Good Morning, Sunshine! Proper planning the night before can simplify the morning routine and make it pleasant.

A sunshibe

Winter break was great and it’s time for school again! It is always hard getting back into the regular routine after a nice vacation.

My husband is a firm believer in making sure the kids start their day off on a happy note. So what does that mean? That means, you won’t hear us yelling at the bottom of the stairs, ” It’s time to get up now! You are going to be late for school!” My husband  and I both will make a concerted effort to go to the kids’ bedroom and say  ” Good Morning, Sunshine. It’s time to get up.” Think about it. Doesn’t it make sense? Starting your day on a happy note helps you put yourself in the right mindset for having a good day and getting ready for learning.

To make sure the morning continues on that positive note, you need to do some planning. Here are some helpful tips:

Ideally the Sunday night before*:
1 – Plan the day’s outfit (or even better the outfits for the entire week)
2 –  Agreement on breakfast and lunches for the week
3 – Pack the backpack
4 – Make sure they get to bed on time

*Involve your children in the decision making process to avoid squabbles in the morning

In the morning:
– No TV. (It can be too much of a distraction. Look at the weather update on your smart phone.)
– Have a Morning Check List:

  • Get dressed.
  • Eat breakfast and have your vitamin.
  • Brush your teeth.
  • Comb your hair.

I can’t say our mornings are always this perfect, but we try. For those of you who have read my previous post, this will sound familiar. Ask my kids how they are today. I hope they say ” I’m fantastic!”

Have a good day!

Advertisements

Read books which focus on creating positive energy and see the wonderful effect it has on you and others around you.

Look for the Hook

A few years ago, I attended an author event with Susan Jane Bodell. She shared some highlights from a book she had written: Look for the Hook: A Guide to Finding Happiness, Purpose and Fulfillment One Baby Step at a Time. It was definitely inspirational and reiterated many basic life lessons/strategies we all can incorporate in our own everyday lives to become happier people. Here are some of my favorite lessons from the book which I also shared with my children:

– Surround yourself with positive people.
– Serenity prayer (Let go of what you can’t control or change)
– Laugh
– Be grateful – Take a few moments every day to think about this in the AM/PM.
– Choices – You can choose to have a bad day or good day.
– I’m fantastic! – (This one is my favorite) If someone asks you how you are, provide them with an enthusiastic “I’m fantastic!” I can pretty much guarantee you the other person will smile and so will you.

I really enjoyed this book and even brought Susan in as a speaker for a Mother’s Day event in the office. I wanted to provide moms with some “positive thinking” tips. Very often “working moms” can be guilty of being so hard on themselves.

Look for the Hook: A Guide to Finding Happiness, Purpose and Fulfillment One Baby Step at a Time is an easy read and I am sure you’ll pick up some tips to renew your spirit and find happiness. When it comes down to it, isn’t that what we all want? To be happy, grateful and satisfied?

For the younger set, I high recommend the “Bucketfiller” series of books. Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids is a wonderful book in this series. It is described as a “basic teaching tool that encourages positive behavior as children see how very easy and rewarding it is to express kindness, appreciation, and love on a daily basis. Through sweet, simple prose and vivid illustrations, children learn the meaning of the terms, bucket filling and bucket dipping and discover that when they fill someone’s bucket, they fill their own.”

Just remember if you’re younger or older, “you” can choose to be filled with optimism or negativity. Positive energy begets positive energy. It’s your choice!

Extend Your Summer T-shirts into the Winter Months

A Tantra T-shirt

What do you do when you have a great short-sleeved t-shirt that you bought while you were on vacation, but it is 30 degrees out? You wear a white long sleeve shirt underneath it! It’s a great way to extend those favorite vacation/summer t-shirts into winter.

The t-shirts in this post were actually purchased at Tantra™, a cool t-shirt store in India. I actually just saw they have a US supported website where you can purchase different styles also. Click here to check them out

Two additional helpful tips for girl’s clothing:

1) Do you have girl leggings which have holes in the knees? Cut off the “legs” and make them into biker shorts which you can wear underneath dresses.

2) Does your daughter have a favorite dress which is too small/short?
There is this one dress my daughter just loves and insists on wearing even though it is too short now. We have transformed this dress into a new “top/shirt” she now wears with leggings.

Parenting Life Lesson – It’s possible to extend the “life” of your children’s clothing when you get a bit creative. Your child will be able to wear that favorite t-shirt or dress a bit longer and it can save you money at the same time too!

Tell people you love them just because you do.

A LunchBox Love Card

I realize it is Valentine’s Day this week. I am not a big fan. While I think the intention of this “holiday” is good, I am opposed to having my husband feel he has to buy me a card, flowers, chocolate and go out to dinner because it is Valentine’s Day. I would much rather get flowers on any other day. That gesture would have a lot more meaning. Write me a card any time of year and tell me you love me, appreciate what I do for the family, etc. Now you are scoring some “real” points!

In some way, I try to let my daughters and husband know I love them every day. Here are two ideas to spread the love and positive energy all year round:

1) Lunchbox Love® – These are positive notes and fun trivia and jokes for your child’s lunchbox, backpack, binder, or pillow. Positive words on the front inspire while fun trivia & jokes on the back entertain. Each volume contains 12 cards–10 with different phrases and fun facts or jokes and 2 blanks so you can add a personal message. The picture in this post is a sample of what one of the Lunchbox Love® cards looks like. I bought a set of 8 boxes (96 cards) and try to put them in my daughters’ lunchboxes most days of the week. Click here to buy them on Amazon

2) “Original” Love Notes – This is a creative and inexpensive way to show someone in your life that you love them. I did this for my husband a few years ago for a “special” birthday. I asked my daughters to tell me the reasons they loved daddy. I typed up all of their responses, printed them out on paper and cut their “love notes” into small white strips. I then put all of them in a box. My husband loved it! It’s a nice idea for a wedding anniversary, birthday, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day or my favorite “reason”: Telling people you love them just because you do!

Hosting an Au Pair – A Unique and Flexible Childcare Option

Au Pair Image

I am happy to feature my 2nd guest blogger of the week, Lori Brust, local au pair child care consultant. This post is a little bit longer than my usual posts, but provides a wonderful overview of hosting an au pair as an affordable childcare option.

” With more dual-working and single parent families than ever before, parents are finding it difficult to balance life, family and work. For busy families, an important part of this juggling act is finding the right childcare for their children. Families need a trustworthy caregiver that can offer the flexibility a busy family requires. There is one flexible and affordable option available to parents that is gaining popularity nationwide—hosting a live-in au pair.

As a local childcare consultant, I have the chance to meet many of the au pairs who join our program. These au pairs are adventurous, educated, young people from abroad who choose to leave their life at home for one year to share their love for children with an American host family. Au pairs are excited to become part of an American family and experience American culture by living in our communities, volunteering and taking classes at local colleges.

Although the au pair program has been around for more than 24 years, many families are unaware that hosting an au pair is a childcare option available to them. The U.S. Department of State regulates all au pair programs in the United States, offering parents the peace of mind that their children are in trusted, qualified care. Au pairs live and study in the United States for one year on a J-l cultural exchange visa, in exchange for providing 45 hours of childcare per week. Au pairs are between the ages of 18 and 26 years old and speak proficient English. The au pairs I meet bring great enthusiasm into the home and are excited to teach their host children about a new language, culture and music. Host families are able to take advantage of this unique form of childcare and cultural exchange, building relationships with their au pair that last a lifetime.

During their stay in the U.S., au pairs provide live-in childcare and help their host families more easily balance their busy lifestyle. A host family can set their au pair’s working hours according to their hectic schedule, often having the au pair drive the children to and from school or to appointments, as well as supervise the older children during after-school hours and vacation breaks. And a great help to the family, au pairs also assist with light household responsibilities, such as preparing meals, the children’s laundry and helping the children keep their rooms and play areas neat.

For an active family with children, hosting an international au pair at the average cost of $360 per week is one of the most affordable childcare options available. And yet, hosting an au pair is also one of the most rewarding childcare options for families—au pairs create a very caring environment for children and enrich children’s playtimes with international games, stories and activities, while also helping families’ better balance their daily lives and schedules. Hosting an au pair not only provides the flexible and affordable childcare families need, it also creates an international bond that will last a lifetime.”

If you are interested in finding out more about hosting an au pair as a childcare option, please reach out to Lori Brust directly and let her know you read her post on the Parenting Life Lessons blog. Lori has a ton of experience and has been a local childcare consultant for over 17 years and can help parents with this wonderful childcare option anywhere in the US.

For more information, call Lori Brust at 516-797-8373 or go to her website at www.lbrust.aupairnews.com.

A Teenager’s Perspective: Five Ways to Deal with Stress

Be Calm and Don't Stress

I am so excited…I have my first guest blogger…my niece who is currently attending high school in Hong Kong wrote the following post:

Stress is inevitable and we all have to deal with it someday or another. I am a junior in high school and there is not a single week that passes by without me feeling stressed out. From homework, tests and never ending essays to extracurricular activities. I am bound to feel stressed. Though it is unavoidable, there are still many ways one can deal with stress. I am going to share some of these with you, which I learned about from my experiences.

1. Learn to say “no” – One should always know how much work one can handle, whether it is in your personal or professional life. Don’t over book your week. If you know you have a lot going on, don’t commit to more things. If it is necessary to commit, then try and work out the other things you have committed to – maybe they can be done next week when you have more time on your hands?

2. Avoid people who stress you out – This may sound a little mean, but it’s true! I had this friend who would always be stressed out and worried before an exam, which made me even more stressed. I didn’t stop talking to her but I made sure not to be around her before any test. Work around it and try to avoid anyone who stresses you out.

3. Write it down – It is very important to write down what you have to do. Sometimes we just feel we have loads of work to do when we don’t. If it’s written down, you will know exactly what you need to finish and won’t be stressed out about forgetting to do something.

4. Express what you feel – This personally helps me a lot. If something is bothering you, definitely talk to someone about it. They might have a solution and help you feel less stressed.

5. Take time out and take breaks – In psychology class, we learned that taking 10 minute breaks during studying can really make you feel less stressed. I agree, because even a small break really relaxes you. Also make time to meet your friends or go out once a week. If you just focus on work, it will really stress you out and you won’t be able to get stuff done efficiently.

These are just a few ways, which personally help me out a lot to deal with stress. I hope they are helpful for you as well, and if not you can always Google “ways to deal with stress” and find a solution which suits you.

Donate and let go of items you no longer need to allow new things to come into your life.

Donation Heart

It’s a new year. Every year I say, “We need to purge things we no longer need to be able to bring “new” things into our home.” It’s not easy being attached to “stuff” which has sentimental value or may be useful some day, but I have been determined to give it my best shot.

It’s an important life lesson and skill to teach children when they are young. If you have outgrown something (toys/clothes), we can give them away to others who can also enjoy them. We are “recycling” and doing something good for ourselves and others. Make your children part of the “giving away” process.

So I did some google searches and found the following Oprah.com article which really helped me get started: “Where to Get Rid of Anything: Where to donate, recycle, and sell your castoffs so they do some good.” You can find great suggestions on where to donate the following:

eyeglasses, baby clothes, mobile phones, desk supplies, linens, iPods and music, sports equipment, used clothing, stuffed animals, wood planks, construction materials, formal dresses, toiletries, DVDs and video games, art materials, cars, your grandmother’s antiques, an old stamp collection, magazines, shoes, books, musical instruments, techno trash, ill fitting jeans and just about anything.

This article has been so helpful. I just dropped off about 100 magazines at a local hospital emergency waiting room. Less is more. I feel lighter already. So the next time my daughter says.. “I am bored, what can I do?” I will give her a  “fun” project: Let’s get rid of the old and welcome the new!