Archive for July 2012

What’s your biggest parenting problem?

July 23, 2012
do your kids use computers, video games , TV, texting and cell phones too much? Do you as parents have trouble regulating your children's and teen's and tweens use of electronics such as video games, online gaming, sexting, texting and cell phones?

Do your kids spend too much time online and using electronics? Do you often argue with your kids about how often they are hooked up to computer and video games?

Readers —

What’s going on in your families today? I’m interested in your most difficult problem as a parent right now that you wish you could solve by waving a magic wand. Include the ages of your children with the comment.

You can share the hardest problems you’ve faced in the past year, the past five years and/or since your child was born. LIMIT of three big problems per comment.

Be general and concise when describing the problem.  “Discipline” is too general. “Not listening” would be more specific.

Here are examples gleaned from my own parenting challenges.

  • Power struggle between me and my daughter, until she left home.
  • Sibling rivalry — kids fighting, all ages.
  • Telling the truth, lying and trust issues, teens.
  • Morning and bedtime routines.
  • Food and mealtime issues.
  • Toilet training.
  • Excessive screen time — computers, cell phones, gaming, television.

I realize that parenting problems are a moving target. Give a snapshot of Vancouver MLS where you are now, and/or a really big problem you faced since you had your kids. I’m looking forward to your responses.

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How to nurture your kids confidence this summer

July 16, 2012
summer is a great time to experiment in the kitchen with kids. let then make a mess. let loose, have some fun. children in summertime can learn skills and boost confidence through experimentation

Making scones is fun and sometimes messy.

Kids are messy.  Cleaning up after them is part of part of being a mother. 

That wisdom came from my mother, who had nine children and cleaned up many different kinds of messes.

When things get messy, they get interesting. Creativity starts flowing, interest heightens, you get lost in the project. Discovery occurs. Problems get encountered and solved. Confidence and self-esteem build through the experience.

None of this happens if you have to worry about “Mom getting mad about a messy kitchen,” or “Dad getting upset that his tools didn’t get put away.”

It takes time to clean up and teach them how to put away the tools where they belong in the workshop and kitchen. It’s about the process, the moments spent together experimenting and getting flour on the floor and a pile of pans dirty.

One of my kids’ favorite traditions was making homemade applesauce. We’d fill every big pot on the house with apples, simmer them and put them through the food mill. Every counter would be full of sticky bowls and utensils. Your feet would stick to the floor. It took a good half hour to clean up.

Hot fresh applesauce is SO delicious. I can still smell it and taste the sweetness. We froze it and enjoyed applesauce for months. It’s a sweet memory that showed my kids to be adventuresome in the kitchen, and perhaps, in life. We worked together and took turns.

Self-esteem and self-confidence can’t be bought at Target. Self-esteem and self-confidence have to be developed and nurtured through trial and error, encouragement. trying again, and celebrating success.

Summer offers the luxury of extra time to explore and get messy. Indulge them and yourself. You’ll be surprised at the results.

What are some of your summertime memories where you got to slow down, try something new or make a mess?

Free kids from technology this summer

July 9, 2012
Kids can learn to go without technology during summer and any time. Give them opportunities to think , read and daydream

A group art project from http://www.beamcamp.com/ where the slogan is, “Kids making things happen.”

 

“We have a rule when our grandsons visit. No technology,” said my friend Carolyn about when the boys, ages 7 and 9, visit their grandmothers’ pond-side home. “They put the video games away for the week and find other things to do.”

The boys’ older sister and a friend came also came to visit the two grandmothers, Carolyn and her wife Carole. The teens were allowed to communicate by cell phone with friends back home, 200 miles away.

“The cell phone is such a big part of teenagers’ social connections,” said Carole. That’s a decent compromise, especially because the teens agreed to visit to grandmas’ house.

All four kids enjoyed old-fashioned pass times, like playing hide-and-go-seek with kids in the neighborhood, playing board games and splashing around in the pond.

The boys are normally glued to gaming consoles.

Some camps have a similar ban on video games, cell phones and portable devices. Technology is prohibited at  Beam Summer Camp in Strafford, NH, just east of Concord. The remote location and lack of plugs make technology use nearly impossible.

“I couldn’t get cell phone reception,” said my daughter Kristen, 24, who led two afternoon “domains” at the camp where students choose what project to work on every afternoon. Beam Summer Camp oozes creativity — without technology.

Some families have technology-free Sundays. What would happen at your home if everyone — parents included — took a break from technology for a set time each week?

How do you manage technology use in your family? Have you brought up the issue at family meetings and asked for input? Are TVs and computers in common areas of the home and not sequestered in bedrooms? Do your kids self-monitor agreements made or are you judge, jury and police officer?

When you shut down technology, be prepared to allow boredom, from which creativity emerges. Daydreaming, reading, and staring at a spider’s web calm the soul.

Kids have more time for chores in summer

July 2, 2012
Kids and chore are important, especially during summer when they have more time for chores. Get children and teens to choose their own chores at home during a family meeting to help out. Use encouragement, not praise.

Borrowed this wonderful photo from http://fabandfru.com/2009/10/kids-chores/.

Kids like structure. Kids like to feel connected and competent. Summer disrupts those opportunities at school, so parents have to work a bit harder to compensate.

Summer is a great time to teach kids good habits and life skills by involving them in what you’re doing — laundry, yard work, cooking, dishes, fixing things, or anything else around the house. The earlier you start including them in chores, the more natural it will seem. The younger they are, the more they love to help out. Ironically, the older they get and more skilled, the less likely they are to contribute.

We raised our four kids frugally — probably to a fault. However, they learned how to manage  money and avoid the debt epidemic. We didn’t hang-dry laundry when they were growing up. It’s an excellent kid-chore because the youngest kids can do it.

I created a hang-dry system near our washing machine to give up the dryer. It took some time to install and some help from Reliable Bob.  I saw instant savings in my electric bills since we’ve started hang-drying most laundry. I like coarse air-dried towels — they’re like a spa, and soften up after a few uses. Sheets dried outside have a wonderful smell. Usually I’m too lazy to go further than our little dry furnace room right next to the washing machine to dry sheets.

Here I am creating a new energy saving system that the kids got used to to hang dry laundry and save money. it's an excellent chore for kids to hang up laundry, be frugal and save the planet. Using less energy is what we all need to do.

I’m attaching a thick cable to the wall to install a strong indoor clothesline.

Take some time to set up energy-efficient systems this summer.  A work ethic, frugality and knowing how to fix things can take your kids a long way in life. Take the time this summer to set up green systems. Let your kids take apart some old appliances and electronics to see how they work and challenge them to put them back together.  See if they can fix things. Find appliance parts at PartSelect if needed.

Let them make a mess. Encourage them to experience trial and error by taking apart appliances, tinkering with old computers, cooking, growing seeds, sewing or whatever interests them. Investing in messes and chores plant seeds that will grow for a lifetime.