Monday, January 30, 2017

"Do No Harm" Parenting: 5 Things Parents Should Never Do

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Being a parent is scary... Especially when you realize that you are literally shaping how another human being turns out.  I've made my fair share of mistakes (and then some) when it comes to raising my children.  Over the past few months, I've been doing a lot of thinking about what I think good parenting looks like versus what I actually do. I hit some of my parenting goals, but come up short in others. It struck me when I was watching an episode of Grey's Anatomy. The phrase "do no harm" came up and I realized that this key tenant for physician's could also be held as a sort of backbone for parenting philosophies.  To be somewhat succinct, I'm going to share with you five ways things that parents can do in the practice of "do no harm" parenting.

Don't spank.
So many of us grew up in the time where spanking was commonplace.  Many like to use the phrase, "I was spanked and I turned out okay." Let's look at this from another point of view.  You make a huge error at work, breaking several department rules, and to punish you, your boss hits you. Sound okay? No? Well, neither does striking children who've been alive less than a decade because they've made a poor choice.  There is a cognitive dissonance in our society where hitting a grown adult is considered illegal, but striking a child whom you've birthed is not. As parents, aren't we supposed to be the protectors? The trusted ones? I think of how I felt being spanked as a child... It's hurtful.
Instead... If you feel yourself getting angry enough to strike your child, walk away. Take a break and come back when you can handle the situation in a way that is loving, healthy, and adult in manner.

Don't name call.
Some of you may have read my post on the "idiot" at the craft fair (her words, not mine). This interaction is still stuck in my mind to this day. Children are so easily labeled as "brats", "naughty", and other words of that nature for simply making mistakes that little people make.  It seems we often expect so much out of our children without allowing them much room for error despite their age.
Instead... Stress to your child that you disapprove of their behavior, not them as a person.  This can be conveyed in a statement like, "It upsets me when you make choices like (insert poor behavior) because I know that you are a smart/kind/loving kiddo." Label the child's actions, not the child.
 
Don't be rude, snarky, or mean.
I know it can be tough to not let a snippy remark out when you're stressed to the max, no one is cooperating, and you are pushed to your very limit. But all that those types of comments do in stressful situations is heighten the emotions and create even more discord.
Instead... Speak to your children with the same respect and kindness that you would want your partner or employer to use with you. Like the old saying goes, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." And sometimes as parents, our silence when things are going awry speaks more to hour children than our words do.

Don't share embarrassing stories/pictures on social media
I have some photos from my childhood that I'd rather no one see. There were the bare bottom bathroom pictures, the hysterical Santa photos, and the ones with my huge 80s glasses, permed hair, braces, and all around awkwardness. And we've all seen those "my child is crying because..." memes.  The reasons for our children's upsets may be trivial to us. But in their little worlds, they carry huge weight.
Instead... Before you post on social media, ask yourself how your child will feel if they were to see your post once they're teenagers or adults. Will it feel like an exposure they aren't comfortable with? Will they feel as though they were being mocked?

Don't shame or threaten to get a desired behavior
The easiest examples of this are comments such as "Stop acting like a baby" or "Could you just act your age for once?"  Making a child feel bad about their behaviors isn't going to stop the behaviors, only add more negative internal thoughts and anxiety about whatever is causing the problem in the first place.
Instead... Issue if/then statements.  "If you do not put on your shoes, then we can't go to the park." Address the child's behavior, not their character.
 
 
Like I said, it's scary being a parent. We can't always parent perfectly all the time. But what we can do, is ensure that we are engaged and intentional, especially when we discipline. Like Frederick Douglas said, "It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
 
 
Remember, your child is being the best little kid they know how to be. Be understanding, cut them a break, and above all, do no harm.





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Friday, January 27, 2017

Toddler Playschool: T is for Teddy Bears {free printable}

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I have been patiently waiting for the letter T to come around for the sole purpose of having a teddy bear picnic. There are so many other fun activities within this lesson plan!  These fuzzy stuffed animals just allow for so many different learning tangents to go down.
 
 
If you missed the first few weeks, you can find them here:
 
This curriculum is ideal for 2-3 year olds. We'll be reinforcing colors and shapes and introducing letters and numbers. We'll be exploring a different theme each week as we proceed through the alphabet. It provides us with a framework of activity ideas we can use and expand on.  Very soon, I will be providing links to activities on these posts... There's just not enough time for me! 
 
 
 
 
 
Click the link below to download 


I'd love for you to join us on our adventure! If you share on social media, use the hashtag #toddlerplayschool so I can see all of your wonderful activities!
 



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Friday, January 20, 2017

Toddler Playschool: S is for Space {free printable}

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The topic of space always seems to bring up so much wonder in children and adults alike. It has so much to explore and endless possibilities as far as learning activities. That's what makes it a great theme for the letter S. So I've put together some fun space-themed toddler learning activities for you to download and use.
 
 
 
If you missed the first few weeks, you can find them here:
 
This curriculum is ideal for 2-3 year olds. We'll be reinforcing colors and shapes and introducing letters and numbers. We'll be exploring a different theme each week as we proceed through the alphabet. It provides us with a framework of activity ideas we can use and expand on.  Very soon, I will be providing links to activities on these posts... There's just not enough time for me! 
 
 
 
 
Click the link below to download 


I'd love for you to join us on our adventure! If you share on social media, use the hashtag #toddlerplayschool so I can see all of your wonderful activities!
 



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Thursday, January 19, 2017

50+ Non-Candy DIY Classroom Valentine Ideas for Kids

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This post contains Affiliate Links.
 

Valentine's Day is rapidly approaching.  If you're anything like me, you like to get your children's classroom valentines done early so you don't have to stress about it.  Candy is in abundance this time of year, so I always like  to find fun and creative non-candy valentines for kids. Here are 50+ amazing ideas you can use to create those classroom treats, most with free printables for you to download.


Bag up a ball and add this topper for instant fun.
Create lovebug valentines like these from Dandee Designs.
Is your kiddo a Star Wars fan? Grab some Tic Tacs these cute Star Wars valentines.
Grab some embroidery thread and braid or buy friendship bracelets to pair with these darling labels.
These Lego valentines could be put together easily with a small Lego assortment box.
Make a sweet treat with a healthy kick like these applesauce cups from C.R.A.F.T.



Healthy can be fun with these raisin treats from Cutefetti.
Get your kiddo's valentine raring to go with some pullback cars and this awesome car printable.
Goldfish valentines like these from Frugal Coupon Living are a great catch!
Make these cute dinosaur valentines using an assortment pack from your local toy store.
"Orange" you glad to find these cutie valentines from The Cards We Drew?
Give a practical gift like these rulers. Get the printable here.



These applesauce pouch valentines from Funky Polka Dot Giraffe are both healthy and fun.
Show your kid's valentines how "kool" they are with drink packets and this printable.
They'll take a little crafting, but these arrow pencil valentines are right on the mark.
Create treats that are "nacho" average valentines like Larissa Another Day did.
All you need is some pencils and this printable to create valentines that are the "write" stuff.
Make some "a-doh-able" valentines with mini playdoh and these labels from Primary Punch.



They might take some time to create, but these TMNT valentines are "turtley" awesome!
Pair up some glowsticks from the dollar spot with this printable for valentines for your Star Wars fan.
These "hogs and kisses" valentine treats from The NY Melrose Family are healthy and cute.
Let your kiddo show their wild side using small plastic animals and this fun printable tag
Knock the socks off of your valentine with cute socks and this printable from Made to be a Momma.
This popcorn valentine and printable from Crazy Little Projects is exploding with cuteness.


 

I'm not sure how you'd keep them cold, (freeze maybe?), but these go-gurt valentines are so fun!
This bubble printable and mini bubble wands from Lil Luna will blow your kiddo's valentines away.
These colorful valentines from Crazy Little Projects give kiddos crayon packs instead of candy.
My 3 Monsters created a snacky valentine printable that cracks me up.
 Walk on the wild side with these cute plastic animal valentines from Home is What You Make It.
You could make these ah-maze-ing valentines easily with some plastic maze party favors.
 


These superhero bracelets and free printable are sure to save the day!
Grab a bag of sunglasses and this free printable to create valentines that are cute and useful.
The Crafting Chicks created this valentine printable that is just "plane" awesome. Get yours here.
Pairing crazy straws and this printable creates some ex-straw-dinary valentines.
Do your kids still like to rainbow loom? Pair their creations with these tags.
Handlebar mustaches never get old. That's why I'm loving these 'stache valentines so much!



These leaping lizards valentines are so fun! All you need is the printable and some plastic lizards.
If you've got the time to create them, these lovebug fruit cups are too cute to pass up.
Remember those stampers from when we were kids? Create valentines for your kids with them!
Kinetic sand is all the rage. So whip up a batch use these labels from Smart Schoolhouse.
Another throwback valentine idea is these adorable boxes of animal crackers from Nestling Designs.
Snag some Lego erasers and build some awesome valentines with this printable.




You can make or buy them, but these superhero mask valentines would be a sure hit.
Frozen fans will surely think these Olaf popsicle valentines are cool.
Everyone wants a slinky! Pair mini plastic slinkies with these cute cards from 30 Handmade Days.
These yummy valentines from Crafty Morning are sure to get the party poppin'!
Pairing a punny printable and yummy Twinkies makes valentines that are far from despicable.
These loom band valentines could also be done with rubber friendship bracelets.
 



You don't get much more non-candy than apples! Get the printable to make them here.
Pair glowsticks and this printable for a super bright valentine idea.
Add frog party favors to these cards for a valentine guaranteed to make your kid's class "hoppy".
Create these colorful valentines by adding these tags to watercolor paints.
The last of the throwback valentines go to these shutter sunglasses and cards from Melanie Makes.


Wishing you all a fun Valentine's Day filled with love and laughter!




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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

21 Celebrity Moms You'll Want to Be BFFs With

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I can't be the only one who has ever daydreamed about which celebrities I would be BFFs with if I was a part of the Hollywood scene, am I?  So often throughout our time spent on social media, we see pictures of and read articles about the mommas in Hollywood that speak the "mommy language" we all know so well. For me, it's very reassuring to see these mothers in prominent positions living the same truths and fighting the same battles that I do in my motherhood.

Here are my top 21 Celebrity Moms that you'll want to be BFFs with (and what they teach us).

 
Kristen Bell
What is there not to like about her? I'm gonna sound a little stalkerish when I say she's my celebrity kindred spirit. She's unapologetically pro-vax, had a $142 wedding, loves sloths, and is the voice to one of the most empowering princesses Disney has ever created. And have you seen the commercials that she and hubby, Dax Shepherd, have done? Kristen is as real as it gets. She can come to my house for dinner anytime.
Lesson: Be real and be kind.

 
Jennifer Love Hewitt
She's bubbly, kind, and more talented than many stars in Hollywood. Acting, directing, producing, and singing...hello?! And when the media tried to body shame her a few years back, she shut it down by saying, "This is the last time I will address this subject.  I've sat by in silence for a long time now about the way women's bodies are constantly scrutinized. To set the record straight, I'm not upset for me, but for all of the girls out there that are struggling with their body image." Way to go, Love!
Lesson: Beauty only goes so far. Develop your skills (whatever they may be) and love yourself.


Michelle Obama
I don't think there's been a First Lady in history I've loved as much as Michelle Obama.  She's so much more than the amazing fashion sense that the media raves about. She's profoundly educated and fiercely intelligent.  Mrs. Obama is the epitome of grace, class, intelligence, and character.  This is evident in her powerful quote, that she'll be forever known for, "When they go low, we go high." I could leave just those seven words and it would be enough. But her speech that night, brought me to tears... It wrecked me. Because never mind what her position is in our country, she's a mother and she's a woman. And she gets it.
Lesson: When others make low blows, shrug it off and be a person of integrity.

 
Pink
I'm a long time fan of Pink and the empowering vibe she puts out to her female fans.  But when I saw all of her posts on breastfeeding, she won me over all over again. After a fellow restaurant patron commented on her breastfeeding her 15 month old daughter, Pink responded with, "You didn’t get enough hugs when you were little?"  She adamantly declared that she would fight for her right to nurse her daughter wherever, whenever. As a momma who has nursed my babies into toddlerhood, I commend her for using her spot in the public eye to increase awareness on breastfeeding as a natural and normal thing to do.
Lesson: Stand up for your babies and parenting issues you're passionate about. Sometimes you've got to call people out.



Chrissy Teigen
I'm going to admit that I don't have finger on the pulse of Hollywood. So I didn't know of Chrissy until she posted this tweet. After that, between her breastfeeding in public and her honest tweets about parenting, I'm in love. She tells it straight and doesn't bow down to societal expectations of how mothering should be. This is something that has garnered her many critics, but she shrugs it off and carries on. Plus, she posts pics of herself in Big Mac pjs. How do you not love her after that?
Lesson: Being a mom is hard work. Don't listen to the haters. Follow your momma instinct.



Jennifer Garner
Jennifer shows us what is possible in parenthood even when married life doesn't quite pan out. My heart goes out to her for dealing with all of that in the public eye. And her momma-game is strong. I love her take on parenting.  "No matter what, you have to actually get down on the floor and spend some time together.” Nailed it!
Lesson:  Get down on your children's level... as much as possible.


Jenna Dewan-Tatum
Holy smokes, is Jenna a strong woman with undeniable talent. And, you think it's easy being married to one of the most desirable men in the world? No way could I do that. There's no doubt that she is an amazing mother, but as a momma who has struggled for 8 years on how to be a mother *and* a wife, it's her relationship with Channing that amazes me most. When I saw how they connected on Lip Sync Battle, I was honestly inspired by their connection.  Jenna and her husband seem to have such an incredible relationship that allows her to balance being a wife and a mother, something I think many of us struggle with. Can you say #relationshipgoals?
Lesson: You can be a mom and be a sexy wife... it's okay to play a double role.


Amy Poehler
Are you following Amy's Facebook page, Smart Girls? If not, I encourage you to go...no, run to Facebook and follow it immediately.  Through it, Amy promotes raising girls who rely on their "intelligence and imagination over 'fitting in.'" Truly empowering for the parent of girls. Amy brings feminism (yes, that pesky f-word) to today's generation and helps us realize that gender is merely a category, not a constraint on ability.
Lesson: Girls can do anything, Gender is a label, not a factor.


Drew Barrymore
I've love Drew since I was a teenager (and I won't tell you how many years ago that was). She always speaks truth. She once said that parenthood is like "having the worst crush of your life. I drive home with heart palpitations like I can't wait to get to her." And don't we all relate to this?
Lesson: Love your kids.  Love them hard. Don't let people tell you you're hovering or creating a needy child.



Angelina Jolie
Truth time.  I wasn't always a fan.  But after seeing how Angelina is raising her children, I can't help but love her.  She's raising a racially and culturally diverse family, all the while proving to the world that love is blind and that hate of others who are different is taught, not inborn.  She uses her position in Hollywood and the world to bring light to the struggles of others as a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador.  And she has taught the world about unconditional love and support through her child, John's, recent name change.
Lesson: When you're beautiful inside, it radiates from you and shines on everything you touch. 


Kate Hudson
Kate Hudson has had my heart since I first saw her in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (and no, it's not because she played Andie Anderson, a character who shares my name).  There's just something refreshing about her.  When I read her self-penned essay entitled, "Sometimes I Feel Like a Bad Mom," I knew that my affinity towards her was on point.  She admits to doing random things around the house in effort to hide from her kids (you know you've done it).  Kate also refuses to apologize for wanting to pursue a career in addition to being a mom.  The cherry on the sundae is her book, Pretty Happy, which focuses on the importance of loving your body.
Lesson: You don't have to be perfect to be a good mom.  Just love your kids and love yourself.


Sandra Bullock
A mother is a mother, no matter how that comes to be.  Sandra adopted one of her children from the foster care system and another child of a close friend when the woman passed away.  My favorite quote of hers is, "My family is blended and diverse, nutty, and loving and understanding. That's a family." Well said, Sandra, well said. As the parent of one adopted child and two biological children, her view on family hits me to my core.
Lesson: Families are built from love and care for one another, not blood.


Brooke Shields
After living many years with a mental health diagnosis of bipolar disorder, chronic depression, and a myriad of other issues, the impending birth of my first child was daunting to me.  So much, that I began to seek out resources for Postpartum Depression halfway through my pregnancy.  Those searches led me to Brooke's book, Down Came the Rain. As I read her words, my heart ached for her.  Never had I heard anyone speak so candidly about PPD.  I commend her for her courage in talking about an issue that still seems to be taboo in our society.
Lesson: PPD is real and vicious.  Seeking help for it, does not mean that you are a bad mother.
 

Jamie Lee Curtis
As the mother of two children, Jamie Lee has an amazing insight into how children's minds work.  This is evident in the multiple children's books she's written, which are some of our favorites. Her words speak  She speaks with such a real and honest voice in her books in topics like adoption, feelings, and self esteem.  If you haven't read her books with your kids, I encourage you to!
Lesson: Take some time to look at the world as your children see it.


Catherine Zeta-Jones
The Hollywood media rocked when Catherine checked herself into a mental health treatment facility three years ago for bipolar disorder.  Since then, she has openly discussed her diagnosis with the public in hopes of relieving the stigma attached to mental health issues.  She's a prime example of someone who is successfully living with bipolar, thanks to medications and counseling. 
Lesson: Don't be ashamed to ask for mental health services. So many conditions are manageable with treatment.

 
Alyssa Milano
Ahhh... Another one of my breastfeeding heroes! I grew up watching Alyssa on tv, so when she started posting all of these lovely nursing photos of her and her babes, the kinship I felt towards her grew even stronger. Alyssa has said that she finds breastfeeding to be "one of the greatest joys of my life."  I can't argue with that.  And I commend her for being a supporter of a woman's right to nurse, without getting into the shaming of mothers who cannot or choose not to breastfeed their babies.
Lesson: Don't apologize for being the momma that your gut tells you to be, no matter what people say.


Julie Chrisley
Chrisley Knows Best is my guilty momma indulgence.  Aside from Grey's Anatomy, there isn't another current show that I follow religiously.  From the second I watched the first episode, there was something that reeled me in... I mean, who doesn't like reality tv in some form?  But as I watched more and more of the shows, there was a realness to Julie and her husband, Todd's, parenting approach.  Despite dealing with situations that may or may not be prompted by loose scripting, Julie responds with humor, levelheadedness, and compassion. She loves her family fiercely, a fact that's evident by their raising of their granddaughter, Coco.
Lesson: No matter what life throws at you, love and laugh your way through it.


Heidi Klum
Holy cow. If there's ever a woman that can show how motherhood and a career can coexist, it's Heidi.  She's built an empire, all while being a devoted mother.  It's refreshing to see in a time where it seems so many have to choose between working and their job. When asked about the struggles in having 4 children, Heidi replied, "Making sure you give each one the time, love, and attention he or she needs." Hits the nail on the head, whether you have 2 or 6 kids.
Lesson: Time spent with your children, no matter how limited, is never in vain.


Jessica Alba
Jessica gained my attention at the 2016 Kids Choice Awards when she called for an end to gun violence. In an appearance at the awards show with many teens affected by gun violence, she stated that society needs to "stop...and ask what’s going on." In a society where the 2nd Amendment trumps the lives of children, Jessica has the courage to ask people to stop and consider whether or not it makes sense.
Lesson: Standing up for common sense gun laws doesn't have to mean that you're against the Constitution.


Candace Cameron Bure
I feel like  I've known Candace all my life. Probably because so many of us went through those horrid preteen and teen years right along with her Full House character, DJ. But, what has struck me more about Candace is her faith and how she has unabashedly pulled being a Christian into mainstream forums like Dancing with the Stars and The View. She's not hesitant to speak her truth about God as she knows and understands Him.  And I love it.
Lesson: Be firm in your faith and do not be afraid to speak publicly about your walk with God.


Alicia Keys
Where do I begin? Her incredible voice, soulful words, or her confidence in showing up on the red carpet sans makeup in celebration of her natural beauty and in rebuke of societal standards on women? Alicia is the real deal. She's a co-founder of Keep a Child Alive and has actively spoken out about the Dakota Access Pipeline, and lent her words and heart to the We Are Here movement. All in all, she is the Renaissance woman of our generation.
Lesson: Find your inner activist. Believe that you can change the world and make it better for our children.
 
 
When it all boils down, any one of us can make a difference in the lives of others. These are just some of the many notable women that are taking motherhood and life by the horns and refusing to back down. Is there anyone that you would add to this list? Who would it be?
 





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Friday, January 13, 2017

Toddler Playschool: R is for Rainbows {free printable}

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I'm not sure why rainbows make me so happy. Maybe it's the 80's baby in me? Did you love Rainbow Brite as much as I did? So, I reserved the letter R for Rainbow activities in the very start of my planning. Rainbows offer so much in the way of learning activities... from color recognition/sorting/mixing to some truly amazing science activities.
 
If you missed the first few weeks, you can find them here:
 
This curriculum is ideal for 2-3 year olds. We'll be reinforcing colors and shapes and introducing letters and numbers. We'll be exploring a different theme each week as we proceed through the alphabet. It provides us with a framework of activity ideas we can use and expand on.  Very soon, I will be providing links to activities on these posts... There's just not enough time for me! 
 
 
 
Click the link below to download 


I'd love for you to join us on our adventure! If you share on social media, use the hashtag #toddlerplayschool so I can see all of your wonderful activities!
 



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