Friday, December 28, 2012

Parenting-It's Not that Complicated

What if parenting really wasn't that complicated?  Hard...yes...but it doesn't have to be complicated! 
When we are aware of our goals and we spend the majority of our time working toward our goals then we don't have time for a lot of distraction...ultimately keeping life simple!

THINK Sit down and really think about what values are most important to you and also your significant other or co parent.  Is painting the playroom something you have time for or is going to Disney World something that will be fun or will it be stressful?

FOCUS Put down your cell phone when spending time with your child, get down on the floor with them, and take the time to be structured and always one step ahead of them.

LISTEN We have two ears and one mouth for a reason. If we don't listen to our children and instead always try to do what we THINK our children want/need than we can confuse the situation and create our own problems.  The truth is we don't know everything that our children need and if we listen to them we will get to know who they really are, understand them, and build a mutually respectful relationship.

ELIMINATE  Maybe it's time to get rid of toys the children aren't using or cut back on activities.  Pay attention to clues to assess what your child needs.  For example, if getting ready for dance class is always a fight with your child, maybe it's time to rethink dance classes altogether.

Monday, December 3, 2012

5 Reasons Why You're NOT Better than Other Moms!

1.  That mother you saw on Facebook at the restaurant while her child next to her was also on Facebook was actually playing words with friends, an interactive game with her daughter on their phones. 
2.  That mother you saw bragging about being a stay at home mom and doing everything PERFECT(including all those damn elf on the shelf activities...does she really need to post EVERY picture?!) She is actually miserable and pretending like her life is better than it really is.  She is doing the best she can.
3.  That mother that you saw working all those hours while her child is in daycare spends TRUE quality time with her children when she is home and really appreciates EVERY moment while she works her butt off to provide nice things for her children.
4.  That mother you saw going through the fast food drive through AGAIN never buys junk food at the grocery store and always makes her children eat healthy food at the dinner table.
5. That mother you saw yelling at her child in Target never had parents who taught her discipline, healthy boundaries, and respect and although she loves her children she has no idea what a healthy family looks like.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Best Holiday Jokes for Kids

Which of Santa's reindeer has bad manners? - Rude-alph!

What do elves learn in school? - The elf-a-bet

What Christmas carol is a favorite of parents? Silent nightWhat do snowmen eat for breakfast? Frosted flakes!

What does a cat on the beach have in common with Christmas? - Sandy claws.

What do you get when you cross a snowman with a vampire?Frostbite!

Where do snowmen go to dance? A snow ball!

How many presents can Santa fit in an empty sack? Only one, after that it’s not empty any more!

What do you get if you eat Christmas decorations? Tinselitus!

What often falls at the North Pole but never gets hurt? Snow!

What is the best Christmas present in the world? A broken drum – you can’t beat it!

Why was Santa's little helper depressed? He had low elf esteem!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Black Friday Deal

I don't usually write about companies or products because I don't believe in writing about things just because the owners are nice or the business is giving me free things. That's just not how I am.
However, I do want to write about this great toy store in my area called Bull Market Toy Store in Exton, PA.  They really have a great selection of toys for great prices and I love that I am giving back to the community instead of a huge retail chain like Target or Kmart.  If you like unique things or your children like Melissa and Doug or Legos than you MUST check out this store! Here are a few pics to give you an idea...

How to Make Your Pinterest Boards a Reality-PINTRALUTION

Pinterest is awesome.  It really is.  Out of all the social media type sites out there I like Pinterest the best because (for the most part) it isn't gossip AND it makes me feel good about myself!  It gives me ideas to make my life prettier, easier, happier, and more successful.  Who wouldn't want that, right?  So, I've realized that I've become a pro at 'pinning' know...dreaming! Right? But it got me thinking...why can't I make those dreams a reality?  Why can't I be one making those great earrings that look like they were bought at Nordstrom or actually working on those six pack abs?
Most of the things on Pinterest are things that the average person can do themselves so I've decided I'm going to start a PINTRALUTION! Here's how it's going to go....
Starting January 1st, every day for a month I am going to do SOMETHING from my Pinterest page.  I realize that I may not get six pack abs, or have the perfect crock pot recipe but I will be living instead of dreaming!

Of course, I could sit around and watch Jersey Shore, Dr. Phil, Housewives of Atlanta, or Honey Boo Boo instead of working toward my goals (which would give me every excuse to believe I can be lazy because after all, my life is not like THEIRS!) But TODAY I'm going to one little bit at a time and start turning my pinning into winning!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

How to Ensure Your Kids are Getting Enough Sleep

We like to complicate things in our lives but the truth is life can be simple!  One thing we often overlook when it come to problems with our children is sleep deprivation.  Getting enough sleep is the #1 thing we can do to help our children be successful in school and life.  Sleep deprivation literally clouds our thinking and keeps us in an altered state.
So, when our children are struggling (poor grades, fighting with friends, isolation from activities, etc.) remember that sleep deprivation is often the trigger for these problems and it is an easy thing to rule out when you are trying to find the problem.  Here's a guide to make sure your child is getting enough sleep...

If you don't think your child is getting enough sleep (on a regular basis) than make some changes to ensure this doesn't happen.  Here are a few ideas to get you started...
1.  No t.v or cell phones in room your child's bedroom
2.  Adhere to a strict bedtime.  If 9pm is the latest bedtime you'll accept for your children then start the process at 8:15 or 8:30-that way there's some room for negotiations ;) They can always unwind in bed with a book or magazine.

Did You Take Care of Yourself Today?

You fed your kids, watered your plants, fed your dog, went to work, paid your bills, had sex with your hubby....and now you feel empty?
Maybe it's time to take care of yourself.... go to the gym, go out to dinner with a friend, and for God's sake, get a good night's sleep!
Get over yourself! You're not a machine and you don't have super powers!!
Slow down and take care of yourself...we teach others how we want to be treated so if you want to be given a break, a back rub, or a night others your worthy of a break!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

New Sister Site-Tickles and Two Families

Tickles and Time Outs now has a new sister site, Tickles and Two Families
This new site is a resource for single parents going through seperation and/or divorce.  While I am honest about the struggle and hardships I am going through (such as making the facebook announcement and trying to order take out then realizing there's a minimum order amount!), I also share what I've learned to make life easier and happier along the way.  This is a journey...come along!

Embracing the moment!

I love this little girl!!
Two minutes after this picture was taken, I began getting frustrated with Sienna for taking too long to head out the door when I suddenly realized she was trying to make a sign too! Of course, after I realized what she was doing I felt like a big about embracing the moment!!
Thank you Sienna for teaching me to slow down and enjoy life!
Here's the sign she made me!  Then, she asked me to hold it up while she took my picture!

Friday, August 24, 2012

4 Easy Ways to Ensure a Successful School Year

1. Setting a routine. Start setting a bedtime routine now by getting your child to bed at a certain time. Getting them back in the routine will teach them what is expected of them and help their bodies adjust to the change.

2. Get Excited! Talk to your child about their new classroom, teacher, and/or friends. Ask them what they are excited about most or what they are most nervous about. It's often helpful to focus on making the new school year itself exciting by asking about books or classes (instead of things like clothes or material objects).

3. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare. Read through any information that you receive right away and do your shopping promptly so that things aren't crazy the day before school starts. Go through school supplies and/or clothes and purge old things to keep it simple. Help your child find a special space for them to do their homework. They can make this space their own with a cork board, bulletin board, and supplies.

4. Provide your child with realistic expectations. Think ahead about what you want your child's school year to be like. What do you need to do to make sure that happens? Setting clear expectations ahead of time will provide your children with ample time to prepare. Of course, consistency is key! So, start thinking now about what you want the school week to look like and what you need to make sure it happens. What are the usual problem areas? If mornings are normally crazy, waking up earlier might be the answer. Perhaps your child is old enough now to start taking out their own breakfast or utensils. Are there any modifications you can make to help them help themselves (such as moving the plates to a lower cabinet)?

Enjoy these special days. Although the first days back to school are filled with mixed emotions, they won't last forever and one day we will miss these special times! Take pictures and tell your child how you feel! Don't forget, enjoy the moments!!

Monday, August 20, 2012

How to Enjoy Playing with Your Child

The most important and valuable thing to a child is playing. It is how they learn, discover, and enjoy the world. But playing does not come easy to many adults so if you get bored playing legos after 30 seconds don’t feel guilty….but don’t pick up your cell phone to check your messages either!
There are times when playing is work (and just something you have to do as a parent) These are the times when hearing your child play the same song on their piano 55 times is utterly agonizing! However, as parents we must put on our happy face and pretend that what they are playing is beautiful.  Having a sense of humor in these situations and will get you through the agony but here are also times when we can learn to find enjoyment in playing with our children…Here’s how..

      Music can help pass time and add some enjoyment to your activity. Put on some happy music and dance around while you play with your child. Be cautious about putting on the t.v because this will change your focus to something other than spending time with your child.

      Think about this...How do you feel when you are doing something you enjoy and someone notices and asks you about it? You feel good, right? So does your child! Playing is a great opportunity to learn about your child. Ask him or her to tell you their favorite color, favorite train, why they like what they are playing, or if they can teach you something about their activity. Show that you're interested in them.

      What activities did you enjoy as a kid? What hobbies do you enjoy now that could be transformed to be kid friendly? Whether you enjoy fashion, running, or cooking…find a way to make it a fun activity to do with your child...chances are they will start liking it too.

4.    BE REALISTIC ABOUT WHAT YOUR CHILD CAN DO AT HIS/HER AGE. I remember trying to read books to my first child when she was a baby as she squirmed out of my arms and I felt so discouraged and thought she would never read with me.  I also remember trying to teach her to play Candyland as she was doing somersaults (clearly she was too young!). Pay attention to your child’s ability to participate in an activity and know when to throw in the towel. Just because a game says that it is for kids ages 3+ does not mean that your child is ready and capable.

5.     GIVE A CHOICE. If you ask a child if they want to play a game while they have a choice to watch a t.v show, they will probably say they would rather watch a show. I often tell my daughter that she can finish watching her show-then it will be play time with Mommy. Remember to act excited and be present. If you need to, set a timer and guard your time with your child from checking facebook statuses, talking to a friend or watching t.v...these are things that can wait until later!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Tattletale Child

Every child is different and special. Some children tend to be trouble makers, some are quiet, some are loud, some are inflexible expect perfection, while others tattletale.  Every child has different abilities and different personalities that make them unique and special.  If we learn to channel each child's personality to be a gift instead of a problem then we can teach them to be resilient and successful.
The tattletale child can be challenging because they appear to be the one always bringing light to problems.  When a child is constantly worrying about other children's problems and "tattletaling" it's helpful to simply say, "That's not your worry".  This allows the child to stay focused on playing or minding their own business.  Another way to help this child is to channel their desire to be a leader and give them responsibilities such as helping to clean or organize things.  Also, teach them what situations are an emergency that requires adult intervention and what issues should be left alone.  Being a leader is a good thing but children often need help learning when it's appropriate to lead and when it's better to stay focused on their own activities.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

QTAYK: Would You Rather...

Get to know more about your child's interests by playing a game of "Would you rather..."  Here are some questions to get you started...

Would you rather be a firefighter or a policeman when you grow up?
Would you rather eat a fried Oreo cookie or a fried pickle?
Would you rather live in the North Pole or Hawaii?

If your kids are older...
Would you rather be blind or deaf?
Would you rather be 4'5" or 7'5"?
Would you rather be the worst player on the best team or the best player on a great team?

Get creative and ask as many questions as you like then encourage them to ask you questions!
Have fun!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

ADD Single Mom

Here I sit on a Saturday morning in a quiet house.  The kids are with their Dad and I slept til 9am and woke up on my own without anyone crying or asking me to get something for them.  Pretty nice actually.  Then I start my morning-walk the dog, get coffee, and then things start to go crazy.  As I walk through my house from one room to another I seriously think of 5,000 things I am going to do with the 5 hours I have to myself today.  I'm in a bit of a transition right now.  I am starting a new life on my own and really want to create the best life possible for myself and my kids.  But litterally a million things are going through my head at every given second.  Life is crazy sometimes! Well, better get back to that to do list!!

Friday, August 10, 2012

You don't have to like it-you just have to eat it!

We sat down to dinner tonight and my daughter says, "I don't like this kind of cheese." I responded, "That's ok. You don't have to like it, you just have to eat it." She paused, looked at me and ate the pizza.  It made me think about how we are raising our kids in this day and age.  Are they under the belief that they do have to like everything? Where do we draw the line?
OK, I'm a martial artist so I guess I can be a little tough but the question remains, how many things in life do you HAVE to do as an adult that you DON'T enjoy?  I can name about 10 off the top of my head.  I don't like drinking water.  I don't like running on the treadmill.  Cleaning the house sucks.  Let me tell you how fun the laundry is!?
My daughter asks me to put chocolate in her milk and gives me a hard time when I give her water to drink.  So, how can we raise children who don't think that they must ENJOY everything?  How do we raise them to understand that life isn't easy...but it is rewarding if we try hard?
Children always want things that are pleasing to them...don't we all?! And of course we would rather have ice cream than brocolli if we have the choice.  But raising children to understand that we must do things we don't like is essential to building resiliancy and character.  What are some ways that you can teach your child to "get er done" when life hands them undesirable circumstances?

Friday, August 3, 2012

QTAYK: Summer Olympics

Questions to Ask Your Kids....

I'm starting a new series called Questions to Ask your Kids.  Today's questions are about the Olympics...What sport would you compete if you could be in the Olympics? How long do you think they train every day? Where is the Olympics taking place? Where is London? How long would it take to get to London? Who's the youngest Olympian?

When these questions spark curiosity and great conversations with your little are some more great things to look at with your kids...

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Most Important Thing You Can Do as a Parent

Cook a healthy dinner? Nope.  Give time outs? Nope.  The single most important thing you can do as a parent is to wake up earlier than your children and meditate, exercise, or listen to some music.  If you do this, all the other things you want to do as a parent will fall into place.  Take some time for yourself.  I know, I know you've heard it a million times but I have a new way for you to think about it!  I recently read a children's book about self care.  The book is about a grandfather who teaches his grandson that he should picture a bucket of water on top of his head and to never let it get empty.  The boy imagines a bucket over his head and every time something good happens he gets drops of water in his bucket.  Every time something bad happens drops of water pour out of his bucket.  The lesson here is to take care of yourself!  So, how can you keep your bucket from getting empty?
Start each day with some self love and give yourself a full bucket to start your day.  Even if you look at a picture like this beautiful castle and let your mind drift to that will be filling your bucket. Finally, think about what you want to happen that day and how you're going to make it happen.  Make a plan.  If you don't want to take this time for yourself, think of the value you will be teaching your children!

**If you are interested in learning more about the children's book mentioned above...go to my Amazon Store (on my home page) and click on How full is My Bucket on the last page of items.  The book is $9.95 and also makes a great gift!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

What is Contentment Parenting?

We live in a society where we are rarely happy with contentment. We find ourselves in the habit of wanting our senses to always be pleased by sweetness instead of water. We find ourselves wanting a flat screen 3D, high definition t.v with impeccable audio (and of course 300 channels to choose from!) What happened to our phones being used only as a way to call one another? What happened to buying a simple coffee for .65 cents?
Today, we can find a cell phone application that will almost wipe our tush after we use the bathroom!! Have we gone too far over the top? What can we do to keep ourselves and our children grounded?

Perhaps the answer is in the word contentment? If we truly engage in the simple pleasures in life, than we need the fancy things far less often. Appreciating the nourishment that water gives us for example, will allow us to appreciate life's simple pleasures instead of being disappointed when we can't have the 'special treats'. When we choose to find more joy in the extravagant things over the simple things, we start habits of entitlement often leaving to let downs and frustration.
In addition, these habits don't teach our children to be flexible and resilient when life gives them obstacles.

Here are some simple pleasures I am learning to appreciate in my life today...

My husband's employment

What simple pleasures have you overlooked today?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The IPP Strategy for Keeping Your Cool

We've all been there. You're brushing your daughter's hair and she yells "MOM! You're HURTING me!"

Being a parent requires so much patience and sometimes we just don't feel like we can take another minute of crying, whining, or arguing! But the truth can! Really. Parents often yell or walk away when faced with these challenging situations. We often rationalize our own behaviors by saying something to ourselves like, "well, at least I didn't get physically aggressive" or "well, I didn't do what my parents would have done" But, this kind of thinking can lead us down the wrong path. We need to expect more from ourselves as parents and teach our children that there are ways to handle situations which don't involve yelling or walking away. Once we make the commitment to change our ways we can make it happen...truly you can. Here's how.
Identify. Identify the problem and say it in your head. Here's an example. "The problem is she will not finish her homework."
Pivot. Ask yourself what another solution is to the problem. If the problem is that your child will not finish her homework, maybe the answer could be...
1. Setting a timer. Allow your child to continue to work until the timer goes off. Often this creates a different element in which the child becomes responsible on her own and eliminates you as the middle man (which is often necessary).
2. Taking a break. Sometimes our children need a break to get something to eat or re-energize.
3. Using humor. Using humor can often transform a stressful situation. Ask your child to "turn things around" by standing up and turning around and starting the homework over again (I guarantee kids think this is funny!)
Take Pride. Every time that you catch yourself using these techniques successfully allow yourself to feel good about it. Remind yourself what a good job you're doing and give yourself a little pat on the back!
Remember you are a good parent! Do you know how I know your a good parent? You are a good parent because you are reading this (which means you care!) Many parents do not want to take the time to evaluate their role in these situations and try to place the blame elsewhere. If you put these tricks in your back pocket you will be on the road to a more positive, patient, and cooperative relationship with your children!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Avoiding Conflicts: How to Listen to your Chidlren

If you want to unlock the door to communication with your child, the most important thing to do is to listen to them.  How do you feel when you go to a work meeting and you leave feeling like no one REALLY heard what you said? Frustrating, right? How do you feel when you write a To Do list for your husband and it doesn't even get read? I'm willing to bet you feel angry, let down, and confused.  This is how our children feel when they're unable to express their feelings or ask for what they need.
The number one cause of disruptive behavior among children is the feeling that they are not being heard (which is often just a case of being misunderstood).  For example, Charlie is learning to tie his shoes (this is an important goal to him) and every time he tries to do it himself his mom hurries him out the door and gets mad at him because he's taking too long.  This is a very common example of how kids and adults aren't on the same page causing friction for everyone.

If we set up a good communication system with our children, then we will build a solid foundation for the future.  If we TRULY take the time to listen to our children then we will find out what is really important to them and how to help them be confident, happy, and even understand our rules-leading to more cooperation.  In addition, if we take the time to listen to our children they will take the time to listen to us.

Here are a few ways to show your children you're listening...

1.  Get down on their level.  Kneel or sit on the floor  until your eyes are level with their eyes.  This will show them that you aren't just an authoritative figure (meanie) but that you truly care.

2.  Repeat their message Say things like, "I think what you're saying is that you don't think your teacher is fair.  Is that correct?"

3.  Take time and be present.  Put down your phone, resist cleaning the bathroom, and be engaged in THEIR world.  Children can tell when your mind is elsewhere!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Quality Time with Our Children

I called my friend the other day to chit chat and she told me that she couldn't talk at the moment because she had promised her son that she would play choo choo with him.  This made me wonder, how many people prioritze quality time with their children? I admit, there have many times that I've taken that call when I should have been playing with my daughter.
Here's the thing.  We spend most of your time cleaning the house so our children have a clean home, working so we can pay the bills to keep a nice home for our children, paying bills so the electric is on, and cooking so our children have healthy food to eat.  It can seem to us that we are spending all our time helping our children but young children are not capable of understanding the big picture.  Instead, they only understand the quality time we spend with them.  If you're clever you can combine some of these tasks with spending time with your children such as making the grocery store fun and having them participate or allow them to "help" clean (even if they are making it more challenging) but whatever you do...don't forget to spend quality time with them....water the plants.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Reinvented Mom

Yes, I am a single mom.  I hesitate to use that term because it sounds as though I am completely on my own and the truth is my husband and I have shared custody and he is paying child support so I am not raising the children on my own....but I'm not really sure what else to call myself.  I guess I could call myself a happier mom or a reinvented mom.  Of course I am "Toni" before I am "Mom" so really I don't want any label. 
My husband and I separated at the end of April.  The road has been challenging but fortunately my kids are young enough that they don't understand anything and can't take things personally (Jacklyn will be one next week and Sienna is almost 3 and a half).  I have been blessed with a wonderful support system-great friends, family, a great therapist, and a wonderful church.  I don't hesitate to use these resources when I need them because I know there will come a day when I cam give back to them in their time of need.
The hardest part for me about the separation was setting up the support payments through the state (not because he didn't pay-because I want control over my finances) and agreeing on a schedule for the kids custody.  Also, since I'm a stay at home mom, it can get pretty lonely and challenging when I have the children for 3 or 4 days straight without a break and also taking over the finances that my husband was taking care of since we've been married. Oh, and those damn drop off's and pick ups can really be challenging!! 
Well, I'm learning to navigate through those obstacles by using my resources.  My neighbor is a mommy's helper who is home for the summer and comes over to help me and my friends and family have been a great help as well.  I basically have the goal of being happy 70% of the time and let myself off the hook when I'm dwelling on issues too much.  It has only been 2 and a half months so I'm still in a big transition period.
At first it was so hard when the girls weren't here and I couldn't kiss their heads while they were sleeping at night but I've learned to really appreciate the moments I spend with them that perhaps I was taking advantage of before.
Life is different, for sure, but everyone has "crap" (it just looks different!)  I can either dwell on the crap and feel sorry for myself or I can reinvent my life and take responsibility for the crap I bring to the table (and I do bring crap to the table!)  So, don't feel sorry for me.  I am doing good and learning a new way of life which on most days I find exciting.  I will keep you posted on how things are going!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

How to Raise a Thinker

We consistantly tell our kids what to do and to some extend that's our job, right? Well, what if we're doing them a diservice by telling them too much and not asking them enough?  Here are some ways you can replace your statements with questions that will encourage them to develop problem solving skills at times.
Instead of "Please make your bed!" ask "What should you be doing?"
Instead of "Don't talk to your sister that way!" ask "I'm not sure why you are talking to your sister that way?
Instead of "Tell that kid not to speak to you that way!" ask "What do you think is a good way to resolve this?"
Instead of "Share your toys!"  ask "Do you think Shelly likes it when your playing this way?"
Instead of "Always listen to your teacher!" ask "What do you think you could have done differently?"
Instead of "You need to get better grades!" ask "What can we do differently next time?  Lets make a plan."