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.


Discipline – Enforcing Consequences

It’s time once again for Heather from Family Volley to share with us some Parenting Tips as part of her “Parenting Tips” here on The Idea Room. I realize that today is a Wednesday and usually Heather’s series runs every other Thursday here on The Idea Room. I had to make a little rearrangement this week so you get her a day early! Here’s Heather in her own words…


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Parenting is hard. Especially when we have to discipline. Our kids will make mistakes, and we will have to enforce consequences. 

Although there isn’t a cookie cutter consequence for every situation or misstep, there are some important guidelines that will really help us as parents.

The most important thing to remember…Don’t EVER, EVER withhold love as a consequence. When a child gets in trouble they will often rush in for a hug and for affection. Don’t refuse them. Give them the hug, show affection and love and then enforce the consequences. 

Other important suggestions…
  • Make it clear before the misbehavior happens, that there are consequences for bad behavior. The time to talk about it is when no one is doing anything wrong. When kids are young, they often don’t know they have done anything wrong until they get in trouble. Set clear consequences if the expectations are not met.
  • Do not use physical force as a response to physical misbehavior. Example, if your child hits you, don’t hit them back. This is especially confusing to small children. A child will process the situation as “You just told me not to hit and then you hit me, I don’t understand”. In the long run it will not teach the right lesson. 
  • After you give a warning to your child, if the behavior doesn’t immediately change, clearly state the consequence and then enforce it. There is no need for you to justify, explain, or negotiate. Enforce the consequences and then explain later when things have calmed down. 
  • Don’t give idol threats. If you say “if you yell at me again you will go to your room,” and they yell at you again, You Better send them to their room. I learned this the hard way with our daughter. After an idol threat, she looked at me and said, …” you said that last time, but you didn’t do it.” Yikes. Learned my lesson that day. Now I make sure to follow through. 
  • Don’t give in. Enforce the consequence. Giving in sends the wrong message. Your kids won’t ever take you seriously if you don’t enforce the consequence. 
  • When appropriate, you can allow your kids to have a say in their punishment. Make sure they are reasonable and adequate. 
  • When trying to establish consequences, first consider the offense. A good place to start is asking yourself, “what would right the wrong?” Then consider “what would teach the correct principle the child needs to learn?”
  • If you like to use time-out, consider the Time-Out Rule: 1 minute in time-out for every year your child is old. (A five year old=5 minutes). Don’t use time-outs for children under 3.
Now that we have some general suggestions, here are three specific things that can be done when you need a consequence. 

1. Loss of Privilege.
Take a minute or two and think about each of your children. What do they value? What means the most to them?

For our son, it is television time.
For our daughter it is playing with friends and running errands with me. 

It is these privileges that are the first to go when they misbehave. 

Just be sure that the privilege you take is something you can control, like toys, cell phone, computer, tv, playing with friends, etc.

The key is to be CONSISTENT!

You can consider using a Privilege Chart.
Take pictures of the things your child can’t live without. Your child looses one privilege starting from least favorite to most favorite when they misbehave or talk back. Realize that their chart will change as they get older. 

2. Natural Consequences, let them take their course.
Most actions have natural consequences that occur. Let these natural consequences teach and don’t feel like you have to “save” your child from the consequence. It is the perfect time to help your child understand that our actions have consequences. When we make good decisions, our consequences are positive. When we make poor decisions, our consequences are negative. 

We experienced this with our son not too long ago. Despite plenty of ability, time to finish, and help, our son wouldn’t focus to finish his homework. He knew that if he didn’t finish by bedtime, that he would have to go to school with it unfinished (he can’t stand not having his homework done.) Our son didn’t believe us. He was certain we would let him stay up as long as it took.  We stood strong and he ended up going to school with unfinished work. He had to suffer the natural consequence of his actions. Boy did it teach him a lesson. The natural consequence did far more to teach him then a consequence we would have set. 

2. Whining Chair, Time away, time out, being sent to another room…call it what you want. 
The lesson to teach when we have to remove our children from the situation is…“if you are going to misbehave, then you can’t be apart until you change your actions.” A child who is not listening, who is yelling, talking back, or treating siblings unkind, needs to be removed from the situation. 

Just remember to stay strong, you don’t have to explain yourself. 

Remember, it comes down to what works with each child. Trail and error will help as you learn to understand each child. As parents, we need to stay calm and collected. We need to be confident and in charge. Above all, we need to be consistent. 

It won’t be perfect every time. A bad day doesn’t mean that all is lost. We will have plenty of opportunities to enforce consequences, we just need to stick with it. 

Remember above all…ALWAYS follow the reprimand with an increase in LOVE, ALWAYS. 

How do you enforce consequences in your home?
What is your leverage? What can’t your child live without?

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Kids and Lying

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When our son turned 7, he went through a phase. A lying phase. I am happy to say that it isn’t a problem any more, but at the time, it brought a lot of frustration. All kids tell lies.

Young Children tell lies based on make-believe. They are usually made up stories of who they wish they were (a princess or a superhero), or what they wish they could do (today I crossed the street without holding anyone’s hand).

Elementary School Children tell smarter lies to sound cool, avoid being punished, and to get what they want. If they find that their lies get them what they want, the lies will become a habit. We want to stop them before they get to that point.

Teenagers will tell manipulative lies to protect themselves and their friends. They will also lie to avoid arguments and punishments and to get what they want. An occasional lie is not the end of the world. We just don’t want it to turn into a habit.

So what can we do to stop the lying?

First, we need to be the type of parent that sets fundamental rules with reasonable expectations, and we need to be willing to listen to our children. When we really listen to our children, they feel more comfortable talking to us and will be less likely to hide things from us. They will be more open with us because they feel respected and therefore will give respect back to us.

Then, pay attention to why your kids are not telling the truth.

  • Are they worried about getting in trouble?
  • Are we being too hard on them?
  • Are our expectations too high?
  • Are we stressed out so we are taking it out on them?
  • Are they trying to get attention, because we are not listening?
  • Are they hanging out with friends who lie?
  • Do they have low self esteem?
  • Are they looking for approval?
  • Are they trying to get what they want?
  • Are they trying to avoid responsibility?
  • Is it to protect themselves or someone else?
  • Are they trying to please you?
  • Are they testing us?
If we can pinpoint the "Why" it can help us put a stop to the lying.

When our son went through his lying stage, it was new behavior. He hadn’t really done anything like it before. I took some time to try and see if there was an underlying issue.

Next, be an Honest Parent. Kids will primarily do what they see us as their parents do. Do we ever fib? Sneak into a movie? Lie about our kids ages to get lower prices? Pretent no one is home so we don’t have to answer the door?  Kids will pick up on these lies. We have to be honest so that our kids will be honest.

Also, we need to teach our children that in our house, honest is the only policy. Teach them that you will be honest with them, and you expect honesty from them. Make this a family rule, and that they are expected to follow the rule, just like you are expected to follow the rule.

Remember, don’t be too harsh. If we are, our children will not feel safe talking to us about what they have done wrong because they will be afraid.

When your child does tell a lie…

1. Don’t accuse them of lying, this will only make them feel trapped and make the situation worse. During our son’s lying phase, I noticed one day that he was biting his nails.  I asked him about it and he lied. "I don’t bite them, they just flake off", he said. Yeah right. Instead of continually emphasizing, "I know you are lying, I can see your nails", which is what I wanted to say. I explained that "you probably don’t even realize you’re biting your nails. That happens to mommy and daddy sometimes also. Do you think that is what could be happening?" He was much more responsive to this approach. This also means we shouldn’t call our children a liar. We should always avoid giving our children negative labels.

2. Don’t overreact. If your child knows that you are going to stay calm, they are more likely to tell you the truth. They will never want to tell the truth if they think it is going to get them in a ton of trouble. Stay calm.

3. Be sure there is a reasonable consequence for telling lies. When our son lied about picking up his backpack and shoes, when he really hadn’t, I made him go back and finish the job like I had asked. The punishment fit the crime.

4. Stick to what you know. The facts. "Your backpack is still on the ground, be honest, did you pick it up like you were asked?" "I can see that your nails are very short and that your fingers are red, I expect the truth, have you been biting them?"

After the fact…TEACH

As we talked to our son during his "lying stage", we told him some personal stories about telling the truth and telling lies. He was able to relate to them and see the blessings and consequences that come from our choices. Use stories to teach your children. If you don’t have any of your own stories, George Washington tells a really good one about a Cherry Tree. :) Teach your children that people who are honest don’t lie, you can count on them, they keep their word, they admit when they do things wrong, and they stand up and tell the truth, even when it is hard or unpopular.

Teach your children what happens when they lie. You get in trouble. People don’t want to be your friend. People can’t trust you. It can hurt other’s feelings, etc…

Teach what is real and what is make believe. Kids need to understand the difference between fiction and real life. When our children are honest, praise them, thank them. Reassure them that honesty is always the best policy. I am pretty sure I heard that a few thousands times growing up.

Do you ever pretend no one is home at your house so you don’t have to answer the door? Do you have any fibbers in your house?

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Finding Family Time

It’s time once again for Heather from Family Volley to share with us some Parenting Tips as part of her “Parenting Tips Series with Heather Johnson” here on The Idea Room.

  Here’s Heather in her own words…

Amy  {The Idea Room}


At the start of every new school year, I start to wonder, can I really do this again? Packing lunches at dawn, homework, baseball practice, teaching, nursing a new baby, piano, dance, grocery shopping, rushing home to get dinner on the table, the kids in bed, just to start it all over again the next day? 

I miss the slow pace of summer and being together as a family all the time. Finding family time during the school year can be a big challenge. I am not the only parent concerned about the rush that the school year brings. Questions are always coming in from concerned moms about how to focus more on family and less on the hectic lifestyle that they are living. 

As your thoughts turn to the new school year, I offer some suggestions to help you find more quality family time.

#1: Limit Your Children’s Activities.
Limit your kids to one, maybe two, after-school activities. Shoot for one. This may be a harder decision for you than for your kids. We tend to want our children to be involved in everything and learn every skill and talent. Kids also feel pressure from teachers and peers to be involved in lots of different activities. Choices have to be made. Think of it this way: Teaching your kids to make choices is an essential part of a parent’s job. These activities build skills and give kids a sense of what they can do. But time spent with the family gives them a sense of who they are. Plus, if your kids are always away from the family at their different activities, they can’t be spending time with the family. Don’t over schedule your kids. 

#2: Limit Your Activities.
As parents, we need to limit our activities. A good rule of thumb, no more than one night out for each parent, per week. When we are gone all the time we can’t be there for our families when they need us. The rituals that build closeness- bedtime stories, walks after dinner, playing games, talking-can’t happen when Mom and Dad are always gone. Don’t over schedule yourself. This doesn’t include Date Night. Date night is essential to keeping marital relationships strong and on track. 

#3: Turn off the T.V.
Turn the TV off during meals, especially dinner. In fact, consider turning the TV off Monday through Thursday. You will love the difference it makes in your home. There will be less contention. There will be more talking amongst family members. More will get done around the house and you will appreciate the calm atmosphere. There will be more time for homework, reading, talking and playing. There are better things for families to do than spend excessive amounts of time watching TV.  Plus, having the TV on in the background adds another level of noise and stress. 

#4: Eat Dinner Together.
Set a standing time for dinner and stick to it. Make it clear that all family members are expected to be there to eat together. This could be one of the most important rituals you have with your family. Do what ever it takes to sit down together. Make it special. Light candles, set the table, use special dishes. Don’t discuss discipline issues, don’t answer the phone, turn off the TV. Make it a safe place where every family member feels loved and accepted. If dinner is impossible for you to eat together, eat breakfast together. Just try your best to eat together everyday. Even one day a week is better than never.

#5: Get Some Sleep.
Set a bed time for your children, and for you. 10 pm or 11pm at the latest (for you of course.) Stick to it. When we are rested we feel calm. When we are calm we are better able to deal with our families. We are more calm, more clear headed, more loving and compassionate. I know what you are thinking. “I have too much to do and I only have time when everyone is asleep.” I hear you. I understand. I am the same way. Regardless, getting the sleep we need will bless our lives. If we are not over scheduled we will be able to admonish this suggestion. Do what needs to be done, and let the rest go. It will still be there in the morning, promise. 

#6: Read Together.
Whether it is at night as part of your bedtime ritual, or during the day, find time to read with your children everyday. We read stories every night before bed. We also like our reading tree. We take a blanket and a book outside and sit below our favorite tree and have reading time together. Great bonds are created when we sit down and read together. 

#7: Cook Double.
Dinner is one of the hardest times of the day. Everyone is tired, hungry and there is much to do. Simplify your meal prep so that you can spend more time with your family and there will be less stress. One way to do this is to cook double. Double your recipes, freeze, and save half for another night. It is worth finding a dinner plan that works for your family. Plan ahead, try to prepare, and simplify. It is not so much what you are putting in your mouth, but that you are doing together. 

#8: Plan a Fun Family Activity Every Week.
Friday nights are perfect for a family activity. They don’t have to be expensive. Family Volley is loaded with family activities, a new one is posted every Friday. Be creative. Check out what your communities and cities have to offer. Take a hike, play a game and make a homemade dessert. Anything together. I know a family that goes out every Saturday night together. The children take turns planning the activity. They are given a 5 dollar budget. They have been carrying out this tradition since their children were very small. The children have become so creative, most of the time they don’t even need the 5 dollars. These weekly activities give your families a chance to regroup, and reconnect. 

There is a great analogy that I like to use in class from Stephen Covey. 
Pretend that you are trying to cut down a tree. Next to you is someone else trying to do the same thing. You work and work and never take a break. Never the less, the person next to you finishes before you do. You question what they have done. 
“How is it you finished first? Especially when you took breaks every hour?”

The response, “I might have taken a break every hour, but what you didn’t see was that during each break I sharpened my saw.” 

We often think that our families will function better if we put our noses down and never take a break. That is not the case. We need to take a break and sharpen our saws. Take time to spend with our families, engaged in fun, interactive, meaningful activities. We will be more productive, and happier. 

These 8 suggestions will make a HUGE difference in your family. If we want to protect our families from the 24/7 world that is trying to take over, we must decide to make our home and families our fortress. We have to be intentional with our families time. Family time will not happen unless we make it happen. 

Have a question or just want to say hello.

Great Ideas for Getting Your Kids to Work

It’s time once again for Heather from Family Volley to share with us some Parenting Tips as part of her “Parenting Tips Series with Heather Johnson” here on The Idea Room.  I for one, really enjoy all her great tips and advice on things that most of us as parents struggle with.  Here’s Heather in her own words…



Happy Thursday, it’s Heather from Family Volley. Before I share a few great tips to get your kids more excited about work, I wanted to thank you for all the support last week. Your comments were much needed oxygen. It is comforting to know that there are so many of us fighting the same fight, and that we can get through it. Thank you for your words of encouragement.

Hard to believe an hour earlier this room was spotless.

Is work a scary word at your house? Does it immediately elicit moans and groans from your children? It doesn’t have to. Here are three quick tips for getting your kids to work, with a good attitude. The last one is our family favorite.

1.  Listen First–Is there complaining when you mention it is time to clean up? Children don’t always feel like they are heard. SO, listen to them for one minute. What do I mean? Give your children one minute to complain. Let them whine and complain as much as they want for those 60 seconds. Once the 60 seconds are up, it’s time to get to work.

2. Use Labels –Do you ever hear your kids say, "I don’t know where that goesssssss?" Kids are very visual. Take pictures of the toys that go in each bucket or space. Post the pictures on the front of the storage spaces so it makes it really easy for your kids to SEE where things go. You don’t have to take pictures of every toy, just a few of the toys that can represent. You can also include the name of the object for older kids who can read. If your child likes to draw, have them draw pictures of their toys.

3. MAGIC ITEM! My FAVORITE!–when it is time to clean up, I pick a MAGIC/SECRET ITEM in whatever space we are cleaning. Our kids RACE to find and put away the MAGIC ITEM. Whoever finds and puts the MAGIC ITEM away, gets to choose what’s for snack or dinner, or which park we will visit. If it is Monday, the one who finds and puts away the MAGIC ITEM gets to choose what dessert to have for FHE. I always make sure that what they get to choose benefits and affects all the kids. They love this game. It is like a scavenger hunt. I have fun picking new MAGIC ITEMS every time we clean. If the room really needs attention, like our playroom, then I will pick a few MAGIC ITEMS. Sometimes I announce the MAGIC ITEM right when it is put away. Other times I wait until everything is put away and then announce with a grand "ta-da."

p.s. We can’t expect our kids to work at the same speed as we do. The best way to get your kids to work and clean is to slow down and work and clean with them. 

 p.p.s. And remember…if we groan about work, so will our children. We have to have a good attitude about the work to be done.

Want more suggestions for getting your kids to work?
If you give it a try, let me know how it goes?
Have a question, or just want to say hello?


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