Teach your children people and relationship skills.

A handshake

Will it be possible to have a non-digital conversation 20 years from now? I am saddened when I see children out with their families and on their electronic gadgets not having conversations with one another at a restaurant. This is an opportunity for families to connect and talk about what is going on in their lives.

Here are five small things parents can do to foster “people” skills in their children:

1- No tech gadgets at the dinner table/restaurants: We had lunch at Benihana (one of our favorite family restaurants) and sat across from a family of five. Each of the 3 children was on their own electronic gadget and adults the same. No one was talking with each other; it made me sad. Say “no” to tech gadgets when eating meals. Focus and enjoy your food and conversation.

2- Ask questions of family members: I did this on our past family vacation. I asked family members what lessons they have learned in their lives. It led to very interesting interesting conversations. The game Table Topics is also a great way to help get the conversation going.

3- Selling Girl Scout cookies* door to door vs selling them online: Initially, I was so excited about the Girl Scouts going digital with online sales, but then I thought about it. The whole art of the sale is lost because who is setting up the online site? Me and not my daughters…There is no personal interaction and work presenting yourself and the sale. So we will continue to go door to door to build those relationship skills

* It may not be Girl Scout Cookies, but at some point your kids may have to sell something to raise funds for an initiative.

4- Firm handshakes (from a previous post)

Ever since the girls were little, I would play this game with them: “Let’s pretend we are meeting for the first time; what would you do?” They would then shake my hand, look me in the eye and say “It’s a pleasure to meet you.” I would explain to them it’s always important to look at people in the eye (at least in America it is) and give them a nice solid handshake (I hate “wet fish” handshakes). It’s a basic networking skill, but I know they will continue to be able to use it during their lifetime.

5- Teach your kids the importance of “Thank You” – When one receives a gift, you want to acknowledge the gift. I think the ideal situation is to write a handwritten note 24 hours after you have received the gift, but let’s be realistic. I think in this electronic age, a handwritten thank you note is a nice touch, but I am also a fan of “Thank You Videos” – I will very often take a video clip of girls where they convey their thanks and send it to the gift giver. I can’t say we are always perfect with the thank you but we try.

It is important for parents to take the time to teach their kids these skills. Our children can only benefit from them. So what do you do to foster people and relationship skills in your kids?

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Family road trips can be fun and create long lasting family memories.

A Florida Car

Our family has taken road trips in the past, but never one from New York to Florida. I was excited when fellow YOLO mom, Diana, was willing to be a guest blogger and share a “play by play” from her road trip to Florida and the parenting life lesson she gleaned from the experience.

“Initially I was helping to fulfill my husband’s wish. For years he has begged and pleaded to drive to south Florida. He always had fond memories of driving with his family and friends. I myself had never done the trip… in fact I adamantly refused, resorting to tantrum-like behavior when needed. After much “discussion,” (basically if we wanted to go away after Christmas, we drive) the craving for sunny and 75 degree weather reigned strong….the decision was made (although not fully embraced) to do the drive.

I researched and planned everything out. For two months I relentlessly polled (and complained!) to anyone and everyone I knew about their drive experiences to Florida….with kids (one of whom notoriously gets car sick, the other is bored driving around the block!). We decided on the best time to leave, where we would stop for gas and bathroom breaks. And most importantly what we could do in the car with the kids to make the trek tolerable….for all of us (ME!)

With my research all gathered and courses mapped out and planned, we fine tuned our fun activities for the car. Luckily, Santa knew of our journey and delivered many travel-size games, maps and license plate sticker books. He also heard that the kids loved, with crazed passion, the Full House television series….he brought the 8-season, 16-disc box set for entertaining, along with a few other movies.

Our journey began at 3am….sharp. The kids remained in their pajamas,went to the bathroom and got in the car. No movies or electronics until our first anticipated gas stop in Virginia. After about an hour, they were fast asleep in the car. They didn’t wake up until we arrived for gas, food and bathrooms in Virginia. We stretched, they got changed, used the bathroom and took our food to eat in the car. Our first movie…Annie…was scheduled to start in an hour. Not a peep during the movie!!!! And one of the two kids fell fast asleep immediately afterwards. The rest of the trip went just as well…with the exceptions of the nasty I-95 bathrooms (South of the Border…need I say more for those who’ve experienced Pedro’s domain).

We made such good time (less than 6 hours) to the Carolina’s, we decided to skip our scheduled overnight stay in Savannah and motor along.

After 19 hours (door to door) with three gas and bathroom breaks (Virginia, South Carolina, Jacksonville), two movies (Annie & Million Dollar Arm) and several episodes of Full House (and a new love for all things Uncle Jesse circa his Kokomo Beach Boys days) we arrived at our destination (Delray Beach, FL)…with happy kids, who weren’t bored or carsick, immeasurable and countless laughs, stories and memories to last a life time.

I can truly say I had the best time! My husband was right!! The memories that I took away were unknowingly worth more than the convenience of an airplane flight.

For those of you thinking this is absolutely insane, a one time thing…the ride home was just as great…although the seedy bathrooms along the highway were worse northbound!!

What I took away from our journey…YOLO (You Only Live Once)…trying something outside your comfort zone can be a lot of fun, can create long lasting memories and great laughs. My family enjoyed the trip so much…..we did it again in February. Of course our bathroom choices were much more selective this time around.

A Florida Journal

My family memories of this trip are incredible. I started our initial trip with a handmade journal (made from palm tree and flamingo -patterned duct tape) to check in and record our thoughts on an hourly basis. This initially was going to be my proof of how awful the trip was going to be…documentation for my husband that we did it and never will do it again. Our journal (which we continued on our second trip) is worth gold to me! Lasting memories preserved for life! And proof that I was happy to be wrong:)”

Sounds like such fun. Makes me want to start planning a road trip for April when the kids are off from school again.

What road trips have you been on? Any funny stories?

Gift registries for children are helpful time savers.

A Gift Registry Time Saver

As many of you know from one of my previous posts (Birthday Gift Ideas), I am a big fan of gift experiences vs physical gifts. What is more important to me as the gift giver, however, is to get something the person will enjoy.

After RSVPing to a child’s birthday party, I was going to text the parent for a few gift ideas. When I looked at the invite a bit closer, I saw the parent actually included that the birthday girl was registered at Target. “Absolute genius!”, I thought to myself. I could order the gift online at Target, use our Target Credit Card  and receive free shipping (no minimum). I don’t even have to go to the store…that’s even better.

Not everyone may agree with listing a gift registry for a child, but I truly appreciated it. You are saving me time and allowing me to get something your daughter will enjoy. Thank you 🙂

Aesop’s fables can teach many valuable life lessons.

Aesop Fable Picture

As a child, I always enjoyed reading Aesop’s fables, but always wondered who Aesop was. Is he a real person? It is said he was born a slave around 620 BC in Greece or Ethiopia. He was a gifted storyteller and each story had a valuable lesson. These fables were passed down from parents to children for hundreds of years and eventually were recorded in written form.

These stories are short and simple and teach both young and old valuable life lessons.

Top 10 Favorite Aesop’s Fables “Parenting” Life Lessons (in no particular order):

1- Finish your work before you play. (The Kid and the Wolf)

2- Slow and steady wins the race. (The Tortoise and the Hare)

3- Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched. (The Milkmaid and her Pail)

4 – Misfortune is the test of true friendship. (The Two Travelers and the Bear)

5 – Once a wolf, always a wolf. (The Helpful Wolf)

6 – It is of no use to read the stars if you can’t see what’s right here on earth. (The Astrologer)

7 – Heaven helps those who help themselves. (Hercules and the Farmer)

8- There is a time for work and a time for play. (The Ants and the Grasshopper)

9- Self-help is the best help. (The Lark and Her Young Ones)

10- You are judged by the company you keep. (The Farmer and the Stork)

I use these life lessons for parenting all the time. It is any easy way to teach a lesson to both kids and adults alike.