The Importance of Family Time

I’m not sure how you and your family spent the Memorial Day holiday, but the kids and I were able to spend time with family who came to visit from out of town. My brother, his wife and their two young boys came home for the weekend. My oldest son is five and their oldest son is 3 ½ and the two little guys are 10 months and 5 ½ months, so the age difference is really about perfect. Everyone has a cousin close to the same age, giving them hours of fun play time together.


As I sat watching the two older boys running around in the backyard together, it really struck me that family time is important. I know a lot of families don’t spend much time with their relatives due to distance and other issues, but it’s really a necessity (in my mind) for kids to grow up knowing who their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins are.

I can remember when I was little, the anticipation I had every summer when my cousins from Alabama would come and visit for a week or two. While I was the oldest out of all my cousins on that side, I had a blast with my little cousin, Kristin, who was four years younger than me. And today, even though we live thousands of miles apart, we are still close.

This is the type of bond I want for my kids with their cousins. I know they may not get to see each other many times out of the year, but I definitely want them to still feel close as they get older. Below are a couple of the reasons that I believe family time is so important.

  • Builds life-long friendships. You know, when everything in life changes, family always stays the same. Kids can pick and choose their friends and who they marry, but they can’t pick their family. Therefore, cousins who grow up playing together generally go through life as friends. Having friends that you can always turn to, no matter the distance separating you, is something everyone needs and since cousins are usually our first friends, why not encourage those relationships with our kids?
  • Builds self-confidence. I am a firm believer that kids should feel the most comfortable and accepted when they are with their family. The world is tough enough the way it is and kids are being subjected to all kinds of peer pressures every day. While we can’t protect them from everything, they shouldn’t have to deal with this around their immediate family. I know that not all cousins get along, but the immediate family unit: mom, dad, brothers and sisters should be close enough where everyone feels accepted for who they are. If this is the way your family is, then your kids will build self-confidence through family time together!

There are plenty of opportunities throughout the year when we are able to spend additional time with our families. Whether you are planning a fun day at the local pool with your kids or are planning a big family barbeque with the entire family – cousins and all, family time is family time. There are so many benefits for building these relationships!

How to Unspoil Kids

In my last blog post, I gave you a few ways to determine if you have a spoiled child. However, I didn’t give any tips for how to unspoil a spoiled child. If you have determined that your child is a tad bit spoiled, then it’s important to get it reversed as soon as possible. Right now, it may be inexpensive to spoil your little one as a small toy, ice cream or movie rentals may be all it takes to make her happy, but once she gets a little older she’ll start wanting expensive electronics, fancy dresses (and other clothing) and regular trips to the movies. So, how do you go about unspoiling a child?

  • Look at yourself. Young children don’t become spoiled on their own. It takes adults to spoil a child. Therefore, the first step in unspoiling a child is to take an objective look at yourself and figure out how and why you’re spoiling the child. For instance, do you buy him things when you feel guilty? Is it because you don’t want to deal with a temper tantrum? Next, figure out in what way are you spoiling your child. For example, do you buy toys? Take her places like the movies, amusement park, skating, etc.? Or do you have a tendency to do everything for her when she’s big enough to do it on her own? Once you figure out why and how you’re spoiling your child, you’ll be able to move on to the solution.
  • Set clear expectations. The next thing you need to do is sit down with your child and tell him what your expectations are for his behavior. You need to stop the “If you promise to be good, I’ll buy you a toy” bargaining tactics. Instead, have a list of clear expectations, as well as, a list of the consequences for not meeting those expectations (aka “rules). Now, you can give your child an incentive for striving to meet your new expectations like renting a movie on Friday night if he has done a good job of following the rules (without complaining, whining or throwing a fit) throughout the week.
  • Just say “No.  For some reason, many of us think that when we tell our children “no” that we have to give a good reason for telling them no. The reality is that we’re the parent, and that’s they only reason our kids need when we say “no.” So, don’t fall into the trap of explaining yourself every time you deny your child something. Eventually your child will understand that when you say no, it means no and there’s not going to be a 10 minute discussion/persuasion session over it. 
  • Set up a chore/payment system. Finally, if you really want to unspoil your child then start teaching her the value of money. Have a list of weekly chores that she can do and at the end of the week pay her once all of the chores have been completed. This will teach your child that money doesn’t just “grow on trees” and that it has to be earned. It will also encourage her to appreciate her toys more when she uses her own money to buy them.

New Parent Health Woes

There has never been any question about the fact that welcoming a new baby into the world is one of, if not the, best experiences we will ever have. I can remember the birth of both my boys like they happened yesterday. I can also remember the days and months after bringing them home from the hospital and how our lives and routines changed.
Five and a half years ago, we welcomed our oldest son into the world. When he came home I can remember feeling like I was flying by the seat of my pants. Honestly, I think I felt like that for the first three years…and sometimes still feel that way. I didn’t have time to focus on much except for taking care of our new little boy. Since my husband and I were new parents, we were naturally so engrossed in the care and well-being of our son that we didn’t think much about our own well-being.

The second time around, just eight months ago, things were a little different. We knew what to expect so we weren’t so on edge. This also meant that we were able to focus on ourselves more than we did when we had the first baby. We learned that there really are some new health woes that come with new babies if new parents aren’t careful. Here’s what to watch for if you are expecting a new baby sometime soon.

  • Sleep Deprivation. So many people told me to leave the dishes and housework alone when the baby was napping and to nap when the baby did. I didn’t listen with my first baby, but when the second one came along, I had no problem napping whenever he did during the day! You wouldn’t believe the difference that one thing made. With my first, I felt like a walking zombie for the first couple of months, but with the second one I honestly didn’t feel sleep deprived at all. Therefore, don’t toss out this advice. Nap when the baby is sleeping!
  • Weight Gain. Obviously, once the baby is here, moms lose weight pretty fast within the first couple of weeks. However, most of the time, not all of that baby weight comes off and we have to fight for those last 10 pounds or so. After I had my first son, I had the mindset of “well, it took nine months to put it on, so I should give myself that long to get it off.” Needless to say, by the time nine months rolled around, I was still carrying those last 10 pounds, plus some around with me. My husband also gained a little weight during this time too. Why? We both got lax because we were so focused on the baby that we didn’t focus on the types of foods we were eating. We ate whatever was quick to fix, regardless of how healthy or unhealthy it was for us. This didn’t happen the second time around…I was pretty determined to drop the weight fast and keep it off so I made a point to only stock healthy foods in the house to eliminate the temptation to eat whatever as quick and easy.
  • Lack of Intimacy. This is a topic many new parents hate to talk about because they feel guilty for even thinking about it. A lot of times when a new baby comes along, new parents are so engrossed in caring for the baby that they put their relationship on the back burner. My husband and I went through this phase after our oldest was born. In fact, he was about four months old when I made the comment to my husband that I felt like we were more roommates than we were a married couple. Once we both admitted how we felt, we made a conscious effort to fix the problem. We allowed ourselves a date night twice a month or so and we made a point to make time for each other in the evenings after the little one was in bed but before we went to bed. If new parents aren’t careful, they will find themselves drifting apart as they care for their new baby…don’t let this happen. The reason you have your little one is because you and your spouse fell in love. Therefore, don’t lose it!
  • Losing Touch with Friends. This is probably one of the hardest things new parents go through when they have their first child. My husband and I were actually the first of our group of friends to have kids which made having kids a huge adjustment for us. We weren’t able to go out with our kid-less friends at the drop of a hat anymore, and we naturally lost touch with them. For a while it was pretty depressing. Instead of going out on Friday and Saturday night, we were at home dealing with poopy diapers and 3 a.m. feedings. Eventually we made new friends, with kids, and our old friends got married and had kids of their own which helped the situation tremendously. I guess the word of advice here is to expect your group of friends to change when you have kid, especially if none of your other friends have kids. So, how is this a health concern? If you aren’t expecting this change to happen, it can cause depression. Therefore, prepare yourself for it and look for ways to make the transition easier.
  • Emotional Build-Up. For some reason nobody likes to talk much about the “downside” of having a baby. Babies definitely play with your emotions. They cry and sometimes you don’t know what’s wrong and can’t get them to stop. They cut into your “free” time and can alienate you from your friends. In short, they change your whole world. This can naturally cause some emotions to build up. It’s important to talk about these emotions with your spouse or someone you trust…get them out in the open and help each other work through them. And, if you need to see a counselor, do it. It’s for the best for you and your family. Don’t let your emotions build up, because sometimes they build up so much that they can cause a horrible explosion.

Tips for Losing Baby Weight

While there is no doubt that having children is one of the most fulfilling things in life, the baby weight moms gain during pregnancy is definitely not part of the blessing. Yes, it’s necessary for us to gain weight during pregnancy, but it really stinks that the weight doesn’t just magically disappear once the little ones make their debut. If you are lucky enough to return to your pre-pregnancy weight within a week or two after delivery, more than likely your stomach isn’t as hard as it used to be. This is especially true if you have had a c-section…I’ve had two, so believe me, I know!

The good news is that in time, your body will go back to normal and you will be able to get back into your pre-pregnancy clothes. However, most of us do have to work to lose the last 10-20 pounds of baby weight. The trouble is finding time to focus on losing weight after the baby arrives, because we aren’t getting the amount of sleep we used to and we’re TIRED all the time! Well, below are a few suggestions for how new moms can get rid of the baby weight.

  • Get the Stroller Out. How many of you have a stroller, but haven’t used it yet? Don’t lie…I know I’m not the only one who was slow to get the stroller out. Finding time to exercise with a new baby at home can be incredibly challenging, but finding the time to go on a walk after your little one has been fed probably isn’t that hard. I actually have a friend who has a baby close to the same age as mine and we have made it a point to meet 2-3 times a week at a nearby park and walk with our little ones. Not only is this great (and easy) exercise, it’s a lot of fun to get together with someone who I can have a two-way conversation with too!
  • Watch the Calories. Many of us were a little lax when we were pregnant (especially if this was your second, third or fourth pregnancy) in regards to what we ate. Now that the baby is here, it’s time to cut back on your daily calorie intake. If you are breastfeeding, make sure you get at least 1800 calories a day to keep the milk supply good and your energy up. If you aren’t breastfeeding, you need at least 1500 calories a day. The trick is to make smart food choices. Instead of eating a candy bar, eat a banana or some yogurt. Also, make sure you drink plenty of water.
  • Sleep. Finally, make sure you take time to sleep! Getting adequate sleep is essential for losing weight, so make sure you’re getting enough to stay energized and focused during the day. You may need to nap when the baby is napping and that’s okay!

If you follow the tips above, you should start noticing results shortly. Now, keep in mind that if you want to get your pre-pregnancy body back, you’re going to have to start exercising on a regular basis in order to tone up. Not only will the tips above help you fit into that little black dress again, but it will also improve your mood too!

Crying Children? How to Keep Your Cool

We’ve all heard terrible stories about young children who have died as a result of child abuse. While many of these innocent victims are violently abused by an adult who has no respect for their little lives, there are many who had loving parents who just “snapped” when the crying got to be too much. It doesn’t matter if it’s an infant, a toddler or an older child – crying children have a way of pushing parents over the edge sometimes.

I understand this may seem to be a pretty “heavy” blog post for us, but I think it’s important to talk about because there are so many good, loving parents who lose control and spend a lifetime regretting it. Contrary to what many of us thought when we were expecting our first child, having babies isn’t easy. There’s a lot more to it then picking out Kid’s fancy clothes, cute bedding and fun toys. Changing diapers, feeding every couple of hours, handling colic, keeping fevers under control, etc. are all things that many of us didn’t think about when we were pregnant. Below are a few tips for dealing with a crying child when you think you’re about to “lose it.”

  • Put the Baby Down Gently. There are so many parents out there who have babies that struggle with colic as infants. The endless hours of crying can seem unbearable when you’re in the middle of it. Maybe you don’t have a baby with colic but have a child who wants to be held constantly or cries for another reason. When you start to get frustrated, it’s time to go and lay the baby/child down in his crib and walk away for a while. Putting the baby down and distancing yourself from him for a while can help you regain control of your thoughts and calm down. Once you have calmed down, then go back and handle the baby. Don’t go back in until you are completely calm and all frustration is gone.
  • Call a Friend. Another thing that can help tremendously when you’re in the middle of a huge crying fit is to call a friend or family member. Put the baby somewhere safe (crib, swing, play pen, etc.) and go in the other room and call your friend. There is absolutely nothing wrong with calling a close friend and saying, “I just needed to talk to someone for a few minutes.” Often times, talking to a friend will get your mind off of the screaming child in the other room. Do make sure you check on the little one from time to time to ensure she is still okay though.
  • Go Outside for a Few Minutes. Sometimes we just have to get away from the crying for a few minutes. To do this, I put my little one down in his crib and go outside. Usually I just sit on the front porch for about 5 minutes before coming back inside. Most of the time that is all the time I need to get control of my thoughts again. It’s amazing how good a few minutes of quiet can feel when you’ve been listening to a little one cry for an hour or more.

There are many different ways for handling the stress of a crying baby and what works for one person may not work for another. Therefore, it’s important for you to find what works for you. As long as your little one is safe and isn’t crying because something is wrong (hungry, hurting, etc.) then it’s best to put the little one down and go do something for a bit to take your mind off of the crying. Putting the baby down will ensure that he stays safe and you don’t lose control and shake him.

Another thing I do is put my son in his bassinet (in my room) and take a quick shower. The master bath is right there with the bassinet right outside the door. This allows me to still hear my son, but the hot shower water calms and relaxes me. Just make sure you find something that works for you and don’t ever let yourself reach your breaking point. You love your child too much for that.