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 and “me” time vacations are important to help you recharge your batteries.

Recharge Your Batteries

Between the holidays and our end of the year family vacation, I took a bit of a longer break from writing posts. Vacations are an important way for people to relax and recharge their batteries.

Top 5 Reasons Vacation is Important:

1- Quality Family Time: School, work, after school activities keep us so busy that we don’t get to spend quality time with the family. Be present and shut off those electronic gadgets to create some lasting  memories on your family vacation.

2- It Destresses You: It allows us to take a break from the everyday stresses of life. I remember reading somewhere that “Stress is related to 99% of all illness.” So relax, catch up on sleep and exercise a bit more (going for long walks count too).

3- “Me” Time: While family time is important so is “me” time – girlfriend weekend getaway anyone? A weekend of sharing, laughing, eating, drinking and focusing on ourselves and not our family can be very reenergizing. This is important for guys too; everyone can use a break.

4- Exploring New Places Is Fun: You can also have a “staycation” and explore places which are not too far from home. This past weekend, we decided to go on a BA (I just made that up) – Brooklyn Adventure (BA). We walked on the promenade in Brooklyn Heights, asked the girls to identify NYC landmarks and had a delicious pizza lunch at Dellarocco.

5- YOLO (You Only Live Once): “Work to live, don’t live to work.” is one of my life mantras. As I tell my daughters all the time, “Life is not a dress rehearsal, enjoy life.”

Keep in mind, vacations dont have to be 1-2 weeks at a stretch, a 3 day escape from your daily routine can refresh your mind and body too.

So what is the parenting life lesson here? Parenting is hard work! Take some time off/vacation to recharge your batteries to help you with the ups and downs of the wonderful parenting “rollercoaster” and enjoy life!

It is important to take time for yourself and to be “present” when you are spending time with your children.

A smart phone

I am so happy to have fellow YOLO mom, Kristen, as a guest blogger sharing some of her parenting life lessons. Kristen has been temporarily relocated to North Carolina these last 4 months for a lung transplant. As she prepares to return home, she has been reflecting on this time she has spent away, separated from her daughter all this time and these are some of the lessons she has learned:

Take a time out every day. Our lives are so busy and we’re always on the phone, computer, texting, etc. Spend 15 minutes every day and just pay attention to what the kids have to say. Sometimes conversation with a 7 year old can be like pulling teeth. We have been doing nightly phone calls and I ask her to tell me the best and worst part of her day. It opens the line of communication and gives me an idea of what makes her happy and what’s going wrong in her life. They’ll talk if they know you’re really listening. (Thanks, Kristen. I really like this one. I have now started to incorporate this one in my life.)

It’s ok to take time for yourself. Four months is a bit extreme, but for me there was no other option. We toyed with the idea of bringing her down to North Carolina, but I would have never been able to focus the energy I needed on myself to heal – mentally or physically. I never left her for more than a night before this…she “needed me” too much. Going forward though I know it’s ok to take time for myself – she’ll be ok with grandma & grandpa and I’ll be an even better parent for taking the time for myself. A girls only trip to the Bahamas is being planned for next year – I’ve been away enough this year! ( I really agree with this one also – YOLO (You Only Live Once!)

Kristen’s parenting life lesson should remind us all about the valuable commodity of time. It reminds me of the following quote: ” Yesterday is History, Tomorrow a Mystery, Today is a Gift, That’s why it’s called the Present” – Take time for yourself today and make the most of it! The summer has officially begun! Enjoy!

 

 

 

It’s never too early to start your Summer Bucket List.

A Summer Bucket List Photo

 

This is going to be the summer of “Less is More”. I am not signing up the kids for activities for most of the summer, but going to keep it open so we can get up and go to accomplish items on our Summer Bucket List. Keep it simple. Be grateful, happy and satisfied. Here is a draft of our list of what we have so far…

  1. Adventureland
  2. Baseball Game
  3. BBQ
  4. Beach
  5. Bowling
  6. Camping
  7. Cape Cod
  8. Central Park Picnic
  9. Circle Line Cruise
  10. Concert – Katy Perry, Jones Beach Theater
  11. Drive-In Movie Theater
  12. Dutch Wonderland
  13. Enjoy our own Backyard (Explore with a Magnifying Glass?)
  14. Lemonade Stand
  15. Local Parks
  16. Mini Golf
  17. Museums
  18. NOFO, LI
  19. Pedal Boot
  20. Play Badminton, Bocce, Frisbee, Tennis
  21. Pool
  22. Read a Good Book
  23. Run through Water Sprinklers in the Backyard
  24. See Family and Friends
  25. Sleepovers
  26. Splish Splash Water Park
  27. Stand outside the Today show with a sign
  28. Walk 10K Steps a Day
  29. Water Balloon Catch

Mommy Poppins® also has Top 100 Things to Do with your Kids Before They Grow Up in NYC and Long Island . Good stuff…

What’s on your Summer Bucket List?

It’s usually better to be early rather than late.

A Clock

There are so many expressions around this: the early bird catches the worm; first-come, first- served, etc.

I will share some personal examples with you of why it’s usually better to be early vs late:

Kids do remember: Last week, my younger daughter had her spring concert in the morning. My husband was traveling on business and could not be there. I wanted to make sure I was there as early as possible to get a good seat. One of my friends who came later was amazed that I was able to get the first row. “I hopped in the car to drive to school shortly after my daughter got on the bus.”, I told her. My daughter’s smile was all worth it because she should see me and knew I would capture the video for my husband to see.

Sitting at the airport is less stressful: I will never forget the time when my husband and I were leaving for our honeymoon to Greece. We lived in the city at the time and left the house at 2:00pm for 5:30pm flight. It seemed like we had enough time, but it was raining, taxi shift turnover (which means no one wants to drive to the airport) and it was a Friday. Long story short, it took us a while to get a cab and we had lots of traffic. The cab driver kept on saying “I don’t think you are going to make it.” over and over again. My stress level was high. We did make it, but I think it was because the plane was delayed. After this experience, I now always make sure I leave even more time to get to the airport. I would rather just be there early, sit around and relax.

First impressions do make a difference: It is always better to be early for an interview. This is a no brainer. Make sure you know how to get there and leave enough buffer time. No excuses are acceptable showing up late for an interview.

I can’t say I am perfect with being on time, but I try to teach my kids it is better to be early rather than late (or call to say you will be running late): be respectful of other people’s time, be less stressed and make a good first impression.

Recycle small toys and raise funds for the community or a charity.

A Earthfest

I am always looking for ways to teach the girls about recycling and giving back to the community. So last week I started a new project for the kids. Let’s go through the toy closet and gather all the small toys we received in goodie bags, McDonalds Happy Meals, etc that we don’t need anymore and put them in a “treasure chest” (plastic box).

In honor of Earthfest, the girls and I sold these recycled small toy “treasures” for 25 cents a piece. All funds we raised were donated to the local bird sanctuary toward the erection of a shelter on the property. It went over really well with those who attended the event and it taught my daughters the following lessons: the importance of recycling, sales and customer service, math, fundraising and giving back to the community.

After the long winter, it was just nice to be outside again and we really had a lot of fun. We will probably do this again over the summer when we have a lemonade stand. Recycle, reduce and reuse:  just another idea I thought I would share to make recycling more fun for kids while doing something nice for the community.

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!

Setting up a monthly breakfast or happy hour is a great way to connect with other parents in your neighborhood.

Yellow School Bus
Today, we are having our monthly YOLO (You Only Live Once) breakfast bus stop get together.

My older daughter started a new school this year and I thought it would be fun to hold a monthly breakfast to get to know the other parents at the bus stop. They are a great bunch of people and our “meetings” are lots of fun. We get together at a local place (Swing the Teapot in Floral Park, NY – love it!) and we share stories about life, teachers, kid and school activities as well as stuff going on in the neighborhood. We also swapped cell phone numbers. In case something ever comes up and daily bus stop pick up becomes a problem, we can help each other out.

As Hillary Clinton once said, ” It takes a village to raise a child.” I always like to say “Sharing is Caring ” and setting up a monthly breakfast, lunch or happy hour is a great way to do that. Enjoy!