Posts Tagged ‘Kids and Chores’

Family-Friendly Chicken Burgers From My Kitchen Chaos

Loved connecting with FOF (friend of friend – thank you Liz 🙂 ) Adina Kalish, a mom blogger who created “My Kitchen Chaos,” a collection of “measure-free” recipes for busy parents.  Adina is smart, funny, resourceful, and has put together a great resource for moms (like me) who need easy, fast, ideally healthy recipes to feed the family.  Her blog focuses on “recipes for disaster or everyday life,” and Adina assures us moms that we can’t mess these up if we try.  Adina has a great sense of humor, and it is a special ingredient in all of her recipes.

Check out her first TV segment with her daughter on how to make Chicken Burgers:

The measure-free approach is smart – it’s the “little bit of this, little bit of that,” that Adina describes best…

The reason the recipes on My Kitchen Chaos don’t include exact measurements is simply because I have neither the time nor the patience to wash extra dishes. It’s a pain. It adds clutter. And clutter is chaos. So I’ve adopted my great-grandmother from the old country’s “grab it with your hands” method of cooking. Most every recipe on My Kitchen Chaos is foolproof, meaning you can’t mess it up. That’s also why you won’t see too many baked goods here. Baking is an exact science. I didn’t do well in science.

Adina’s Writer Bio (stolen straight from her site, because I couldn’t say this better if I tried):

I’m a writer by day and a writer by night. I write things for other people most of the time. Things like newspaper articles and press releases and proposals and speeches and ad copy and web copy and scripts. My articles can be found in places like The Huffington Post, Working Mother, and other magazines. I write things for myself the rest of the time. Things like books and screenplays and reality show pitches. Oh, and cooking blogs. I wrote a book called Making It in the City, a girl’s guide to starting life on your own in a ridiculously expensive city you can’t afford. It was published in 2005 when I was young and broke and living in New York City. It’s full of resources for the young and broke. Or not so young and broke. I have a motto. It’s Dream Big. Pay the Rent. I do whatever I can to achieve both.

Check out My Kitchen Chaos when you clear your own kitchen counters (or before).

MomTastic Baseball Discount – Washington Nationals









Thanks to our friends at the Washington Nationals for sharing this discount code (10-20% based on game).  Friends know I’m a huge baseball fan, and have loved watching my own boys play, along with some friends we made at the Bethesda Big Train.  Washington Nats games in the summer are such a fun family outing.  Hope you enjoy some MomTastic games with your own families this spring/summer!  Here’s how you take advantage of the offer:

1)      Go to:

2)      Select Game

3)      Enter MOMTINI in the coupon code box

4)      Click Apply

5)      Select Seats

 Disclosure:  No monetary compensation was made in exchange for this post, although a pair of tickets was extended as a thank you.  Go Nats!  #Natitude


How Technology in Bedrooms Affects Sleep






Thanks to Delaney Ruston, Screenagers‘ Filmmaker, for sharing this article on how technology in bedrooms is having a major impact on kids’ sleep.  Timely, given the upcoming National Day of Unplugging on March 4.

By Delaney Ruston

major study showed the negative effect cellphones have on the quantity and quality of children’s sleep. It’s a major sleep public health issue: 75% of teens do not get the recommended 8 to 9 hours of sleep. Why public health experts care is because things like accidents, obesity, mental health problems all go up with sleep deprivation – and grades go down.

Many parents don’t allow TVs in their children’s bedrooms but lack similar guidelines around cell phones and computers. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children and teens not have any screens in their bedrooms including phones, computers or TVs.

The issue is compounded by teens’ natural tendency toward staying up late.

I talked to my son, Chase and other teens about going to bed at night and they tell me about how it is often hard for them to fall asleep. I looked at the data and found that it is normal for teens to not get tired until around 11 p.m.  This article in The Conversation cites researcher Mary Carskadon and others at Brown University who found that:

” …the human brain has a marked shift in its sleep/wake pattern during adolescence. At the onset of puberty, nearly all humans (and most mammals) experience a delay of sleep timing in the brain. As a result, the adolescent body does not begin to feel sleepy until about 10:45 p.m.”

Despite this science, the push to have schools start at a later time has been slow to gain traction. People have been working on this issue for more than twenty years and recently I was disappointed to learn from my friend and sleep expert, Lauren Hale, (who is the author of the article at the start of this TTT) that very few places around the country have implemented later start times.

Back to screens…. There are many reasons phones in the bedroom can affect sleep. Notifications from updates, texts, Snapchats and the like disturb sleep. It is hard for kids that like to game to have the constant pull of their gaming device right next them all night. You can eliminate the battles that ensue in your families around kids being on their devices late into the night if you simply create a rule about what time devices come out of the bedroom. Or, better yet, how about making bedrooms device-free altogether?

The National Day of Unplugging (sundown March 3rd to sundown March 4th) is a great time to start with a new rule around no cellphones in the bedroom.

For more discussion ideas, you can peruse past Tech Talk Tuesdays. If you are interested in seeing Screenagers, you can find event listings on our site and find out how to host a screening.

Stay in touch with the Screenagers community on FacebookTwitter and at




Raise a Chore Happy Kid






It may sound impossible, but…imagine a house that thrived on teamwork…every day?!

Thanks to‘s CEO Gregg Murset, for this guest article on how parents can pick age-appropriate chores and design an assignment and award system that works.

The average school day is between 6 and 7 hours long and most children have homework to complete after school, plus sports and extra curricular activities. Busy schedules can make it difficult for parents to find time to incorporate chores into the day. But, research has found that helping out with household tasks like laundry, dishes and yard work can help children¹s mental and physical develop while teaching life skills, responsibility and team spirit. Many parents struggle with knowing what chores are age appropriate for their kids, how many tasks to assign and how to, if at all, reward a job well done.

Start ‘Em Young

When it comes to kids helping around the house, start them young. These days, kids as young as 3 are working laptops and tablets. As parents, as we supposed to believe they aren’t old enough to pick up their toys or carry their dirty dishes to the sink or dishwasher?  Sure, not all chores are designed for really young kids. However, you know what your child is capable of doing … you just need to have them try doing it.

Build a Routine

Everyone knows kids do better when they have a solid routine. You probably already have one when it comes to getting ready for school, after school or at bedtime. Add a few daily chores to your kids routine to help you around the house or start building a sense of work ethic in your kids.

Fit To Size

While the age of your child may not matter when it comes to doing chores, size certainly does. Leave the “big jobs” for the big kids, while your smaller tikes handle projects closer to the ground.

Reward Success

Parents have tried everything when it comes to rewards for chores – money, stickers, extra TV, later bedtime or video games. We believe that paying an allowance is the best way to reward a job well done because it helps prepare them for the real world as adults. Whether parents pay an equal amount each week or have chores worth different values, the fact is that your child is learning how to earn and how working hard pays off.

Don’t Reinvent The Wheel

There are plenty of chore-allowance systems parents can choose from, so there is no reason to reinvent the wheel. The important thing is to find something that matches your beliefs and will actually keep children engaged. A system that is never used or forgotten after a week or two, fails everyone. Take a look at’s online system that teaches kids work ethic and money management. Here, kids can save, share, spend and invest real money they earned through completing chores.

About BusyKid

Formerly known as My Job Chart, is the first mobile-website that helps parents teach children about work ethic, responsibility, accountability and managing real money.  Even though the website lets kids learn real life lessons surrounding earning and spending money, it also encourages strong character traits, good behavior and supporting charitable organizations.

For more information visit

Editor’s Note:  I love these ideas, and whether your family decides to use allowance, positive reinforcement, or other ways to get kids involved, it helps parents and kids in so many ways.  By teaching kids the value of teamwork and building self-sufficiency, it’s a win-win.  Also note – we have a host of articles related to this topic on both chores & allowance on our website.




Celebrate Calm Book: Stop Power Struggles from Morning to Midnight








Who can argue that calm isn’t ideal in a family?  We all get heated, adults and kids, and this heat rarely leads to good things.  I’ve published some of Kirk Martin’s tips from Celebrate Calm before, and thrilled to see he’s publishing a book that dives deeper into some of his concepts for diffusing situations at home.  Change Your Child Overnight By Changing Yourself First applies the tried and true principles Martin and his team have taught parents for years.  Change the approach, and the reception changes, too.  I asked Martin to share some best practices here at the Lounge, and he shared “10 Secret Phrases to Calm Any Situation.”

Martin believes in the power of words and our ability to choose the words we use.  He explains, “Your words can inflame a situation like a match in a dry haystack.  The flip side is that your words can calm almost any situation immediately.”  He advises practicing these not guaranteed but potentially calming phrases to stop power struggles:

  • I’m curious.
  • I get that you’re frustrated.  I’d feel frustrated too.  (Practice acknowledgement).
  • That doesn’t sound like you.
  • I know that you know what’s wrong.  And my assumption is that you don’t want to lose all your stuff.  (Assume the best).
  • You know what?  I think you’re right about that.
  • You’re not being defiant or bossy right now.  You’re just overwhelmed.  (Give your kids wisdom and insight).
  • Thank you for sharing that idea.  I have to go cook dinner, but if you want to catch me later, I’d be happy to share my thoughts with you.  (Give kids space and ownership).
  • I can imagine that it doesn’t feel good to talk like that.
  • I am feeling frustrated right now, so what I really need is some space to work on my own frustration.
  • I apologize.  I was wrong.  I think I misunderstood your intentions.

So, this is the short version for sure.  Martin has some great explanations and strategies for families that are very much in sync with his Celebrate Calm approach.  More on his new book, Change Your Child Overnight By Changing Yourself First, here.





PEP’s Annual Noted Author Event – Joys and Fears of Teen Years and More…

A Less-Is-More Approach to Parenting Tweens or Teens



This month’s MomTastic Find is…PEP’s Annual Noted Author Events.  DC/MD/VA friends – if you have tweens or teens, these are not to be missed.  I’ve seen Schafer talk at PEP before, and she is hilarious, insightful, and will leave you with ideas to take home from the minute she hits the stage.  Check out the “411” on her events, and please share with friends:

Alyson Schafer is a therapist, author (Honey, I Wrecked the Kids and Ain’t Misbehavin’) and internationally acclaimed parenting expert who empowers families by providing tools to parents for raising happy and healthy kids.

The Joys and Fears of the Teen Years – Thursday November 17 from 7:30pm-9pm

Parenting teens today requires a unique and empathetic parenting approach. Alyson speaks candidly about the joys and challenges that face teens, pre-teens and their parents during the transition to adulthood. Parents will learn brain-based research on teen behavior, interpersonal solutions to teen problems, a refreshing understanding of how great teens can be and a reality check on the real issues for which we need to be prepared.

Moving from Conflict to Cooperation – Friday November 18 from 9:30am-11am

Whether it is sibling bickering or parent-child power struggles, conflict is a part of family life. Navigating conflict constructively isn’t always intuitive. Fortunately, kids give us endless opportunities to both improve our skills and help them develop their own. Using a four-step approach, you’ll learn: to recognize the difference between conflict and rivalry; how our parenting can stimulate conflict or cooperation; and to manage conflict without feeling bad about it or avoiding it.

Tickets are $35. Register today at or 301-929-8824.


PEP’s Annual Noted Author Talk

To get an idea of Schafer’s approach and ideas, check out a post I wrote when she spoke to PEP before about her acclaimed book, Honey I Wrecked the Kids.  You’ll find information on her “4 Crucial C’s” and how to work more effectively with your kids.  She talks about misbehavior as a dance we do with our kids, and helps us figure out how to get OFF that dance floor.

Disclosure:  I am a volunteer on PEP’s Board of Directors, so I am committed to the success of PEP and to parenting education in general.  No compensation was made for this post or for my love for PEP’s programming.








Cracking the Teen Sexting Code

Hot topic for sure from the title alone.  Amy Williams, a social worker who specializes in teen behavioral health, developed some great tips and a colorful infographic to help parents navigate this area.  Having grown up stretching cords on phones to get privacy, this feels like grabbing wet spaghetti!  As Williams reports, the digital footprint issue isn’t going away, and the explosion of social media adds a whole new dimension to the risks and the parenting issues associated.  Here are her insights on how we can be more aware in this sensitive area.

Cracking the Teen Sexting Code by Amy Williams

Parenting children in the digital age can be difficult. Many families are encountering dramatic issues regarding sexting and their teens. Let’s face it, we came of age during skin mags and hidden VHS tapes. Our sexual exploration didn’t involve social media or the Internet, we struggled through this phase of development without creating a digital footprint.

Understanding Sexting

Experts have said that sexting is normal teenage behavior, it’s just the use of cell phones that have changed. Previous generations were able to keep our explorations private. However, today’s highly connected teens are exposing themselves to far more than a special intimate moment.

Many teens view sexting as a safe alternative to intercourse. Teens might feel that sexting is a smart choice in today’s sexually rich world, but their underdeveloped teenage brains might fail to adequately assess the risks associated with sexting. Whether they are just curious about sex or seeking an outlet for their new feelings, it is a risky behavior.

Decoding The Signs Your Child Is Sexting

Sexting is an easy act to disguise. Most teens rely on their cell phones to sext, because it is portable, has a camera, and easily connects them to other people. In the past, teens utilized text messaging, but today many teens are taking advantage of the ever changing social media platforms to sext.

While many teens are adapting their methods there is no safe way to sext, because everything posted online or digitally has the potential to be saved, forwarded, or retrieved. Teens are discovering new apps to cover their activity that create disguises like calculators to hide online activity.

Listed below are common warning signs your child is sexting:

  • dimming screens
  • hiding their phone
  • using code words – GNOC (get naked on camera) or PIR (parent in room)
  • a sudden spike in sexual curiosity

6 Ways Parents Can Help Curb The Temptation To Sext

The following tips are six ways we can help our children navigate the popular issue of sexting:

  • Have a sext talk and include the dangers.
  • Keep cell phones out of private areas like bedrooms.
  • Create a contract that outlines rules and expectations of technology.
  • Strive to keep an open line of communication between family members.

Author Bio:  Amy Williams is a social worker, specializing in teen behavioral health. As a parent of two teenagers, she is focused on spreading the word on positive parenting techniques and new technologies.

Cracking the Teen Sexting Code and Tips for helping Parents Stop it




MomTastic Find: Because They CAN, Closing the Belief Gap

MomTastic Find:  Because They CAN, Closing the Belief Gap in education


This month’s MomTastic find is a heartwarming back to school story, and what better time to think about realizing potential in each and every kid.  Because They Can is an organization looking to close the gap between what students can achieve and what other people believe they can achieve by empowering educators to empower all students to achieve their fullest potential.  Education Post had a great article detailing the effects of ignoring kids on performance, self-esteem, and ultimately, being the best they can be.

Unfortunately, not all kids have engaged parents in the home. Research shows that many adults in society have much lower expectations for these kids, and when they underestimate what they’re capable of, it’s called the Belief Gap.

Here’s an example, the story of 8th grader Kim Wilborn, a young girl who, with the help of committed educators, was able to be pushed farther than she ever imagined.

Because They Can believes that great schools and teachers can help kids like Kim reach their full potential.  Help spread the word #BecauseTheyCan

Easing into Back to School

Easing into Back to School - Tips to Adjust at Home & School




Thanks to Rose Howell, Academic Liaison from Thinking Caps Group, for these timely tips on gearing up for back to school.  Based on where you live, you may already have backpacks on :), but the early stages of back to school often include adjustments at home and school.

Here are five simple ways to ease back into school mode.

  1. Gradually adjust bedtimes

It is unlikely that your kids will be able to shift from a late summer bedtime to an earlier bedtime right away. About two weeks before school, begin making bedtime about 15 minutes earlier so that they grow accustomed to the new schedule. Explain to your child that sleep is crucial for her health and should not be seen as a bummer, but a welcome relief. If parents begin to wind down at the same time, this will also help send the message that everyone is heading to bed, and they aren’t missing out on the action.

  1. Decide on a morning routine, and stick to it

Make a plan for showers, packing lunch, sports bags & homework, and eating breakfast. Have a chalkboard or whiteboard for your kids so they can make checklists about what they need to accomplish each morning. Make sure they know it’s important to come to breakfast right when it’s ready so they are not late. Having a set routine is the best way to combat the grogginess of early mornings.

  1. Start the year with clear expectations

Sit down with your kids and lay out the rules for the coming school year when it comes to electronic usage, playdates or junk food. Make sure they have an understanding of what you expect of them.

  1. Become acquainted with teachers and parents

You’ll feel more at ease sending your child off every day if you know the teacher and the class environment that he or she creates. It’s also nice to know a few parents who you can rely on in case of an emergency or for more convenient carpooling. Developing this familiarity with the school community is a great way to start the year, even if you don’t have time to attend as many events as you’d like.

  1. Set up a clean, quiet workspace

Having a dedicated workspace gives students a sense of purpose and consistency when it’s time to do homework. Make sure they have a space just for them with the proper materials and supplies. If your child has ADHD and/or is especially distracted by noise and movement, ensure that his homework space is removed from any commotion.

Author Bio:  Rose Howell works as an Academic Liaison at Thinking Caps, a unique tutoring company that takes a one-on-one, individualized approach to academic support for students of all ages and learning styles.


Are We Addicted to Our Cell Phones?

In light of recent posts on managing the digital age, this article caught my eye.  The data is alarming about how connected we are and about how tough it is to disconnect, and I love the way it’s presented.  Here’s the scoop from New Theory Magazine, followed by their very well-done infographic.  The family stats below, that 70% of families argue about cell phone use, and that 50% of teens admit being “addicted” to their phones, aren’t surprising.  New Theory Magazine, dubbed the voice of “mature millenials, of Generation ‘Why’ ” has departments like “locker room” and “nerd alert.”  Love it!  Here’s their report…

In a recent effort to show the obsession behind cellphone usage, New Theory Magazine released an infographic showcasing the latest data to back up America’s cellphone usage addiction. There is no denying this generation has a problem. Numbers do not lie. To say that we are, “attached”, is officially an alarming understatement. Individuals have become reliant on staying connected.

The average user checks their cellphone 110 times throughout any given day, translating into approximately 3.6 hours every single day and roughly 25.2 hours during the course of a week. It is hard to imagine all of the supplementary, productive accomplishments an individual could be achieving while utilizing their time more efficiently.

Individuals of all ages are finding themselves affected by this epidemic- positively and negatively. However, no matter how an individual is choosing to value their cellphone, there is no argument that it is a daily distraction. Keeping account of continuous job-related and social mobilization can lead to a distressed impact on an individual’s sleeping patterns and overall lifestyle. 77% of parents struggle to monitor their teenagers and younger children’s activity right in the comfort of their own home, including the dinner table. 40% of users interact on their cellphones while on the toilet — keep that in mind next time you’re texting someone! Aside from the indecent visuals, the most problematic form of refusing to put down your cellphone is ‘texting while driving’. With 26% of the car accidents in the United States caused by this situation, up to 75% even admit guilt, although experts can ensure the true numbers would be higher.

Highly-accredited psychologist Dr. Bart Rossi weighs in, “Millennials do not relate to smartphone technology simply as a means of communication.  It is culturally much more than that.  It is a ‘way of life’. Individuals capitalize on the device as a user-based “network” and essentially apply it to manage their standard of living, both professionally and socially.”

Since relationships are discovered, cultivated, and enhanced through digital pursuits, various aspects of social norms have evolved- even surpassing more traditional platforms of extended reach. Whether business inspired or romantic quests, success can be as easy as a swipe, an email or a DM away.

Despite the focus that individuals have on their own hand-held universe, it is the number one way media is currently being consumed by the mass public. Americans scroll down their news-feed, double-tap and click through countless updates, photos, hash-tags, graphics, videos, and articles, all in a vain attempt to be a part of the trends. This is not perception; this is reality.

Rossi also insights, “Without a person’s phone just for even a few minutes, a millennial’s attitude and behavior may increase in “nervousness”, generating unnecessary anxiety. For this reason, this is the only way they know how to exchange with the rest of their acquaintances and the world. When they do not have that instrument, their goals become obstructed from engaging information and action planning.”

As the numbers steadily climb from each passing year, we are all left wondering, have we gone too far with our cellphones? Can people really learn how to live life again after “disconnecting”?

About New Theory:
New Theory Magazine represents a unique voiced dubbed, “the core of Generation Why?”
The online and print publication provides a daily dose of Mature Millennial principles as told through the eyes of authentic Generation Y staff writers, personalities, influencers, and contributors. As New Theory Magazine delivers exclusive access into the mind of the Mature Millennial covering inspirational business, finances, technology, health, fitness, fashion, beauty, celebrity news, music, trending topics with the most refreshing satire! The evolution of Millennial media promises more than just a generational guide in entertainment leisure, but a lifestyle full of prosperity where your voice can be heard. Are We Addicted to Our Cell Phones? The Data on millenials cell phone usage is Alarming


Part 2 – Tech Tips from Screenagers

Tech Tips from Screenagers - Setting Cell Phones Boundaries





As a follow-up to my recent post about the new Screenagers documentary, I asked the film team to share some top tech tips with our readers.  These are so spot on, and I hope you find them useful as you navigate online/tech boundaries in your own families.

  1.  Celebrate tech positives

The reality is, we are attached to our devices for some very good reasons – they are incredibly useful tools in our daily lives. Complaining to our kids about their screen use puts them on the defensive and sets us up to get locked into a parent vs. child power struggle over screen time. Filmmaker Ruston found that when she took a closer look at her daughter’s social media interactions, she found, “there was a lot more positive communication than I had expected.” Recognize and acknowledge the good stuff and you’re more likely to find yourself on the same team with your kids. This sets you up as more friend than foe when you start tackling screen time guidelines together.

Note from Amy:  This reminds me of an article from PEP‘s Robbye Fox about embracing technology with your kids.

  1. Kids secretly know that limits help

It’s part of the teenager’s job to resist limits, but underneath, they appreciate parents enforcing limits to keep them safe. Limits are tangible evidence that parents still care and stay involved. In the film, California State University professor Larry Rosen explains that young brains “have not fully developed to resist the impulse to self-distract. It’s not their fault.”  When Ruston asks a group of teens whether they are glad their parents have rules about screen use at home, several respond, “Yes. You would never stop if you didn’t. Until your phone dies.”

  1. Agree on limits together

In Screenagers we see Ruston fumble on limit-setting before succeeding. Along with a new smart phone for her daughter Tessa, she delivers a contract outlining rules around its use. But a group of teens interviewed in the film enlighten us, explaining that rules work a lot better when they are included in the decision-making and understand the reasons behind the rules. As one boy says, “When my parents actually have that deep conversation, it works a lot better.” Eventually Tessa and her parents develop a screen time contract together that is custom-fit to their family and gets buy-in from all.

Make homework and bedtime screen-free time zones

When students in Screenagers share their personal screens-off strategies, one includes, “When I study, I turn off the data on my phone, and that way I can’t get text messages.” A Seattle Children’s Hospital pediatrician shares in the film, “When I talk to parents about taking technology out of a room in the evening so their kids can sleep, they’re sometimes surprised that they can even do that. That it’s okay and other parents are doing it.” You can too! Before phones, we woke up to our alarm clocks…

  1. Bring back non-screen activities

Sports, creative projects, being outside, music… extracurricular involvements tend to dwindle while screen time takes their place. Return to balance by involving kids in afterschool teams and activities. Screenagers features this observation: kids enrolled in afterschool programs experience increased self-confidence, fewer behavior issues and higher grades. In the film, college student Andrew, a pianist and high-performing student who completes a video game addiction rehab center program after dropping out of college, reflects, “If I had dedicated all my computer time to mastering an instrument or reading or exploring things, I would be way above where I am now.”

  1. Should parents follow rules too?

“I think dad really really needs restrictions. He’s just hooked,” says a young girl in the film. Ruston ponders, “Can we really tell our kids, ‘Do as we say and not as we do?’”

  1. Keep the conversation alive

Screenagers introduces “Tech Talk Tuesdays” as a way for families to have short, regular conversations about how technology fits into their lives. Weekly conversation starters and discussion questions are featured on the film’s website.

  1. Both parents may not see eye to eye

A boy in Screenagers talks about his parents’ differing views on video games for example, noting “Mom is a girl and girls don’t like boy things. My dad is fine with it.” Check in on your own views on various screen time topics and discuss them as a family. Find out where you do agree and accept the differences, or gather more facts. The film’s website offers a lot of resources you can use to inform your choices.

  1. Know you are not alone

“This is one of the most difficult parenting issues we’ve ever faced as a society,” acknowledges the co-founder of an internet addiction rehab center featured in the film. “Video game use, internet consumption. All of that is very difficult to parent around.” Virtually any parent you talk to will acknowledge there are struggles. Screenagers’ Facebook page offers a place to share and get new ideas, for example.

  1. Enthusiasts are not “addicts”

A recently published Common Sense Media poll reports that one of every two teens feels addicted to their mobile devices. But Ruston draws a clear line around what qualifies as a real addiction, and feels it’s important we don’t overuse the term. “We should be careful to stop using the word ‘addiction’ so kids can have an internal sense of control. They have to know that the device does not control them.”

Tips provided by the Screenagers team for The MomTini Lounge.  Check out more articles at The Lounge on tech/online safety.

MomTastic Find: The Story House Bookstore on Wheels

MomTastic Find:  The Story House Bookstore on Wheels





This is SUCH a great idea, and I happen to adore the founder, Debbie Cohen, behind it…Sure, we all “Amazon” and love one-click shopping, but how great would it be if a specially curated bookstore came directly TO YOU!  The Story House is a new concept, a bookstore on wheels, much like a food truck with a different kind of nourishment, that will be visiting book fairs, schools, etc., in the coming year.  Their online store has lots of great resources, too, along with book ideas for kids to grads, local summer reading lists, ways to bring The Story House to your school or event, and more.

Cohen is an author, educator, mom, and now innovator.  You can be part of putting this store on the road.  Check out their Kickstarter Campaign to get involved.  And happy reading!

Disclosure:  No compensation was made for this post, except for the satisfaction that I’m supporting a GREAT cause!  The opinions are all my own.



Screenagers Tackles “Growing Up in the Digital Age”

Screenagers Tackles "Growing Up in the Digital Age"








Screenagers, a recently released documentary, is sharing its voice about teens and tech on, ironically, screens nationwide.  This is such an important discussion for both parents and teens/tweens, and for any parents who don’t struggle with limit-setting and the effect of tech on family life, consider yourself lucky.  I consider this topic so important, both personally, and journalistically, that I’m covering the story in 2 parts.  This reminded me of Race to Nowhere, a documentary on the extreme pressure our kids face in schools, in terms of style/approach on a current topic of relevance to tweens/teens.

First, here’s a short trailer on Screenagers:



Here were some of my takeaways from reviewing the film…

The film tells us that kids spend an average of 6.5 hours a day on screens, not including schoolwork.  Boys, on average, spend 11.3 hours on video games EACH WEEK.  The violent/military style games, the film notes, are designed to desensitize the user.  Prosocial games, on the other hand, involve helping others, saving cities.  Overstimulation from playing any games tires the brain.  The average age that kids are getting a smartphone is now 10 years, 3 months….

The filmmaker, Dr. Delaney Ruston, was motivated to develop this film as a vehicle for social change after realizing how big the decision was to buy her own daughter a Smartphone.  She feels strongly about balance in our tech-obsessed world, and she hopes the film will be a catalyst for conversation in schools (digital citizenship education) and in homes (Tech Talk Tuesdays, setting aside time to talk about technology as a family).

I was so intrigued by this film and its mission, that I had to speak with Delaney and learn more…Here are some highlights of our conversation.

What surprised you about reactions to the film?

Kids come to the screenings on the defensive, but leave saying “wow, that spoke to me too.”  It gives them insights into how important the discussions are.  Parents feel empowered after seeing the film.  Delaney also shared with me that developing self-control is not an innate skill, but that we can teach and model  self-control techniques, especially as they relate to technology use.

What concerns do you have about the impact of the film?

As a physician who understands long-term change, we’ve got to really stick with something. It takes 6 weeks to 2 months before a new behavior forms. I worry people will feel inundated and lose the enthusiasm and go back to being overwhelmed by the technology.

What are the most important take-aways for parents to have a healthy relationship with kids and electronics?

Make a pledge to have a conversation with your family on a weekly basis about technology that isn’t emotion driven but is curiosity driven.  We don’t want anyone on screens during all waking hours, so defining times to NOT be on devices is not only reasonable, but what we need to do.  Continually readdress and change guidelines as your child grows up in response to their input.

Delaney shares that teens have a lot to say about technology, and that their input can engage important discussions in our families.

The Screenagers website is awesome – here are some links you may enjoy:

I wanted to give a shout-out to my friends at PEP, the Parent Encouragement Program, who offer some great courses in the DC/MD/VA area around this topic as well, including…

Tackling Technology with Your 5 to 12 Year Old

Tackling Technology with Teens & Tweens

Setting Limits To Promote Cooperation (could relate to screens or general topics)

Click here to see more about PEP’s course offerings locally.





ABC National News Story on Kids Putting Social Media Boundaries On…Parents

When our kids are young, it’s “easy” to put boundaries on them with social media and screens.  Yes, there may be power struggles.  Yes, there is a new social channel launching every minute, so it’s sometimes paramount to catching wet spaghetti while you’re learning a foreign language.  But parents get it that too many screens aren’t a good thing.  So what happens when these kids turn into teens and young adults?  As ABC’s Karen Travers learned, the tables turn, and teens start putting limits on their parents about how much and what to post.  So fun to have been interviewed with my son Jake for this piece, and love watching one of my Parent Encouragement Program mentors and digital genius Robbye Fox, share some guidelines for this ever-changing landscape.  Enjoy, and good luck in your own families!  Feel free to comment on this post with any creative ideas that have worked in your own home…

ABC Breaking News | Latest News Videos

One Funny Mother is…One Funny Show

Worth viewing: One Funny Mother Off Broadway Stage Scene NYC







If you’ve ever found humor in your mom life or misadventures on the parenting path, you’ll LOVE this show.  I recently had the pleasure of cracking up with best friends in NYC at the new show fresh on the off-Broadway stage scene, One Funny Mother, while giving each other those knowing looks as we could relate to many of Dena’s stories. Dena Blizzard delivers a one-woman monologue that captures the funny in parenting and families while adding some touching commentary about the challenges we face.  She’s funny; she’s brutally honest; and she’s taking a topic anyone can relate to (moms, dads, wives, husbands, kids, friends) and teasing out the hysterical mayhem.  She shares some of the things we wish we hadn’t said to our kids at times (ok, she tells her daughter that Zeus the One-Eyed Dog was a “bad listener,” and as we’re laughing, she shrugs her shoulders and says her daughter started listening a lot better after that)…As Laurie Holcomb-Holland wrote in The New York Times, “Motherhood can be messy, unpredictable and full of awkward moments.”  Blizzard explores these moments in a rapid-fire monologue that’s going to resonate with moms in a big way.

Here’s a “trailer” of her show:

From her website:  Dena is a married mother of three and was Miss New Jersey in 1995 proudly placing in the top 50 at the Miss America Pageant. Dena is the official preliminary host for the Miss America Pageant and was also a correspondent on this year’s Miss America pre-show on ABC. She has hosted the TV Land Red Carpet and was the Host of Real Simple on PBS. She has co-hosted “Anderson Live” with Anderson Cooper and has been an on-air correspondent for The Nate Berkus Show. She is also regular fill-in radio talk show host on NJ 101.5.

Photo above with Dena and some BFF’s from my own childhood and much valued “colleagues” on my own motherhood journey!


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