Many thanks to Mompreneur friends Ellen Briggs and Carolina Lima Jantac for hosting me on their radio show. If engaging teamwork in the kitchen sounds out of reach, think again. There are tons of creative ways (beyond screaming and canceling cell phone service, both of which I’ve tried unsuccessfully many times) to get the kids on board to help make meals and clean up after.
I cautioned that safety comes first, so clearly think about ages and stages before getting young kids involved, but there are tons of helpful tasks for kids of any age. A while back, I tried to capture the frustration along with a dose of inspiration, “What a Chore to Make Chores Work,” because it is truly tough to get kids excited about dishwashing soap. It’s been 40+ years since Marlo Thomas released the all-time classic, “Free to Be You And Me,” but she was spot on in her “Housework is just no fun” song. So what can we do to get the job done together and maybe have some fun along the way?
Comment on this post with your creative ideas on getting kids to help!
This week’s MomTastic Find is a personal favorite and (full disclosure) client of ours. You Are Musical just launched a very exciting production..its new website. The company specializes in early childhood music education (with options for adults too), with programs in schools, homes, the community, and more. Along the production route, I learned some fascinating stats about kids and music that I wanted to share here at The Lounge.
There’s lots more science and FUN about the magic of music on their Facebook page.
Plus, here’s a bonus for MomTini Lounge friends in the Washington, DC, and NY/NJ metro areas: Grab your FREE INTRODUCTORY LESSON ($50 value) for new students. Email info@YouAreMusical.com to book your first lesson. Mention promo code MOM2015 before November 1, 2015 to redeem.
Editor’s Note: You Are Musical is a client of Write Ideas, Inc., but the opinions expressed here are all our own!
Guest Author Corinne Jacob shared some great tips on how to keep the kids busy when you have stuff to do. She suggests a combination of engagement and diversion, both great tactics depending on what you need to do.
She shared a great quote, “Moms are always on call.” That line, from Author Susan Newman’s The Book of No: 250 Ways to Say It – and Mean It – and Stop People-Pleasing Forever, definitely captures the mom’s shift (24/7). Here, Jacob shares some sage advice for supermoms around the world on how to keep the kids busy when you need to focus on something else.
A chore for a chore – that’s one of the most effective ways of keeping kids busy when you have a number of errands to run. You may be surprised to learn that kids actually love it when they are assigned household chores like arranging their books, running the vacuum cleaner, etc. This is a great way to help them develop a sense of responsibility towards their home and family.
Editor’s Note: This is my favorite, and I love getting the kids involved. I’m about to publish another article on this very topic.
Make an account of kitchen stocks
Get the kids involved in taking inventory in your kitchen. Give them a list of the items that you generally buy every month and have them give you a stock estimate so that you know what quantity of each item to buy. It will also be a good idea if the kids can write down their estimates of the quantity they think you should be buying.
Register on virtual worlds online
There are a number of safe and educational virtual worlds for kids. Virtual worlds such as Neopets can engage kids (and adults like me!) for hours on end. There’s a lot to explore and learn – discovering new lands, playing mini games, and of course, looking after your pets.
Care for pets
If you have a pet at home, then putting it to your child’s care while you’re busy finishing other chores is a good idea. Kids will grow a sense of duty towards their pet while looking after the pet’s needs and interacting with them. And all the ‘running around’ will give them the much needed exercise that they generally avoid!
Make crafts and projects
Kids are the happiest when they have a bunch of craft supplies with them! Engaging children with crafts and activities while you are busy at another important thing is a foolproof solution of keeping both the parties contended!
Corinne Jacob is a wannabe writer who is convinced that kids learn best when they’re having fun. She is constantly on the lookout for new and exciting ways to make learning an enjoyable experience. Corinne loves all things that scream out un-schooling, alternative education and holistic learning.
Kudos to Parent Encouragement Program (PEP)’s Dana Spencer, a parent educator, on her recent appearances on FOX News. Here’s a clip from “Correcting Bad Behavior: What To Do If Your Toddler Is Swearing.”
DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG
Even though our boys are teenagers, I totally remember cursing when they were younger, and my “deer in headlights” look that followed. A couple of times, I quickly moved onto the next subject, hoping it was overlooked. And we’ve also created a “family bad words jar” where we will charge for bad words. We do get sloppy, especially as our kids get older, but I’d certainly like to “keep it clean.”
Dana shared some great ideas on FOX News including…
I liked how Dana talked about consequences in a novel “PEP” way. Of course there are consequences when kids do things they shouldn’t, but she also explained the benefit of explaining to young kids how their friends might feel if they talk that way. Check out the segment.
Note: I’m a Board Member at PEP, a local non-profit parent educator, and just LOVE their programs. The Fall schedule is gearing up if you’re looking to tune up your parenting skills with a group of peers!
Math packets and summer reading are probably last on your list. After a long school year, everyone is ready for a break. But there’s loads of research that shows that a complete “brain break” isn’t always the best thing. Here’s a guest post with some tips on how to keep some momentum going during the summer months from Barbara Dianis, MA, ED, education specialist and author of Grade Transformer for the Modern Student.
Social plans may trump academic plans; however, a non-academic summer can cause students to digress two to three months in their scholastic skills. The notorious summer brain drain can cause students to struggle academically in the fall as they try to relearn several months of forgotten core concepts. Summer is an ideal time for children and teenagers to strengthen their academic skills, close learning gaps, perform better next year, and still have plenty of time leftover for sports, clubs, summer jobs or other summer activities.
The summer brain drain can be avoided in students of all ages who work on strengthening their scholastic skills several hours a week. The time can be broken into short time segments. Summertime is a fantastic time to help students be ready for a scholastically successful upcoming school year.
Summer camp is such a gift for both kids AND parents, and whether your kids are at day camp, sleep-away, or “mom camp,” there are tons of great resources for parents. I wanted to share some of my favorite camp posts that are full of ideas for staying in touch with your camper, getting more than “Hi Mom” in camp letters, sending non-food care packages since many camps prohibit ant-attracting mail, etc.
This is a unique summer for me, because I have a camper, a CILT (trainee), and a Counselor, so I’m enjoying hearing about their adventures from so many different angles.
It’s impossible to forget how nervous I was sending my kids away to camp the first time, and I told them that many years ago, I found great comfort the first night when I looked outside and realized we were all looking at the same moon, even though we were miles away. Now, watching my older boys work with younger kids, and see how much fun they have teaching and leading, it makes me realize just how special it all is to grow up at camp.
Here are some of my favorite camp posts loaded with ideas and tips – hope you’ll share with friends!
Share your creative camp ideas by adding a comment to this post! Or, on twitter, share and add @MomTiniLounge.
Overbooked? Guilty here…We absolutely live a frenetic life with 3 boys, sports, activities, and oh yea, school! It all adds up to busy days that turn into busy weeks and months, and all of a sudden, no one is sure where the time went. I’m definitely against forcing kids to do things they don’t want to do for no good reason, but…I’m very much FOR letting kids stay active in sports and activities, even if it adds frenzy to our family life. It also adds afternoons watching sporting events and car rides to and from where you get to catch up. That said, this guest post, from Philip Brown, PhD, a resident expert character education at Wear The Cape, has some great ideas which even busy families may find useful. I definitely think that well-timed “pauses” are good for everyone, myself included.
Wear the Cape describes itself as a “mission-powered brand with the nerve to equate being kind with being cool.” More info on them is below this guest post.
5 Tips to Avoid Overbooking Your Kids and Find Life Balance
Dr. Brown advocates, “Saying ‘no’ when demands become more than we can handle, or to children who may feel that they are supposed to be involved with everything their friends are doing to keep up, is not easy, and can be particularly difficult if our sense of self, who we want to believe we are or should be, seems dependent on saying ‘yes’ and doing it all.”
About Wear the Cape and the kidkind foundation
Wear the Cape™ for all kidkind™ is the first global, mission-powered brand with the nerve to equate being kind with being cool. By coaching kids to be BETTER THAN THAT™, Wear the Cape breaks down barriers and brings people together—a world of new values prevails: It’s cool to be inclusive, tolerant and socially responsible. From its line of apparel and accessories, to its educational tools and its own non-profit the kidkind foundation, Wear the Cape sparks awareness and raises money to build heroes, a kid at a time. Wear the Cape’s products and resources are designed to create teachable moments between kids and the grown-ups they look up to with Hero Tags that tee up conversations about what it means to stand up and stand out; to stick up for the underdog; to do what’s right, not what’s easy. Wear the Cape donates 10% of its net profits directly to the kidkind foundation, and the rest is reinvested in the design and production of new products, as well as character-building educational materials for parents and teachers to help the kids they love. Wear the Cape’s work with communities and schools is helping mold everyday heroes that will create a kinder, better world for us all.
With summer around the corner, kids will have the opportunity to make and of course, SPEND money. These tips on how to raise money-savvy teens caught my eye, and come from financial security expert and two-time New York Times bestselling author Pamela Yellen.
Pamela suggests the following building blocks for your teen’s financial literacy:
* Connect becoming financially savvy with becoming more independent: Teens aren’t interested in learning about money to become “financially responsible adults.” They’re interested in gaining more autonomy and more freedom. Teens are starting to decide who they want to be and how they want to live. They want to be independent and stand on their own two feet.
* Clean up the mess you’ve made: Maybe some of the ways you’ve dealt with money with your kids have not been brilliant. Maybe you gave them allowances without any responsibilities to earn it. Maybe you haven’t allowed them to make even the smallest spending decisions. Maybe you’ve bailed them out every time they overspent. Just stop it. It may cause some upset and may need some explanation. But your mission as a parent is to help them develop skills they’ll need to be out on their own. Don’t sabotage their futures by continuing unhealthy family patterns with money.
* Correct your failure to communicate: Good communication with teens is almost an oxymoron! They’re frustrated with their parents, and typically their parents are frustrated with them. “Because I say so!” is no longer an effective explanation, and they’re no longer the compliant eight-year-olds you once knew. The burden is on you to get communication channels open so they can hear what you have to say about money.
More tips from Yellen:
* Be a good listener first
* Acknowledge and support your teen’s increased autonomy
* Accept their feelings and respect their opinions
* Admit it when you’re wrong, and discuss your mistakes and what you learned from them
* Above all, avoid nagging, guilt trips, and lecturing!
Yellen explains, “Avoid any statement that could be accompanied by a wagging index finger, like ‘You have to learn this so you’ll end up to be a responsible adult, not a deadbeat like your Uncle Harry,’ or ‘You’re not getting a credit card, young lady, until you show a little maturity with your spending.’ Your teen will instantly flip into ‘I can’t hear you’ mode. You’ll get better results with, ‘If you learn to be financially savvy, you’ll be able to create a life where you can have and do the things you really want to do. Would you be interested?’ Or ‘If you’re interested in getting your first credit card, I know exactly how you can earn it. Would you like to know?'”
About the Author: Financial security expert Pamela Yellen is author of the New York Times best-selling book, THE BANK ON YOURSELF REVOLUTION: Fire Your Banker, Bypass Wall Street, and Take Control of Your Own Financial Future and Editor-in-Chief of The Women’s Financial Edge. Pamela investigated more than 450 financial strategies seeking an alternative to the risk and volatility of stocks and other investments, which led her to a time-tested, predictable method of growing wealth now used by more than 500,000 Americans.
I saw Hal Runkel (ScreamFree Parenting) at a PEP event and have been reading his Daily “ScreamFree eQuips” ever since. This one is so spot on, I had to share it with you. It always makes me laugh that our kids are so technically literate and can text, SnapChat, and Facebook simultaneously, but I can clear the room in an instant when I ask for someone to take the trash out. All joking aside, my boys do help, but as moms know, there’s always more to do…
Meghan Leahy’s recent article in The Washington Post, “The right response when your child doesn’t want to be ‘bossed around'” is a great look at autonomy-seeking single-digit aged kids. She talks about independence and how healthy and necessary it can be, even if it’s uncomfortable for parents. Leahy writes, “All children who are developing to their fullest potential come to an age when they want to create a space for themselves, a voice and a sense of independence within their families.”
Leahy illustrates this approach with a shout-out to a strategy she learned at the Parent Encouragement Program, the family meeting. The idea of getting everyone together once a week to discuss the family agenda and to engage the kids in finding solutions so they have a voice in the management of the family is a great one to remember. I, too, learned about this at a PEP class, where I’m currently also a Board member.
I asked PEP to share some class materials here at The Lounge to give our readers some insight into how how family meetings can be done, and why they’re helpful. When I took PEP‘s multi-week Teens class last spring, they spent a lot of time teaching us how to plan, structure and implement family “councils” or meetings, and WHY they help each kid feel like a productive, useful, problem-solving member of the family team. PEP’s curriculum writes, “A harmonious family is orderly…cooperative, efficient, and pleasant, (with) an atmosphere of friendliness, kindness and love.”
PEP advocates an “open forum, in which all family members can express ideas, opinions and complaints, and be listened to.” Some elements of the meeting can include:
I love it! We used to do this more regularly at our home and have picked it up again recently. There are tons of ways you can personalize it, including a clockwise “compliment circle” where you go around the table and say something nice about the person next to you. That certainly kicks things off in a friendly manner, and who doesn’t love to be complimented? I share and then post our color-coded (yes, I’m a details person) calendar on the wall, and it’s great to look at the big picture and the little details that drive our busy lives… together.
*Note – PEP materials provided here with credit to Leader B. Clair Hawes, Consultant.
In 2014, the American Association of Poison Control Centers received reports of more than 11,000 accidental exposures to laundry packets by children aged 5 and below.
Here are some timely safety tips from from The American Cleaning Institute in anticipation of National Poison Prevention week:
– Never let kids handle laundry packets
– Always store products up and out of sight from kids
– Always store laundry packets in their original container and closed
Here’s a link to more tips.
There’s nothing more fun than working on a PR project for a family-friendly product that I view as “MomTastic,” and Marimba Chat is a perfect example! I wanted to share this exciting news at The Lounge…
Young kids want to text. Parents want to keep them safe. Until recently, think of the young kids’ “digital playground” as mobile messaging without a hall monitor.
Mainstream apps want you to be 13+, so kids either lie about their age and participate in platforms that are built for and marketed to adults, or wait. However…
Here’s a news feature detailing the first-ever COPPA-certified messaging app that allows young kids (7-12) to text in a safe environment where parents can monitor everything in real-time. Developed by a father-daughter duo, Marimba Chat gives parents a way to ease their digitally-ready kids safely into mobile messaging. It’s a “walk before you run” approach to texting where young kids benefit from learning digital etiquette and practicing and learning from mistakes in a controlled/safe environment.
A great overview, told by 8-year-old Co-Founder Annelise, is here, followed by a story of how this all started.
First-ever COPPA-certified Messaging App
Offers Real-time Monitoring, Identify Verification and Safeguards
So Young Kids can Learn Valuable Lessons on the Digital Playground
Today’s kids are growing up in a digital world, and the menu of options available – Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Kik Messenger and so on – requires kids to be 13 or older. Younger kids, aged 7-12, are left to either lie about their age or not play on the digital playground. If kids choose to register with mainstream apps, they are set free in a world designed for and marketed to adults. There is a void of legal, safe options available to them for social messaging.
Why are there age limits? The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) aims to protect children under 13. The rule brings strict requirements and stiff fines ($16,000 per violation) so most companies avoid younger age groups altogether.
Parents struggle to keep up as well. The recent McAfee survey, “Digital Deception: Exploring the Online Disconnect between Parents and Kids,” reports that 52 percent of kids spend six hours a day online, but 80 percent of parents say they don’t have the time or energy to keep up with their children online.
One father-daughter software development team is confident that their newly minted app will ease young kids into the world of social media with the help of their parents as digital coaches. It started when co-founder and 8-year-old Annelise Schiebler asked if she could chat with her friends online. Her father, co-founder Andrew Schiebler, was surprised that there wasn’t already a range of options for young kids.
After more research, the father-daughter duo developed Marimba Chat, the first COPPA-certified messaging app for kids. Andrew explained, “There are very few social networking products made for this age group. Our goal is to give elementary school kids a safe place to chat with their friends and family.” Marimba is currently free to download in the App Store.
Marimba is designed to be safe for kids and easy for parents. Highlights include:
Marimba is the first messaging app certified by kidSAFE, an independent safety seal-of-approval program, to be compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
Co-founder Andrew Schiebler noted several key areas in which parents can teach their kids “digital etiquette” so they learn and practice safe methods from the start. “We help parents teach kids about online interaction like appropriate language, how to treat their friends, and what to do if they feel threatened. These life skills are just as critical in the digital arena as they are on the school playground.”
Kids and technology are here to stay. According to Marimba, kids should be supported by carefully designed safeguards so that their experience is both fun and age-appropriate.
Marimba is a mobile messaging platform designed for children under 13. Co-founders Andrew Schiebler and 8-year old daughter Annelise Schiebler created Marimba to help parents introduce children to social media. Andrew has 20 years’ experience building software products and startup companies. Annelise is currently in 3rd grade and enjoys karate, basketball, and building software with her dad. For more information about Marimba, visit https://marimbachat.com.
Marimba is currently free to download in the App Store.
# # #
Disclosure: Marimba Chat is a paid client of Write Ideas, Inc., our PR firm, but any opinions expressed here are our own.
Great survey report from Goodshop, an online retailer that donates a percentage of purchases to the buyer’s favorite charity (more than $11 million to date). Full information below, but looks like a combined 88% of survey respondents will give the same or more than last year. And animals top the list of a most popular category for donation.
When you think of Colonial Williamsburg and the area around it, you may be thinking historic battlefields and war re-enactments. But there’s something much “lighter” going on this holiday season, and we wanted to share some of the information around their Christmas Town programs. Here’s their “411” on the celebration now through December 31 where you can have a fun winter adventure:
Guests can feel the warmth of the holidays while strolling along paths lit by more than eight million twinkling lights.
True to its European heritage, Busch Gardens pulls out the stops for its annual Christmas event with idealized representations of the world’s best Christmas traditions.
Scrooge No More! ™, is coming to Busch Gardens’ Globe Theatre for Christmas Town. Join Scrooge live on stage in an all-new musical at the Globe Theatre as he is swept away by the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future, who teach him the importance of family and friends being together at Christmas.
Guests can create their own Christmas Town holiday traditions with a $32 Christmas Town Fun Card that offers unlimited admission for the 2014 Christmas season.
Annual pass members can save even more with an exclusive offer designed just for them. Active annual pass members can purchase a Christmas Town pass for $25 and receive unlimited admission to Christmas Town for the 2014 season along with regular pass member benefits like free parking and discounts on park purchases. Visit www.bgwpass.com for complete details.
Visit christmastown.com for complete Christmas Town details, including ticket information and an operating schedule. While there, sign up for Busch Gardens’ email updates and be the first to know about upcoming special offers on Christmas Town tickets and other exclusive holiday deals.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, and compensation was provided.
For the 7th year in a row, Macy’s annual Believe campaign invites customers to write “Letters to Santa at the North Pole” in stores and now online. For each letter collected, Macy’s will donate $1 up to $1 million to Make-A-Wish, helping to grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions. And this year, Macy’s is aiming to earn the Guinness World Records title for the “longest wish list to Santa” (therefore, the adorable picture at the top of this post). We’ve seen the magic this campaign creates and have been touched by how powerful the “star treatment” is for the kids battling serious illnesses. It gives them a short but valuable break from the exhaustion and stress of doctor’s offices, tests, scans, and the kind of days kids just shouldn’t have to endure.
I hope Macy’s wish, and many wishes of many Make-A-Wish kids come true this holiday season.
Letters are being collected through December 24th. You can find a Macy’s store near you at this link.
Full disclosure: Macy’s is a client of our PR firm, Write Ideas, Inc., but this is such a wonderful, family-friendly message, I love to share it at MomTini as well.