Parenting and Time Outs


It goes by a million names. “Time out”, “Go to your room”, “stand in the corner”, “sit in the time out chair”… The list goes on and on. What ever phrase you use to send your child away when they are misbehaving is what we are talking about.

About 30+ years ago, in an attempt to get parents to step away from spanking, “time out” was introduced. The goal was to have children sit in time out, so that they weren’t getting parental interaction and so they could take time to work through what they were upset about. It is now a common parenting practice that when children disobey, start to cause problems, and refuse to listen, that we send them away to be alone, in a time out.

But, The next time you are ready to send your children to a time out, take a minute to think about a few things. Time outs aren’t nearly as helpful as we think they are. Nor do they strengthen our relationships with our kids or teach them long term skills that are helpful as adults. (Now, don’t misunderstand, there are obviously times when distance and space is necessary, but here are a few things to think about. A new perspective.)

First, when we send our kids to time out, we are sending a message that how they feel doesn’t matter. We are telling them we don’t care about how they feel, we want them to shut their feelings off and go away.

Second, sending kids to time out sends a message that you want your children to get away from you. (I know, sometimes we really do feel this way, but…) This message says “I don’t care about you, please leave.” Our children need to feel love and when we send them away, the last thing they feel is love.

Lastly, time outs don’t teach our children to deal with their problems. By sending them to be on their own, they don’t get any help learning how to manage their feelings and emotions. By acting out, it shows they already don’t know how to handle how they are feeling and the situation they are dealing with. Sending them to time out doesn’t help them learn to manage anything.

This might sound silly, but let me suggest an alternative to a “time out”. It is time for a “Time In.”

What is a “time in”? A “time in” is gathering your child into your arms and giving them a big hug, instead of sending them away. When their behavior is horrible, when they start throwing a fit, or they hit, or they won’t listen, instead of sending them to their rooms, go to them, get down on their level, and  gather them up in your lap and hold them. Just sit and hold them. As you wrap your arms around them, let them experience the feelings. Let them be angry or sad. And let them say what they want to say.

How are you going to hug a child that is causing so much trouble? Entertain a new perspective…Maybe they are throwing a fit, or talking back. But think of it this way. Instead of getting angry, think… my child must be really really upset to be acting out this way. They must be hurting in some way. Distraught in some way to be willing to throw the fit and talk back. So instead of sending them away, realize that they are in some sort of distress and are just asking, in fact yelling, for help. Simply changing our perspective will make us want to keep our children near instead of sending them away.

Imposing a “time in” will show your child how much you love them. It teaches them you want to be connected and care about how they are feeling. It also gives you an opportunity to teach them how to deal with their emotions and feelings.

Now, it might not work right away. You might try to hug or hold your child and they pull away, or fight or yell “don’t touch me”. That is okay. It will take time for your child to accept this new practice also. Don’t quit. Stay close to your child, and express “you are having a hard time right now aren’t you. That is okay, let me hold you and we can talk about it.”

Remember that as you are working through a “time in” with your child, they will have a hard time expressing themselves for fear it might get them in trouble. Be open to their true thoughts and allow them to be honest. The more they push you away, the more they need you to stay close. Just continue to stay as close as they will let you and ensure them that you won’t leave them alone, feeling this way.

SO… the next time you are ready to call for a time out, STOP, don’t send them away. Instead, wrap your arms around your child, hold them close and give him/her a minute to regroup, feel loved and understood, and start over. Let the love pour out over them and watch their behavior change. In fact, you will see much greater and more successful results by disciplining with “time in’s” than “time outs”.

When it comes to discipline, love will always prevail.

When was the last time your child was misbehaving and you gave them a big hug instead of getting mad at them?

Do you think it would be hard to use “time in’s” instead of “time out’s”?

Have a question or just want to say hello.

Parenting Mistakes We All Make and How to Avoid Them

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It is really easy to blame our children’s negative behavior on our children. And there are times when their behavior is not a result of something we have done. But… there are also lots, and lots and lots of times when their negative behavior is actually a response to our parenting through some common Parenting Mistakes. Yes, it’s hard to digest, but we actually bring out the misbehavior. We actually bring out the behavior we say we don’t like. Yikes, that is tough to consider. SO, in order to make family life that much better, and if you want to see major improvement in your children’s behavior, avoid these patenting mistakes.


Stop the … Paranoid Parenting

Not doubt that there is a lot of negative and horrible things in the world. Many things that could harm and hurt our children. As parents we need to watch over and protect them, but being paranoid is not a good parenting approach. Obsessively controlling our children will not make the world more safe. Constantly worrying about dangers that “could” happen only makes our children afraid. In fact, the tighter the reins we put on our children, makes the more anxious and less confident. It can also make them feel so controlled that they rebel.

Do you hear yourself saying, “Don’t touch that!” “Don’t go over there!” Stay right next to me!” “Don’t do that!” “Don’t go too far!”, “Stay close!, Stop!?

If you are saying these things All. The. Time, it needs to stop. Today’s generation of kids is more paranoid than any other. As parents we need to relax, and let our children deal with life. It is important not to pass our fears on to our kids. Constantly reminding our children of all the dangers in the world is not a good way to parent.

I have been guilty of this. Sometimes more than others. I especially run into this when something horrible happens. A few years ago there was a deadly mall shooting about 40 miles from where we live. My poor kids. They couldn’t even let go of the shopping cart at the grocery store. In fact, if I recall, I made all three of them at the time, get IN the cart. Just so I had them all close. When I watch the local news too much, I become so paranoid I am sure my kids feel like they can’t even breath. Paranoid parenting undermines a child’s ability to make their own decisions with confidence. Not a good way to go about raising kids.

Stop the …. Best Friend Parenting

Kids need parents who set rules and boundaries and don’t muddy the line between parent/adult and friend.  Remember we are their parents, the time to be friends will come later in life when they are grown adults. We need to stop avoiding making the unpopular decisions because we want our kids to “like us.” And stop avoiding disciplining our kids because we don’t want them to resent us. If you want spoiled children, seek to be their “best friend.” If you want kids who are secure, resilient, compassionate and responsible, be a parent.

Set clear limits and boundaries, and be in control. Our children need moms and dads, not best buddies. They will find those at school.

Stop the … Do Everything for them Parenting

Do you solve every one of your child’s problems? Do you finish their homework for them and do their school projects? Are you always swooping in to rescue? Do you finish their sentences and micromanage their lives? Do you answer for them when people ask them questions?

This parenting practice teaches kids to be dependent their entire lives. They grow up to be unprepared to handle life’s difficulties. Kids raised with this parenting technique have trouble developing self-reliance, problem solving and decision making. They also tend to avoid responsibility.

The goal is to be involved, lead, and teach. But not intrude, take over, or do it for them. Then your child can develop independence and live on their own one day.

Stop the … Quick Fix Parenting

Remember last time when you were at Super Target and your child threw a temper tantrum. So instead of leaving the cart and removing your child from the situation, you bribed your child with an ICEE and bag of popcorn? Maybe even a new toy. It fixed the situation that day, but in the long run it will make things worse. We are all guilty of quick fix parenting. We find ourselves willing to do anything, as long as it works right now. We warn, we threaten, and we give in.

Being tired, stressed, and over scheduled can lead to quick fix parenting, as well as being in public. :)

These techniques teach kids to act right…for the wrong reasons. It might be a temporary solution, but never brings lasting change.

We will be most effective as parents, when we take a few minutes to help our children understand what is wrong and make things right.

Stop the … Substitute Parenting

It seems that in this day and age, everything but parents are teaching kids. We are letting someone else parent our children. Media and television. Kids are spending so much time in front of the television, computer, on their phones, and with video games, parents have taken a back seat.

When was the last time you saw a T.V. show you would trust to teach your child? Young children are especially at risk because they believe everything they see and hear.

All this technology means less real time with parents. Technology takes over and as parents we begin to lose power and influence with our children.

This type of parenting makes children vulnerable to outside pressures and teaches them to rely on someone else to guide them, instead of you. They are also more likely to adopt someone else’s values.

As parents, we are the most powerful influence for teaching our children values, attitudes, morales, and appropriate behavior. We need to find more ways to be in our children’s lives. The first place to start, limit technology.

I am guilty on all accounts of the above parenting practices. Some more often than others. But acknowledging I have a problem is the first step, right? Take an honest step back and evaluate when these practices take over your parenting life. And then make a commitment to change some things up. As we eliminate these practices from our families, we will see huge changes in our children’s behaviors and attitudes.

Raise your hand if you have bought ICEE’s and popcorn at Target?

So, which practices are you guilty of? 

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Tips for Communicating with Your Children

Share Your Stories-The Idea Room

We talk to our children on a daily basis. But communication is much more than conversations about schedules, if the chores are done, and sibling conflict. Successful communication involves honesty, feelings and understanding. It means we are having a series of talks. It means that we are starting conversations that continue over weeks, months, even years, to help our children prepare for what they might face, and what life has in store.

Although there are different styles of communication, and each of our children are different, one approach which is universally successful, is communicating by sharing stories about ourselves. By sharing positive stories that help teach our children and help them relate to us. 

When our daughter was 4, she asked me for the first of many stories. After a confusing play date with a friend she came home with lots of questions. As I was trying to help, she stopped and asked, “Mom, did you ever feel like this when you were my age”? I knew at that moment that she needed a story. A situation she could relate to. She needed to know that I understood because I had been there and experienced the same things. I shared with her a time when I had faced the same situation. It provided the understanding she needed. 

Growing up, my dad always told us stories about when he was growing up. He used stories to relate to us, teach us, and inspire us. I LOVED it. I think about his stories often and appreciate that he tells them to our children. They are being passed down through the generations and continue to bond us together through the ages, while teaching and solving problems at the same time. It seems that most, if not all the lessons and principles I was taught as a child, were taught through personal stories.

Now, my husband and I do the same with our children. Our children want to know about us. They want to hear our stories. They find strength in being able to relate to us and find similarities. It is comforting when they can realize that we were kids once too!

We have seen our family relationship strengthen as we have worked harder to weave stories into our conversations and communication. It is a good challenge for all of us.

It is easy as parents, to get preachy when we communicate. To get caught up in telling instead of listening. To try to make our “point” because there is so much more that needs to be done in our day. And to forget that these experiences are new to our children and they need us to be compassionate.  

Think back to your own personal experiences and relate to your children on a new level. 

Tips to having your own “conversations”.

  • Start early. Open the lines of communication when they are very young so they always know you can talk together about everything. Children will be prepared when situations arise and we won’t feel like we are always playing “catch up” with our conversations.
  • Remember, communication is more than just one talk. It is a series of dialogues, an ongoing conversation.
  • Share stories with your family. Focus on sharing positive experiences.
  • Sharing stories about challenges are also great, just be sure you focus on how you overcame the challenge.
  • There is room to talk about mistakes also. Focus on how you fixed the mistake, learned from it, and righted the wrong, more that the actual thing you did wrong.
  • There are some things we don’t need to tell our children. Think twice.

Research suggests that the more children know about their parents and grandparents, especially their successes and failures, the more they are able to overcome setbacks. Start communicating through stories in your home today.

Do you use stories to communicate with your children?

What is a favorite story your parents/grandparents told you when you were younger?
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A Valentine’s Day Story



Our first Valentines Day together was magic. The one you wait for and dream of.

I had clues stashed all around the city. They were located at all the places where we had made significant memories together. First date, first kiss, you know.

My roommate helped me hide the clues. They were big red hearts taped up with red masking tape. They rhymed.

I had ordered his favorite cologne from Germany. A few other things were wrapped and waiting. He was to scour the city following the clues and end up back at my apartment. Dinner was waiting and so was I.

The wait was unbearable. When you are madly in love with someone every minute apart seems like a million years.

I left the door barely cracked open so he could walk right in. Like in the movies. The clues worked and I can still see him walking through the door. He had on my favorite shirt. It was a pink Polo dress shirt. At 6’4″and 220, you can wear pink.

He already knew. He had know for months. He already knew that we would spend forever together. Up to this point, I didn’t know yet.

I knew that I couldn’t breathe without him, but, on the surface we came from very different places.

On the inside we were the same. Our beliefs, our hopes and dreams, we were the same.

As he walked through the door that night, in that moment, I knew too.

He gave me a big hug and kiss. We ate. And then I gave him his cologne. He still has some left. I bought a big bottle and he uses it sparingly. We can’t ever get any more. When he wears it I am immediately taken back to that night.

Then, he gave me a ring. Not a wedding ring. It wasn’t time for that yet. He didn’t know that I “knew.”

It was a beautiful band for my right hand. Three small sapphire baguettes (his birth stone) separated by two small diamonds. It cost him everything he had. He had scrimped and saved. My graduate professor noticed it the next day at school. Or maybe he noticed the giant smile on my face that I couldn’t erase.

Every Valentines Day that memory comes back. The emotions are still tender and real.

We haven’t had a Valentines Day like it since. (They have all been better.)

No scavenger hunts, no dimmed rooms with waiting packages, no pink Polo shirts.

Now, there are five children. First there was one and we took him with us to Valentines Dinner.

Then there were two so we stayed home and I cooked my husbands favorite meal.

Then came three, four, and five.

We eat a special Valentines Dinner the kids will love and cut hearts out of construction paper. There are countdown chains and glue and tape as we make homemade Valentines to be delivered to classmates. There are sugar cookies with pink frosting and too many sprinkles. And a special reading of the Berenstain Bears “Funny Valentine.” followed by the story of “how mommy and daddy met.”

Everyone gets cards. My husband writes in mine. I wait all year to read what he has to say. He knows that. He is really good with cards.

We finish by 6:30 because bed is at 7:00. Teeth are brushed, stories read, more stories read, and our girls usually sleep with their Valentines next to their pillows.

Then my husband and I work to finish dishes, I do laundry and we hope to go to bed early.

On our way to bed we check on the kids again. We straighten them out and cover them back up. We talk about them while we brush our teeth. We talk about how we will get a sitter in a few days and go out just the two of us. The few days usually turns into a few weeks, but we go. It is always special.

Then as I lay in bed I remember THAT Valentines Day. The first one. I am grateful for it. But just as soon as I remember it, it is gone. New memories flood my mind. I KNOW that every Valentines Day since has been better. They have been different but so much better.

Now I really know Valentines Day. Now I really know love. It is our children’s laughter, the crooked red cut out hearts, the messy faces. It is standing by my husband doing the dishes. It is worrying and praying together about up coming decisions. It is being tired from nursing babies. It is trying to juggle schedules and wipe tears (and bottoms). It is the humility I feel when I realize I can do better. It is my husband running into my pregnant round belly and the laughter I just heard from our daughters crib upstairs.

Valentines Day is every day now.

It is every day I get to be a wife and a mother.

It is every day that I get to make our house a home.

It is everyday as I recognize how much love abounds when two people have committed to be together for eternity.

The gifts are different too. Not so much big, shiny or imported. Not just on Valentines Day.The gifts are the kind things we do for one another each and every day.

It is coming home and seeing that my husband has emptied the dishwasher. It is his hard work in supporting our family. It is his listening ear that he willingly shares, even when I tell him the same concern over and over. It is the toothpaste he puts on my toothbrush at night.

The memories are priceless. But that night in my apartment 11 years ago, I thought I had the Valentines Day of my dreams. Little did I know, the best was yet to come.

Now I know what it is like to have a true Valentine. Void of the commercialism, void of gimmicks. My true Valentine and I have a full house and a busy life. Filled with worries and stresses and joy and laughter.

Most of all, my Valentine and I have every day together, filled with love.

I still can’t breath without him. And every minute apart, seems like a million. 

Happy Valentines Day to you and your family.  Be sure you are creating your own Valentine’s Day Story.

Have a question or just want to say hello.

Teaching Children Gratitude


Thanksgiving Heather Johnson

It is the season of Thanksgiving and we have gratitude on our minds. Unfortunately gratitude is not always on our children’s minds. Gratitude doesn’t come naturally to our kids. It is a learned trait, not necessarily something we are born with, and they need our help to develop the skill.  Today I will share some tips for teaching children gratitude.

Aside from all the fun activities, crafts, and service projects we do with our kids this time of year, here are five things we can do year round to help raise more grateful children.
Start saying “NO”.
Giving our children everything they ask for and want, is not going to help them be more grateful. (This is a good thing to remember with Christmas around the corner.)  Have you ever had your child beg you for a new toy? You finally give in, only to have them play with it for a few days and then start begging for something else?
The more we give our kids, the less they appreciate what they have. So cut back! Kids don’t need treats every time we go to the store, or a toy every time they see a commercial on TV advertising something new. Kids need our love and our time and opportunities to learn and grow, not more things. At first it might be hard to say “no.” We need to do it any way. Even if there are temper tantrums and tears. Over time this will help our children come to appreciate what they do have and realize that happiness is not built on getting more “stuff.”
Don’t compare.
Theodore Roosevelt said “Comparison is the thief of Joy”, and he was exactly right. Comparing ourselves to others teaches our kids that we are not grateful for what we have or who we are.
Stop talking about material things. 
It is easy for our conversations to be centered around material possessions.
“I wish we had that new car.”
“We really need a new couch before we have people over.”
“That new shirt will make you look really cute.”
As innocent as the statements sound, when our kids hear us talking about material things all the time, and how we need them, or how they define us or make us look a certain way, it sends them the wrong message. We have to be very careful with what we say.
Always say “Please” and “Thank you”
Raising grateful children is all about being a grateful parent. Do we use good manners? Do we say please and thank you? Do we write thank you notes when someone gives us a gift or serves us? Kids watch everything we do. If we are complaining about what we don’t have, and how we wish we had more, they will feel the same. If we don’t express gratitude, then neither will they.
Don’t spare them work
As much as we didn’t like chores and responsibilities when we were children, work is a necessary part of raising moral children. Instead of sparing them work, we need to give them opportunities to work. We need to stop teaching that work is bad and play is good. They are not opposites of one another. Work teaches us to appreciate what our bodies and minds are capable of. And teaches us to be grateful for what we do have as a result of the effort we put into getting it. Work teaches us to appreciate.
Grateful children are more polite and a lot more fun to be around. They get along with their playmates and have an easier time sharing with others. Grateful adults are empathetic, see other’s perspectives and solid research has found that adults who are grateful are happier all around. Gratitude is a valuable life skill, no matter our age.
This time of year, let’s remember that gratitude is not a seasonal skill. We teach it to our children each and every day of the year.
What toy have you gotten your child after they begged, that they never played with again? (For us, it was a telescope for our son. In two years I think he has only looked through it 3-4 times :(. But he wanted it sooooo bad.)
Is it hard for you to say “No” to your children? Why?
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Tips for Families and Technology


The school year is underway and families are busier than ever. It is hard enough trying to balance all the activities and homework, but throw the constant temptation of technology into the works and finding time to be together as a family can seem almost impossible.

There are two major drains on our families lives these days, the first being the time we spend outside our home. Families are so busy in individual activities, that we are never home to be together.

The second drain that keeps our families from spending time together is technology inside our home. It is inevitable that our homes are filled with technology. It is that day and age. But just because we are all under the same roof, doesn’t mean we are together. Someone is on the computer, someone is watching tv, someone else is on their phone, the list goes on. Technology keeps us from having “Eye Contact” with our family members.

Given that technology isn’t going anywhere, and “iContact” is inevitable, what can we do to ensure that we still have “Eye Contact” with our families?

First we need to make better use of our time. For example, we all need to eat. Well I know I need to eat. :) And everyone in our family needs to eat also. So, make better use of the fact that we are all going to eat dinner, and do it together!

We most likely spend time driving family members to and from activities. Instead of spending that time watching DVD’s and having kids play on smart phones, turn off technology and make better use of the drive time by talking with one another, playing games and having conversations.

There are benefits that will come to our family, that we can’t receive any other way. Unless we put away the technology and make “Eye Contact” with one another.

Now, I know what you are thinking. “But Heather, there is still technology all around us. Can’t “Eye Contact” and “iContact” co-exist”? The answer is yes, but we need to find creative ways to bring the two together so the technology doesn’t hurt our family relationships.

Here are a few ideas.

1. Gather each family members playlist and play music in the background while your family sits down to eat a meal together or as you work together.

2. Establish rules about how much technology your children can consume each day. Then, while they are watching their favorite shows, make it a rule that they have to get up and run around the house, do push ups, jumping jacks, or sit ups, every time a commercial comes on.

3. Create an online scrapbook that everyone in your family can contribute pictures too. It is so easy to upload pictures these days, most of us do it from our phones. Once a month, sit down as a family and have each person explain the pictures they have loaded and talk about all the fun things you have all done over the last 30 days. This is a great way to chronicle your families life and keep pictures organized also.

4. Take your TV and movie watching one step farther. It is very common that during movies, when family members have questions (especially our children), instead of answering them, we “Shhhhhhhhhhsh” them. This immediately tells them the movie or show is more important than they are. So, establish “TV time outs” during the movie. Every 10 minutes, pause the movie and ask if there are any questions. Then talk together. That way all family members know that they are more important than the movie.

5. Use the technology on everyone’s smart phones, computers and iPads to schedule a family activity in everyone’s calendar. Set up reminders so no one forgets. Then when everyone gets together, have them drop their tech into the “tech basket” where it will stay until the family activity is over. Have fun enjoying the activity you planned together, tech free.

6. When your kids ask questions like “what does an Ostrich eat” and you just don’t know the exact answer, whip out your smart phone and teach your child how to look things up. When you have found your answer, sit down together and draw a picture of the Ostrich eating.

7. When you have an upcoming family vacation or trip (or even a family activity), give each person in the family an assignment to research. Someone could be in charge of researching places to stay, while another person can research places to eat, or the best route to take if you are driving. Come together as a family to report your findings. Talk about all the options, and plan the trip together. Making sure to not let the tech takeover once you are on vacation.

8. Technology is a great way to stay connected to family, extended family, and friends. Establish a time when you come together as a family to skype or google hangout with loved ones. Before you start, sit down together and talk about all the fun things you want to share and any questions you want to ask while you chat. When the call is over, turn off the computer and talk about all the fun things you learned from the conversation. Take it a step farther and write a letter or put together a care package for that person. It will make their day.

9. Use online resources to research your ancestors. Make connections with family members and do genealogy. If time and money permit, plan a trip to visit some family sites and family members. If you can’t physically visit, no problem, use your new found knowledge to create a family tree to hang on your wall. Or gather pictures of ancestors and create a collage in frames as a reminder of where your family came from.

Technology has the power to take over our families lives. Draining us of the most important relationships we have, the ones we develop with our families. Nothing is as powerful as “Eye Contact”, but when we carefully and creatively combine “Eye Contact” with “iContact”, the two can co-exist to enhance our family relationships.

How do you use technology to strengthen your family?

How do you make sure technology doesn’t take over your family time?



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Helping Kids Deal with Back-To-School Stress


Stress of School

Whether your children are in public school, private school, charter school, or homeschool, a new school year can stress out our children.

Unlike adults, kids don’t understand they are feeling stress, or know how to handle it like adults do. In fact, because of their lack of life experiences, they really don’t even understand they are feeling stress.

As parents, it is easy to miss our children’s stress cues. We can mistake signs of stress from our children for defiance and misbehavior. 

The most common signs of stress are…

Increase in crying, throwing fits and temper tantrums

Unwilling to do anything or try anything



Lack of Patience



Lots of crying


Behavior that is out of the ordinary

Trouble sleeping

Back to school stress can come from many sources, but the two main sources of stress for our children are unfamiliar situations (like a new school class or when a parent goes out of town) and pressure to perform (such as school tests, social pressures and extracurricular competition). All children feel pressure. Even our little ones. Pressure to share their toys, eat all their food and go to sleep. Both of these sources are very prevalent at the start of a new school year. There is so much uncertainty. I know that uncertainty can stress me out. Why wouldn’t we assume the same happens to our children.
As parents, it is our job to help our children not only deal with the stress, but to also help them recognize what they are feeling so they can start learning how to handle it. 

Here are a number of ways we can help as the new school year gets underway. 

1. Start with Ourselves

When we are stressed out, we pass that on to our families. Did you know that children who are constantly surrounded by stress are more likely to be overweight, and even small babies sense and respond negatively to our stress. We have to evaluate our own lives, make sure we are not over scheduled, get control of our stress and set a good example. Plus, our kids learn from us. They learn how to handle stress by watching US handle stress. What are we teaching them?

2. Give them a Voice

Our children do not understand what stress is. They are limited in their life experiences and knowledge. They don’t always understand what they are feeling, or what to call the emotions they experience because often times, they have never felt them before. It is our job as parents to help them. We need to give them a voice, give them words to express their emotions and help them understand the frustration that overtakes them.

Compare this concept to a time when you have been sick. I know for me, when I head to the doctor, I don’t want something to be wrong, BUT, having a diagnosis makes me feel better. It lessens the stress.

It is the same with our children. We need to give them a diagnosis. Not only will this help them as they experience the stress, but, as they have more experiences, they will be able to pinpoint their own emotions.

3. Role Play

Unknown situations bring stress. Instead of sending our kids into situations blind, take time to act out and discuss situations before they happen. This will help our children feel much more prepared and giving them knowledge will lessen their fears and stress. Take time to role play situations. That way, when they are in the unknown situation it will be like auto response and they will have more confidence in what they should do and say. This is one of the best ways to lessen the stress of a new school year. Talk about and role play all the new experiences our kids are going to face before they encounter them.

4. See their perspective

Consider how we feel when we are stressed. Now imagine being little, with limited understanding and experiences. On top of that, having very little control. If we will put ourselves in their shoes just for a minute we will quickly have sympathy for their situation and be more understanding and patient with their behavior.

5. Listen

Our kids need to talk to us. Not all children are ready to talk at the same pace. We need to be there, ready, whenever they are ready to talk. When our children know they are heard, it relieves stress.

6. Eliminate

Children should really only have one or two extra curricular activities. They don’t have to do it all. And parents shouldn’t be over-scheduled either. Even if our kids want to do a million things, it is too much for them to handle. More importantly we need to make sure they have time to play, to create, to imagine, and to spend time with our family.

7. Be Active Together

It has been shown that exercise helps us handle stress. The same applies for children. But when kids are always in front of technology, that doesn’t leave a lot of time to be active. Get moving together as a family and watch everyone’s stress melt away.

8. Go To Bed

Possibly one of the most important ways to help our children deal with the stress of a new school year, and even avoid it, is to make sure they get enough sleep. Everything is worse when we are tired and life is much harder to deal with. Make sure kids get enough sleep. Get them on a schedule and make it a priority.

Stress is apart of our lives and our children’s lives. A new school year can bring out the worst. Helping our children now will not only lessen the stress they experience as children, but also teach them the tools they need to handle stress as they grow too.

How do you help your children deal with stress?


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11 Tips For Taking the Stress Out of Family Vacations

*** Be sure you share your favorite family vacation destination with us in the comments.*** 

Tis the season for Family Vacations! And although we look forward to them and they are a lot of fun, they are also stressful and a lot of work.

As mothers and women, family vacations tend to feel less like a vacation and more like work, than play.

Here are 11 tips to help take the stress out of your vacations and make them more enjoyable for everyone.

Take your time.

Rushing causes stress,and stress ruins vacations and raises tempers. Be prepared so you don’t have to rush to the airport. Give yourself enough time to get to new destinations in your travel city. Don’t over schedule your vacation time.

Be willing to take breaks.

Although it sounds good to drive all 14 hours non-stop, sometimes it is better to break up the travel. Let go of the notion that you have to do it all in one day. Too many hours in the car makes kids (and adults) a little crazy. Stop every few hours and let the kids stretch their legs, have a snack, and even play at the park for a half hour. It will be worth the rejuvenation.

Have reasonable expectations.

In our minds, family vacations are all roses and rainbows. We see it working out so perfectly. Making memories and taking pictures. Laughing and sharing time together. But… the reality is that most family vacations have arguments, crying babies, and lack of compromise. We need to have reasonable expectations. Just because we are on vacation doesn’t mean that all of a sudden every family member is going to turn into a perfect saint.

When possible, leave the work behind.

Try to get things in order so you, and even your spouse, can leave the work behind. That way, you can more fully enjoy your family’s time together. If you can’t leave the work behind, set aside scheduled time to handle it each day, so you can enjoy the rest of the vacation and experiences.

Be prepared

It might mean that you have to pack a little more, prepare a little more, and prepare a little sooner, but take what you need. Don’t leave things behind if they are going to make your trip more enjoyable, or help you manage situations. If you think you need the extra wipes and diapers, take them. If you want the floating tubes in case you go to a pool, then pack the tubes.

Recognize your childrens limits.

It is easy to push our children too far on vacations, and then we wonder why they are acting up. Just like us, our children have limits. 10 museums in one day would push anyones limits. Mix in a park or something that your children choose to do. And, work to keep meals and even naps as regular as possible.

Make Time to exercise

There is something about just a few minutes to ourselves that is very rejuvenating. Schedule in a few minutes for you to exercise each day you are on vacation. It will help you take care of everyone else, and yourself.

Don’t be surprised.

You know your brother is going to make the silly joke about the guy you dated in high school. You also know that your uncle is only going to want to play golf the entire vacation. Instead of being surprised about how family vacations go, just accept it. Love your family and extended family anyway, and don’t be surprised by the situations that arise. They are most likely the exact same situations that have been happening for years.

Talk about expectations.

Everyone goes on vacation with expectations. My husband expects that we are all up early, out exploring. My expectations are that I might actually get more than 4 hours of sleep in the same night, and be able to relax for a few days. Our kids expect lots of running and playing. If you don’t talk about these expectations before hand, no one will be satisfied.

Remember it is worth it.

Regardless of the stress and work, family vacations are where our children learn values, build identity, learn to adapt and negotiate new situations, make memories, and that is just the beginning. The hard work, packing and patience is all worth it.

Have a say in the planning.

If you are going with other families or extended family, speak up. You know what is best for your family. And it is okay to voice that opinion.

With a little planning, we can turn our family vacations into the wonderful experiences they were meant to be.

What is your very best tip for surviving family vacation?

If you could go anywhere for a family vacation, where would you want to go?


Have a question or just want to say hello.

Age Appropriate Chores For Kids

It’s time once again for Heather Johnson from Family Volley to share some of her amazing Parenting Tips as part of her “Parenting Tips Series” here on The Idea Room. Here’s Heather in her own words teaching us about teaching our kids to work and gives us a list of some age appropriate chores to get us started.


*Image found on Google Images. Original found here.

Society implies that success is having all you want, without having to work to get it.

It is true, play sounds more fun. But the idea that work is bad, and play is good is not what we want to preach in our homes. Work and play are meant to compliment one another, not be opposites. As parents, we have a divine obligation to teach our children to work. Raising moral children means teaching them to work.

Getting our kids to work can be hard and frustrating. It is usually the last thing kids want to do. But we do them a disservice by “protecting” them from work and responsibilities.

When it comes to teaching your kids to work, remember…

  • We need to have a good attitude. Speaking ill of work, or whining about it, will teach our children that work is miserable and bad. Keep the negative feelings to yourself.
  • Make work fun. It doesn’t have to be miserable. Turn on some music, make it a game, chat and talk while you’re working.
  • Work together. You don’t have to do the work for your children, but you can be with them as they are working. And remember, they learn by example, so working together gives you a great opportunity to teach them how things are done. How else will they learn?
  • Teach children to serve others. Provide your children with opportunities to serve outside your home and see the needs of others. Service teaches children to work. Then, help our children understand that family life is filled with needs. We want our children to see those needs and step up to fulfill them because it is the right thing to do. 
  • Don’t expect perfection. Accept the best job your child can do and thank them for their service. Even if you have to re-do some of the work. Be grateful and happy for the work they did.
I often get questions about what “work” is appropriate for our children. Here is some suggestions of age appropriate responsibilities for our kids. Keep in mind that each of our children are different. Do what is best for your child. This list is not all encompassing. Add or take away according to your child’s abilities. 
2-3 Years
Dress themselves
Pick up/put away toys
Unload the silverware in the dishwasher
Collect dirty clothes/separate by color
Straighten pillow and sheets on bed
Wash walls
Wipe down glass tables. Wipe down chairs.
4-5 Years
All Previous responsibilities, plus…
Load/unload plastic dishes and silverware in the dishwasher
Set the table
Clean Windows
Wipe down sinks
Fold kitchen dish towels
Fold Towels
Clear the table
Make Bed
Match Socks
Water plants
Empty Garbage cans
Straighten Room
6-8 Years
All previous responsibilities, plus…
Clean the bathroom (wipe down sinks, toilets, mirror, tub)
Learn to do laundry (help hang and fold)
Rake Leaves
Mix, stir, simple meal prep
Keep room clean
9-11 Years
All previous responsibilities, plus…
Take the garbage out
Wash clothes
Wash Car
Help care for pets
Iron Clothes (closer to 11 yrs.)
Mow Lawn
Straighten drawers and closet
Help siblings with their jobs and homework questions 
12-14 Years
All previous responsibilities, plus…
Scrub the bathroom
Mop the floor
Make meals
Clean the fridge/freezer
Clean the garage
15-18 Years
All previous responsibilities, plus…
Drive a car and get their license
Handle a checking account
Have a cell phone (pay for it?)
Have a job
Fill out college applications

Have a question or just want to say hello.
heather johnson

Family “New Year” Resolutions

It’s time once again for Heather Johnson from Family Volley as part of her “Parenting Tips” here on The Idea Room. Here’s Heather in her own words.



What a wonderful time of year. Hopefully your homes have been filled with family, togetherness, and the spirit of the season.

It is also a time of year for renewal and re-commitment. New Years Resolutions aren’t just for us as individuals, they are for families too!

There are lots of approaches for making family resolutions. One that is always fun, is to choose a theme. This could be a key word (such as service, love, kindness, or organization.)

You can also choose a motto, quote, or a saying that represents a focus your family would like to have for the upcoming year.

Or you can choose a weakness that your family would like to make a strength. Let that be your focus for the year, and create a few resolutions focused around that strength.

When you are ready to establish some resolutions, gather the entire family together. It is much more powerful to make the decisions together and have the input of the entire family. Plus, when everyone is involved in the decision making, they will be much more likely to commit and follow through. They will take ownership because they had a say.

Then, start by focusing on all of the things your family did well during the last year. If you have a white board, or even just a piece of paper, write all the strengths down for everyone to see. This is an important step. Remember, you are focusing on the family as a whole. Don’t start pointing out individual weaknesses of family members.

Then, once you have built your family up, start talking about what you would like to focus on and change. A good place to start, have everyone in the family suggest a weakness they see your family has, and/or something they would like to see different or changed, or do more of. 

Take a vote and have everyone weight in and narrow the suggestions down to two or three. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Choosing 20 resolutions for your family is setting yourselves up for failure.

Once you have chosen your 2-3 resolutions, establish the details. It isn’t just about the goals. You also need to establish how you will reach your goals.

The last step during your resolution setting meeting, is to schedule follow up family meetings. Your family should sit down each month and evaluate how the resolutions are going.

If you are not sure what resolutions would be good for your family. Here are three that every family should implement this year, and every year.

1. Commit to eat dinner together at least 5 days a week. I recognize that this may seem like a lofty charge, but eating together has benefits beyond belief. For starters, children who eat dinner together with their families are less likely to get involved in drugs and alcohol. They also get better grades, are more adjusted, and better able to handle stress and disappointment. That alone, is a great reason. On top of that, research shows that around the dinner table is where families used to teach morals and values. But now that families eat together less, where are children learning these skills? They aren’t. They are learning from television. We need to gather our children back around our own tables to reconnect and teach.

If dinner doesn’t work for your family, try breakfast. If 5 times is more than you can do, then do what you can.

2. Plan one family activity each week. It is true, families that play together, stay together. Family activities provide opportunities for families to bond in a non threatening environment. These activities also provide families opportunities to develop adaptation and negation skills. Don’t just talk about it. Put it on the calendar. Schedule it into your life just like your other obligations to ensure that it will happen. Consider it the most important event on your calendar each week.

3. Work together. Family work is vital. It is key to raising moral children. Instead of keeping our children from work, rally together and work together each week. It can be household work, yard work, or a project that you choose specifically for this resolution. Regardless of the task, do it together. You will be amazed at how it strengthens.

Don’t just sit down and plan out your personal resolutions for 2013. Take some time to create resolutions for your family also, and watch 2013 be your families best year EVER!

Does your family set New Year’s Resolutions?

What can you see your family working on this year?

heather johnson

Have a question or just want to say hello.