Want Smart Kids?

crafts

From my segment on Star 105.7 with Tommy and Brook… Listen to segment here: Real Moms: Want Smart Kids?

We know that the library needs to be our friend all summer, but did you know that the smart kids are doing more than reading?
(Please library loving people, forgive me…you know I would never tell them to really put down books…but just take a deep breath and open your hearts 🙂 )

That’s right, they’re doing crafts!

Creativity is just as important as reading. So, give them some supplies and a little direction and let their imaginations go wild.

When kids create, it stimulates the right side of their brain and…well, makes them smart!

I need to give a disclaimer here, I am NOT crafty. I want to be. I have glue guns, paints and supplies. But I’m just a poser. I’m the kid whose watercolor landscapes always turned into brown mountains with grey skies.

But our kids don’t care, and perfection is not part of life for Real Moms, so just have fun with it, get messy and let the kids create. It’s summer, hose them off when they’re done! It’s all good.

Here are a few ideas for you, because I couldn’t come up with anything beyond popsicle stick people:

My friend Korene has a great craft page here:  CRAFTREDO

I also have some fantastic ideas from crafty type people for you on my Pinterest Page in the “Parenting and Kid Stuff” board.

So, let’s do some crafts this summer and grow some smart kids!

 

If you’re not in the West Michigan area you can listen to my segments every Tuesday at 7:05 AM EST live on iHeart Radio anywhere in the world!

Check out Tommy and Brook’s page online at West Michigan STAR: Tommy and Brook

Their Facebook page: Tommy and Brook

And their Twitter: @TommyAndBrook

What Do Our Kids Want From Us?

summer-camp

Obviously an endless supply of Sourpatch kids candy, DS games, new bikes and a new iPhone would be top on their list, but apparently our kids want a few other things from us too. I’ve been talking with Tommy and Brook on Star 105.7 for the last several weeks about survey results of what else our kids want from us. You can listen to my segments on my Star 105.7 page or read about them here:

  • Come into my bedroom at night, tuck me in. Come say goodnight. Another good idea is to talk about what they are thankful for from the day. Studies have proven that on common quality of happy people is: gratitude!
  • During dinner, talk about what you could do together on the weekend. Kids love to have something to look forward to! Unless your weekend plans are to clean out the garage, then be nice and skip this one.
  • Let them play outside, A LOT. Summer’s coming Momma, send them out that screen door!
  • Tell them stories about when you were little. Keep in mind ‘little’ let’s not talk about those college years!
  • This one might surprise you, but when kids were asked to look back and tell what they remembered and loved most about their moms…one of the things is that they were thankful that she disciplined them. The reason is that they said: it made them feel like she cared. “She took the time to teach me how to be a good person.”
    I should emphasize discipline- not just punishment. There’s a big difference, discipline is about disciple-ing not just grounding them with no guidance for their future.
  • Give them room to grow.  The older they get, the more we need to step back so they can do things on their own. I think we really start to see this in junior high. They are going through crazy growth and hormonal changes and we are going to need to adjust how we parent them. Instead of doing it all for them, it’s time to start guiding them and being more hands off.
  • To continue the idea of giving them room to grow, one of the biggest ways we help our kids is by teaching them to make decisions. When they’re little, we help them recognize when they’ve made a good versus a poor choice. The older they get we coach them along the path of decision making and help them with three ideas:

As they get older we want our kids to ask themselves these three things when it comes to decision making:

  1. Why do I want to do this?
    You want your children to understand what motivates their decisions.
    Is it peer pressure? Is it selfish?
  2. What are my options?
    When they’re little we can help them by narrowing choices and as they grow we help them see the choices they have.
  3. What are the consequences or benefits?
    Do they really want the outcome of this decision?
    Kids tend to make impulsive, immediate gratification decisions (Don’t we all?!)
    And often when we ask our older kids why they did something wrong, they’re response (if being honest) is that they just didn’t stop to think about the consequences.

 

Ok, so that was a lot to take in, I think you deserve a good cup of coffee and some dark chocolate!

Point your kids in the right direction— when they’re old they won’t be lost.
Proverbs 22:6

If you’re not in the West Michigan area you can listen live on iHeart Radio anywhere in the world!

Check out Tommy and Brook’s page online at West Michigan STAR: Tommy and Brook

Their Facebook page: Tommy and Brook

And their Twitter: @TommyAndBrook

Moms, What You Are Doing Matters

Taken from my segment on Star 105.7 in West Michigan with Tommy and Brook

Last week as I spoke to a MOPS group I looked at the tired eyes of those moms who feel buried in laundry and overcome with planning dinners and driving to practices and doing homework (on the way to school because the night before they said “no, mom I don’t have ny homework”), and I just want so badly for them to grasp how important their roles are in their child’s life.

I have 4 kids, three are grown and we adopted our youngest and she’s 8 yrs old.

I remember with (as I fondly refer to them) ‘my first batch of kids’ how I felt like the house keeper, room service and chauffer. I was a taller, blonder, unshowered Benson that lived in the suburbs in a house with so little heat that we put up a blanket in the stairway to keep ourselves warm all day. I didn’t feel like my role mattered except to keep the kids from killing each other and putting a few groceries in their busy little bodies.

Fast forward a couple decades and my oldest is married and second son is engaged. This past weekend we helped our son and his new wife move. Watching my grown sons interact and seeing how they treat their wife and fiancé ….it made me so thankful and I realized even more how much moms matter. Thankfully, I also thought about how little all the mistakes I made along the way, mattered. We’re real moms, we’re not perfect but being there for our kids, taking care of all the mundane tasks that we must do…it really matters.

I just want to tell moms (and dads)…that what you’re doing…this sometimes exhausting and seemingly thankless job…it matters. You are nurturing and raising the next generation.

No matter the age, whether your kids are picking up everything they see and putting it in their mouths or sassing back with the same lips a few years later, your role in their life matters.

If they are biological, adopted, foster or step children, you matter. You make a difference.

It wasn’t until we adopted Lauren that I came to understand the depth and power of attachment in a child’s life. It was a rocky first year with a little girl that spent her first 26 months in an orphange, and the several years since have been a learning experience. Even though she’s strongly attached, there is still a glimpse of that “survival” tendency in her that keeps me on my toes.

So when I saw this on the wall of her school, my heart melted.

feb 2013Yup, it matters.

Give yourself a break Moms, you’re not expected to be a perfect mom. Be a REAL mom.

If you missed this segment, listen here: Real Moms: What you are doing matters!

You can listen to my ‘Real Moms of West Michigan’ segments on Star 105.7 with Tommy and Brook every Tuesday morning around 7:05 AM. If you are not in the West Michigan area you can listen on iHeart radio

Christmas Gift Ideas


Taken from my “Real Moms of West Michigan” segment with Tommy and Brook on Star 105.7

I know that you are so organized and probably have all your shopping done, right? OH wait this is the REAL moms segment…and if they are anything like me…they are still a few minutes away from having it all wrapped and under the tree!

My tip to get ready for Christmas is: personalized gifts!

It’s the perfect time to order those personalized gifts for Christmas.

  • Picture frames, mouse pads, mugs, water bottles.
  • Calendars…make a personalized calendar for the Grandparents filled with last years pics of the kids.
  • Personalized gifts for teachers…now is a great time to order them!
  • Personalized throw blankets for Grandmas.
  • For the kids you could get: personalized sleeping bags, duffle bags, toys, water bottles, an apron for Mommy’s little helper in the kitchen.

You can pick some great personalized gifts (including the ones shown) here at Lillian Vernon:

Free Shipping on $40+ at LillianVernon.com with promo code 58ECO211 until 11/30/12. Shop for personalized Holiday Gifts & DĂ©cor, kids toys, kitchen, office organization and more - personalization is always FREE. - 125 x 125

Affliliate link

And to help you organize all of your gift giving this year I found you a great app!

It’s called Santa’s Bag…

It helps you track everyone on your Christmas List, allow you to budget individually, set gift ideas, and then track when gifts are purchased, if they’ve been wrapped, and how close you are to meeting budget. It’s really an amazing app.

And one other thing you can do right now is start your homemade vanilla with Tommy and Brook’s recipe. I made this a couple years ago and it it amazing! The longer the shelf life the better it is, grab the vanilla beans and vodka and get gifting!

Homemade Vanilla

What is your favorite ‘prepare ahead of time’ kind of gift?

 

You can listen to my ‘Real Moms of West Michigan’ segments on Star 105.7 with Tommy and Brook every Tuesday morning around 7:05 AM. If you are not in the West Michigan area you can listen on iHeart radio

If you missed this segment, you can listen by clicking on the Star 105.7 tab.

Could MY Child Be the Bully?

Signs That Indicate Your Child is A Bully from my segment on Star 105.7 with Tommy and Brook.

No parent wants to believe that their child who they raised to the best of their ability could possibly bully or physically hurt another person, but it happens.

It does not indicate that you are a bad mom or that it is a bad home situation, your child could just be poorly responding to conflicts that are happening at school.

I want to emphasize though that all children can show signs of bullying and not actually BE a bully or a danger to others.   Most of the time- the name calling and sticks and stones ARE just a normal part of growing up.

But, there are certain characteristics that can be seen in many children and teens who bully others.
Here are a few signs to watch for:

•If your child has a bad temper and seems to fly off the handle easily then they are likely also blowing up at school. Tempers can easily flare and lead to violence if someone doesn’t know how to deal with anger or frustration.

•A child or teen who bullies often sees violence in a positive light. They may think that fighting and violence is somehow “cool” and will talk about it like it’s no big deal.

• If your child often tries to dominate those around him/her (younger siblings, neighbors etc) then there is a chance that they are showing that same dominance at school.

•A child who is constantly getting into trouble and doesn’t seem to follow rules is likely to bully others and even become violent. If your child gets into trouble regularly for things like skipping class, fighting or disrespecting his teachers then bullying is a huge possibility.

• Anti-social behavior, while this sign may not indicate bullying, it is a warning sign that we shouldn’t ignore because it could lead to violent behavior on themselves or others.

I know it’s hard to imagine that OUR kids could be the ones bullying other children, but Moms, we have to keep our eyes open and pay attention ….and if you have noticed any of these signs and suspect that your child may be a bully, it’s time to sit down with your child and talk to them.

Find out if they are angry and why. Sometimes just talking to your child and giving them the chance to express themselves makes all the difference in the world.

Sometimes using word pictures to encourage compassion. Ask them, “how would you feel if…kids laughed when you read out loud in class?” Talk about specific situations in which you think your child might feel bullied in.

If talking to your child doesn’t seem to be making an impact and you continue to see the signs of bullying, it’s time to bring in some outside help. Talk to a school counselor or a therapist. There is no shame in helping our children navigate these difficult years.

Real moms know that our kids are the most valuable gift we’ve been given, let’s make sure we do all that we can for them!
I do the ‘Real Moms of West Michigan’ segments on Star 105.7 with Tommy and Brook every Tuesday morning around 7:05 AM. If you are not in the West Michigan area you can listen on iHeart radio

If you missed this segment, you can listen by clicking on the Star 105.7 tab.

Signs That Your Child Is Being Bullied

This is taken from my segment on Star 105.7 in West Michigan with Tommy and Brook.

I recently read a study that said that 160,000 kids are skipping school every day because of intimidation and bullying. This is not going away Moms, we need to know the signs to look out for in our kids. Sadly, our kids probably won’t come out and tell us so we need to educate ourselves.

Here are list of possible warnings that a child may be bullied and needs your support. Of course, these signs could indicate other problems, but any of these give us reasons to dig a little further.

Warning Signs:

  • Consistently losing things…toys, school supplies, clothing, lunches, or money
  • Or things coming home damage
  • Child comes home starving…bully stole their lunch.
  • If your child doesn’t want to go to school or ride the bus anymore.
    ~Your child complains of stomach aches or head aches when they have to go to school or school functions
  • Withdrawn, talks about feeling lonely
  • Their emotions are all over the place, moody or constantly sad
  • Marked change in typical behavior or personality
  • Your child begins bullying siblings or younger kids. (Bullied children can sometimes flip their role and become the bully.)
  • Waits to get home to use the bathroom. (School and park bathrooms, because they are often not adult-supervised, can be hot spots for bullying).
  • A sudden drop in grades. (Bullying can cause a child to have difficulty focusing and concentrating.)
  • Talks about feeling helpless or about suicide; runs away.

If we see these signs, what do we do?

Ask questions and watch your child’s reactions. Often what a child doesn’t say may be more telling than his words. Pay attention to your child’s body language. If they refuse to talk about it, there is probably bullying behind it.

If you suspect bullying and your child won’t talk to you, see if they will talk with a trusted adult who knows them well. A school teacher, aunt or uncle, friend of the family.

The trick is to figure out if your child is bullied and then where and when it is happening so you can get the right help for your child.

Often you will get more information out of your childs best friend. If you feel they are safe to talk to, ask a close friend of theirs how they are doing.

Make sure your child knows you are concerned and willing to listen whenever they need to talk. Emphasize that you believe in your child and what they are saying.

If the signs continue or intensify, please seek the help of a trained mental health professionals!

 

Next week we’re going to talk about the flip side of this, the signs that your child IS the bully…

I do the ‘Real Moms of West Michigan’ segments on Star 105.7 with Tommy and Brook every Tuesday morning around 7:05 AM. If you are not in the West Michigan area you can listen on iHeart radio

If you missed this segment, you can listen by clicking on the Star 105.7 tab.

Tips On Dealing with Tantrums


This is taken from my segment on Star 105.7 in West Michigan with Tommy and Brook.

We’ve all either seen it or experienced it first hand. The child in the grocery store that does not get what they want and the sirens go off. First let me say that even though this might be terribly embarrassing, just know that every other mom in the store understands, she’s been there, she’s not judging you, frankly she’s just thanking God that it’s not her at the moment!

The first thing to remember moms is to:

  • Keep Calm

You can either fuel this fire or put water on it by de-escalating the situation.

 

One of the best ways to do this is:

  • A time out

Take the child into another room. If you’re in public go to the restroom.

Sometimes the change of location is like a reset button.

If you’re at home, put them in their bed or crib.

Check out this post on Time-Outs too.

 

  • Never give in

Don’t give them that thing that they want just because you want the tantrum to stop.

You may feel like you’ve taken care of the situation because the child calms down when you give in, but all you’ve done is create the opportunity for this to happen over and over again.

Don’t reward bad behavior, and tell them that you won’t.
“I reward good behavior, not bad.”

I would also encourage you to refer to their behavior as bad or good, not them as a person.
For instance, don’t tell them THEY are bad/good kids, but instead say that their behavior is bad, naughty etc. 

And some basic good parenting is pay attention to what triggers the tantrums.

My kids were always more prone to meltdowns if they were hungry or over-tired, so pay attention to that too. That is probably NOT a good time to go to the grocery store.

And carry snacks with you at all times!

Moms, tantrums are a normal part of raising our kids, don’t beat yourself up if you’ve been blessed with a strong willed child…recognize that ultimately that’s a great quality…you just might have some challenges as you channel that energy and teach them what’s rewardable behavior and what’s not.

 

I do the ‘Real Moms of West Michigan’ segments on Star 105.7 with Tommy and Brook every Tuesday morning around 7:05 AM. If you are not in the West Michigan area you can listen on iHeart radio

If you missed this segment, you can listen by clicking on the Star 105.7 tab.

Simple Tip to Build Our Child’s Self Esteem

Taken from the Real Moms of West Michigan segment on Star 105.7 with Tommy and Brook!

Today I have an easy way to build your child’s self esteem.

Ok moms, I want you to imagine yourself walking into work or your child’s school and the first person you see says something like: “Wow, that’s what you’re wearing today?”
Wouldn’t you be devastated??

Well, sadly we do that to our kids sometime. Ok, maybe not YOU , but I do that sometime. You do realize that all these tips are actually centered on me and the ways I’ve blown it as a mom.
Anyways…

Or think about the greeter at the grocery store…how would you feel if they just kind of looked the other way like- Oh it’s YOU again. Which mine probably does because I’m there so much. I really need to work harder at making a more detailed list.

The point is…are we doing that to our kids? Think about how we respond when they walk in a room.

If we want to help our child feel loved; it’s time to light up when they walk in!
A simple smile and some positive words can change your child’s day. I know it sure would change mine.

Instead of: “those pants are way too short” or “come here let me fix your hair.”

Let’s let our kids know how important they are to us!

Build their worthiness.

This is such a simple way to let them know that they are valuable.

Moms, pay attention and light up when those kids walk in the room and let your face reflect how much you love them!

And then deal with the green shirt/red sweatpants combo.

Next week I’m going to give you some tips on dealing with tantrums!

I do the ‘Real Moms of West Michigan’ segments on Star 105.7 with Tommy and Brook every Tuesday morning around 7:05 AM. If you are not in the West Michigan area you can listen on iHeart radio

If you missed this segment, you can listen by clicking on the Star 105.7 tab.

Getting Our Kids To Listen To Us

From the “Real Moms of West Michigan” segment on Star 105.7 with Tommy and Brook…

Do you feel like your kids don’t listen to you?

You tell your kids to pick up their stuff or turn off the tv and instead of responding they look right through you and you feel like the teacher on Charlie Brown. Waa, waaa, waa.

It might be how you’re saying it.

You might be doing what so many of us do and that is to give your request in the form of a question.

Will you pick up your toys? Now ok?

Stop picking on your brother, ok?

When we add the word “ok” to the end of a request, our child assumes they have the option of not doing it.

What we do, without even realizing it, is relinquish our authority and drag out the process of getting our child to do what we are asking them. Then we continue to ask until we are frustrated and ready to boycott motherhood althogether.

But thankfully, just by changing a few words we can take our authority back.

Moms, the key is to be clear with our requests.

Please pick up your toys now.

Or

Turn off the TV and come to dinner.

Be specific and straight forward. Close that opportunity for debate, stay in charge mom!

It’s an simple fix to a frustrating problem. I hope it helps!

 

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I do the ‘Real Moms of West Michigan’ segments on Star 105.7 with Tommy and Brook every Tuesday morning around 7:05 AM. If you are not in the West Michigan area you can listen on iHeart radio

Are You Trying To Be Super Mom?

From the “Real Moms of West Michigan” segment on Star 105.7 with Tommy and Brook…

Are you trying to be super mom?

The truth is, we desperately want to be super moms don’t we?! We want to save the day and create world peace while we’re at it. But that’s just not reality. The truth is that motherhood is taxing to say the least and all of us feel it. I think that we confuse being a super mom with being a perfect mom.

I’m here to tell ya, there’s not one woman out there who is doing this mom thing perfectly.
Read that again because it’s a whole lotta truth.

Not one.

I don’t care if you see women that seem to have it all together, they don’t, being a mom means that we have children and children are unpredictable and messy.

I often say things that I regret and do things that I wish I hadn’t done and by the end of the day I feel guilty that I wasn’t the perfect mom that day.

Moms, I want to encourage you to give yourself a break. It’s never too late to take a deep breath and emotionally start your day over. Whether it’s breakfast or bedtime, forgive yourself and start again.

The bottom line is that no mom is perfect but we are ALL super moms, and sometimes we just need to give ourselves a break.

 

Click on the Star 105.7 tab to listen to this segment.

I do the ‘Real Moms of West Michigan’ segments on Star 105.7 with Tommy and Brook every Tuesday morning around 7:05 AM. If you are not in the West Michigan area you can listen on iHeart radio

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