Pajama Party Giggles, Parent-Tested Tips!

Pajama parties have been the highlight of many a school girl’s adolescence. While some people think those type of parties have gone out of style, that is far from the case. Both kids and adults can still have a great time if the right type of activities are planned.

No Cell Phones

The first thing to do if the party is going to be a success is collect all of the cell phones and keep them in the kitchen or on chargers in another room. They are available if needed but are not a distraction that will keep someone from truly enjoying themselves.

Make It a Slumber Party

Pajamas are the ideal attire for slumber parties. Have everyone bring a sleeping bag or blankets and take over the living room floor. The kids will have a lot more room, and the parents may actually get to participate in some of the fun and games. Either way, the kids are safe and in full view, so if something should arise, it can easily be taken care of with fewer feelings being hurt.

Movie Time

Talk to the host or hostess prior to the party and find out what kind of movies and snacks the guests would like. Make sure that you have everything on hand before people start arriving. This will allow for more fun and less worry when it comes to finding something to watch and snack on later. It is also a good idea to make sure all of the parents approve of the movie list. Some parents may have preferences as to what their kids watch, especially if they are under the age of ten.

Makeup Madness

No girl’s pajama party would be a success without having a makeup session. Break out the makeup kit and hair styling equipment, and let the girls make themselves up. This is another activity you may want to discuss with the other parents, but for most, this is a fun way for the girls to get to know one another as well as learn the basics of makeup. The best part is Mom gets to participate!

Pajama parties can be as fun as you make them. Grab some games! Look on Pinterest for some unique ideas for party decorations, and then let the kids have some fun. They will be close by and may even let you join in on some of the fun.

The Art of Staying Connected: Balancing Parenthood With Yourself as an Individual

Every person wears several hats. You may be a son/daughter, sister/brother, wife/husband, artist, teammate, athlete, teacher, friend, confidante and a parent. For many of us, being a parent becomes an all-consuming role and we tend to put ourselves aside, devoting much, if not all, of our time to raising and caring for our children. You tend to forget who you are as an individual and even begin to identify yourself as your child’s parent. It’s important to fine-tune the art of staying connected with yourself, bringing your parent side back into balance with who you are as an individual.

Preventing Burnout

Whether you have one child or five, you will eventually begin to experience some degree of burnout. The daily routine will become so second nature that, before you know it, you will be doing things without thinking. Don’t let it get to that point. While it’s great to have a set routine, give yourself a day off each week to do something that reminds you just how wonderful YOU are. Join a softball league or take up a hobby that you enjoy, anything that lets you get back to basics.

Bring Yourself to the Table

When you go out with family or friends, or just get to spend a day doing something for yourself, make sure YOU are the one doing it. Don’t introduce yourself as your child’s mom and dad. You have a name, a personality and a presence. Let them shine! Identify yourself by things that make you who you are, not the things that connect you to your children.
Join a Gym

One of the best ways to reconnect with yourself is to find ways to make solid improvements. Join a gym or take some exercise classes. Somewhere under the curlers, bathrobe and mega size cup of coffee, we forget there is a unique individual who used to look forward to going out to dinner or having a night on the town.

Continue to Explore Who You Really Are

When you have children, a whole new world opens up in the way of new people and new experiences. You will be introduced to different types of activities, cultures, artistic pleasures, music and ways of doing things. Every person is continually growing and changing. You are a work in progress, so it is important to continue to seek out new things to add to your list of experiences and favorite activities.

Being a parent may be the highlight of your life, but it is vital to remember that who you were before you had children is just as important. Embrace who you are, and work to keep the balance between parenthood and individuality. Who you are as a person should be the role model that your kids look up to and admire. They need to know that being a parent is only part of the dynamic of being an adult.

Romance for Parents: Tips to Keeping Your Marriage Strong

With today’s throwaway mentality, many marriages don’t stand a chance. People often lose sight of the essentials that are needed to keep a marriage strong and thriving. In addition to taking care of the kids, the parents must also remember to take care of one another. A marriage won’t survive unless the couple remembers the bond they have and how important it is to keep the romance in the relationship.

Communication

The most important aspect of any relationship is communication. Open lines of communication are a must if a marriage is going to have a chance past the first year. Talk to one another. Write notes, anything that conveys a message of love. Don’t go to bed with unspoken feelings between the two of you. If you are fighting, talk it out before you finally go to bed. If something is bothering you, speak your mind and clear the air before the situation gets out of hand. Communication keeps everything out in the open and makes it easier to resolve even the hardest of issues.

Weekly Date Night

In a marriage with children, the hardest thing a couple can do is find time for one another. Have a weekly date night. Even if it is nothing more than setting aside a night where you sit outside by a campfire and enjoy some quite time, the important thing is that you are together and alone. Being able to enjoy one another’s company outside of the family dynamic is the best way to keep the relationship new and exciting.

Please & Thank You

Always remember your manners. You teach your children to say “Please” and “Thank you” as signs of appreciation and respect. The same is true in your marriage. Your manners say a lot about how much you love and respect your partner. People who forget to use their manners sound bossy and overbearing. Using your manners also sets a good example to your children. It shows them that no matter how old you are, using proper etiquette and manners is a sign of dignity and respect.

It’s the Little Things

While all of the other things listed are important, it will always be the little things that seal the deal. A touch, a smile, a hug, a note in your spouse’s briefcase or lunch box are the things they will remember. The little things are those you do without a lot of planning. These random acts show them that no matter what may be going on in their day, you are thinking of them and how much you mean to them.

Keeping a marriage together in today’s society may be somewhat trying, but it can be done. Make sure your spouse knows how you feel about them. Share your time and show your love. It only takes a few minutes to show your partner how much they mean to you. Those few minutes may just end up being the highlight of their day.

Dads and Daughters, 15 Wonderful Ways to Spend Time Together

Daughters grow up fast and many times, dads tend to miss out on some of the best moments. It’s important to make time while they are young and their schedules aren’t so full. Dads and daughters can share many different experiences that will allow them to grow closer and create lifelong memories. The following are just a few ideas to help get things started:

• Go for long walks. Walking is great exercise and when you walk together you can explore your neighborhood and simply enjoy one another’s company.

• Eat breakfast together. Even if it is just cereal or toast, the half an hour you spend at the breakfast table may be just what you need to start the day.

• Attend a Daddy/Daughter dance. Most schools have Daddy/Daughter dances at least once a year. Go and enjoy yourself!

• Take her floating down the river. Taking her down the river in a canoe is a great way to teach her about nature.

• Teach her how cars work. Showing her how to check her own vehicle will give her valuable information if she ever breaks down along the highway. She will thank you in the long run.

• Show her the best ways to make a campfire. Camping can be fun and building a campfire is essential if you want to have a backyard gathering.

• Teach her how to use the family grill. Showing her how to grill adds to her kitchen experience.

• Make a family dinner together. Gather the family and make the main meal together.

• Explore a hiking trail. Take your daughter to the nearest National Park and show her what real nature is. Hiking can be fun. Turn it into a scavenger hunt!

• Go fishing. Whether it’s from a boat or a pier, it’s quality time that you won’t forget.

• Go to a movie. Movie nights can be fun when you take turns choosing what to see.

• Take her out on a date and let her choose the restaurant. No fast food! Go to a real restaurant.

• Attend a sporting event. Take her to see her favorite sporting team!

• Read a favorite book together. Reading builds the imagination. Choose one of your old favorites and read it out loud, complete with voices and sound effects.

• Play a game. Board games, card games, etc., will all get the competitive juices flowing.

The opportunities for quality Daddy/Daughter time are endless. Find things that you both like to do and set aside time each week to go and have fun together. Life is too short to let these special times go by. Make time to build lifelong family memories.

A Dog’s Life: How to Choose the Perfect Family Dog

Choosing to get a family dog is a big decision. Deciding on a breed is only the first of many things that must be considered. Dogs come in every shape, size and temperament. Some are cuddlers, while others want to be pampered and left to their own devices. There are a few things you need to take into consideration as you sit down with the family to decide what type of dog would be best for your situation.

Kid Friendly?

Whether you have infants or teens, when you are choosing a dog for the home, you need to find one that is kid friendly. Toddlers can be extremely hard on an animal because they don’t know the limitations of what is acceptable and what’s not. Teens can be forgetful and leave the pet with no food or water. When you have children, look around for a breed that is best suited to be around children. Labrador retrievers are a breed that is well known for its compatibility with kids.

Size Matters

The size of your home and your budget will play large roles in determining the size of pet you can afford. Large dogs can require up to 100 pounds of food a month, depending on their size, breed and activity level. It’s also important to remember that the large the dog, the more exercise it will need. If you don’t have a large yard for them to run free and get their exercise on their own, you will need to walk them everyday to ensure they get enough activity on a daily basis.

High Maintenance

Certain breeds of dogs are considered to be extremely high maintenance. Poodles, sharpeis and cocker spaniels are known to need higher levels of care than most breeds. Poodles and cockers must be shaved on a regular basis to keep their fur from getting out of hand. Sharpeis tend to have issues with their eyes and the wrinkles in their skin must be kept clean at all times. While most of the work with the sharpei breeds can be done at home. Having your dog shaved every few months can be rather costly.

Level of Energy

Different breeds of dogs have different levels of energy. If you have a laid back family that tends to want to stay close to home, a dog with a lot of energy may not be the best choice for you. Know how much time you want to spend playing with your pet before you make the decision on a certain breed.

If you want to find a dog that already has some training, you may want to consider going to your local animal shelter. They may not have a the most pedigreed dogs around, but many are well behaved and house trained. Before spending a large amount of cash on a puppy, look into adopting from the local shelter. It’s cheaper and you will be giving at least one dog a new leash on life.

Make a Family Treasure Book

One of the best ways to save family memories and create new traditions is to make a family treasure book. It can be small and quaint or large like a scrapbook that is made to hold fond memories and unique family traditions. Collecting these items and including them in a book is the safest way to keep them from being forgotten over time.

Include Cultural Traditions

Most families attempt to embrace their culture. Many have cultural traditions that are associated with each holiday. Write them down. Take pictures and share stories about how the traditions have changed over the years. Your culture is a link to where your family came from. It is important to pass the traditions down to future generations, so they understand history and how it has affected the family.

Add Drawings and Handwritten Poems or Prose

Allow each child or family member to add something of themselves. Let them draw a picture, write a poem or tell a short story. It will give future generations an idea of what each family member was like, long after they have passed away. Each year, get the book out and let each person add a new thought or small drawing. It will allow people to see how everyone has changed as the years pass.

Include Favorite Family Recipes

Everyone loves food! All families have recipes that have been handed down through the generations. Investigate where the recipe came from and include a short history. This way, the recipes will be safe and available to shared with many generations to come. Every year, pick a new recipe or two to include in the book. Ask other family members to contribute theirs as well.

Add Photos of the Family Members

Include photos of all of the family members present at reunions and other holiday gatherings. Make sure to have a sign-in list so that you know who was in an attendance and find out who each person is in past photographs. A family treasure book would be lacking the most valuable pieces if photos of the members of the family were not included.

A family treasure book can include anything that is important. Some families may embrace farm living, while others travel for their holiday celebrations. Each book will be completely unique, but that is what makes it so special. Follow your family tree. Retrace the roots and find out where you came from, but most importantly show the present and include future hopes and dreams.

Reach for the Stars! Exploring the Night Skies with Kids

One of the best things about being outside after dark is looking up and seeing the stars. There is a virtual storybook in the sky for anyone who is interested enough and will take the time to explore the constellations and what they mean. It is a great way to spend bonding time with your children as well. Teaching them the constellations also gives them an insight into history for those who know the stories about how the stars were used to help navigate the seas.

Read the Stories Behind the Stars

If you are going to help your children learn about the constellations that make up the designs in the night sky, find a book that tells the stories behind each one. Many are grounded in Greek mythology while others find their roots in astrology. The majority of stars within constellations are also named. As you tell the stories behind the Big Dipper, Cassiopeia, Orion’s Belt and Aquarius, you can also let it be known how each was used by sailors to help navigate the largest of the seas.

Use a Map of the Galaxy to Find Your Way

There are several maps of the night skies that show how stars were basically used as a road map. Because of how the earth moves through the galaxy, constellations were used to not only navigate the seas but also to help travelers on land find their way to each respective destination. In some cases, it wasn’t so much the constellations that helped them achieve their goals but single stars that followed a specific path across the night sky.

Recreate the Constellations

Once the stories have been told and the constellations identified, recreating them can be a fun way to make the information real. Three-dimensional models can be easily made to help the kids retain the information they have learned. Using black or dark blue construction paper, draw a constellation on one side. For each star, make a hole in the paper. Smaller stars need smaller holes while larger stores should be somewhat larger than the others. When it’s finished, hold the paper up to a window or light, and let the light shine through, recreating the constellation on paper.

Another way to make a model is using small dowel rods and various sizes of marshmallows. Smaller marshmallows are used for the smallest stars, and the larger stars are represented by the biggest marshmallows. The dowel rods should be cut in different sizes according to the distances between the stars. Once the model is put together, it will show children just how wide-reaching many of the constellations are.

Whether you use a telescope or just lean back and gaze upwards, the stars can provide hours of enjoyment for both you and your child. Providing your children with the history of each constellation allows them to see them from a different perspective. They aren’t just stars anymore. Each has a story and a purpose that makes them more interesting than ever before.

Positive Parenting: How to Break Those Bad Discipline Habits

Parenting is not taught in a classroom, and sadly, our parent’s manual is out of date. With that said, each new generation is a new breed of child, so it is up to us to forge away, and hopefully, not keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again. Everyone tends to get frustrated and make a few of the more common parenting mistakes. The key is to learn from the mistakes and find positive ways to discipline your kids.

Mean What You Say

You should always mean what you say. Instead of shouting out an answer before you know what the questions is, listen to your child. Give him a straight answer, and don’t hedge when he starts to try and change your mind. Saying one thing and then twenty minutes later rethinking the decision gives the kids the idea that you can be persuaded if they hound you long enough.

Keep the Yelling to a Dull Roar

When frustrations run high and things start to get out of control, the first thing most parents do is yell in an attempt to get their kid’s attention. That’s not always the best option. Yelling may get their attention, but it can also teach them to tune you out. Try something new. Talk to them in a low voice, just above a whisper. Not only will you throw them off their game, but you’ll also keep the neighbors out of the family business.

Make the Consequences Count

The old standby of sending a child to his room no longer works, especially if that is where he has his gaming system, computer, television and cell phone. Instead of sending them to their room where they literally have all of the comforts, give them a few chores to do or have them sit with you and talk things over. Find out what the problem is and look for a solution. Sending them to their room is not a punishment anymore, at least not one that works effectively.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

If you want your kids to do the right thing, then you need to give them an example to follow. Saying one thing and doing another shows them that it’s okay not to keep their word or follow through on responsibility. If you say something or make a promise, stick to it. The most important things you can teach your child is integrity and responsibility.

Converting your bad parenting habits to good ones will take some time. The important thing is breaking the patterns that will eventually set your child up for failure. If you want them to succeed, you need to find positive ways to reach them. Good discipline tactics teach solid lessons and will give them a foundation to build on as they grow.

Your Back to School Night Action Plan

The end of summer can be traumatizing for kids. Heading back to school is the signal that the days of playing outside and staying up late are truly things of the past, at least until next year. The kids are going to try anything and everything in their arsenal of tricks to stay up past their bedtime for one last late night of fun before school takes over their lives in the morning.

Get a Head Start

Before the kids come in for the night, know what you have to get done before they finally turn in for the night. Know which kid is first in line for taking a bath, and have a list of the chores ready as they walk in the door. Keeping them busy will not only tire them out but will also distract them from finding ways to drive you crazy with the mantra of “just another 15 minutes”. Make a list if you have to and then stick to it.

Have Dinner Ready Early

Have dinner ready and on the table when the kids first come inside. It can be difficult to get everyone in the house at the same time for a meal. The night before the first day of school is a good time to start. Talk about your plans for the school year, and make plans to spend time together at least once a week. Having dinner early gives the kids a chance to begin settling into a new routine and also helps them to settle down a little before getting in the shower and heading to bed.

Have a Family Meeting

If not everyone can make dinner, have an impromptu family meeting when all the kids are finally in the house. Let them know what you expect of them and ask them what you can do to help them get into the swing of things for the next year. Set some ground rules, and make plans to share some fun activities if everyone cooperates. Have fun being a family. These years go by way too fast.

Get Things Ready the Night Before

Once the kids have finished their baths or showers, have them get everything ready for the next morning. Backpacks should be packed and ready to go. Outfits should be gotten out and set on the dresser, ready to be put on. Have everyone make sure their alarms are set and that all of their chores are done at least 15 minutes before bedtime. This gives them a little time to relax before they turn the lights out.

While it is inevitable that there will be a glitch or two, take them in stride and keep moving forward. Make sure the kids stay on task. Try to get as much done before bedtime as possible. With everything being completed the night before, the morning won’t be so rushed and the kids won’t be stressed or upset for their first day of school.

Books Kids Love By Age

Reading to children has been proven to be one of the fastest teaching methods ever. Kids who learn to enjoy books when they are young have an entire world open to them as they get older. When parents begin reading to their children during infancy, by the time the children are old enough to hold the book for themselves, they can identify letters and know the sounds associated with them. As kids get older, they will often choose books based on the things they like, but they will also go after books that look interesting.

0-3

This is the age where pictures are everything. They help children identify objects and allow them to associates letters with words and objects. Look for books that are visually appealing. The more pictures they have, the more your child will like them. This will help you teach your child the names of objects as well as spur their imagination.

3-6

At this age, kids are learning to identify not only letters but words as well. Finding ways to help string them together is the key if you plan to hold your child’s interest. The books for this age group should contain pictures as well as words. The words should be easy to sound out as well as a little challenging. This is also the age when social interaction begins to make a difference in a child’s personality. Give your children books that talk about making new friends and having fun at school.

6-10

Kids at this age want something that will expand their mind and allow them to use their imagination. Prompt them to learn new things by offering books that are a little different from what they are used to. Encourage them to explore and go on exciting and new adventures. Keep looking for things your kids find interesting and offer them books to help them learn as much as possible. Take them to the library and see what kinds of books they are drawn to on their own.

9 to 14

Kids at this age have become somewhat worldly. Open the door to different cultures and let them move forward on their own. Offer them books that touch their mind and make them think for themselves. Include books that have a touch of history and allow your child to begin to venture into short novels designed for kids. Older kids tend to look for books that challenge their thinking and explore new concepts. Biographies are also a good idea, especially if they have someone they consider a role model.

Providing your child with age-appropriate reading material is the best way to make sure their interest in reading continues to grow. Peaking their curiosity when they are little is the best way to keep them focused on reading well into their teenage years.