Simple ways you can build a closer bond with your children this week

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Closer Bond

When building a bond with children, it’s good to remember that it is a two-way street. We sometimes think it has to solely be up to us to keep our relationship with our children strong by finding activities to do, creating crafts they may like, sharing our childhood memories with them, taking them to fun places, and so on. Basically sharing with them pieces of us as little building blocks. This is not a bad thing as that is how we build relationships with people. Sharing what is important to us, what we have learned, and things we have discovered. We do that with friends and family all the time. We talk about old memories with our spouse. We take our friends to restaurants we have recently discovered. We share books and recipes. But, like with any good relationship, it goes both ways. We need to be the recipient of that sharing in order for the other person to also build a bond with us. We need to let them tell us stories and share what they have discovered. This is what we are going to focus on for this #WeeklyKidChallenge, letting our kids connect with us.

Simple things to do this week.

  • Let them choose
  • Let them decide
  • Let them pick
  • Let them take you on an adventure
  • Let them tell you stories
  • Let them read their favorite book to you
  • Let them tell you about their interests while you listen intently
  • Ask them questions about their favorite things
  • Let them pick out a meal and help cook it
  • Let them teach you something
  • Let them tell you jokes
  • Play their favorite games
  • Let them talk, and talk, and talk

Other important aspects to remember when building a bond with your children.

  • Be careful to not be insulting to them or what interests them
  • Try not to be easily distracted
  • Be encouraging
  • Be open to what your kids want to do (within reason, bungie jumping at 11 may not be a good idea)
  • Try not to cut it short, plan for the time to spend with them

I would love to hear what your children come up with. Let me know on here, FaceBook, or use #WeeklyKidChallenge on Twitter. I hope you guys enjoy your week!


Manners, Compromise, Random Acts of Kindness and More!

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Mannors and More

Sunday was one of many bitter-sweet days I, as a parent, faced (as I’m sure many of you have as well). My oldest left for camp. For a couple of days before he left, he would just randomly give one of us a hug and tell us he will miss us. This is his third year going and even though it was easier this year than it was the first, it was still hard to tell him good-bye knowing it will be a week until I see him again.

For this #WeeklyKidChallenge, we will actually being working in a couple of different areas since I will have more one on one time my daughter. One being what she has come up with one her own. She wants us to tidy up her brother’s room while he is gone since he left it in a mess trying to get all of his stuff packed before he had to leave. She also wants to make him a world in MineCraft and have a huge “Welcome Home,” banner and fireworks in the world. I love that she is thinking of him and is willing to spend some of her time and energy doing something for him because she knows it will make him happy. It is good to teach kids to think of others and to do random acts of kindness. It helps them grow as a person and teaches them to be thoughtful of others. Something like this shouldn’t be forced because it may cause bitterness towards the idea. But it can be encouraged.

  • Tell them you are thinking of doing something nice for someone else, like a sibling or another family member, and ask if they want to help.
  • Do something nice for them.
  • Draw names out of a hat, like Secret Santa, and have them make a craft for the other one.
  • If you have followed along with #WeeklyKidChallenge and have made notebooks (CLICK HERE TO READ) then have everyone draw a picture or write a note in another one’s notebook.
  • Think big. Volunteer in your community as a family.

Another area we will be working on this week is teaching my daughter that she can catch more flies with honey than she can vinegar. My daughter is not only the youngest in our house, she is also the youngest out of her close cousins that she sees regularly. Sometimes it seems like she feels she has to be forceful, borderline rude at times, to be heard amongst the older kids. When she was younger, she followed along with whatever they wanted to do. Now, she has her own ideas and wants when they all get together. I’m hoping to work with her this week to teach her that being rude is not how she should go about getting what she wants. I’m going to give her tools and go over different situations with her.

  • It’s all about compromise.  In any relationship, it is up to all parties to take the other one’s feelings and wants into consideration. On more than one occasion I’ve noticed with my kids and their cousins that they want to play together, but not do the same thing. One will want to play dolls, while another wants to go outside, while another wants to watch a movie, and another will want to play a video game. They all end up doing their own thing and are upset that at least one of them didn’t want to play with them. I’m going to go over this situation and teach her that as much as she may want to play with dolls that her cousin may want to go outside just as much and it is better to compromise by both of them playing outside for a while then playing with dolls later, or vice versa.
  • Ask, don’t demand.  Like in the situation above, how she asks her brother or cousins may determine how they’ll respond. I know personally I wouldn’t want one of my cousins demanding that I go watch a particular movie with them while what I want to watch gets put on the back burner until the next time. Neither would she, her brother, or her cousins. So I’m going to role-play with her some so it will become natural for her to ask rather than demand.
  • Don’t forget manners.  Another thing I’ve noticed with her is that when she starts to feel pushed aside by the older kids, she starts to get rude. She will tell them to move rather than to say “Excuse me,” and things like that. I know it’s because her feelings are getting hurt and she is still unsure on how to handle herself when she feels rejected. But, it is still not an excuse. So, we are going to work on her still keeping her composure and not forgetting her manners even if she feels hurt.

I hope you join us this week by either having your kids preform random acts of kindness for others in your family or community, or working on manners with them this week.

6 Steps for United Front Parenting

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blog United Front Parenting

Image Credit: James Thompson via Flickr

What does united front parenting look like? It is something so simple, yet can mean a great deal on how your children respond to your teachings. United front parenting is just that, a united front. Both parents, standing together with the same values, principles, and goals for their children. They will follow the same reward and consequence standards; they will be in unison when it comes to discipline and teaching. Being in a united front with your spouse can greatly increase the effectiveness of your parenting by creating a stability that your children need.

Many complications can occur when parents do not stand united.

  • It can cause confusion in the home.
  • Kids can learn how to play one parent against the other parent to get what they want.
  • It can cause unnecessary arguing in the home.
  • One parent may be viewed as lenient while the other one is viewed as being too harsh.
  • One or both parents may try to over compensate what they feel is lacking, whether it mean being stricter or more lenient,  creating an unbalanced atmosphere.
  • It can cause division in the home.

Here are a few steps to help become a united front.

1. Don’t undermine the other parent

It can be difficult to see your spouse being either too harsh or too lenient when dealing with your children. You may want to speak up against your spouse and right the wrong you see him/her doing. DON’T. It will tell your children that you don’t value your spouse’s parenting, taking away creditability and loosing respect for both you and your spouse. Does that mean you completely stay out of it? No. They are also your children and you should have a say in the matter. But don’t contradict your spouse in front of your kids, especially in an argumentative way.

If your children are younger, simply ask them to go to their room while you two discuss the situation.

For older children, it can actually be beneficial for them to stay in the room while you guys talk it over because they will learn from your example on how you can disagree, but still come to a decision together.

Another way you can undermine your spouse is by going behind his/her back and letting the kids do something you both have agreed against. If a household rule is to not let your children have any desert if they do not eat all of their vegetables, yet when your spouse is not looking you hand over a candy bar with a warning, “Don’t tell,” you have just let your children know that rules do not apply when you are around. They will be looking to you to do it again and again and eventually not listen to either one of you. If you honestly felt like this was a situation where the rule could be bent, say your child really tried to eat the vegetables but had truly gotten full, then talk to your spouse about it and let it be a decision you both make together.

2. Don’t make one out to be the bad guy

There may be times when you and your spouse do not come to an agreement, either in a big situation or a small one. In the example above, where one parent feels like a rule could be bent, the other parent may not feel the same way. Maybe your child, who could not finish his vegetables, got full as the result of him getting into some snacks right before supper. So, your spouse feels he should not be rewarded. The last thing you should say is “Well, son, I tried. But your dad’s not being a nice daddy tonight.” This will immediately create division.

3. Have set punishments

Often times, it will be up to just one parent to give a punishment. It is not necessary to have a discussion with your spouse for every little infraction. By having a standard that you both agree on and stick to, it will let your kids know that when they are with just one parent, the punishment would be the same as if they were with both and discourage them from trying to act out thinking they can get away with it. A few time I’ve heard a parent say to their child, “Wait until your mom gets home and hears what you’ve done,” or, “Do I need to call your dad to come home and deal with you?” By saying that, the child knows that that one parent is the weak link. There is no real threat and the child will continue to act in the same manner until the other parent comes home. But, by having set punishments that both parents use when necessary, the child will be less likely to take advantage of one parent being gone.

4. Back the other parent up

No matter how strict or lenient a punishment may be, chances are your kids will think it’s mean. They may come running to you telling you how mean the other one is being. Don’t give into it. Doing so will result in them becoming a tattle-tail on their own parent and put you in a bad position. Instead, back your spouse up.

5. For big situations, talk before making a decision

When kids get older, they want more freedom and the ability to do more than they had when they were younger. They will have opportunities to go to parties, go to week long camps, go on dates, drive, etc. When the time comes and your children ask to do something that you and your spouse have normally not allowed, it would be best to discuss it rather than one parent just saying yes and the other one not agreeing and getting upset. By getting into the habit while they are younger of talking about the bigger situations, your children will be accustom of you two making these kind of decisions together.

6. Be the example

Often times it is hard for one parent to discipline their children over an occurrence if the other parent is the one teaching them to do it. It is confusing to the children and will cause them to view the disciplining parent as just a stick in the mud, someone not to listen to, not to trust, not to respect. One great example of this is a family sitting around the dinner table and one parent is showing great lack in table manners. This will usually result in the children following suit, wanting to join in, and the other parent trying to teach their children better with no success at all.

I know many of you just had an image flash through your head of when you were a child seeing that around your own dinner table. For others, it may have been as recent as last night. I know it probably happens with just about every family and it may not seem like that big of a deal. Partially, it may not be. Eventually, the kids will learn that manners at someone else’s home or in a public sitting need to be stricter than they are at home. But, notice I said, eventually. By having this kind of division, it may take the children longer to learn that it is really not funny to belch at the table, grab food with their hands or blow bubbles in their milk.

But that means no fun at all! Not completely. It does not mean that both parents have to be extremely strict, sitting at the table with their backs straight, napkins on their laps, fork in one hand, knife in the other, and the only acceptable topic for conversation is the weather. What it means is that both parents can have a little fun but that BOTH parents also need to teach them that in a public sitting it is not acceptable to blow their straw wrapper across the table or to take a big bite of broccoli and then with a huge grin ask “Is there something stuck in my teeth?” (We are civilized people, I promise.)

This is what we will be working on for this #WeeklyKidChallenge, discussing certain areas of our parenting to make sure we are standing as a united front.

Father’s Day! Make him a craft!

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Blog Father's Day

Boy, Daddy has really been getting a lot of attention around here lately. He has been doing even better than he was last week, walking around with a cane now and many times just on his own. I’m sure in a few more weeks he’ll be able to get back to work. But, in the mean time, we are going to take advantage of him being home. Yes, home, completely stuck at home to where if the kids want to tell him hour long stories, he has no were else to go. It is great.

Father’s day is coming up real soon, so we are going to make him some presents. CLICK HERE for some great ideas. I’ll post a new blog featuring what we make along with the tutorials. I would love to see what you guys make! Post your pictures here, on my FaceBook page or on Twitter using #WeeklyKidChallenge.

Entertaining Daddy

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Entertaining Daddy

My husband is doing much better than what I had expected him to do only a week and a couple of days after surgery. The first day in the hospital they had him up and walking around just eight hours afterwards, though it was very painful for him. He has been getting himself around the house with the aid of a walker and doing better every day. However, he is starting to go stir crazy. He has not left the house since we got home last Sunday. Even though it has only been a week, he is starting to throw words around like ‘cabin fever.’
Last week we took a break from school work so that we could be readily available to help him. The kids were extremely helpful by getting him drinks, ice packs, keeping him company, and helping me move his knee bender on and off the bed when needed. Even though this week they need to get back to hitting the books, we are going to make this #WeeklyKidChallenge a week to really spend time with daddy by playing games, talking to him, and my daughter will continue to read him bed time stories. Last week we were really more concerned with his physical health. This week we are going to concentrate on his mental health by keeping him entertained and engaged. Today, while I had to run a couple of errands, he stepped up (figuratively speaking) and helped the kids with their schoolwork. I’m going to also get him more involved with what we do during the day on top of the games and that we will be playing with him in the evening.
If you have been keeping up with our #WeeklyKidChallenge, this will be a great week to spend time playing games inside or outside as a family.

Taking care of Daddy

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Taking care of daddy

For this Weekly Kid Challenge, my kids are learning bedside manners. My husband had knee surgery Friday, so he is in need of some extra TLC. My kids have stepped up to help out. We made a chart to keep up with his prescriptions, they have gotten him drinks, taken food to him, my son (the strong boy he is) has been helping me with the knee bender and my daughter has enjoyed staying in our bedroom to keep him company while I do other things around the house. So far, they have been a great help. I’m hoping by the end of this they will have learned more compassion and understanding for others in need and have a better ability to step up when needed. Plus, all this extra time with daddy will be great and hopefully their relationship with him will be even stronger.

Notebook of Love

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Make notebooks for others to leave messages in! #WeeklyKidChallenge
Make notebooks for others to leave messages in! #WeeklyKidChallenge

If you’ve read my other post, As Simple as a Note, then you know my daughter LOVES writing little “I love you,” notes all the time. It’s hard keeping up with the little post it notes, or ones ripped out of a notebook. In the last few days I’ve received several little colorful “I love you,” pictures. Just the other night, while the kids were having quiet time in their rooms before bed and I was winding down in the living room, my daughter brings me one of her lovely notes. After thanking her and giving her a hug, I sat it down on the coffee table intending to take care of it when I got up again, but forgot. The next morning, she discovered it on the floor under the coffee table. I could tell it hurt her feelings even though she did understand it just fell off. So, I’ve decided for this week we are going to make our own notebooks. We are going to take copy paper and cover it with construction paper which we will color and decorate. Click here for ideas. The notebooks are for others to write or color in and the pages are intended to stay in the notebook. This will be a great way for us to still exchange notes, but it will be easier to keep up with.
If you guys also make your own notebooks, I would love to see them! Post your pictures here, on my Facebook page or on Twitter using #WeeklyKidChallenge.

Image Credit: Geneva Vanderzeil via Flickr

Staying Focused

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Staying Focused

Image Credit: ThomasLife via Flickr

We are getting closer and closer to the end of our school year. The kids are getting more restless waiting for their summer break to start. The results? Not staying focused while doing school work. We’ve already made some adjustments since the weather has gotten warmer by doing school work outside and having more frequent breaks, but they are still loosing focus when they are looking at their books and the pencil is in their hand. So, for this Weekly Kid Challenge we are going to be working on staying focused.

We will be incorporating a stop watch to make it a little more competitive for themselves by trying to beat their own time and also a bell they can ring once they are done with a page as an incentive. We will also be doing more writing, mostly just handwriting pages, so they can have more practice of keeping their eyes on their page rather than looking around. I’m hoping these little changes will make a big difference. If you have any tips on keeping kids focused while doing school work, I would love to hear them.

Learn a Life-Long Skill

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Join us for this #WeeklyKidChallenge as we learn a life-long skill. Tying a tie and braiding.
Join us for this #WeeklyKidChallenge as we learn a life-long skill. Tying a tie and braiding.
Image Credit: woodleywonderworks via Flicker

My grandmother, an amazing woman, bought my son his first real tie just the other day. She took him into the store to pick one out, and the very first one he saw he loved. It has black and blue strips, but the blue ones are all slightly different shades and look metallic. I’m impressed with his choice. Plus, he has always looked good in blue. I guess this will be a good week to teach him how to tie one.


My daughter, my one and only girl, doesn’t like me to do much with her hair. It is long, thick and beautiful. She loves to just wear it down. No braid, no pony tail, or pig tails, no flips, curls, or especially any of the really cool creations I keep seeing on Facebook. Nothing. Just brushed through quickly so she can get on with her life. However, she has taken an interest in braiding. I know she mostly wants to learn so she can make little friendship bracelets, but I’m hoping that by teaching her and letting her style my hair, she will let me do more with hers. Yes, I do have an ulterior motive. Does that make me a bad mommy?

So, for this Weekly Kid Challenge, they will be learning a skill that they will use through out their life, tying a tie and learning to braid. Do your children already know these skills? Is there another skill that will help them in their life that you want to teach them this week?

Tell us what you are doing this week on here, FaceBook or Twitter using #WeeklyKidChallenge.

Storm and Tornado Safety!

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Join us for this #WeeklyKidChallenge as we learn tornado and storm safety, get prepared, and practice our emergency plan.
Join us for this #WeeklyKidChallenge as we learn tornado and storm safety, get prepared, and practice our emergency plan.
Image Credit: Nikos Koutoulas via Flickr

I love spring! Flowers, flowering trees, buzzing of life, warmer weather, grilling out, and storms. Yes, I LOVE storms. My husband’s and my favorite thing to do is to sit outside and watch the sky get darker with clouds, see the lightning, hear the rumbling of the thunder, and feel the temperature change.

However, there is a major risk that comes with these storms. Wind, hail, lightning, and tornadoes. Living in what is called “tornado alley” myself, I get to experience these strong storms, but often they can turn deadly. Since we are in tornado season, this is a good week to talk about storm safety and get prepared.

Be Prepared

Being prepared before a storm hits is very important. It can save you precious time instead of scrambling to gather up food, water, and other things your family would need in case you have to leave your home. It can save you a hassle with the insurance company by having all of your paperwork in order and knowing what is in your home that may need to be replaced.

For You

  • Go through out your home and make a list, room to room, of your belongings that are valuable that may need to be replaced.
  • Have all of your important documents like social security cards, birth certificates, insurance policies, etc., put in a safe place. Obviously, a fire safe is great, but if you don’t have one, the freezer is the best alternative.
  • Know where the tornado shelters are in your area.
  • Know how to turn off utilities to your home.

For your children

  • Talk to your children about the different watches and warnings: thunderstorm, tornado, flood, flash flood, etc. Have them watch the weather with you and discuss it.
  • Make sure they know what county they live in and also the surrounding counties.
  • Have each person in the family make a personal emergency bag. You can go as far as having heat reflective blankets, extra clothes, a few Meals ready-to-eat (MREs), duck tape, lip balm, hand sanitizer, small bottles of shampoo and body wash, paracord, two way radios, etc. Basically a whole 72 hour Bug Out Bag. Click here for ideas. But at the very least, it should include bottles of water and juice, flashlights and extra batteries, energy bars, other easy to carry non-perishable foods, first aid kit, whistle, identity cards with your contact information and medical information, colors and coloring books, other things to keep kids entertained and a little room for them to add their favorite stuffed animal. For the parents, it should include more like pocket knives, cash, bug repellant, lighters, identification, prescription medicines, battery powered radio. I have heard people suggest to make the bags out of pillow cases, however I personally would prefer the bags to have straps on them so both hand are free. An old book bag that is still in good shape with no holes or rips would be great. Make sure these bags are kept in a place easily accessible but up enough that small children can’t get them and play with the contents. Also, make one for the car in case you are caught out in a storm and cannot make it back home.
  • Have your children make a layout of your home, front and back yard, pointing out exits and where they need to go during the storm. Also, put a place to meet up in the front of the house and back in case you guys get separated.
  • Make sure your children know your and your spouse’s full name, address and phone numbers.
  • Have them help you fill out an emergency contact list and put it in a common place in your house.
Join us for this #WeeklyKidChallenge as we learn tornado and storm safety, get prepared, and practice our emergency plan.
Join us for this #WeeklyKidChallenge as we learn tornado and storm safety, get prepared, and practice our emergency plan.
Image Credit: Anthony Quintano via Flickr

Other things to talk about

  • Lightning. One great thing to teach your kids is how to tell how far away the lightning is by counting the seconds between seeing the lightning and hearing the thunder. The rule of thumb is how ever many seconds you count, that is how many miles the lightning strike was. As spectacular as lightning is, it can also very dangerous. If they are outdoors, teach them to come in as soon as they see lightning or hear thunder. Stay away from windows, running water, and stay off of phones. If they are outside and cannot get inside, avoid high places, open places, and anything metal. Since lightning will strike the tallest object, getting underneath a tree or canopy may not be the best option. They should crouch down and cover their ears.
  • Down power lines. If there has been a tornado or high winds, chances are there are power lines down. Those should be avoided at all costs. Teach them what to look for by pointing out what power lines look like, if they are not already aware, next time you are out driving.
  • Hail can be very dangerous by shattering windows. During a storm that has hail, stay indoors and away from windows. If you are driving, stop. If it is safe for you to get under cover, do so. But do not continue driving since hail does have to possibility to break your windshield making it difficult to see through.
  • Trees seem like a great place to hide under if there is no where else you can go, but they can also be dangerous since they can be uprooted and even big branches can be ripped off during strong enough winds. Even after the storm, branches that are no longer attached to the tree can get its little branches hung up causing it to dangle from the tree and can come down at any time.
  • Wind. Even if there is no tornado in a storm, strong enough winds can be just as dangerous by ripping at the roof of a home, causing power lines to come down, knocking over trees, and causing flying debris. In our area, we will occasionally have what is called a derecho which is a sever storm with extremely strong winds and lasts for at least 240 miles.
Join us for this #WeeklyKidChallenge as we learn tornado and storm safety, get prepared, and practice our emergency plan.
Join us for this #WeeklyKidChallenge as we learn tornado and storm safety, get prepared, and practice our emergency plan.
Image Credit: BrianKhoury via Flickr

Plan for the worst

  • Have a contact point outside of your neighborhood in case your family gets separated and you can’t call each other. One example is if your spouse is at work and you have to leave your home with the kids and the cell towers are busy. Pick a place, like a specific restaurant or gas station where you guys will meet up.
  • Make sure your babysitter or any family member that might watch your children know all of your contact information and know your contact point as well.
  • Plan places to stay in case you have to leave your home. A family members home or hotel that is in a different city.
  • Talk to your children’s school. Find out their plan, where they take the children to, what their policy is about a parent picking them up.
  • Know your area, especially if you have just moved there, and plan different escape routes in case you need to leave your city but some roads are blocked.
  • Keep up with the weather including purchasing a weather radio.
  • Have a plan for your animals.
  • Teach your children what they should do in case they get separated from you. Using their whistles, staying where they were last with you and using their two way radios or phone to call you.

Make a plan and practice it

Just like in schools, there is an emergency plan in place that is practiced. Setting forth an emergency plan and practicing it in your home can save your family time, keep things from getting chaotic, and teach your kids good habits for when they are older.

    • Put on shoes and make sure to be fully clothed.
    • Put on protective gear like a bicycle helmet.
    • Have everyone do their designated assignments like unplug electronics, grab pillows, blankets, mattress, battery operated radio.
    • Grab emergency bags and other important personal items like wallets.
    • Go to your home’s safe place like your basement or storm shelter. If you do not have one, go to an interior room of your home that does not have windows.
    • Plan what to do if you are driving or outside and cannot make it into a shelter. Lay flat in a ditch or low lying area and cover your head.