them a consistent allowance and then helping our son or daughter learn how to save, spend, and give their money away.

4-tips-for-giving-kids-an-allowance

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Promposal-Production-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.

What would it look like to be a happier parent this school year?

Is it really possible for us to find more happiness amidst the chaos of the hectic school morning routine, the homework, the sibling drama and once again telling your kids to put away the screens while eating breakfast?

My friend, Lori, exudes happiness in her annual back-to-school photo tradition! Isn’t she the best?

New York Times contributor and writer KJ Dell’Antonia’s tells us HOW we can regain our happiness in parenthood in her brand new book, How to Be A Happier Parent- Raising a Family, Having a Life, and Loving (Almost) Every Minute.

As a mother of four, KJ found herself wondering if this whole parenthood thing had to be so difficult on most days. She wanted to enjoy motherhood more than she was. But, the workload was overwhelming. She questioned why she wasn’t more satisfied with her life as a parent. So she set out to find out how we can bring more happiness, and even fun to the ordinary days that make up the measure of our lives.

I consider myself overall to be a happy parent. But, I learned long ago that getting in a school pick up or drop off line was not setting me up for success in the parental happiness department. Neither was helping with math homework or making school lunches for my capable 16-year-olds. So, instead, I taught my people long ago how to be in charge of their own existence.

And low and beyond this is #1 on KJ’s list of what happier parents do well.

  1. Shift from heavier involvement to fostering independence in their children as they become more capable. (Stop doing these things for your teen this school year)
  2. They don’t put their children’s everyday needs before their own. (Can I get a hallelujah?)
  3. They look for the good in the day to day experiences. (Yes, you too can find joy in the pb&j sandwich. Dig deep.)
  4. They know what’s really important and what’s just noise and fury. (Yep, we gotta remember not to major in the minor.)

I love everything about this book- from the cute cover design to choosing the chapter I need right now to help with a problem area in our family. If it’s meal times, chores, sibling rivalry, discipline, screens… you name the thief of your parental joy and it’s most likely in here.

Through interviews with educators and experts along with her personal stories, KJ gives us lots of helpful tips, strategies, and inspirations to shift our mindsets and create new habits in order to find more happiness in our role as Mom or Dad today.

And just because my capable children wouldn’t want me to be too happy, they continue to leave me plenty of reminders that I am still dearly needed.

With a new school year upon us, How to Be A Happier Parent is a well-timed reminder that a satisfying family life isn’t about hauling kids around and eventually dropping them off at destination success. It’s about finding real happiness during our journey of parenthood, and this book will help you figure out just how to do that.

COMMENT TO WIN – HOW TO BE A HAPPIER PARENT BOOK

KJ sent me a copy of her brand new book How to Be A Happier Parent- Raising a Family, Having a Life, and Loving (Almost) Every Minute. to give away to one of you lucky readers!

Comment below on why you want to be a happier parent for your chance to win! One lucky winner will be chosen at random on October 19. Must be a US resident to win.

Childhood is short.
Summer is even shorter.
Eighteen summers are all we get.

How will your family spend this precious summer season?

While June, July, and August may be perfect for lazy days and relaxation, we mustn’t make the mistake of aimlessly drifting through the summer months without purposely making a proactive plan for our family.

What exactly is it that you want and need?

I love that summer provides my teenagers mornings to sleep in and time to rest and recover from their normally stressful high school scheduled programming. Yet, more downtime equates to more screen time if we’re not mindful.

How can we get our kids off screens and make this summer count?

I know this 17th summer of ours matters yet how do we make the most of it despite our realities and circumstances?

We must decide to deliberately design our summers.

9 Ways to Deliberately Design Your Summer

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Stressed-Teenager

What do you mean you have a B?

What do you mean you got third place?

What do you mean you’re not taking that honors class or that SAT prep course?

What do you mean you don’t know where you want to go to college or what you want to study yet?

And our parental anxiety heightens as we question if our child is falling behind in this race toward college called childhood.

It’s no wonder youth suicide rates, depression and anxiety are at an all-time high. The pressure to keep up is intense as our children are constantly evaluated and expected to compete at a high level in every aspect of their life.

Teenagers are taking their own lives because they feel they can no longer keep up with the competitive culture they are living in. When are we going to wake up to the fact that just maybe the expectations we are putting on this generation of kids are too much?

What can we parents do to combat the crazed competitive culture that our children are growing up in?

1. Make your home a haven

Let your home be a place where your child can relax, restore, and be rejuvenated. We need to purposely provide a calm away from our kid’s daily storm by providing them a peaceful home away from the craze of the outside world.

This doesn’t mean that we never raise our voice (a.k.a. yell) and let our child continuously veg out on the sofa, scrolling a device, while we run around and serve them. It means that we, as a leader in our home, purposely create a low-stress environment, as often as we can. Gather around the family dinner table regularly so that authentic conversation and relationships may be strengthened.

2. Refrain from promoting parental pride

It’s only natural to be proud of our son’s big win or our daughter’s accomplishment but it doesn’t mean we need to constantly post about their successes online. Our children are always watching us. When winning the games and earning the awards become what we regularly promote on our social media feeds, we subconsciously send the message to our children, and our friends, that this is what we deem most important.

If you don’t own the school or team you are promoting with the sticker on the back of your vehicle, maybe you should remove it. Because even if you don’t voice it, that logo slapped on your window or bumper tells your kids, and all of us trailing behind you, what you prioritize.

3. Say no to the parent portal

The parent portal apps where we can monitor our kids’ academic activity only add to the pressure and stress for all involved. How can our children own their own learning if we are constantly getting on them about missed assignments or low test scores?

If we are regularly checking the portal to see where our child is falling short than our son or daughter will never learn to feel the consequences of their mistakes or successes themselves. They will naturally come to rely on Mom or Dad to tell them what moves to make next.

Set yourself up for success in this area by removing the portal off of your devices. Every now and then ask your child to pull it up on their device and show you how things are going.

4. Prioritize play

What happened to the fun? We mustn’t take life so seriously all of the time when raising kids today. Our families and homes need more laughter, play, and silliness. Don’t mistake sitting on the sidelines of your child’s life watching them perform and compete as playtime. Figure out where your family playgrounds are and head there more often.

HOW PLAYFUL IS YOUR FAMILY?

5. Normalize failure

Our children must feel the pain and discomfort of failure. They must face the consequences of not studying or forgetting to do their homework. Kids must gain experience failing and learn to recover from their mistakes in order to build resilience.

Talk regularly in your home about times when you mess up as an adult. Let them see you embrace failure. When we as parents expect straight A’s and winning sports seasons, we wrongly teach our kids that perfection is the goal.

6. Set limits on technology

Our children come home from school, fall on the couch, and begin mindlessly scrolling and gaming in their downtime. As the parent, we must allow them the space to unwind while setting limits for technology use in our home. Kids need a break from the pressuring world around them, but always seeking reprieve on a screen is not healthy. Getting them away from their screens isn’t always a bad thing. Social media can be an amazing part of the modern world, for socializing and sharing photos.

Limiting their time on these social media platforms can give them a break from the pressures online. Children of all ages need space without digital devices to experience boredom and an opportunity to build relationships with friends and family face-to-face.

7. Allow them to take a day off

This is a recent shift in thinking for me. It wasn’t until I witnessed the negative effects of my high schoolers’ juggle of honors class homework, club sports, academic clubs and working a part-time job, that I began to allow my teens to turn off their alarms and take a day or morning off to regroup once in a great while. I realized that there were different ways nowadays that kids can become overstressed and overworked and this could lead to them having anxiety which can make feelings of failure worse for them. This stress could also lead to a lack of sleep and poor mental health.

How to Know If Your Child Needs a Mental Health Day

Managing normal stress is a healthy part of life, so know your child well enough to know when he or she is overstressed. If you see your son or daughter has time for playing video games, scrolling social media, or watching television than they probably don’t need a mental health day off from school. They may need to learn to manage their time better. Know the difference between when your child actually needs a break and simply wants one.

8. Drop the college conversations

There is so much pressure on kids, in middle school even, to begin thinking about where they will go to college and what they will major in. Friends and family discuss GPA’s, SAT scores, class schedules, scholarships, and college essays on a regular basis.

Parents have their children join clubs and organizations hoping it will help their child appear well rounded and heighten their chances of getting into college. We as a society have begun to worry so much about building up our child on paper that we are forgetting to build up the real person.

Even if we as parents aren’t pressuring, our child is still growing up today surrounded by stress and expectations. How are you purposely combatting the competitive culture that your child is growing up in?

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