Safety First: Change Those Fire Alarm Batteries!

The rule in our house has always been to change the fire alarm batteries each time the clock change rolls around. That means our six fire alarms get fresh batteries twice a year. That seems like a lot of batteries. But, here’s the thing… in our house we use batteries in a bazillion things: Games, flashlights, the odd robotic creation the oldest is concocting. The list is never ending really.

So, please, get into a good habit… and change those fire alarm batteries regularly.

Might be a good idea to make a practice your family emergency plan while you’re at it. I remember my mom made this one fun by always having a picnic waiting at our gather point with our favorite goodies. It was less an emergency drill and more of a picnic. But, it did get the point across each and every time. Think about sharing your emergency plan with your sitters too whether they’re family or not. Just so everyone knows the drill.

Making Mom’s Car-Time Pleasant (and Safe) again

Car rides to school in the mornings with our four kids had always been a test of patience until a friend mentioned children’s books on tape had dramatically changed their commutes – for the better.

Our problem had become so bad with sibling arguments that it was becoming a distraction while driving. Not good. Grounding and time outs weren’t getting the job done.

Local Library to the Rescue

So, willing to try anything and everything we paid a visit to the local public library. Were we ever blown away. The selection of audio books specifically for kids was incredible. Somewhere in here were the stories our kids would enjoy and (it sounds odd to say it at their age, but) pacify them.

We checked out several books the kids were excited to revisit. But, when we hopped in the car and swapped out CDs… OMG! The story immediately quieted the car and the drive home was not only still and peaceful but the kids were actually listening and making the right faces at all the right places.

A funny thing happened once we arrived home and turned off the car. “Mom! Can we listen to the rest of the story in the house!?” We have several weeks under our belt now and I’m happy to say we have completely replaced music, news and radio talk shows with half a dozen short stories the kids might never have read but they have now heard and our commutes are so much more pleasant. Everyone looks forward to rides in the car to the point it’s not uncommon to wait until a chapter is finished before getting out. And as for the fighting. It still happens sometimes. But, turning off the audiobook has brought those to a quick stop most times.

If you’re at wits end with too much ruckus in the car, give this a try. You might just be surprised. We sure were.

Chores – A Joint Family Endeavor

Chores – A Joint Family Endeavor

 Chores-2

Having every member of the house help out with chores is a joint family endeavour.  Young children are eager to help mom or dad.  It makes them feel grown up and special.  And, there are times when mom and dad are in a hurry and want to speed up the process of getting a chore done instead of recognizing the value of their child’s need to be a contributing member of the family.

How do parents continue to help their children develop a sense of responsibility for helping out with household chores?  Some factors below help clarify expectations that parents have for their child:

1.       Set a Time.

Give small children a start and finishing time.  Help them run through the expected chore to get an idea of how long it might take them to accomplish a task.  Let older children know the time when a chore is expected to be completed.

2.       Give Job Details.

If the chore is something like cleaning their bedroom, let them know what tasks are involved.  For instance, it might require picking up dirty clothes and putting them in the hamper, putting books back on a shelf or returning toys to the toy box, putting their shoes up in the closet, making their bed and vacuuming their room.  Let them know what a cleaned bedroom looks like.  (See examples of age appropriate chores below.)

3.       Assign Age Appropriate Chores.

With smaller children, sometimes single item chores are best for them.  Single tasks include brushing their teeth, putting on their pajamas, putting toys back in to the toy box, washing their hands and putting napkins on the dinner table.  As your children get older, they can advance to chores requiring multiple tasks.  Even so, it is always important to take them step by step to model how to accomplish the chore.

4.       Transition from One Activity to Another.

Provide some “lead in” time and/or a “30 minute reminder” instead of interrupting them with a “do it right now” demand.  Just like you would not likely respond if someone told you to get up right now and take care of something when you’re in the middle of something you currently occupied with, a notice that it is time to move on to another activity helps avoid anger issues.  A timely reminder is giving your child the same consideration you would want.  If there are issues after warnings have been given, have consequences ready to use that have also been explained out ahead of time.

5.       Explain the Significance of their Contribution.

Give your child’s role a sense of importance and explain how much you appreciate their help.  To avoid resistance and encourage their participation, help your child develop a sense of personal value for what they’re doing. Whatever you say should be genuine–you should really mean it.

6.      Make Chores a Routine.

Assign chores to regular days of the week.  Alternate chores during the week—Sam sets the table, Matthew cleans plates off and puts them in the dishwasher, next day the roles switch—or change the chores out once a month so that everyone learns how to help out around the house.  Letting children know when their help is needed allows them to plan their time accordingly.  It sets up the behavior for a habit.

7.      Break It Down

If your children are easily distracted or a bit competitive, you can try breaking the chores down into 1 Step tasks.  You can write down all the chores on index cards and divide them up evenly.  Put on music with a fast beat and challenge them to see how quickly they can accomplish their tasks.  Remember, only one task is given at a time, and you check their work and give them the next chore when the previous task is completed.  This is, by the way, a good system for adults to use when they feel overwhelmed.  Computers, game devices and TV should be turned off during their chore time as they are visual distractions.  The only visual the child needs is the task written on the card.

Or, you can set a timer for 30 minutes or so then give them a short break to play, and then come back to finish the chores.

Some children that are self-motivated work better when they see the big picture and mark through chores that are listed on a dry erase board.

A child who has helped out with family chores transitions easily into the work force.  Good habits formed from helping with family chores makes entering the work force as a young adult much easier.

Examples of Age Appropriate Chores

2-4 years   old

4-7 years   old

8-10 years   old

11 years old   and up

Dusting

Put laundry in hamper

Pick up/put away toys

Help feed pet(s)

(All of the previous list)

Help clear table

Water plants or garden

Help put away groceries

Wipe up messes

Put toys/objects up

Help load the dishwasher

Set/clear the table

Feed pets

Make a bed

Help with yard work

(All of the previous list)

Clean room with detailed steps

Help make dinner

Help wash the car

Rake leaves

Take out trash

(All of the previous list)

Clean the bathroom with instructions

Clean the kitchen

Mow the lawn

Help with laundry and eventually start doing own laundry

Help make dinner/make small meals on own

Shovel snow

Wash dishes/load or Empty dishwasher

Time Out Stress Relief for Moms

StressFreeZone

Time Out Stress Relief for Moms

The dog is chewing on the area rug.  The kitchen smells like dinner is burning and the dirty plates in the sink make you wonder if there are any clean plates or cups in the house. The kids are fighting over toys, and the house needs to be picked up so it won’t look like a disaster. Does this scene sound familiar? Oh yeah, and you’re behind schedule!

A mom’s life can be very stressful and built up tension is not healthy. You need a little down time (besides sleep!).

When Mom needs a time-out to relieve stress consider these options:

1.   Dance Your Heart Out!

Try boogying in your car to your favorite music (just ignore the stares from other drivers) or choreographing your own routine in the family room to your favorite iTunes.

2.   Coffee Shop.

     Most people visit a coffee shop to chill and relax while sipping a favorite drink, reading or listening to the music.  The atmosphere of most coffee shops is a welcome change from work site or the house.

3.   Blow Steam Off. 
Have a mini workout for 15 to 20 minutes and do jumping jacks, pushups, jumping rope, or beating a nerf ball against a garage wall with a tennis racquet.  (Nerf balls are definitely less of a liability than a tennis ball and less likely to break windows.)

4.   Pamper Yourself. 
Indulge yourself with ice cream or a chocolate bar, or read your favorite book.  Maybe get online and look up a movie to see, go shopping, or meet somewhere to chat with a good friend.

5.   Schedule Quiet Time. 
Set the timer for 20 minutes and let your children know that you need some quiet time in your bedroom.  Most kids honor your request and are okay with this.

Sidestepping Temper Tantrums

Sidestepping Temper Tantrums

Every new parent or teacher of children ages 1-4 years old can expect to see some temper tantrums.  And, there are predictable events that trigger these outbursts:  bath time, bedtime, car rides, dinner time, getting dressed, interactions with siblings or peers, getting up, instructions to do something, guests, a parent on a phone calChildUnsurel and being denied something that they want but can’t have.

The smallest things can set off young children, from asking them to take a bath while they’re in the middle of watching Sesame Street to requesting that they share a favorite stuffed animal with a younger sibling. Any situation that involves change may spawn a tantrum. Add fatigue or hunger to the equation, and children are even more likely to throw a tantrum.

Here are some tips to help you out:

  • Announce something that children must do—instead of making a request that requires a ‘yes’ or ‘no’.  Say, “It’s dinner time!” instead of asking “Are you eat dinner?”
  • Make a game out of what they must do and lighten up the mood.  “Can you be the first one to get to the car?”
  • Keep calm and keep a sense of humor to distract and redirect the child’s attention.  You can laugh, turn the lights in the room off and on several times, make a funny face, pretend to throw your own temper tantrum, or say, “Wow!  What’s making all that noise?”
  • Keep off-limit temptations out of sight – avoid the toy/candy aisle in the grocery store, keep scissors out of reach.
  • Give you child a sense of control over little things by offering choices.  “Which do you want to do first…brush your teeth or put on your pajamas?”
  • “Instead of making a request that requires a ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ try rewording it to pull the response you’re looking for.” Don’t ask, “Ready to brush your teeth?” Instead, say, “It’s tooth brushing time. Will this be a red-brush day or a yellow-brush day?”
  • Signal children before you reach the end of an activity so that they can get prepared for the transition. Say, “When the timer goes off 5 minutes from now it will be time to turn off the TV and go to bed.”
  • Change environments, thus removing the child from the source of the temper tantrum. Say, “Let’s go to the park.”
  • Try to keep your daily routines as consistent as possible and give your child a five-minute warning before changing activities.
  • Allow your child to take a toy or snack with them while you run errands. It may help them stay busy.
  • Teach your child other ways of dealing with frustration.  Remind children who are old enough to talk to use their words instead of screaming.  Teach them how to make a request without a temper tantrum and honor that request.  “Try asking for the raisins nicely and I’ll get them for you.”

Do praise your child when they remain calm in a situation that would have normally set off a temper tantrum. As you will see, stepping in and preventing the outbreak of a temper tantrum is just another milestone in learning to be a proactive parent.

Helping Children Make Responsible Decisions

Helping Children Make Responsible Decisions

LightBulbThing

Every parent wants to raise their child to be capable of making good decisions as they grow up.  Children need to be given opportunities to experience both success and failure as they mature.  It is crucial is to balance the power you give them with the responsibility that comes with it.

“We do our kids a great service when we empower them.  The ability to express their feelings, make informed decisions and navigate the world around them is a crucial skill that only practice will

en to express their opinions, they learn to work together. It is an important life lesson to teach children to use the power they have in a way that benefits them, the family and society.”

Permissive parenting emerged in the 1980s and 1990s as parents moved away from their authoritarian upbringing and changed to the opposite extreme — being permissive. It became a parenting style based on a “Live and let live, let kids be free,” trend centered on kids’ self-esteem and happiness.

While healthy self-esteem is desirable, these children need guidance in working together for a common purpose that that they can blend into the structure of the work place and meet its expectations.  Young children need to learn how to express their feeling respectfully and that, just like the world around them, there are family rules and values cannot be overstepped without consequences.  In short, children learn that being empowered doesn’t translate to becoming entitled.

Parent can start out letting their children make simple decisions that are appropriate for their age.  A 3 year old can choose his shirt if given two or three choices.  You control the outcome while he has the opportunity to make the choice.  And, as children get older, they can learn to help plan and prepare a family meal, help select a family outing or which move to watch on family night.  When you take charge and provide balance structure, rules and concern for others, you become their safety net as they learn through trial and error.  The end result is happy children with a healthy sense of self-esteem who can be trusted to make responsible decisions.

See a Need, Fill a Need

Do you remember that animated film called Robots that came out in 2005? It was humorous and adventurous tale of a young, quirky robot named Rodney. Rodney is from a poor family with loving parent bots, who have encouraged his hopes all his life. Growing up he had a favorite television show that was hosted by Mr. Bigweld. Mr. Bigweld was the creator of Bigweld industries; an inspirational place that is always looking for the next idea, and where bots like Rodney can have their dreams come true. Well the mantra that was made famous by this children’s movie was “See a Need, Fill a Need.” Mr. Bigweld always repeats the saying to his fans on his weekly show, and Rodney is soon decides to pursue becoming an inventor and takes off to Robot City to have his dreams come true.

The mantra “see a need, fill a need” is an old marketing term; and has been used by many entrepreneurs who saw a need, and then devised a way to meet it.  SeekingSitters is no stranger to this concept. Yes, we are an on-demand babysitter referral service where we do all the work for the families and professional sitters. But we are more than what we do. We are also mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters to young children, and we saw that there was a universal need that was not being met. Every family regardless of economic background requires childcare at some point. It is hard enough not being able to enjoy every moment with your child, but when a parent does have to leave them behind they want to be confident that their child has been given over to best of care.

Our founder Adrienne is a proud mother, wife, and business owner. She along with her husband have conceptualized a way to finally be able to meet the individualized childcare needs of American families. There are so many demands on our time. But a parent never wants to be in position where they are not able to create the best situation for their child. This is why SeekingSitters allows parents to sign up online and set up personal preferences. They can also view sitter profiles and submit requests for a one-time, part-time or full-time sitter. A local owner will immediately begin working on a match to one of our contract professional sitters who have all been personally interviewed and undergone a thorough and complete background check by a licensed private investigator. This provides the peace of mind parents need to know that they have found a source for childcare that is safe, reliable, affordable, and also convenient.

SeekingSitters’ is meeting the needs of families all across the nation. The innovative approach to finding babysitters cancels out having to go through a long list of family and friends making desperate calls, it stops parents from having to hope that their nannies are being truthful about their past, and allows parents to provide their children with a consistent schedule.  “See a need, fill a need.” It may just be a clever saying used in marketing strategies and cartoons, but the phrase also summarizes why SeekingSitters has been able to craft this innovative childcare system. There was a need.

seekingsitters.com

Traditions, Family and one Broken Oven

I can’t remember a more beautiful fall.  In our area the leaves are still falling from the trees well into the end of November and the weather has been warm enough for a late evening walk all week long.  It is a most perfect time to celebrate traditions with our family and friends during this Thanksgiving week.

 

One wonderful tradition we have started in the SeekingSitters office is to host a Thanksgiving lunch.  This year, we each hauled our homemade creations to the office, re-heated in the microwave and then all of us scrunched into the conference room to chow down on everything from homemade sweet potatoes to lemon pie.  We then took an opportunity to each tell what we are most thankful for over the past year.  During these thanksgiving traditional lunches, we stop for a moment to realize what a blessing it is to be surrounded by so many supportive and motivated people. 

 

My family’s Thanksgiving tradition is to head to the grandparents for a weekend together where we spend family time cooking traditional meals together for two days solid … and then proceed to gobble down the meal in about 30 minutes.   Before our Thanksgiving office lunch was ended I already began receiving texts from family members that in route to Thanksgiving at the Grandparents.  Family traveling in from every corner of the US giving the play by play to the rest of the group of their ETA into the area, details of their recipes and new food creations to be made during the holiday tradition.

 

But then came in the text none of us could imagine “The oven is broken!”  I didn’t even have a chance to respond before a second text came through, “and a water leak flooded the kitchen.”  Oh goodness, this is going to be a quite a memorable thanksgiving, I thought.   I texted back, “Please tell me you are kidding?!”  A quick reply, “I wish it was, but the good news is that the oven is already fixed and the kitchen is dry!” 

 

No matter the time it takes to prepare the meal (or mop the kitchen) these are the memories that will last a lifetime!   We hope your Thanksgiving tradition is a memorable one as well and many blessings into this next year.

 

My favorite Thanksgiving tradition:  Before the Thanksgiving feast, we bake a batch of the Best Macaroni and Cheese Eva’ for the kids to snack on before the late afternoon feast begins.  Of course some of the adults sneak a bite too!

 

Best Macaroni and Cheese Eva’

1 2/3 Cups Macaroni

2 T Cornstarch

1 t Salt

½ t Dry Mustard (Optional)

¼ t Pepper

12 oz Evaporated Milk

2 T Butter

2 Cups Cheddar Cheese

 

Boil Macaroni according to directions, Mix all in ingredients except ½ cup of Cheddar Cheese.  Place in baking dish and top with remaining Cheese and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes uncovered.  Enjoy!

 

Why go to the Ball?

The fall season is normally called Harvest Season. This is a time that farmers bring in all their bountiful harvests from their fields. In most major cities, this is also a heavy philanthropy time.

You do not need to be a millionaire to help others less fortunate than you. You do need to have an open heart and be willing to part with donation money for tickets or a table.  As a former Board Member for The Turning Point (Collin County’s Rape Crisis Center) and now Committee volunteer for Boys and Girls Club of Collin County which hosts the Annual Chrysalis Ball this is the time of year to plan where you will help out this year.  Here are my reasons for going to the ball:

  1. You and your spouse do not get dressed up enough, other than a few times a year. (Easter Sunday does not count here guys.) It is special when you dress up nice for each other with the anticipation of a fun night.
  2. By giving annually to your favorite charity
  3. If you do not go for the dinner, go for the socializing and dancing.
  4. You might get something fun in the Live or silent Auction.
  5. You feel good about the greater good of the purpose of the organization.
  6. You can network and meet new people.
  7. If you are lucky the MC might call you out because of your style (Daniel that was a shout out to you my friend at Green Peridot )
  8. You have wonderful date night out of the house, all dressed up with your significant other or spouse that you would not get at the local Mexican food place with your children trying to run around the table because they finished faster than you.
  9. It makes you feel better about a purchase if you have chosen to do so and if you can, this could be a written off as a donation.
  10. By doing all of this from 1-9  allows you as a couple to have fun while you are helping fund the education, growth and development of some of Collin County’s troubled youth to save your own tax dollars by raising more children that are successfully in life and helpful in your community.  

The entertainment may or may not be the main attraction but really who cares when your hair is done perfectly, your makeup looks great, you are wearing a gorgeous dress, and your spouse is not in his business casual attire from his office, but a nice suit or a tux. When does the regular set of parents get a night out like this? Not often enough! So enjoy the ball because at midnight you won’t pull a Cinderella because you will have both your man and both shoes the next morning!

No Matter what your personal charity of choice is, set the date, get dressed up and enjoy a night out with your spouse all for a good cause! SeekingSitters can handle the childcare!

Jennifer Calyer

Owner SeekingSitters Collin County

A Bucketful of Gratitude

A few weeks ago while rearranging our daughter’s big girl room, I discovered an extraordinary book I had forgotten we had. I immediately called both of my little ones into the room to read it to them. It’s called Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids, by Carol McCloud. This book brought me to tears when I first read it. It shows children how gratifying it is to show daily kindness, thankfulness and love. Filling up and dipping into buckets serves as a metaphor to understand how our words and actions affect others as well as ourselves.

At first I was pretty sure my kids didn’t quite grasp the concept. The gist of the story is that each of us carries an invisible bucket around each day, every day. Others have to fill our bucket since we are unable to do it for ourselves. We also can’t fill our own buckets by emptying out another bucket because by emptying someone else’s bucket we are hurting them. The point is:  We have to fill each other’s buckets!

Do you speak with kindness? Are you patient with others? Do you go out of your way to brighten someone’s day? Do you give of your time and talents? Help carry the load of a friend in need? Get up early to make the coffee for your hardworking spouse? Squeeze and kiss your husband and children before they leave each day? Make a special dinner just because? Play one more round of Candy Land or read just one more story? Smile often? Get up early to make a warm, healthy breakfast for your family? Post a friendly note on someone’s Facebook wall just because? Snail mail a card to an old friend or relative for no reason other than to say hello?

With these things in mind, I’ve been more conscious of my responsibility to fill the buckets of those around me, even people I don’t know. Just smiling, saying hello, offering to help someone reach that item in the store. They say you can’t fill your own bucket, but I find these simple things sure are filling something.

Yesterday, I heard my daughter say, “What’s the password?” My son said, “I love you!” She said, “Nope!” He says, “You are beautiful!” She says, “Yes!” Again today, I was singing along with the tv, and instead of his usual, “NOOO Singing!!”, my son says, “Mommy, you have a beautiful voice.” Maybe he really did get the concept! I was sure to tell him how he does such a good job filling my bucket, to which he replied, “I know.” I guess we’ll have to work on humility next.

Gena Schneider

Owner, SeekingSitters Inland Empire