10 Things Your Children Should See You Doing

We have all heard the phrase, “truth is caught not taught” and in parenting this could not be more true. Children learn, yes by hearing, but predominately by seeing. They mimic. Babies mirror the movements of mom and dad. Toddlers mimic sounds and phrases mom and dad use regularly. Truth can be taught but it is more often caught. Below are ten things that your children need to see you doing.

Loving Your Spouse

Your children need to see you love your spouse. This can be a physical act of love, like a hug or a kiss, or it can be through verbal affirmations of character. It can also be simply the way you speak and act. Loving your spouse helps children see what’s most important. It teaches them invaluable truths about marriage and gives them security in their family.

Exercise

This one may sound a bit silly but your kids need to see you prioritize workouts (however- not above them!). Let them see you tying your running shoes, have them help you pick a workout mix, and show them the importance of workout nutrition. 

Laugh

Your kids need to know mom and dad can let go! They need to hear your belly laugh over dinner. Tell stories and laugh – it will break down barriers when they see that you are normal!

Cry

This is the other side of the coin. It is valuable (in moderation) to allow your kids to see you process pain. When your cherished pet dies, do not be afraid to cry with your kids. Emotional health in children is important!

Family Playing

Play

Are you silly? Do you ever just sit back and have a good time? Do you throw the ball with your boy? Your kids need to see you play. Play cards, throw darts, pick up pecans in the front yard and shoot them into buckets. Teach your kids to have an imagination!

Volunteer

The golden rule is “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Take the kids to the local soup kitchen and serve during Thanksgiving. Teach them this cherished truth by volunteering on a regular basis.

Read

Whether you are reading Shakespeare while the kids are playing at the park or you are scoping out new techniques on productivity, allow your kids to see you read. Reading is basic to learning and if they see you have a strong interest in it- hopefully they will too!

Work Hard

Hard work is not a bad thing – in fact it is a virtue to have a healthy work ethic. Let your children see you send an email, hammer a nail, wash the car, cook dinner, mow the yard, or write a proposal. It will teach them about being a productive member of society.

R&R

Sleep is vital for normal functioning. The body cannot continue without proper rest. The other side of the coin from hard work is rest and relaxation. Take a nap while watching a movie with the kids. On Saturday morning snuggle with your children in the bed. Feel free to lounge and be lazy with them. This will teach them the importance of slowing down.

Build Others Up

Your kids need to see you visit sick people in the hospital. They need to watch you write an encouragement letter to someone going through a difficult season. They also need to hear you speak well of others. Fight the temptation to bash people in front of the kids. Rather, speak of others strengths and personal virtues.

Modeling is crucial. Your kids will mimic you. So model well and remember that truth is often caught not just taught!

Image Credit: pixabay.com

 

When is a child old enough to cross the street alone?

When is a child old enough to cross the street alone

The first time that you drop that little hand and allow your precious offspring to cross the street alone you feel like your heart is going to beat out of your chest, but Junior has to grow up so if you don’t want to be holding the hand of an 18-year old while crossing, there has to come a point you decide he is old enough to let go.  But just what is this magical age?

Maturity

In most situations, there are some factors to consider beyond the child’s age because not all children of the same age are ready to tackle a challenge like crossing the street alone.  Every child is a unique human being with different levels of maturity, training, and experience, so each case must be examined individually.

As a parent, you are in the best position to determine the answer to the question of when is a child old enough to cross the street alone.  You alone have the knowledge of your child’s maturity and whether he or she is capable of being cautious enough to cross the street safely.  Trial runs are a good way to teach and give experience with you as a safety net.

Responsibility

Does your child understand the dangers?  You can teach safety without making your child excessively fearful.  Set some rules and make sure your child understands the rules and agrees to follow your direction. Spend some time learning the safety rules while out walking with your child.

As the two of you walk discuss safety rules, teach children the proper use of crosswalks if your neighborhood has these, and take time to point out what you observe regarding the cars and people on the street.  If you see drivers behaving unsafely, point this out to your child and explain the dangers.

Ask your child to observe the traffic and point out safe and unsafe drivers and situations.  Explore crosswalks with your child explaining how to use the crosswalk and other safety measures, such as not being distracted with a cell phone or earplugs while crossing and to be aware that caution is needed even when the walk signal is displayed.  Distracted drivers can easily run a red light.

Cutting the Apron Strings

There will come a time, whether we are ready or not, that our children will begin to venture out on their own a little farther each time until they fly away for good.  As sad as that might make you feel, you know it’s your job to make them self-reliant and ready to take on the world.  The only question is when will that be?

Experts say that the age to start allowing kids out alone is 11; however, as a parent, being allowed to go it alone at 11 has some specific limitations and conditions.  In a neighborhood with no through traffic, only neighbors and visitors passing through, and equipped with sidewalks, 11, or even slightly younger, is a fairly safe proposition.  However, if we are dealing with busy highways and heavy traffic, I would say 13 might be a better age.

In the end, no matter how much we try and want to protect our children from harm, we know that some day we will have to allow them to strike out on their own, even if it is just across the street.

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What’s the Going Rate for Babysitters?

What’s the Going Rate for Babysitters

Babysitter’s salaries have come up in the world since I was working as one, back in the day.  I remember getting paid $1 per hour and slightly more for more than one kid.  I suspect teens would laugh at that today; not unkindly, but because they would surely think I was kidding.

You might be new to the babysitter hiring/paying concept and there is a lot of information on the web, but with so much info and so little time, we have done your research for you compiled some guidelines to go by.

The Going Rate

There is a wide variance between rates that depends on the circumstances such as location; babysitting in areas with a higher cost of living will command a higher pay rate for sitters.  Expect to pay more in New York and San Francisco than in Kansas or North Carolina.  A realistic per hour range is about $5 to $12 per hour.

Another factor is experience.  Adult professional nannies or daycare personnel would earn more per hour, around $10 per hour, than a high school student wanting to earn a little spending money, who may reasonably be paid from $4 to $8 per hour.  The number of children and their ages is a factor as well.  For instance more and younger children equal more work, equals more money.  Most sitters will be satisfied with an extra $1 per hour per extra child or an additional $2 per hour for children under 3.

Usual babysitting hours are around 8 am and 10 pm; if you need a sitter to work before or after these times, you can expect to pay around $2 more per hour.  Some situations are above the norm, such as caring for disabled or special needs children, housework, shopping, or cooking.  Extra work merits a higher rate, also.  You can add at least an extra $2 per hour, but to be fair, discuss this with your sitter.  Keep in mind when calculating cost, that teens paid in cash do not have to pay taxes on their earnings if less than $600 per year, so they get more from their wages as would a full time worker.

Dollars and Sense

Another mitigating circumstance is affordability, meaning if paying a sitter is so high you cannot afford to go out, other solutions should be explored.  This situation requires some negotiating.  Perhaps swapping childcare with another Mom you know will help, but even if you are set on hiring a teen, you can perhaps work out wages in the form of some benefit besides cash, or some type of barter system such as loaning your car as partial payment for services rendered, or allowing the use of your pool for a party.  Consider what you might have of value you would be willing to trade, like movie tickets or use of a Netflix account.

Another option is to provide a service without charge, for example, a hairdresser could offer to cut, color, or style hair or a manicurist could offer manicures and pedicures; you get the idea.  Whatever your situation, it is best to discuss pay rates upfront to avoid any misunderstandings and ensure neither of you feels short-changed.

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How to Raise a Polite Preschooler

How to Raise a Polite PreschoolerIt seems that politeness and courtesy have gone out of style, and the teaching of such things has gone right with it.  Everywhere you turn you see temper tantrums, and children running with abandon through stores and restaurants, their hapless parents seemingly unaware or unconcerned that their offspring are behaving atrociously and annoying everyone simply trying to eat or shop.

The problem is rampant permissiveness to do as they will without consequences, either because it is too much work to correct or too little courage to enter into a battle of wills with a child, but parents who won’t teach politeness are doing their children a disservice.

Respect

Children must be taught to respect others – their property, their space, their right to eat without being stared at by the child in the next booth.  Realize that respect is a two-way street.  One way to teach respect is to offer it in return.  I cannot tell you the number of times my children have nearly been run over by a shopping cart steered by some adult who thinks it is acceptable to push a child aside or cut them off.  This is a great opportunity to point out that such behavior is rude and should not be done by anyone.

If I am going to instill respect for others, I must be the example.  A couple of rules of the house are as follows: if my bedroom door is closed, you must knock and await an invitation to enter; children are not allowed to take or use something that belongs to another person without permission.  These rules are not only for the children but for the parents also to lead by example.

Please and Thank You

The teaching of polite behavior must begin as early as possible in order to be retained and ingrained.  When someone offers you something, be it a cookie, a compliment, or a seat, say thank you.  I have heard others denigrate this method, saying it is not teaching politeness but rote behavior with no association of a social obligation attached, but I disagree.  If you are making a request, say please.  This shows the concept of equality between the parties involved.  A demand signifies entitlement as does receiving a gift or service without acknowledging it as such.

Social Graces

A parent’s job is to instill good values and societal graces.  Your child needs guidance, not a best friend.  Failing to teach good manners is setting up a child for failure in relationships with other adults and children.  There seems to be at least one child in every group that no one wants to play with because of the child’s attitude and one that defies teachers and administration personnel as well, which can cause isolation – from others and from the class as disciplinary measures escalate, eventually leading to suspension and/or expulsion.

What sort of adults will these children be?  Becoming socially acceptable can very well come later in life when the results of bad behavior lead to a desire to be accepted, but it is a long hard road that no parent wants to subject their child to.  A parent who teaches good manners and polite behavior are setting their children up to succeed in life and polite society.

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Am I a Bad Mom Because My Kid Can’t Tie Her Shoes?

Am I a bad mom because my kid can’t tie her shoes

There are many mom-ish things that moms admittedly don’t want to do or don’t admit and make excuses for.  Mine was potty training so my kid was three years old still in diapers, and, when I asked her, when are you going to use the potty, she replied, “when you get me underwear.”  Precocious, right?  And that actually worked.  She used the potty and never had an accident.  Go figure!

Why Resist?

Learning to tie shoelaces is an exercise in patience, repetition, and more patience.  But many moms, even though they know how to tie shoelaces, may not remember the way they learned it and have no idea who to teach it.  Fortunately in the age of the internet there are numerous tutorials, both video and blog on this very subject.

Why is it though, that kids aged eight and beyond do not know how to tie shoelaces?  Experts suggest that due to the popularity of Velcro and slip-on shoes, moms and kids alike have never seen the need, and it only becomes a glaring omission in early childhood training when we confront a pair of kid shoes with laces, coupled with a lack of motivation to put yourself through this endeavor without an immediate need.  In many cases, the deciding factor was a pair of shoes, be it a gift or a choice, with the dreaded laces.

How to Proceed

Many moms choose to do the tying themselves, thus avoiding one more day without a struggle with laces – buying time to get her courage up!  Naturally mom knows that eventually the day will come with a need for lacing knowledge.  You can employ the old double bow to avoid accidental untying, but what if she has to take her shoes off without you around, like in school or at a friend’s?

This will most likely be a wake-up call when both you and she are embarrassed by her lack of knowledge resulting in a third party intervention.  Once you have reached the inevitable decision, you have to choose a method for training.  You can demonstrate on her shoe, or yours, give her a random shoe to practice on, or purchase a special “book” with shoelaces meant to teach tying skills.  Just add it to the nightly routine.

Too Much Mollycoddling?

We’re all shocked when we hear of the 10 or 12-year old whose mother still bathes him or does his homework and projects.  Most likely this fictional mom is simply showing her love and devotion to her son by taking extra good care of him, but not realizing he needs to learn to walk before he can fly.  If not, he has a good chance of living in her basement all his life.  None of us wants that.

So, what’s a mom to do?  First of all remind yourself you are an excellent mom, the shoe issue notwithstanding.  I mean it’s not like you still feed him or anything, or still use diapers.  You covered the big stuff so don’t sweat the small stuff.  And, if you just can’t conquer the task, delegate it to your husband, mom, or older child, and just keep moving in concentric circles till you find the one – the one who can help to fill this tiny gap in skills.

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Steps to Build Your Child’s Self-Confidence

One wants nothing more than to praise their child, but is mere praise enough?  And how sincere is that praise?  If one is to raise a confident child with true self-esteem, it is going to take work and not just empty words.  You have to set a bar, a standard for your kids and work with them to meet this bar.  A word of caution:  do not set the bar too high and do not try to make your child make up for your shortcomings.

Let Them Learn Life Lessons

You want to protect your children, but at the same time you have to prepare them for the challenges they will face in life.  To do this, let them make their own choices (to an extent), solve problems, and encourage them to continue things they have started such as interests or hobbies.  Simply put, kids must develop competence, this is not something they can be taught it is something that must be learned.

Be a Good Role Model

If you want to raise a confident child, you must be a strong role model.  If you have decided to become a parent, you must fully realize this responsibility and provide a strong example for your children.  How can you raise a strong, confident, competent, and healthy child if you cannot lead by example?  It is wrong, if not hypocritical, to ask your child to do things and act in ways you yourself are not willing to adhere to.  You must be mindful of your words, actions, and gestures in front of your child.

Steps to Build Your Child’s Self-Confidence

For example, a coworker of mine told me the story of his much younger sister’s first word.  Their father swore like a sailor around them morning, noon, and night.  One night at a family dinner, the infant clearly said her first word which was none other than one of their father’s frequently-used euphemisms.  It wasn’t exactly what the family had in mind for the baby’s first word.

Let You Kids Be Themselves

You have an ideal for your child, but sometimes that ideal is not what is realistic.  We are all different, this diversity is an integral part of humanity.  If you want to raise a confident child, you must let that child be his or herself.  If there is one way to ruin a kid, it is to force them to be something they are not.  You must let your child become the person they were meant to be, pursue their interests, and participate in activities of their choosing.  Do not force something on your child they dislike, let them make their own choices and follow their passions.  Most importantly, you cannot let other people judge you.  What is more important-your pride or your child’s happiness?

Teach Your Kids Responsibility

From the moment you can, teach your kids about responsibility.  Let them assist you in every way they can from as early as possible, even if it is to hand you a cup to put in the dishwasher.  Responsibility teaches awareness and from this awareness comes confidence.  In doing this, when you thank and praise your child, you are truly building their confidence as there is purpose to their actions and your words.  When your child does something positive, give positive feedback.  Teach them that helping others is one of the most fulfilling things they can do.

Use simple, common sense, methods to build your child’s self-esteem.  Utilize these real world tips to help your children flourish and boost their confidence.

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How to Handle Criticism from Another Mother

How to Handle Criticism from Another Mother

It’s hard for anyone to take criticism. Even when you know it’s in your best interest you can still feel defensive or even angry towards the other person giving it to you. This can be very hard if you’re a mother receiving criticism from another mother. How do you handle it? Here are a couple of ways to take criticism without things getting out of hand.

Don’t Become Defensive

If you’re receiving criticism from another mother, your first instinct will probably to go on to the defensive. Don’t do this! The other mother is not insulting you by giving you criticism. If it’s constructive criticism, they’re just sharing their knowledge with you. They have faced a problem you have, and simply just want to share that experience with you. Sharing criticism is also a way of helping you to become a better mother. Even if you feel the criticism is unnecessary, you can simply thank them and be on your way.

You Don’t Have to Accept it, but Thank Them Anyway

One of the great things about criticism is that you don’t have to accept it! If you truly feel the criticism is not needed politely say so to the other mother. Say something such as, “That’s a good point, but I don’t think that will work for me. Thank you for sharing it with me, though!” You don’t have to say that word per word, but something to that effect. This way the other mother will know you at least listened to them. People enjoy knowing when their opinions are taken into consideration. Should the other mother persist politely let them know you’re going to stick with what you have. At the end of the day that other mother can’t tell how to raise your children anyway.

Listen

Don’t be so quick to dismiss another mother when they give you criticism. For some people you may have to grit your teeth through it. However, give them the benefit of the doubt and listen to them. You may be surprised what another mother has to say. For example, if your child caught a cold the other mother may know of a way for your child to get better faster. Sharing criticism is also a way of showing concern for you. Mothers are natural caretakers, after all, and just want to be helpful to other mothers. So just let them speak, and then if you don’t agree that’s okay.

Don’t be put off when another mother hands you down criticism. Think of it as more of a harsh truth. Granted, there are going to be times where the criticism may not benefit you. You can always tell the other mother this, but politely. If you truly feel uncomfortable in the situation you can just leave the conversation altogether. At the end of the day no one can control how you raise your children. If what you’re doing works for you, then stick with it. However, if you’re looking to improve give the other mother a chance to share her experience. You might even find the criticism useful later down the road.

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It’s Not Too Early to Choose a Costume

12-10-01 Halloweed costumes 900x675

Having a tight budget does not mean that your children can't have a fabulous Halloween. Making homemade costumes for children doesn't have to be limited to those who are talented with needle, thread and sewing machine. Plenty of no-sew costumes look great.

Dress-Up Ideas for Girls

Fairy and princess outfits are popular for little girls these days. Thankfully, these ensembles are very simple to recreate. Don't settle for cheaply-made, expensive store-bought dresses when making your own is so quick, easy and inexpensive. To make a lovely tulle skirt suitable for a princess or fairy, you will need a length of quarter-inch waistband elastic and several yards of tulle. Knot the elastic around the child's waist so that it fits comfortably. Trim the excess. Cut the tulle in 12 to 18 inch wide strips, and then tie the strips lengthwise onto the waistband. Continue in this way all around the circumference of the waistband. Outfit your little girl in a leotard and tights topped with this skirt. For a fairy, you may want to pick up a pair of wings at the local dollar store and add a flowered headband. For a princess, an inexpensive tiara and wand can be found at the same place.

Other easy ideas for girls might be Little Red Riding Hood or a gypsy. For Red Riding Hood, simply wrap a red tablecloth or shawl around your little sweetheart, and secure it under the chin with a safety pin. Give her a basket to carry, and she will be ready to head to Grandma's house for trick or treat. If she would like to be a Gypsy, dress her in a brightly-colored tiered skirt and peasant blouse. Add a gaudy fringed shawl or scarf and plenty of bangle bracelets. Don't forget large hoop earrings.

Dress-Up Ideas for Boys

If your little fellow likes Charlie Brown, recreating his favorite comic book character is simple. Buy a bright yellow T-shirt and black fabric paint. With a sharp pencil, sketch in the distinctive zigzag pattern along the bottom hem of the shirt. Tuck cardboard or several layers of newspaper inside the shirt to prevent the paint from bleeding through it, and paint the zigzag using black paint.

A solid-colored hoodie can be many things. On a white hoodie, you can glue floppy ears made of felt and black felt circles to make your boy a Dalmatian puppy. Alternately, an orange hoodie can be decorated with pointed ears and black stripes to make a child a tiger. Use your imagination, felt and fabric glue to create interesting outfits out of hoodies.

Loads of costume ideas are available for creative parents who have a little time and some ingenuity. However, since Halloween is in just a few weeks, you may want to get started right away.

 

Mom Review: Bleach Baths for Eczema…Do they Work?

eczemaMy daughter has severe eczema.  So severe that she referred to herself as "polka-dotted" when someone commented on her tan. "Boy are you tan..."..."no, I'm just polka-dotted".  Thankfully, she's only six and the "polka-dots" caused by dry skin are still somewhat funny to her...

Lately her condition has worsened and it is no longer funny to either of us.  While I had hoped that the humidity of summer would improve the problem it has aggravated it.  (I am suspect that the 3X daily dose of sunscreen or seasonal allergies is making it worse).

I've tried just about everything to treat her eczema - from slathering on Hydrocortisone creams to trying the "as seen on TV" skin care remedies and while her condition improves somewhat (off and on) nothing has eliminated it.   During my monthly search for the "next best thing" I came across numerous websites that suggested adding a small amount of bleach to a child's bath water will help treat eczema.  Yes - bleach. Like many of you reading this, my initial reaction was, "are you kidding me?". Why would I put bleach in my child's bath water?   So I continued to search and realized that the bleach treatment was actually featured in numerous reputable magazines and websites including Time, WebMD, and ABC News.com.

From Time Magazine....

When treating children for chronic eczema, pediatricians may want to look in the laundry room, according to a new study published this week in the journal Pediatrics. The study reports that adding a small amount of household bleach to a child's bathwater can dramatically reduce the itching, rashes and discomfort caused by eczema.

The treatment sounds harsh, but the findings confirm what many pediatric dermatologists have seen anecdotally for years. The theory is that the antimicrobial properties of bleach help relieve symptoms of eczema not by acting directly on that skin condition, but by improving children's skin infections of staph bacteria — a common co-occurrence that exacerbates the irritating symptoms of eczema.

Last year  my husband (who also suffers from eczema) nearly wound up in the hospital after contracting a severe MRSA (anti-biotic resistant) strain of staph infection, therefore, I've been especially concerned about my daughter's condition.   While the "bleach bath" treatment sounds harsh, there is nothing worse than watching a loved one suffer from a staph infection and not knowing what antibiotics (or even *if* antibiotics) will help.

So I'm giving it a try and will post the results (after a few weeks) here.  She had her first bath tonight and so far, so good!  🙂  I used 1/4 cup of bleach in our full tub.   Her hair is the same color...her skin is the same color...and she didn't seem bothered by the smell.  (She actually liked it..."it smells like a pool in here".  Oh...and the tub is bright white and looks AWESOME.  🙂

I'm planning to give her a 10 minute bleach bath nightly followed by a slathering of Aveeno oatmeal lotion (recommended by our neighborhood pharmacist).  Bookmark this post and I will share my review in a few weeks.

(This is just my personal opinion and review - please consult your pediatrician or dermatologist before trying this treatment).