How Much Time Are Wii Spending on Video Games?

Wii is the game system of choice for me and my kids. Of course hubby is a PS3 lover. Nevertheless, this family enjoys playing video games. I enjoy using the Wii to work out or dance to Michael Jackson moves. The kids, on the other hand enjoy the actual video games. However, now that school has officially started (a couple months ago) we had to make some changes. During the summer months, between the summer readings and occasional writing to stay refreshed, my kids enjoyed playing video games every spare moment they had. Of course there were the "turn that game off and do something constructive" moments, but for the most part, my two younger children played video games with the neighbors and their cousins quite often.
How did this cease? We had the conversation that when school started, the video game playing would be minimal. Sticking to our word is what was key in making this arrangement work. In addition to limiting video game playing, the television hours were also cut. There were a couple times our seven year old tried to pull a fast one on daddy to watch television during the week, but I reminded her in front of Daddy that there is no television watching during the week. I would make her accountable by asking: "Is that what you should be doing? What are the rules?" I put the ball in her corner to make her responsible for her actions and to reflect on the negative behavior.
Its very easy to fall back on your word because sometimes the television is a babysitter for us. But setting limits and sticking to them will teach our children respect. Following through on what we say we'll do, or not do will teach them to respect us for our word and they will in turn practice the same. Rules are rules, don't cave in, you're in charge!
Besides, it gives them something to look forward to on weekends if they have cooperated in school, handled their chores and have been good listeners overall.
Happy Parenting!!!

Wait Until Your Daddy Gets Home!!!

I may be telling my age here, but I remember this television show from my younger years! However, this catchy title means something totally different for me today. This blog is for all the Mommies and Daddies who are in charge of running their households and sometimes feel under-appreciated. I can't tell you how many mothers I have talked to who are so fed up with being the "one" who does 90% of everything around the house. Some are working mothers and are some are SAHM (Stay at Home Moms). In my opinion, SAHM have it a bit harder than working moms. How so? Because their husbands feel like, "she's home all day, she should be able to handle everything." Well news flash buddy!!!! While you're sitting at your nice desk relaxing in a nice office, guess who's taking care of your children while they scream, are demanding, and do not allow their mother to get half the things done on her list on a daily basis? That's right...your wife! Therefore, to you SAHM, this is what I say: Remind your husband how much money you are saving him in DayCare by staying home, remind him that if you were working, you just may be too tired to clean anything up or deal with kids once you hit the door (like he feels often), remind him that you too could be late home from work just to give yourself a few more minutes of quiet time before you come home (that is after all, why they're often late). Remind him that if you were working you all would need a housekeeper to help with chores and laundry, that dinner would begin to look like fast food joints more occasionally. Create a schedule and post it visibly so that he is able to see what your days look like. When he doesn't pick up his clothes, start a nice pile in the corner on his side of the bed. When he doesn't take out the trash, sit the bags at the door he uses to leave every morning, when he doesn't put his dishes away, start that pile on his nightstand next to his side of the bed. It sounds harsh but sometimes you have to demand respect and demand to e heard. Actions speak louder than words.
Fo you working moms, the same holds true. You cannot do everything by yourselves. AS women, we are innately built to nurture and care for our families; if you're a nurturer on steroids like I am, you often will find yourself in overdrive! It is important to have the talk with your spouse about sharing responsibilities; teams work together to get things done. This also goes back to my last post about having the children help out as well. It's not child labor or husband abuse to ask them for assistance. A great deal of work goes into taking care of a household. I can mostly speak for myself, but I have also had these conversations with other women who share the same responsibilities as me. There are heads to comb and brush, clothes to wash, PTA meetings, volunteering at school, making lunches, cooking dinner, grocery shopping, help with homework, drop off and pick up to school, the mall, cheer, basketball and football practice or whatever sport they may be involved in, be a counselor, nurse, psychologist etc when our children and spouses need us to be, be a daughter, sister, grandmother and friend when our extended family outside the house need us. Some are active in their religious institutions, kids need bathing, trash needs taking out, dishes need doing, cars need gas often, doctors appointments... have a full time job to work. You cannot do it alone. Therefore, some things will just have to wait until Daddy gets home. Let Daddy help with giving baths; it will allow him to have bonding time with the children. Let Daddy help with homework, let Daddy cook dinner one night a week (its the least he could do), let Daddy help with the laundry sometimes, let Daddy help with carpooling or dropping off and picking up. You're getting my point, I'm sure. As I've stated in past blogs, the family unit looks so different today than it did years ago; it takes two incomes to survive or two people to make it work. Its okay to ask your husband or significant other to help out around the house, it won't kill him, trust me!
Does this work in my house? Yes. All the time? No! Sometimes my hubby gets comfortable with me doing a lot. Does he not help at all? O course he does! I think my hubby is pretty good at helping me do a lot. Everything I mentioned above, he does it and some. BUT...(there's always a but) sometimes he will slack off and let me do most of it. What happens then? We talk about how I'm feeling and how it makes me feel when he doesn't help me out. But I want you women to listen very carefully to what I am about to say: the last talk hubby and I had (two weeks ago) he said something that made me angry at the time but later I thought about it and said how many other men feel this way. Its not often men let us into their heads to know what they're feeling but after many years of marriage, they slip up! Ha! So hubby said to me: "You don't tell me what you need done; all you have to do is ask me." During our conversation, I was so upset when he said that. My response was, "Tell you??? Tell you what to do??? You don't have to ask me to do the many things I do around here!!!" But later on, I thought about it and made complete sense. As the perfectionist I am, I have a certain way I like things done and I often do carry things out on my own, but there are times that I would like help. Maybe all I have to do is ask a little more often.So, the last couple weeks I've been "asking" for extra favors. I mean hubby did say all I have do is ask, right???
Everyone's joy is equal. I like to use that because we often sit and judge others when we shouldn't. What works in my household, may not work in yours and vice versa. But if it makes you happy, I'm happy. But do me one favor... next time your children ask for help with homework or need a ride to the mall, try saying this: "Wait till your Daddy gets home"; next time you feel overwhelmed and tired, "Wait til their Daddy get home" and ask for a little assistance. Teamwork when raising a family makes a world of difference.
Happy Parenting!!!!
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"If I scratch Your Back, Will You Scratch Mine?"

From an early age we are taught that you don't get something for nothing!
What are we teaching our children about this very topic? Should chores be associated with allowances? Are we paying our children to clean up? If so, are we paying them what the standard minimum wage rate is? Hmmmmm... makes you wonder, huh?
Personally, I don't really agree with giving allowances. All my children's needs are being met by me and hubby, why do they need a set amount of money weekly? Maybe because it teaches them responsibility, how to manage their own money? True. But should the allowances be attached to them doing chores? In my opinion, no. Doing chores does teach a lesson of responsibility, however, it also teaches that we are a family and we work together to keep our home (our space) clean and tidy. This is largely in part due to the fact that the family unit looks nothing like it did years ago. You have single moms, single dads, married moms and dads, two moms, two dads, grandparents raising grandchildren, etc. Regardless of what your family looks like, it takes two incomes "and some" to survive in today's tough economic times. Therefore, you want to teach your children that being a member of a family means being there for another no matter what; assisting one another to get things done.
Allowance, on the other hand should be used to teach money management, responsibility and sensibility. Do not associate the two with one another. Although there are times when my 11 year old drags her feet about certain chores, I often say, "Okay... you know we work "together" in his house. I'm asking you to help me out, there will come a time when you will need my help with something, right?" I'm not threatening her at all, I just want her mind to think about that for a minute. I could be speaking on a number of things with that one statement/question. Believe it or not, it works! I mean, they will, after all, need us again for something.
It's true...the world does function on the premise of "if I do something for you, you need to do something for me". Isn't that why we go to work everyday? I'm not saying disguise reality for our children. What I am saying is this: there are so many lessons to be learned by our children from us. The meaning of family looks so much different today. Teach them that its normal to take care of your family by helping out around the house without being paid for it. I mean, one day we're all gonna be old and our children will choose our convalescent home for us. Will they choose the one that's cheaper so they can keep the change? Or will money not matter when it comes to family?
Happy Parenting!!!!

We Are All Alike, We Are All Different...

That's the title of a book I like to share with my students often. Lately, the topic of diversity and being culturally sensitive has come up a lot. I had a friend to ask me about age-appropriate books to share with her daughter, and later the same day, I read my friend Leslie's Blog about Diversity. As parents, this can often be a touchy conversation to have with our Early Learners (preschool aged children), yet it is a necessary conversation. After reading Leslie's Blog, I decided I would call her this evening and speak to her directly. I enjoy reading her blogs and I thought it would be a great idea to share my knowledge and wisdom with her. During our conversation, I gave Leslie a long list of books as well as some timely advice regarding dealing with Diversity in a Preschool setting. I hope the following information is helpful to you all as well.

  • Check the classroom environment for a variety of multicultural materials such as books, pictures, toys, etc.
  • If you don't see a lot present, donate these items to the classroom teacher.
  • Volunteer to come in and read to students. When you arrive to read, have plenty of multicultural books handy to share with the students.
  • Suggest that for Thanksgiving and or Christmas, parents share their favorite recipes and a classroom recipe book can be created and shared with all the families. Its very simple to create, just ask me!
  • Use Parent Conferences to discuss with the teacher what the requirements of the school are in regards to multicultural lessons, activities, etc. Ask if staff have been trained in this area.
  • Arrange for play dates with classmates who look "different". When children are able to play with one another outside of school, they have an opportunity to bond a little more.
  • Update the library of your children's room with books that reflect all cultures.
  • As parents, do our friends reflect diversity? Do our children see us interacting with others of various cultures and colors?
This is definitely a great topic to discuss. I have shared with you only a few ideas. I challenge you all to think of other ways we can address this topic and share your thoughts here. Another parent may find your advice helpful.

Here is a list of great Multicultural Books:

  • The Black Snowman
  • Kevin and his Dad
  • Margaret and Margarita
  • A Birthday Basket for Tia
  • Apple Pie, Fourth of July
  • Happy to be Nappy
  • Whoever You Are
  • Nappy
  •  We All Sing With the Same Voice
  • We Are All Alike, We Are All Different
  • Bein' With You This Way
  • Mama, Do You Love Me?
  • Bee-bim Bop!
  • My Nose, Your Nose
Happy Reading!!!  
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A Simple "Thank You" Will Do...

The job of a Teacher is one that is often a Thankless job. It doesn't take much to let a teacher know how much you appreciate them and their efforts to assist you in educating your child(ren). I know, there are some teachers who may need to retire and you could care less about showing them your appreciation. Nevertheless, being a teacher is a difficult job; just knowing that you are appreciated means a lot. I am somewhat biased when it comes to this because I am a teacher. It is because I am a teacher that I have so much respect and admiration for my daughters' teachers.
Last Friday, I had Parent Conferences at both the girls' schools. I took all their teachers (four of them) a little "thank you" gift from us to them. It doesn't cost a lot of money to show your appreciation; I'm all about bargain shopping. My first stop: Target (The One Spot), where I found the cutest little candy corn felt bags for $1.00 (I purchased 4), and Mrs. Fields boxed chocolates also for $1.00 (I purchased 4). Second stop: .99 Cent Only Store where I found packs of candy with eight candy bars in each pack for .99 cents. I purchased one pack each of Snickers, Twix, and M&M's. I spent a total of about $12.00 for four teachers. They all were so shocked but grateful. It wasn't a lot but it let them know we were thinking of them and we appreciate them. It's the "little" things that mean so much.
Next time you have a meeting, conference or you just stop by to check on your child(ren), a Simple "Thank You" to the teacher will do!

Day Trip: Shawn's Pumpkin Patch

Sometimes the work week is so long and tiring for me that I just want to rest on Saturdays and even sleep in if possible. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen too often! We try to take the kiddos out and do things with them when they have no extra curricular activities planned. Because the 11 year old is between Basketball Teams and the seven year old is taking Gymnastics during afterschool hours, our Saturday was free and open. Friday night, my nephews (their cousins) came to sleep over. Saturday morning, we planned to take the kiddos to a Pumpkin Patch and what better way for me to spend time with my nephews as well. The children had their face and arms painted, they rode ponies, visited the petting zoo, jumped in the bouncer, ran through a maze, and took silly pictures. They had a blast and we spent about $40.00 for all four of them. We took them to Mc Donald's after where their Happy Meals came in cute buckets which will double as candy holders for October 31st.
There are so many Pumpkin Patches in the city and close by that you can visit. They're usually open until October 31st and some stay open until November. Also, where you see a Pumpkin Patch, you will more than likely discover that they will have an XMas Tree lot there as well in December.
Here is a link to help you locate Pumpkin Patches and more near you Pumpkin Patches and More

Eat All Your Peas...

As parents, we see all the research and we see all the hoopla about eating your vegetables. I mean, I grew up during an era when my mom was serious about us eating everything on our plates! When it comes to parenting skills, I like to think that as parents we do the best we can; there is no manual on parenting. One of my favorite phrases to say is: "when you know better, you do better".
Here's my idea of sharing the "better" with you about making your children eat everything you put on their plate: DON'T DO IT! (LOL) Seriously, do not force your children to eat what they don't like. Mealtime should be a pleasurable experience for you and your child(ren). Think for a minute... when you're busy doing your daily tasks, and you think about dinner, is it not true that sometimes you begin to imagine what that meal will taste like because you just can't wait to get home to eat it? Just the thought of the food hitting your pallate makes your mouth water!
Don't you want your children to have the same experience? There are many ways to ensure your children are getting their daily dose of vitamins; take a little extra time to read labels. If all else fails, here's an idea: ask your child(ren) what THEY like, what THEY want to eat. Allow them to assist with the grocery list. Do you visit restaurants that do not prepare the type of food you like? Well...your child(ren) don't want to visit your dining room or kitchen when it doesn't offer the choices they like. Children have rights as well (that's another blog) and they have a right to say what they don't like. Even if you notice they are asking for the same foods, cook them! Their bodies are gettig nourishment from their food choices. Its okay to continue to offer other food choices and remind them why certain foods are good for them, just don't force them to eat foods they don't care for. Out of my four children, I had this issue with two: my oldest (a 19 year old football player) and my youngest ( a 7 year old cheerleader who loves gymnastics); my 18 year old daughter and 11 year old daughter are basketball players who will try anything at least once. The key is offering choices, children like to know that they have choices. Recommend other food choices while allowing their input as well. * Please note: I discussed thhis issue with the family Pediatrician each time it arose with my children to ensure what I was doing was appropriate, hence, my advice in this blog.
Happy eating!!!

The Wondrous World of Parenting: Don't Talk With Your Mouth Full...

The Wondrous World of Parenting: Don't Talk With Your Mouth Full...: Making time for meaningful dinner conversations is so important for families, especially during these busy and trying times. Personally, my ...

Don't Talk With Your Mouth Full...

Making time for meaningful dinner conversations is so important for families, especially during these busy and trying times. Personally, my hubby and I have found that making time to sit and eat at the table with the children, is at times, challenging. With so many responsibilities and extra curricular activities, the family unit looks totally different today than it did years ago. What has worked for our family is to make sure we have a method to the madness; in other words, we follow strict schedules. There was a time when I was in school two days a week and meeting with my Learning Team as well as putting in countless hours of research. As a team, hubby and I made it work. We didn't sit at the table every night as a family, but we made sure that when we did sit together, we had meaningful conversations with one another as a family. With two in high school and two in elementary, you can imagine how interesting the conversations were and how they flowed from one extreme to the next. Most importantly, we worked together as a family to ensure we all pulled our weight. Having the children on a strict schedule and following it daily provided consistency and stability; children need those two things in life. Knowing what is going to occur and having attainable expectations set for them will foster their growth and development.
Don't forget about Mommy and Daddy time after the kids are all settled in bed and you finally have time to eat. Instead of eating under the "big light", light a candle, sit it on the table between the two of you and ask how your days were. It's the little things and the precious moments together as a couple, without the kids, that remind you of why you married one another in the first place. What will dinner look like in your home tonight?
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Time Out or Thinking Time?

Many parents and educators believe that Time Out is an excellent way to reprimand children who have somehow disappointed them with their actions. Time Out can be a tricky idea. How so? First and foremost, Time Out should only be given in increments of one minute per year of age. For example, if you have a three year old, that child should only spend three minutes in Time Out. I am sure many of you know a child who has been placed in Time Out and "forgotten" about until maybe five to ten minutes later.
What purpose does Time Out serve? Some may argue it its a form of redirecting the child and discouraging the behavior. As a preschool teacher of 15 years, I have proof that this is not true in many cases, which brings me to my opinion regarding Time Out. I believe that Thinking Time serves a much better purpose. How so? Children need time to reflect upon their actions and how their actions may have affected another child. By giving children Thinking Time and asking these open ended questions such as: "How do you think that made your friend feel when you...?" or "Is that what we use our hands for?" Always remember that every moment is a teachable moment. Would you rather have your child or student sit alone for 2-5 minutes watching the other children play, or use two minutes to teach the child an invaluable lesson about respecting others and making wise decisions?
For me, there is no doubt that that Thinking Time wins! How about you?