May 26

Besides their bedroom, children don’t have a space in the house (or at grandma’s) to call their own. If you’re thinking about designing a playroom just for them, here are a few essentials to creating a fun place to play.

Activity Table

Every parent knows if there isn’t enough room to sit and color in the playroom, the kids will end up back at the kitchen table sketching out their masterpieces. There needs to be an appropriately-sized table in the playroom for puzzles, artwork and board game playing. The table should be kid-sized, and spacious enough to spread out a project, but small enough to leave space in the room to play.

A Place to Land

While kids may prefer playing on the area rug, every playroom should have a place to land, exclusively for adults who may be there to supervise. The room can be kid-friendly without being designed for kids only.

Best Parenting Books for Dads

 

Shelving and Storage

Even if, the space is dedicated to playful dreaming, it shouldn’t be a mess. Help your kids manage their toys by providing ample shelving and storage bins. A combination of open and hidden storage with labels on the baskets will help kids, and those visiting, know where to find and put away individual toys. If a child is too young to understand, post a picture of the item that belongs in the basket on the front, such as a tower of blocks or books.

Good Lighting

The playroom should have tons of windows to provide views of the outdoors and natural lighting. Substitute grommet curtains for blinds so children can still peek out the window while playing. Playrooms often get the most use on days when it’s dark and dreary outside, so make sure there’s adequate inside lighting all year round. If overhead lighting isn’t enough, add a lamp or spotlight to shine down over the important spots in the room, like the activity table or reading corner.

A Gallery Wall

Kids need an area to display artwork, especially if the refrigerator is already covered in layers of homework assignments and love notes. Consider crafting a wall where kids can use magnets, clothes pins or push pins to hang picture art. A shelf can display tangible art, and if you can make the time, a few framed pieces on the wall will let your kids know you value them and their accomplishments.

A Hiding Spot

Not every home has an alcove or built-in cubby that’s a perfect hiding place for a kid, so if possible, build one for them. If the play space is too small or budget is too low, opt for a tent or play structure that kids can climb inside to spend hours hiding out. Even a few blankets thrown over furniture can do the trick. Help your kids get creative.

Imagination Station

Whether playing cops and robbers, pirates and mermaids or house, kids love to play make-believe. The playroom area should be a designated space for children’s imaginations to go wild. Building blocks, a costume box, baby dolls and action figures all fit the part. A standalone kitchen station or toolbox allows your child to learn from you with similar toys just their size.

A Chalkboard Wall

If there’s a room in the house where coloring on the walls should be allowed, it’s the playroom. Convert metal, wood, drywall or glass surface into a usable chalkboard by using specialty chalkboard paint. The matte finish provides a fun and functional chalkboard that erases easily and cleanly.


Apr 18

As the snow melts and the temperature rises, everyone in the family, especially your child, is probably itching to get outside and play.   If this is the case in your house, why not consider signing your son or daughter up for a team sport?  Soccer, baseball, and basketball are all great spring sports, as Yahoo Sports points out, and there is no better way for children to get some exercise and learn a little bit about teamwork.


Jan 6

KidsBirthday

Throwing a party for your birthday boy or girl can be enjoyable and memorable, and, if you follow these four tips, quick! Austin is filled with fun party venues to keep the kids active and excited, but if you are planning an at-home party, the decorating and food falls on you. Don’t fret, with these easy tips you’ll have the perfect party planned in no time.

Think Theme

Choosing a theme will help give you direction for the rest of the party planning. Just having a color or cartoon character to base your child’s party around will open up the flow of ideas for other party products you’ll need, like decorations and cake. Include your child in the decision, and pick something unique and specialized just for him or her.

Popular children party choices include luaus, pirate parties and tea times. If you and your child are struggling to find the right theme, consider Birthday Express party ideas to help you decide on something that fits your style and budget. Those common truck or princess parties can be easily adapted to fit your child’s taste as soon as you decide that’s your theme.

Do Decorations

Decorating for your child’s party may be the most rewarding part. Children love the anticipation and excitement that comes when walking in to a well-decorated party. Make any party memorable with custom napkins.  When everyone walks into the room covered in streamers and filled with balloons, your child will feel extra special knowing it was all done for him or her. Choose tablecloths, plates, cups, napkins and plastic ware that match your theme.

Adapt Activities

You should have a few fun activities planned for the kids, but they can be simple and inexpensive. A pinata filled with candy and small toys can keep children entertained for hours, and the take-home treats work as an easy party favor for your guests. There are all kinds of birthday party activities ranging from arts and crafts to sports and outside games. What you choose to entertain your little guests with should be influenced by the party’s theme and, of course, what the birthday boy or girl enjoys. Texas boasts hot summers, so if you are hosting a party during the warm season, plan accordingly.

Find Finger Food

When planning food for your child’s birthday party, remember that simple is usually best when it comes to kids. A cake that is decorated to match your theme and a big bucket of inexpensive ice cream will usually be a sufficient dessert. A few finger foods, such as pizza, meatballs, chips and vegetables with ranch dressing for dipping, will help curb the kids’ hunger pangs and hopefully encourage them to fill up on too much sugar.

If you follow these tips, you will have a wonderful party planned for your child’s birthday without having to spend too much time or money. Once these basics are covered, the rest of your party will fall into place.


Sep 7

We all know that the moment you become a parent, everything changes. Everything becomes hectic. And not only that – you become (too) engrossed in being a parent, a good parent, the best parent you could ever be for your kids. However, there is something that you are missing – friends, family, and social relationships.

When you have turned into a parent, suddenly you are isolated from the outside world. You lose communication with your siblings and you no longer have a social life. And it is perfectly understandable. After all, the most important thing now is your own family and kids. Sometimes though, it is better if you could still get to enjoy your old life and bond with those people who had been a part of your life. Reunions and special non-working holiday gatherings give you this opportunity. You can catch up with your old acquaintances, reconnect with your brother or sister, who is most probably also a parent now, you can share advices, and just overall have a good time amid the good food and chitchats.

So, the next time there is a holiday, choose to accept party or celebration invitations that you have been ignoring. It is the perfect opportunity to enjoy a more worthwhile respite. You can laze around your house some other time.

Inspiration Article:
‘Smart Parenting: Love All Around’
- http://www.nst.com.my/life-times/sunday-life-times/smart-parenting-love-all-around-1.129202


Sep 5

When you become a parent, suddenly you’re aware of all the parenting advice you can get a hold of and can apply in raising your own kid. However not all advice on parenting are expert advice. Even those advice that come from your own mother could be faulty and may not apply well especially for you. Yahoo! Shine publishes an article about parenting entitled “10 Worst Parenting Lies” [It could make or break your parenting style.] I’m sure you could find some surprise realizations about the most common myths and misconceptions involved in parenting.

The article is written in the perspective of a mother with first-hand experience with parenting, and who may have learned about these queer lies the unpleasant way. Before you jump in on following any unsolicited advice, most probably from a stranger posting a blog about parenting online, confirm it first with facts and get the point-of-view of mothers who have been there done that. It may also help if you read these not-so-known parenting lies then see for yourself.

’10 Worst Parenting Lies’
- http://shine.yahoo.com/parenting/10-worst-parenting-lies-171600404.html


Sep 4

Parents want all the best for their children. But sometimes, we tend to over-do things with parenting. We become too obsessed with the responsibility to the point of making ourselves depressed.

Some parents even become too controlling of the lives of their kids, thinking they only want to make sure everything is “okay”. But it is not okay. Kids are individuals too and our only task as parents is to nourish and guide them. Not to dictate things or decide for them, endangering them to lose their identities. We should allow them to be kids, shouldn’t we? Let’s help them enjoy their childhood, because in the process, we also get to enjoy being parents by taking it easy with parenting. We also need time for ourselves and the down-time we give to our kids would also benefit them.

Here are some info and tips on:
‘Slow Parenting’ – for Some Space and Sanity”, and
How Moms Could Enjoy Their Life While Parenting Young Children

Hope it helps!


Sep 3

A toddler is a little orb of uncontrollable energy. The auto hyperactivity starts when he turns one and a-half years old and lasts until he is two and one-half. During this time, it’s complete chaos. You just turn around for one second and your child disappears and you’re in panic that he may have run, wandered, and have become abducted. Paranoid. And you get the feeling that you want to put a harness on your child. Of course you can’t do that, not without scrutinizing eyes, but what must you do?

Toddlerhood is a time when kids discover their identities and yearn to explore their surroundings and maximize their independence. For parents, it’s a fearful time. The kid might get hurt and the parent may feel ever more guilty for not looking after her child. There are strategies though that you can apply to help your restrain your active toddler, especially when you are in a potentially dangerous public place. This article is entitled ‘Taming the Escape Artist’. Apply these tips and never lose sight of child ever again. Note: You child still gets to enjoy his independence.

Link:
http://www.eacourier.com/opinion/editorials/parenting-tips-taming-the-escape-artist/article_0b753100-ee7c-11e1-9896-001a4bcf887a.html


Sep 2

Are you trying to become the best parent for your kids? But are you trying too hard? There is a very thin line between good parenting and Over-Parenting, and over-parenting turns out to be counterproductive for our kids than what we would have wanted otherwise.

Psychologist, educator, author, and consultant Madeline Levine points out some fallacies in some of the different ways we’re doing over-parentinghttp://www.sfgate.com/opinion/article/Over-parenting-s-faulty-logic-3779426.php. We really want to avoid these if we want our kids to truly succeed in life.

Levine also shares some tips, so make sure you check out the article. It’s a worthy read for all concerned parents.


Aug 30

‘Intensive Parenting’ has become the norm during the past few decades, with mothers over-exerting themselves to be the best moms for their kids. They read all sorts of parenting books and follow them diligently, in fact too strictly and it is not making them any happier. They believe they are doing it for their kids, which although an admirable trait among loving mothers, experts are starting to think that it is becoming a serious problem as these ‘intensive parenting’ moms have been found to become more and more depressed in taking every child responsibility to themselves.

These unhappy ‘super moms’ think that “mother is best” and would limit getting any kind of child care or parenting help, even from their own mothers and husbands. And it is almost impossible to influence them to do things in moderation, for instance in providing enough stimulation to their kids, despite the advice of specialists to provide some downtime as well, not just for the children, but for themselves as well. While there has not yet been any proofs (yet) that (over-) engaging your kids would be indeed good for them as they grow up, it could not be too obvious that a depressed mother could also affect the child in a negative way.

You could learn more about this commentary on Time.com.


Aug 28

Summer is great for fun but some kids’ activities could harm the environment – like water balloons. The following ideas from Margaret Hyde of Huffington Post would create the best Eco-Friendly Summer Fun for Kids without hurting Mother Nature:

1. Grow a garden play area
- Plant sunflowers to create a maze or a beautiful natural playground in your backyard. Planting a “pizza garden” (tomatoes, oregano, basil) is also a great idea. Harvest them with your kids at the end of summer and make the best homemade pizza.
2. Create a natural art box mobile
- Materials: box, translucent contact paper, string, pebbles, rocks, small twigs, flowers, and some homemade paint (egg white and red ochre blush and charcoal). View some ancient cave art pictures with your child for inspirations.
3. Make toys and crafts from boxes
- Big boxes make great puppet theaters and tunnel playhouses. Medium boxes could be made into train tunnels or matchbox car highways.
4. Add some scent to Play Dough
- Create an “Around the World” Play dough and add different spices like lemongrass and ginger for an Asian smelling clay, or cumin and turmeric for an Indian scented play.
5. Make your own water sponge toys
- Instead of water balloons, why not play with water sponge toys instead? It’s easy to throw around and leaves no rubber trash behind.
6. Do some finger painting
- No brush use but only fingers. Use non-toxic finger paint [cornstarch, water, and food color] for a fun messy activity.
7. Colored rice and pasta (using non-toxic coloring)
- Use food color and some (quick drying) rubbing alcohol for your colored rice and pasta . The kids could use these in spatial relationship play and/or crafting. Let the kids pour them into cups or use to make necklaces or to glue onto their artwork.
8. Sand box treasure hunting
- Buy some inexpensive environment-friendly toy pirate ‘loots’ (“fool’s good” pyrite) and bury them in your kid’s sand box. Have the kids dress up into pirates and let them dig up their gold.
9. Make a toilet paper tube bird feeder
- Take a toilet paper tube and recycle it by covering with peanut butter and rolling in birdseeds. It’s a worthwhile activity for kids.
10. Create a backyard beach
- Buy several bags of sand from the hardware store or local garden shed and spread it out in the kiddy pool or just anywhere you can enjoy it in your own backyard. Next, place some sea shells, sand dollars, and even driftwood you’ve collected from your previous trips to the beach. Then, take out the beach umbrella and sand toys.

Let your kids engage with fun and nature in these activities. Which of these green summertime ideas you’d be trying with your kids?


Aug 27

Soon, school will be in session again and the summer vacation will be over. New adventures and changing schedules will affect kids and their parents. Kids can develop back-to-school jitters. They are faced with possibly new schools to go too, changes in their routine schedules, different kids in their classes and new teachers. Kids also worry about what they are going to wear, if they are going to make new friends and if their old ones will be in their class. Parents can play a large role in easing their kids anxiety and nervousness.

Hold a family meeting

One of the easiest ways to begin to calm back-to-school jitters is to hold a family meeting where everyone, the parents and their kids, can talk about their concerns about the new school year. Parents can start off by saying that they know this school year is going to be a great learning experience filled with fun and adventure. Even though the change is somewhat different than last year, expectations will generally be the same. Investing in identity theft protection, such as Lifelock, will also add peace of mind. A company like this will watch your personal information closely and monitor any suspicious activity against your credit.

Visit the school

Plan ahead and meet the teachers before school starts. Parents can make time to take their kids to their schools to visit their new rooms and meet their teachers before school begins. Walk around with them after words so they can get use to the outlay of the exterior of the schools. They can visualize their new environment and it will not be as scary for them. Parents will also realize that their kids will be in a safe place and surrounded by caring professionals.

Implementing new school routines early

Parents can help calm their kids nerves by slowly implementing their new school routines at home a month or so before school starts. This way the parents and their kids can adjust over a short period of time. Everyone will know their expectations; when to get up in the morning, eat breakfast, catch the bus, time to be home and bedtime, for example.

Kids want to fit in

Kids want to be able to fit in with their classmates. Most of them want to wear in-style clothing and to have the school supplies that their teachers asked them to bring. This is why the annual school tax holiday that most states offer can be so important. That little bit of help can go a long way in being able to afford buying kids the supplies they need to start the school year out on the right foot.

Parents and kids need to talk about everything concerning going back-to-school. Holding family meetings, visiting their schools and meeting their teachers before the academic year begins, adjusting to new and different daily routines and kids fitting in are terrific starting blocks. Continual communication on a daily basis is just as important.


Aug 19

We all know that having kids is not easy. But couples still keep on having kids and parents prove to be happier than their child-free friends. Yes being a parent is difficult. It is hard on the budget, it weighs down on the sex life, and it generally causes a lot of stress. Yet it turns out, couples would still rather have kids than live without any experience of having them.

There are even studies conducted and concluded to show that having kids have the tendency to lower blood pressure (yes, it’s true) –most probably because of the feel-good feelings of being needed and engaging in doing worth-while activities related to child-rearing. That is how good being a parent could be, although we cannot pressure anyone into this kind of duty.

Parenting or raising kids is much like-climbing a mountain. Parents enjoy it like mountain-climbers do exhilarate in a climb. It is up to you if you would want to pass-up that fun experience of having kids.

Recommended Readings:
- Parents — Especially Dads — Are Happier than their Childless Pals
- In Defense of Motherhood: Why We Keep Having Kids When They’re So Clearly Bad for Us


Aug 18

Different couples have different ways of sharing their parenting duties with their spouses. Some people agree that fathers should also partake in the caregiving of the child (like feeding or bathing); but most people also accept that mothers should be the primary caregiver. A study though concluded that effective co-parenting could still be possible even without the fathers doing or sharing the child caregiving tasks.

The study appeared in the January 2011 issue of the Developmental Psychology journal, and it showed that the group of fathers who only played with their kids and did not share the caregiving responsibilities with their wives still received ample support from their wives or the mothers. On the other hand, the fathers who shared the caregiving responsibilities with their wives experienced less support and more conflict with their wives, most probably because of their disagreements with how the parenting should be done with the kids.

The study does not rule out though that some couples still do work effectively in co-parenting their kids while sharing the caregiving responsibilities equally. In the end, what is most important is for the couple to decide which set-up works best when it comes to caring for the children, at the same time determine which way is more beneficial or healthier for their co-parent relationship.


Aug 17

The relationship between the mother and father of a child greatly affects the parenting set-up for the child even after divorce or legal separation. This is especially true for ex-spouses who are court-ordered to share legal and physical custody of their child or children.

A new study by the Kansas State University has identified some crucial factors that affect how ex-partner parents succeed in co-parenting.

45% of the mothers from the study group have a “contentious relationship” with their exes even in the area of co-parenting their children. The mothers state that there is a conflict in the way they see their exes raise (or cannot raise) the children, and most of the women said they do not want to share custody, but only have to because of the court ruling.

On the other hand, 35% of the mothers have a “bad-to-better” co-parenting relationship with their children’s father. During the earlier phase post the separation, the relationship was contentious but improved eventually as the mothers began to think that their exes are good parents after all. The mothers also state that they were not able to have a more amicable co-parenting relationship in the beginning because personal issues were in still the way. The parents had to change this relationship for the sake of the children, hence made a conscious effort to work things out in order to succeed in co-parenting the kids. It has been found that good communication between the ex-partners greatly helps with their success in co-parenting.

Meanwhile nearly-half of the subject mothers are still in animosity-terms with their ex-partners, and they still continue to have a contentious (almost no-communication) co-parenting relationship with their exes. They do not see that cooperation and a less-conflicted relationship would help improve their current shared-custody situation.


Aug 16

Parenting children ages 3 to 8 years old can be hard not just for parents, but also for their children. For children, it is a stage of major transitions. At times they would need feelings of security and affection, and other times they would want to feel independent and test the limits within their surroundings. Sometimes, they want to find out what will or will not be tolerated. And as the kids undergo these conflicting needs and pleasures, then may throw tantrums and exhibit destructive behavior during the times when they don’t get what they want.

For parents, this is often shocking and challenging to handle. Parents may feel a loss of control and feel anger and frustration for not being able to get their child to cooperate. On the other hand, parents may sometimes also feel guilt or anxious that they may be lacking enough skills with parenting and are over-all concerned about their child’s progress (at school and whether their child is making enough friends.) With this, parents often feel confused thinking as to how much freedom and control they should give their kids. You must have frequently felt guilty wondering whether you handled a situation right or perhaps whether you have expected too much from your small child.

Parents can use appropriate discipline while also being responsive and nurturing to their kids. This can help their children learn effective ways to self-regulate and solve their problems, and in the long-term help them grow and develop to become more socially competent and less aggressive individuals. It will help advance your child’s emotional, social, and academic development, and you will feel more confident and less guilty in rearing your child.

You can read more on these principles on “Responsive and Nurturing Parenting” – HERE


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