Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Parents, don't sweat the small stuff

  • A popular saying tells us, “Don’t sweat the small stuff,” is the key to a happy life. Parents have a long list of worries, but sometimes you just need to take a deep breath and let it go.
    Here are 10 small things parents shouldn’t sweat.
    1. What your kids wear. Unless what they are wearing is inappropriate for the situation (like a wedding or a funeral) let your kids express themselves with their outfits. They don’t need to be a mini you.
    2. Picky eaters. As long as they use good manners, don’t make your kids clean the plate. Dinner should be a pleasant discussion, not a family fight. Everyone has foods they hate (including you.) You can’t please everyone all the time, so let the picky eaters skate by with just a couple bites of some things.
    3. A little water. Kids get wet. They love it. They’ll dry. So will shoes, floors, couches and books. So will you.
    4. Missing socks. The kids like them better mismatched anyway, so don’t drive yourself crazy looking through every nook and cranny of the house for mates. Just grab your basket of mismatches and make some fun pairs.
    5. Messy hair. I remember my cousin screaming bloody murder as her mother immaculately French braided her hair. It all came out as we started crawling under the hedge. My son’s hair sticks up in back no matter how many times I wet it down. (He can’t keep still long enough for it to dry in place.) Keep it cared for, but keep it simple. Let your kids know their adventures are more important than their hairdo.
    6. Scattered toys. Your child’s imagination is bigger than one small bedroom or toy room. Let her make the magic a part of the living — no matter where she wants to play.
    7. Busy schedules. I often have to tell my tardy self, “We’ll get there when we get there.” Living with kids wreaks chaos on any schedule. Lost shoes, bathroom trips and spontaneous hide and seek tournaments can derail the best of plans. Getting angry and stressed does not stop time nor speed up your progress. In fact, it hinders it. So take time to smell the flowers, look at bugs, pick up rocks along the way or play a little longer before nap time. The fate of the world does not rest on your punctuality. You’re not going anywhere that important.
    8. The broken and the lost. When my daughter was young she broke an antique vase my grandmother had given me. She still remembers how I yelled. In the following years, I’ve realized — it was just a vase. It wasn’t my grandma or my memories of her. My life has gone on pretty much the same since the incident. Things get lost. Things get broken. They’re just things.
    9. Unsolicited advice. Everyone (other parents, non-parents, even kids) thinks they know the best way to be a parent. They’re all full of it. Sometimes people may hurt our feelings thoughtlessly. Sometimes they hurt them on purpose. Just let those comments slide right off. When you hold onto hurt, you’re the one carrying it — it affects the offender very little. Do the best you can and remember, you’ve put your foot in your mouth before, as well.
    10. Mistakes. Everyone makes them. I make them. My kids make them. My spouse makes them. We’re a family. Forgive and forget — even the big ones.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Kid-proofing tricks for your favorite electronics

  • You've spent bank on the latest and greatest device and you love it like a child. You want to keep your baby safe -- but you can't keep the kids away forever. How can you let your kids enjoy the great apps and games, but still protect it from their grubby little hands? Here are some tips for kid-proofing your electronics.
  • Buy kid tough cases.
  • You know your child is going to drop and/or step on, your phone or tablet. Make the investment in a durable case and it will save you the expense of a replacement down the road. Look into screen protectors to protect from scratches. Some stores even apply the protector for you if you're nervous about handling the thin polyester film yourself.
  • Stock-up on screen cleaners.
    • Whether you prefer moistened electronic wipes or a simple screen cleaning cloth, teach your kids the right way to clean off fingerprints. Show them where you keep the screen cleaners and make them easily accessible. If you don't, your kids may come up with their own cleaning ideas — and it won't be pretty.
  • Get something waterproof.
  • If your phone will be accompanying you and your kids to a day at the beach or poolside, bring a waterproof pouch to put it in. This will protect your baby from kids coming dripping wet and sitting on the phone, as well as from curious toddlers who like to see what happens when you throw things in the water. For a quick and easy fix, bring a sealable plastic sandwich bag.
  • Always have rice in the cupboard. 
  • If your child does, per chance, introduce your cell phone and water, end the relationship immediately. Turn your phone off so it does not short circuit. If your phone has been in water, assume it is water logged even if it is still working. Remove the cover, battery, sim card and unplug any accessory ports. Dry things off the best you can with a soft cloth, then bury the phone is a bowl of rice and leave it overnight. Rice is super absorbent and will draw out water. Don't try turning your phone on again until after 24 hours.
  • Designate and e-zone.
  • Tired of never being able to find your phone or tablet? Set up an electronic zone in your house where the kids are allowed to sit and use your devices. That way, they don't get carried all around the house and yard and left on the floor. It's also a good idea to prohibit food and drink in this e-zone.
  • Set passwords and turn off buying options.
  • If your kids can't get past the home screen, they are less likely to use the phone without permission and do unsupervised browsing and buying.You can turn off buying options all together on your phone to protect yourself from surprise charges on games or social media. Go to your phone's settings screen where you can find options to set restrictions on purchases, require a pin number for purchases, or turn them off.

  • Smartphones and tablets are a big investment in a sensitive but powerful tool. Go the extra mile to make sure your electronics are protected from little hands. With a little planning, you and your kids can enjoy using your favorite devices.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

My daughter and I are not friends -- but that's OK.

My two oldest daughters are 15 and 13. We are not friends. It's not that we don't have a good relationship. We talk, we have a good time together and we don't fight all that much. We're not friends because I don't want to be their friends.

If I were my daughter's friend, I couldn't be her parent --
and being her parent is much more important.

I don't need to entertain her. Friends are there for a good time, but it's not my job to make sure my kids are never bored. It's my job to make sure they do their homework and pull their weight around the house. It's also important for kids to know that you have other things going on that need your attention. It's not always just about them and what will entertain them.

I don't gossip. I speak don't speak poorly of my children's friends and classmates and I don't let them do it either. I don't speak poorly of other adults or teachers in front of my kids and I make sure they show respect for those around them.

I don't encourage her to do age-inappropriate things. You may not be the cool parent, but don't let your kids talk you into letting them act like adults in their habits, entertainment or relationships. They are not ready for them. When teens do adult things, like drink alcohol or have sexual relationships, it actually stunts their emotional growth.

I don't sit by her at football games. While family time is important, it is also important for your kids to socialize on their own with people their own age. In her adult life, my daughter is going to need to learn to deal with more than me. She'll have co-workers, neighbors and hopefully, someday, a family of her own. She needs to learn how to not only talk to and work out relationships with others, but make decisions on her own free from my hovering. (Plus, her friends are way more fun at football games.)

I'm honest with her. If my daughter's room, hair or personal life is a mess, I'm going to tell her. If she's doing something that could offend someone else, I'll tell her that, too. Kids are never going to learn to do the good stuff if no one points out the difference.

I say, "No." You don't get everything you want in life and everything you want is not good for you. Too many kids feel entitled to have everything on their Christmas list and every whim catered to. Telling your kids, "No," can not only keep them out of trouble, it can help them learn to deal with disappointment. It can teach them they don't get everything they want and that's OK.

I have expectations. Your friends don't expect much of you except to be fun and be able to text and use social media with prowess. I want so much more from my kids. I want them to do good things. I want them to be responsible. I want them to contribute to the community around them. I want them to grow up and make the world a little better for being in it. That means I expect things from them. I expect them to work hard. I expect them to think of and do things that don't only benefit them.

I never never withhold my attention or affection and don't try to win hers. Friendships can be fickle. I'm in this relationship for the long haul. When she hurts me I'll let her know I love her anyway. But, I won't bend over backwards to get her to like me. Friends come and go, but I'll never give up on her and I'll always be there.

So while I can't think of anyone who wouldn't be lucky to have my daughter as a friend, I'll stick with being the parent. It will be better for me, and her in the long run.