Getting advice from your mom does not mean that you are a bad parent. It simply means you are willing to admit that you aren't the only one who can solve a parenting issue. Besides, if you turned out to be a fairly decent person, your mom must know a thing or two about motherhood. No one does everything perfect, but most every woman who has embarked on motherhood has a good tip or two share.
The best piece of advice I got from my mom was actually indirect. However, I don't think it was very accidental. While she never outright told me to apply this to raising my own kids, the way she raised my siblings and I led me right into that direction.
As far back as I can remember, my mom always inserted creativity into everything we did. Before I even had kids, I knew I would do the same. That creativity is a big part of what made our childhood so fun. As a matter of fact, it also lends a great deal to my career choice as a published freelance writer and author.
Anyhow, getting to the parenting of my own kids, in some of the first moments with my newborn first daughter, my mind wandered thinking of all the creative adventures I soon would be having with her. The first creative adventure with her came in the form of cleaning up an interesting newborn mess.
However, her first craft project was much more fun than that. I remember the joy on her face as she dipped her tiny hands in finger paint and slopped it all over a big pile of papers in front of her. I had to again use the creativity as I cleaned up the mess afterward, but those creative moments shared with her were worth more than a perfectly clean house would have been.
Getting My Baby to Sleep Through The Night
I always loved the one-on-one time spent with each one of my kids as they were babies, crying at one o'clock, then two, then three, then four, and so on. Even so, one of the most accomplished parenthood moments is getting a baby to sleep through the night. My personal method is to establish a routine from the get-go. Here’s how.
In the beginning, I always respond to the baby's every needs because, as a newborn, the baby is crying for a reason. As the baby gets older, I try to minimize response time. It's important always to check because even if baby has eaten and has been changed, there still may be a problem.
Baby could have gas, want the pacifier, or even just have an itch. One of the challenges of parenting (that gets easier over time) is figuring out what that need is. A baby whose needs are met is more likely to get a comfortable sleep.
With my first child, I made the mistake of turning on lights, playing toys with her, and much more. This led to her thinking that night time was play time. I quickly learned that to turn that attitude around, I had to change the night time routine.
One thing I always did from then on with all the children was to keep lights and other distractions to a minimum when tending to baby at night. The point is to make night time sort of boring, while still attending to baby's needs. This lets baby know that nighttime is a time for sleep and there isn't much else going on that is worth staying up for.
Cuddling is, of course, fine. You don’t want to be unloving or cold. You just want to be sure Baby knows it’s time to relax when the lights are out.
The first night that each child slept all the way through was one of those moments in parenting that isn't easily forgotten. Motherhood is awesome, but there are times where it can drain all your energy. Infancy certainly is one of those times, especially before a baby sleeps the whole night through.
The relief from an actual full night of sleep is like bliss to a parent, not only because they can sleep. But, the main benefit is knowing you have taught your baby a valuable and healthy lesson that will be beneficial throughout their life.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
When a Child's Pet Dies
by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
Death is a fact of life. But it really hits hard for kids. Recently, my kids lost a family pet. It was hard but some of the things I did helped them understand and get through it. When a child's pet dies, it's never fun. But you can help the process go more smoothly by taking various actions throughout the process.
Prepare them ahead of time. Ideally, you should discuss the death before it happens. Explain to your child the average time frame his pet should be around. Also, let them know what death is and why it has to happen. In our case, we adopted a hamster when he was already an adult. Hamsters live for an average of 2-3 years. So I prepared the children in advance for this day. We knew Buddy would not be with us very long. But we rescued him anyway so that he would be happy while he was on the Earth.
Break the news gently. Don't just walk up to your child and say their pet has died. If your child is not present when their furry friend passes away, sit her down and have a talk. In Buddy's case, we were all present when he passed away, so we talked about what he meant to us and how happy we made him. Because of Buddy, my kids and I will be rescuing hamsters as often as possible whenever we have room for them. Depending on your faiths and practices, you can go into more detail about what happens to the pet after death. But do it in a gentle way that your child understands.
Have a proper burial and remembrance. A ceremony helps kids finalize the death of a pet. We created a pet cemetery for Buddy in a garden area of the yard, complete with a tombstone. As Buddy was placed each person said what he meant to them. While this may not help your kids get over their pet right away, it does help solidify the fact that the animal is no longer going to be around. That goes a long way in helping kids heal. They need to have an honest and reassuring answer.
Do something in the pet's honor. As mentioned above, we placed Buddy in a garden area of the yard. In the spring, a garden will be planted there. Also, Buddy came to us in a special way. He was abused and neglected in his previous home and was an owner surrender. He was also an adult and blind in one eye. We took Buddy in, as his chances of another doing so were slim with his special needs. It is because of Buddy that we have rescued other hamsters and plan to keep up that effort to help other animals and keep Buddy's legacy alive. Doing a special deed in honor of your child's pet can help alleviate the grief, as it shows how special that pet is to the world.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Kids Belong At The Beach
If you've been reading my work, you'll know that there are many places I feel kids belong in, such as outdoors and in trees. Kids also belong at the beach. It's where they can immerse themselves right in nature -- you know, beach mud, water, and the like.
From building sand castles with their mommy's used Mountain Dew bottles (yeah there's unfortunately enough to go around) to collecting shells on the shore or squishing sand in their toes from the ocean floor, my kids thoroughly enjoy beach time. Being in Denver, we haven't had any of that in a while and these are older pics. But I can't wait until our next visit to New York state -- and finally our move there in the future. They'll get some much needed beach time there, for sure. There's a man-made reservoir not far from us, where ironically these photos were taken. But it's not the same and has been getting dirtier and dirtier over time so we haven't been going there anymore, unfortunately.
Back to my point, beach time is both fun and necessary. Humans have a special bond with dirt. We like to get dirty. But that's really not the whole of it. Mud and sand is actually good for our skin -- and our soul. It has important nutrients that smooth our skin. But maybe more importantly, that feeling of squishing beach sand between the toes is irreplaceable, as is sifting the dry sand through our hands. Splashing in the water, feeling the ripples of the waves, and even feeling little fish swim between your legs is all a part of the experience as well. It's sad to think that some kids will never experience these things.
Watching boats, duck families, fish, and more from the pier is also a peaceful action that satisfies the soul. Kids these days are so stressed out and I firmly believe that it's because many of them are so immersed in television, video games, and other manufactured forms of entertainment that their brains never get a rest. Kids need nature, such as the beach in order to truly be at peace. I'm not saying they can't have a little fun with those other things -- mine do. But make sure your kids to a beach or other form of nature often. Let them get right in the thick of it, get dirty in it, meditate in it, explore in it, just have fun.
As I write this, I am at a park with my kiddos and their friends and they are relaxing out in a field of sand on some large rocks but were disappointed that the water in the small creek bed has dried up. It's a natural thing for kids to do to gravitate toward sand, water, and nature in general. Kids belong at the beach and elsewhere outdoors. When we can't get to the beach, we try to create that scene in other ways by getting out in nature the way we can. Before we had an apartment, we even built a mock beach in our backyard.
Have your kids been to the beach lately? If you are like us and don't have one near you, what other things do you do to replicate it?
*I originally published this elsewhere (no longer published there).
by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
Positive discipline consists of more than disciplining your child in a calm manner. Positive discipline for children should consist of steps that lead to the child's well-being and development, teach a lesson about the issue at hand, and not be condescending in nature. In positive discipline for children, the action taken should lead to the child understanding why his or her behavior was wrong, as well as teach that child a life lesson that will help to prevent similar incidents in the future.
First, there are a few things to remember about positive discipline for children. Every family will not follow the exact same methods, as every family is different. Also, different methods should apply to different situations. A child who has hit another child should not be getting the same form of positive discipline as a child who forgot to make his bed before breakfast.
Different misbehaviors have different consequences and the discipline should fit accordingly. Also, remember to always follow through. Any form of positive discipline for children that is discussed, yet not carried out, will be ineffective. Not following through shows a child that he or she can do certain things without consequences and that isn't a good idea because that is not how the world works.
Daily Chore Add-Ons - One good form of positive discipline for children is to add on an extra daily chore for a week. Doing this can teach a child responsibility. At the same time, it also teaches a child that there are consequences for actions.
Misbehavior Journal - Another good form of positive discipline is to have a journal for each time a child misbehaves. The child should write down what his or her feelings were during the time of the act, as well as why he or she committed the misbehavior. This should be a private journal between parent and child. None of the children should ever see each other's journals. Once the child has written down the thoughts, the parent should in turn, respond to those thoughts with understanding, as well as a way for the child to resolve that type of situation in the future.
Behavior Money Jar - I also like to keep a jar for each kid in a place easily accessible by older children, but out of reach of younger children. In each kid's jar is any money they have that isn't for savings. Each time one of the kids does something that hurts another in some way, they have to take out a pre-determined amount (depending on what they've done) and place it into the child's jar who they've hurt or offended. Each time they do something good for someone, I might place a certain amount of money into their jar, but not always. This form of positive discipline for children reflects what may happen in adult life. In adult life, if we hurt someone, we are likely going to be paying for it in the long run. Likewise, if we do good deeds, eventually they will come back around. However, it doesn't work that way every single time, which is why I only give the money sometimes.
Volunteering - Volunteer work is also a great form of positive discipline. You never want to insinuate that the volunteering is a form of punishment because that sends the wrong message. You instead want to say something like, "I noticed that you were unhappy about some of the food choices we made in the grocery store. How about we go together and donate those foods to people who don't have the same type of choices we have?” Then, go from there with the volunteer work. This will likely trigger the child's thought process and let him or her realize that they cannot always have everything they want. It hopefully will also cause them to think twice about complaining when they know there are kids out there who don't have a fraction of what they do.
Good Deeds - Similar to the volunteer work, another great method is to elect the offending child as "Favor Giver of the Day." For one day, this person has to do at least one requested good deed for each member of the household. This form of positive discipline for children is good for when the child has disrespected one or more family members. This lesson usually teaches a child that it's more fun to help others than it is to mistreat them.
Note: The author's positive parenting method has evolved into what she calls Upstream Parenting.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Green parenting has definitely become a trend. But, as a parent who has been committed to living green for quite some time, I'm here to tell you it's much more than just a trend. At least that's true for our family. I started down the path of living green not because of a trend, but because of a commitment to making the Earth a great place for my kids to be in the future and for generations to come.
I don't know the exact date I started our family on this journey and don't really recall there being any sort of epiphany. It seems that I've always instilled at least some green habits. As we discover new things, I add more and more to our lifestyle. I don't base our green living habits on what so-and-so is doing or on the latest fad green products. Instead, I make conscious choices on what's good for the environment and what is not. I consider the impact each time I make a purchase or commit an action. Being a green parent is less about special products and more about minimalism and reducing waste and chemical usage.
Believe it or not, everyday activities, like visiting the park with the kids, can make a huge negative impact on the environment. This is especially true if they are regular activities or a parent is not thinking green at the time. Of course, no one is perfect. Even I participate in activities that are not Earth-friendly. We all do both consciously and subconsciously. But if we can be green as much as possible, this beautiful planet will stay pretty even longer. Just because we may not be around to see its demise doesn't mean we should be careless. Our kids and their kids and so on need a healthy place to grow.
Try cleaning the house with homemade solutions that are both cost-effective and better for the environment. A bonus is that the kids can also help you clean and they and your pets will be safer. Use homemade shampoos and natural haircare alternatives for the family. Kids like to be messy, so let them join in making some of these items.
Teach kids to be green with lessons that will last a lifetime. Teach them by doing, but also explain what you are doing and why. Be creative in instilling the lessons. Play games, incorporate it into the chores, and just have fun! Green parenting is important, but it certainly does not need to be boring.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Shine
A few weekends ago, the kids had some good friends over and being a holiday (though, not one we celebrate in the most popular way), I had promised I wouldn't work too much. I never promise a whole day off because I'm a workaholic and a single mother. I also work at home so my work is readily available, but I digress. An opportunity presented itself to wing it, so I did.
Forming A Brilliant Idea
Because we had nothing better to do, I get this brilliant beyond brilliant idea to take all of my kids, both of our dogs, plus some of their friends and an extra dog to the park. I don't have a vehicle, so of course the plan was to walk on the trail that led us to the intended park. Our nature trails can take us to several parks, depending on which way we choose to go. We chose the largest park and headed that way. Yes, I am insane enough to take a walk with six kids and three dogs with only me as the sole adult. Us single parents know how to work it whatever it may be.
Learning the Many Ways To Wing It
The kids wanted to play on the way, of course. So who was going to walk the dogs? Why me, of course. Yep, winging it because I had never walked the extra dog before, nor had she been walked with our dogs and here I was about to hold all three of their leashes together. Thankfully, it worked out well. They had been introduced briefly a few times and apparently that was enough to satisfy them all. In some situations, you just have to go with the flow and let the chips fall as they may.
The restroom and drinking fountain were closed and of course the kids needed both so we made use of a nearby store for both purposes and went right back to playing. The dogs wanted to run around and the kids wanted to use the playground so I found a spot in the field that was next to the playground so I could run with the dogs while watching the kids.
Life Lessons In Winging It For Everyone
Throughout this walk and park visit, many interesting situations came up where I had to wing it. But that's life. No matter how much you plan things, sometimes you just have to wing it and in the end, you may find out that winging it is the both the best lesson and the best fun you've had in quite a long time. It's quite fine to plan things. You have to have goals. But it's also good to just let it go and let it flow.
All of these scenarios could have been stressful and some may not have gotten involved in the whole thing, to begin with. But I've quickly learned in many experiences that if you have an open mind and are aware of your surroundings (and all the many ways you can use them to your advantage), life can lead to some fun adventures.
Just wing it! Your life is waiting for you!
Tired of all the bickering? Want to get the peace back in your home? Need to shift gears? All parents go through those moments.
Positive parenting can help you refocus your family life. Life isn't perfect, but it can always be happier. Positive parenting strategies can help.
Join me as I help take your family on a journey one week at a time in "Positive Parenting Tips for Every Week of the Year".
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