How to Dial in “Me Time” and Still be a Great Parent

Time for Myself

When you become a parent, it appears that your life stops for 18 years.  But it doesn’t have to be that way.  In fact, the more time you dial in for yourself and show your child that it isn’t selfish to do that, the more balanced that child will be when he reaches adulthood.

Here are some ideas to dial in “me time” and still be a great parent.

Take Care

This doesn’t just mean being careful.  It means treating yourself the way you treat others.  Don’t be hard on yourself.  Our society in America holds parents and parenting to a very high standard.  Got some dishes in the sink at the end of the day?  Don’t worry about it.

There are going to be times when parenting is overwhelming and stressful and that’s when you need to take good care of yourself.  If you like taking a bath, lock the bathroom door and give yourself the gift of time and a hot soak.

You’re going to be a parent forever.  Parenting isn’t a sprint, it’s a distance race so you don’t need to go all out all the time.

You don’t have to go it alone.  And this applies to two parent households as much as to single parent households.  Find some people you connect with who have children about the same age and make sure to get together often as a support group.

Kids Under 5

This stage of the game has parenting feeling like the ultimate 24/7 job.  And it is. Hang in there, though, because kids get older and things get easier.

Remember the question above about dishes in the sink at the end of the day?  There are going to be lots of times when your house isn’t perfectly clean and company comes over.  It’s okay.

And get a sitter and go out as often as you can afford to.

Children Aged 6 - 9

This is when you can start setting boundaries and getting your children involved in normal family chores around the house.  Teach them how to do their own laundry.  Show them how to help with dishes and loading the dishwasher.  They make some of the mess; they can help clean it up.

Have your child’s friends come over for a play date.  That will give you some time to get some of your own things done while they’re being entertained by their friends.

Teenagers

Just like when they were infants and toddlers, you will worry about your teenager as he presses the edge of the envelope of independence.  Talk with your teen about curfew and also about what you expect from them.  And, to be fair, ask them what they expect of you.

If you have a favorite activity or hobby, you can certainly get back into this in a more concentrated and focused way.

Great parenting and having time for you are not mutually exclusive.  Enjoy the gift of time and also the gift of your children while they’re young.

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The Ultimate Parenting Tips to Care for Newborns

care of your baby

Congratulations! You’ve brought your new baby home and started life as a family. And now the fear sets in if you’re a new parent.

You’ve heard all the horror stories about sleepless nights and even worse days. Relax. We’re here to give you the ultimate tips on caring for your newborn.

Parent a Newborn without Losing Your Mind

We know that sounds sort of extreme but the non-stop needs of infants can make you crazy.

Stop listening to every piece of advice you’ve heard or read about and take care of your baby instinctually. Listening to your own voice will help keep you calm.

Don’t even think about housework in the first couple of months after you’ve brought home your new child. Take the time to bond with your baby and get to know each other.

Say yes to family or friends who offer to help. You won’t get a medal for going this on your own if you’re a single parent. And make sure Dad pitches in too and that includes giving you a break to get outside for some “me” time.

Syncing Work with a New Baby

This actually applies more to the parent who goes to work each day outside the home but can apply equally to household chores. Ask your partner to take some family leave time from work and let them have some alone time with the baby.

Split the everyday chores like cleaning and hitting the market.

Let your husband take over some of your parenting duties to give you some time off. And don’t be afraid to let him do things his own way -- even if that means making some mistakes.

Amp Up Your Bag of Tricks

You’re going to have times when your baby is fussy so be prepared to increase your bag of tricks. Trial and error will be your friend in the first few months as you learn what your baby needs.

If diaper changing time means a nuclear meltdown, it may be because she’s cold and that’s a problem for her. Try warming up her wipes to keep her nice and cozy.

Music is also a universally instant soother for Mom and baby.

Sleep Deprivation is a Given

Yes, you’re going to lose sleep in the first few months of being a mom. Although newborns sleep about 16 hours a day, it isn’t 16 straight hours so you may find you need to be on alert a lot more than you did before you had your child.

Sleep when she sleeps. We know that’s an old adage but it’s absolutely true.

And do the work in shifts with your partner. If you’re up at night, let him do the work in the morning so you can sleep in. Then he can nap later on while you’re on duty.

If your baby is the one having trouble sleeping, do whatever it takes to help them rest. Don’t fret about any bad habits at this point. Sleep is the most important part for good development.

You’ll be a newborn expert in no time by using these few simple tips.

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Let it Snow!!

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Snow days can be great fun for your family. With a little creativity and a few minutes of planning, your family can enjoy a cozy indoor day while winter rages outside. Here are a few ideas to help you jump start some fun, inexpensive family activities.

Paper Crafts

This is an easy activity, and with such a large selection of crafts to choose from there is sure to be something for every age group. Old magazines, printer paper, construction paper, tissue and tracing paper can all be put to good use, and often just the act of gathering the supplies in one place will give your family some great craft ideas. Most paper crafts require glue, but even if you don't have any in stock you can easily make a paste of white flour and water that will usually be sufficient for most activities. Collages and winter themed shoebox dioramas are easily created without guidance, and printable paper crafts as well as origami instructions abound on the internet. Some paper crafts to consider include:

Origami
Collage
Paper Dolls
Papier Mache
Snowflakes
Printable/Foldable Robots
Paper Puppets

Story + Puppets

This is a simplified version of a puppet show, utilizing your child's favorite story book characters. First, have or help your child create simple paper or felt puppets of at least one character in the book. Then, as you read the book aloud, your child can act out the character with the handmade puppets.

Movie Day

This can be great fun, especially if you go all out to create either a cozy indoor theater or sleepover setting. For a theater, place seating fairly close together in rows, set up a snack bar with popcorn and other treats and healthy snacks, and draw or print out a list of movies, showtimes, and “tickets” to each showing. Don't forget to close the drapes and dim the lights, and remember turn off all your other electronics! For a sleepover theme, bring out the pajamas, pillows, blankets, and stuffed animals, and turn your family or living room into a movie night sleepover complete with hot cocoa.

Camp In

Can't go outside? Then bring the fun indoors! Set up a tent and campsite in your house, complete with air mattresses, cooler and table. If you have battery-operated lighting, great! Otherwise, set up a lantern on a small table near the tent and call it a lantern. When day turns to night, make some s'mores for the whole family and sit in a cozy circle with flashlights while telling spooky stories.

 

Shopping With the Kids

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The holiday season is here and for most families, that means it's time to shop. If you have a family with children, you have extra challenges ahead. You'll be in search of the perfect gift for children of all ages and you'll want your kids to get in on the act. Take the following tips to help you breathe easier in the middle of all of the hustle and bustle.

Be Organized Before Shopping

Before you hit the stores, get all your ducks in a row. Sit down and make a list for each of your children, narrowing your selection to the items that are a must and including a few extras. Keep a budget in mind as you consider the personalities and preferences of each child. The next step is to map out your trip. Figure out where you are going to go on your shopping excursion and use your time wisely. When you are shopping for your children, you will want to make arrangements for their care while you are off on your adventure. Don't forget to catch the great sales and take your coupons.

Let the Kids Help

Your kids are part of the family and you should include them on at least one of your shopping trips as well. They should learn the value of giving. Gifts for others will mean more when your children get to pick out something extra special for those they love. It is time to be organized again. Talk with your children to make plans for your shopping trip together. Give your children an idea of how much money they can spend. Also, brainstorm ideas for gifts and the best places to go when you set out. Adjust your amount of shopping time according to the age of your children. If you have little ones, keep it short and sweet. If your children are old enough, make a day of it. You can even throw in lunch or a movie as an extra treat. If funds are available, a great idea is to find a Giving Tree in your area. Let your child pick a tag from the tree and choose a gift for the person in need. This is a great lesson for your kids, as not everyone will get a gift without programs like these. (If you don't have a Giving Tree in your area, try Toys for Tots.)

If you have more than one child, you will probably want to bring in reinforcements. Take your spouse, another family member, or a good friend with you as you shop. Take a divide and conquer tact if your time is limited. You can decide who will shop where, split up, and come back together when you've finished finding all of your purchases. Be patient and go out again if you don't find everything. And if you have Santa at your local mall, plan some time for a visit if you have young children.

 

Organizing the Busy Family

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In any family, keeping track of everyone's activities can be maddening. Work, school, activities, even date nights can become more complicated than they need to be if not properly managed and organized. With a bit of planning, however, managing everyone's schedules can be stress free and easy.

The most important item in the process is a good calendar. There are a myriad of choices, but the best ones are those laid out in a grid in which each person has his or her own column. Label each column with the name (Dad, Mom, Susie, Joey) and assign everyone his or her own color. While this may seem like overkill, the different colors help you to see in a glance where the potential conflicts may arise.

Once you have chosen your calendar, spend some time with it. Fill in all of the national holidays, the school holidays, and any other religious or secular events you celebrate. Then, fill in everyone's birthday, anniversaries and other dates that are important. Once all the dates are entered, it's time to organize. Put in recurring events, but be sure to put them in every date the occur. For example, if Susie has her piano lesson every Tuesday at 3:30, put that in (using her color) every Tuesday.

Now that the dates are all entered, hang the calendar in the kitchen where everyone can easily see it. While you will need to enter the dates for younger children, older children can be responsible for their own entries. Encourage them to write down everything they do outside of the house, even including play dates. This not only assists you in planning, it helps you to know where they are when they are not at home.

Obviously, you cannot take something this large with you outside the house. Buy a good planner, either paper or download an app; and, at least once a week, ensure that your planner is coordinated with the one in the kitchen. Ideally, you should coordinate once a day. A quick glance in the morning may be all it takes to ensure that everything has been recorded.

It can be tricky to organize a busy family; but, with a little forward planning, it needn't be overwhelming.

If Mom Likes It, Then Everybody Likes It

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It seems as if there are numerous experts out there who are more than willing to offer endless advice on how to be a mom, and many women spend too many hours fretting over whether or not they're getting things right. Over-thinking and second-guessing leads to unnecessary stress. Being a good parent is easy once you put a few basic concepts into play in your life. The main thing to remember is that the simplest answer is usually the best one. Most people spend too much time trying to find hidden meanings in all aspects of life, and that just saps both energy and time.

The other important thing to remember is the old saying that if mom is happy, then so is everyone else. This is actually the truth; everyone knows at least one family where one or both parents are miserable people, and it easy to see how directly affects the children. Some parents actually feel guilty if they give much thought at all to their own happiness, but that's a trap that can have negative consequences for every family member. Naturally, someone who lives a narcissistic lifestyle probably isn't going to be a very good parent, but there's a huge difference between always putting yourself first to the detriment of others and having a healthy respect for your own needs. Everyone has to sacrifice on some level when they become parents, but it shouldn't be a constant way of life.

It's generally quite easy to spot a happy family. They tend to be the ones in which everyone is engaged and comfortable with themselves and with one another. Families that are chronically unhappy usually have at least one parent who feels as if he or she takes a back seat to the happiness of others. An example of this is could be when a birthday dinner for mom is celebrated at a particular restaurant because it's everyone else's preference when the birthday girl herself would rather go somewhere else.

No one should ever be made to feel bad because they want to enjoy their birthday or other special day in their own way. Parents who take a simple approach to child rearing generally raise happier and healthier kids.

 

Your Family Can Come First

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Moms today are often busy with responsibilities from work, their friends and extended family, volunteer or community activities and more. While you may feel a strong devotion to each of these areas, your heart lies with your spouse and children. However, with so many different forces pulling you in seemingly all directions, many mothers feel as though they don’t have time or energy to do it all. At the end of the day, when you close your eyes at night, you know that the most important thing is for your kids and husband to know that you put them first before everything else. While your schedule almost every day may seemingly take you to the ends of the earth and back, you want those who you love most in the world to know they matter to you.

Set Time Aside For Them Each Day

When it comes to letting your loved ones know how important they are to you, it is the little things in life that matter so much. If you are a working mom, you may find it difficult to get to all of the kids’ different events at school and their extracurricular activities. Life is a great balancing act, and sometimes, the forces in your life will take you away from places where your heart really wants to be. However, when you make a strong effort to sit down with your kids every day and have a one-on-one conversation with them, they will know that they matter. Whether in the morning while they are eating breakfast, in the evening before they go to bed or even on the phone with a call while you are thinking about them, having a conversation with them and actively listening to them every day can mean so much.

Plan Special Events

While taking a few minutes out of your day regularly will let them know that they are important in your life, you should also plan special events on a regular basis. These events can be full-day events, such as a special outing to the beach or the zoo. However, they can also be fun activities at home that take only an hour or two. For example, everyone in your family can spend time in the kitchen one evening making their own individual pizza, or you can schedule a regular family game night.

Busy moms like you unfortunately have to make tough decisions in life. It is impossible to always be everywhere you need or want to be. However, when you put these ideas to work in your life, those closest to you will know that they are important to you.

Simple Ideas to Create Family Fun Times

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Between work and other obligations, it's hard enough to spend quality time with their kids. When moms finally do get some free time, the last thing they want to do is waste it grasping for family-friendly activities and taking precious hours away from themselves and their kids. Here are some simple ideas that will help you create family fun times.

Mom and Daughter Day Spa

The price of a day spa for yourself is high enough. Taking your daughter or daughters along can really strain the budget. Fortunately, you can get all of the benefit without the price tag. In fact, it'll likely be even more enjoyable. Set aside an occasional day when you all treat yourselves and each other to an at-home spa treatment. Break out the lotions, scrubs, nail polish and makeup. If you really want to go all-out, you can even do each other's hair. Make sure that you have plenty of refreshments.

Homestyle Restaurant

Everyone knows that going out for dinner can cost the proverbial arm and a leg. This can put a big damper on your plans for family fun, especially if none of the adults in the house feels like cooking. However, it can actually be an opportunity in disguise. While you sit back and relax, let the kids prepare and serve dinner for everyone. There are a lot of things that are safe and easy for even young children to make. Sandwiches, salads, drinks, desserts and appetizers are all simple ideas created with basic ingredients and minimal tools or assistance. For you, the experience will be even more enjoyable if you can convince them to clean up the mess afterward.

Backyard Camp-Out

Whether you live in the big city, the middle of suburbia or a small town, it can be hard to find a good campground within a reasonable distance from your home. Camping is an excellent family activity, but the planning, spot reservations, packing and long drive can suck the joy out of the experience, turning it into a hassle. A great solution to this is having a backyard camp-out. Buy an inexpensive tent, get some sleeping bags together and grab some ingredients for camp fire grub. A good flash light will aid you in telling creepy stories before bed. For added excitement, take the kids around the yard with the flashlight after dark. Let them see how many night-dwelling insects and critters they can find.  And if you don't want to bother with the tent, you can still do a cookout. Grab the marshmallows!

 

Making Easy Healthy Dinners

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You’re a busy mom with a busy family. Between soccer practices and laundry loads, there’s not a lot of time to spend in the kitchen. You need a few easy dinner recipes on hand. Use these three recipes to create healthy dinners for your family.


Lamb with Herbs and Garlic
Ingredients
3 pounds leg of lamb (boneless)
3 garlic cloves
4 bay leaves
1 pound of mushrooms
½ cup of chicken or beef broth
1 Tablespoon of rosemary, plus 8 sprigs
1 Tablespoon of thyme, plus 8 sprigs
3 Tablespoons of olive oilDirectionsPreheat your oven to 350 degrees. Mix olive oil with garlic, thyme and rosemary in a blender. Cut tiny slits on top of the lamb and rub the entire lamb with the mixture of herbs. Warm a baking pan and brown the lamb on all four sides in the oven. Remove the lamb and add chicken or beef broth.

Using a large casserole pan, arrange the rosemary, thyme and bay leaves in the pan. Place the lamb on top and surround it with mushrooms. Roast in the oven for 40-50 minutes, then remove and let it sit for 15 minutes before serving.

Couscous

Ingredients
2 cups of whole-wheat couscous
3 cups of water
½ teaspoon of salt

Directions
Combine your whole-wheat couscous grains with salt in a medium-sized bowl. Pour ½ cup of water into the bowl. Lightly rub the couscous back and forth in your hands to wet the grains evenly. Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes. Repeat this process 4 to 6 times. Stop adding water when the couscous grains feel soft.

Arugula Salad

Ingredients
2 cups of arugula
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
1 Tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon of sea salt
½ teaspoon of freshly ground pepper

Directions
Place the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper into a small bowl. Mix for 1 minute. Wash and dry two cups of arugula. Pour the oil and vinegar dressing over the salad and serve as a side.

Try these easy dinner recipes and have healthy dinners every night!