Parenting

You Are More Than Your Worst Parenting Mistake

You Are More Than Your Worst Parenting Mistake

It’s 11:00pm. 

You know you should be sleeping.

But sleep seems impossible. Every time you shut your eyes, your mind flashes a reel of your latest shortcomings.

You see the moment earlier today when your patience collapsed and you screamed at your kids. You see their little eyes grow wide at your unfettered anger and frustration.

Or perhaps it’s when you caved and made them boxed mac & cheese for dinner—for the third time this week.

Or when you missed your child’s first jump off the diving board because you were too distracted by your phone. Now you’re haunted by their tears when they asked, “Mommy, did you see me?!”

Maybe it’s even bigger than that.

Maybe it’s the day when your daughter was finally diagnosed with a special need. You wonder how you could have missed it—and how much pain could have been spared if you hadn’t. 

Or the day you maxed out your credit card right before your son’s birthday.

Or the day you were so depressed you struggled to get out of bed, let alone be a parent.

You close your eyes and there it is. You can’t forget it. You can’t block it out. You feel like the lowest of the low as you wonder: More →

7 Essential Tips for Taming the Homework Monster

7 Essential Tips for Taming the Homework Monster

A guest post by Anthony D. Fredericks.

Mention the word “homework” to most students, and you’ll probably get a non-stop series of verbal reactions—most of which I can’t print in this post. Yet, from studies of effective learning, we know there is a positive correlation between homework as a learning tool and student achievement in the classroom. To that end, here are seven tips that will help make homework a more valuable experience for your child. More →

40+ Quick & Simple Ways to Brighten Your Child’s Day

40+ Quick & Simple Ways to Brighten Your Child’s Day

Inside: A list of 40+ easy ways to brighten your child’s day today.

Before I had children, I felt very confused whenever I’d encounter a grouchy kid.

What’s there to be grumpy about? I’d wonder. Childhood seems like all roses and butterflies to me!

That mindset (along with everything else!) changed dramatically upon becoming a parent myself. Now I’m better able to see things from the perspective of a little one. Yes, there are many roses and butterflies, but there are also big challenges too:

Like the fact that the entire world is brand new, which is both exciting and terrifying.

Or that their bodies and brains are constantly learning, developing, growing, and changing. That’s hard work!

Not to mention their parents keep imposing silly rules like no ice cream for breakfast, the logic of which they can’t quite grasp yet. But Mom, it’s so yummy!

Being a kid is not always easy, so it’s natural and expected for them to feel down in the dumps sometimes. But there are lots of ways we can offer our kids a fun pick-me-up, and they don’t require a ton of time, energy, or money. More →

A Letter to My Child on the First Day of Kindergarten

A Letter to My Child on the First Day of Kindergarten

INSIDE: A mom’s heartfelt letter to her firstborn child on the first day of kindergarten.

A Letter to my Child on the First Day of Kindergarten

Dear son, on your first day of kindergarten,

Everyone keeps telling you how much you’ll love school. This is very true.

Everyone keeps injecting you with mini boosts of confidence. This is very good.

But as I listen to each well-intentioned person try to drive out any fear, it’s occurred to me you might also need to hear this: It’s okay if you’re scared.

Because here’s the honest truth: Mommy is scared too.

Of what, you’re wondering? More →

9 Ways to Partner with Your Child’s Teacher This Year

9 Ways to Partner with Your Child’s Teacher This Year

A guest post by Anthony D. Fredericks.

As a former teacher, I am well aware of the compelling research demonstrating how involved parents have children who 1) evidence very positive attitudes towards learning, 2) have higher levels of self-esteem, and 3) demonstrate considerable engagement in academic endeavors. That parental participation assures students a most vibrant and successful academic experience. Here are some strategies on how you can partner with your child’s teacher – promising that the academic year ahead will be the best ever! More →

How to Parent a Stubborn Toddler (Without Losing Your Cool!)

How to Parent a Stubborn Toddler (Without Losing Your Cool!)

Inside: 5 steps to parenting a stubborn toddler without losing your calm or your joy. 

“I want RECTANGLES!!!” my toddler belted at the top of her lungs as I sat her grilled cheese sandwich in front of her. 

Her grilled cheese sandwich that was cut into triangles

You see, ninety-nine percent of the time I cut her sandwiches into rectangles. But that afternoon, my sleep-deprived, overwhelmed brain was elsewhere, and for some reason the knife just went through the other way. 

“RECTANGLES!!!” she screeched again. 

I sighed. This was the moment I had to decide how to handle my so-called stubborn toddler.

On principle, I wasn’t about to make her a new sandwich, but even if I wanted to, I had just used the last two pieces of bread. But I also knew she would refuse to touch the sandwich now that it didn’t meet her shape-related specifications. (Good for her for knowing her shapes, though!)

“RECTANGLES!!!” 

I took a deep breath, let the frustration tunnel through my body, and reminded myself of the truth about “stubborn toddlers.” More →

The 5-Minute Exercise That Will Transform How You Respond to Your Struggling Child

The 5-Minute Exercise That Will Transform How You Respond to Your Struggling Child

My 5-year-old is standing at the edge of the indoor swimming pool.

Well, not exactly standing. More like quivering and shaking and crying hysterically.

His swim teacher has just announced cheerily that it’s time for jumps, and my son is freaking out. Mouth open with screams. Goggle-clad eyeballs scrunched up in pain. Whole body convulsing. He is so scared, a tiger might as well be charging right at him. 

For him, there is simply nothing more terrifying than jumping in a pool. 

His teacher is trying valiantly to reason with him, but he’s having none of it. From the bench at the other side of the pool, I wring my hands with my own pain, my mama pain. I want this terrible moment to be over. I want him to just hurry up and jump in the pool already. I am frustrated and embarrassed and also heartbroken. 

As I watch him, my mind suddenly flashes back to 5th grade and the first time I rode a roller coaster.

I was (and still am) no fan of heights or speed or free falls. To me, roller coasters were (and still are) devices of torture rather than exhilaration. The only reason I agreed to go on one was because my best friend was urging me to, and I wanted to look cool in front of her. So with buckling knees and a panicking nervous system, I stepped onto the wooden coaster at Hershey Park. 

It was as miserable as I expected it to be. 

The flashback is so vivid it makes my entire body tense up. My heart rate increases, my palms grow sweaty. I might not be screaming and convulsing on the outside, like my son is, but I certainly am on the inside. It’s misery all over again. 

The flashback is useful, though, because I instantly stop feeling frustrated with my son—who is now holding up the entire swimming class with his terror. I don’t even care. Because now I get it. More →

The Secret Every Mom Should Teach Her Daughter About Her Weight

The Secret Every Mom Should Teach Her Daughter About Her Weight

Every week I take my toddler to swim lessons, and every week it makes me think about girls and their bodies.

Not because of my body or because of my toddler’s body, but because of a 9-year-old girl who takes lessons on the other side of the pool.

I don’t know this girl, but I know her pain.

You see, this girl has clearly started going through puberty earlier than the other girls in her swim class. Her body looks very different from theirs. She has curves where they are straight; she has flesh where they have bones.

And she’s so, so uncomfortable about it.

How do I know?

Because she does that thing where she keeps her towel wrapped tightly around her until the second they have to get in the water.

Because during those few moments when the towel isn’t shielding her, she’s tugging endlessly at her tankini to try to hide her belly.

Because I see her eyes wander desperately to the other girls’ bodies over and over.

Every time I think, “Please don’t start fighting your body, dear girl. Not your beautiful, natural, perfectly normal body.” 

That’s a fight most women know all too well.

It’s a fight we wish our daughters could avoid completely.

The Secret Every Mom Should Teach Her Daughter About Her Weight

That’s probably impossible, though, considering the world we live in and its obsession with the physical appearance of girls and women. 

Nevertheless, there are some critical lessons about weight that most girls aren’t learning. Heck, most moms need a refresher too! These simple truths about our bodies are the backbone of body acceptance and self-esteem, so let’s make sure they’re a regular part of the conversation with our daughters. More →

The Gardening Metaphor That Will Make You a Less Anxious Parent

The Gardening Metaphor That Will Make You a Less Anxious Parent

My husband will always remember 2011 as the year of the spinach miracle.

We were living in Baltimore City, and he wanted to try his hand at growing vegetables in pots on our itty-bitty back porch. He planted spinach in the fall, with the intention of harvesting it before the bitter winter hit.

But when harvest time came around, there wasn’t a single green leaf to pluck. His city-living potted plant experiment had failed.

My husband was disappointed, for sure, but he quickly let it go and started daydreaming about a new round of plants for the spring.

But one March afternoon, before the chill of winter had even lifted, my husband walked out our back door, looked down, and did a double take.

There, underneath a thin layer of remaining snow, was a little pot overflowing with hearty dark green leaves.

Unbeknown to him, that so-called failed spinach plant had survived—thrived, even!—through wind and snow and bitter cold temps. It was such an unexpected victory. We smiled and laughed about it for weeks as we assembled many a spinach salad.

Little did I know years later that simple story would change my whole perspective on being a mom.

The Gardening Metaphor That Will Make You a Less Anxious Parent More →

36 [Non-Overused] Ways to Say I Love You to Your Kids

36 [Non-Overused] Ways to Say I Love You to Your Kids

Parenting a newborn is tough, what with the constant feedings, night wakings, and the total cluelessness the first time around (for some of us, anyway). 

There’s also the fact that caring for a tiny infant comes without concrete rewards: they can’t say thank you or play with you, and they only smile when they’re passing gas in their sleep!

But then, a few weeks or months down the road, the rewards start flooding in.

Coos.

Smiles.

Giggles.

“Mama.”

“Dada.”

And then there’s the really big one: The first time you say “I love you” to your little one and they immediately reply, “I love you too.”

More →

It’s Time to End Distracted Driving #ItCanWait

It’s Time to End Distracted Driving #ItCanWait

This is a sponsored blog post. I was compensated by AT&T. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tips to End Distracted Driving

We were at the end of our street, about to pull out onto the main road, when it hit me.

WE ARE ALMOST OUT OF MILK.

My mind raced.

We only have enough for one more sippy cup’s worth. 

Milk is my toddler’s main source of nutrition, since she’s going through a “no bread, no protein, no vegetables” phase. 

How on EARTH had I forgotten to get milk at the grocery store yesterday???

Moms everywhere know this pattern: We keep track of so many lists and schedules and to-dos that vital information flies into our brains at random times—and often leaves as quickly as it came.

So I unconsciously and reflexively did what I always do when such information lands in my noggin: I wrote it down.

On my grocery list. 

Which I keep on my smartphone.

Truthfully, I didn’t think twice about what I was doing until, in a surprisingly firm voice for a 5-year-old, I heard…

“Pay attention when you’re driving, Mommy.”

GUT PUNCH.

I’ve made the argument before that little ears are always listening. This was my reminder that little eyes are always watching too—often from the backseat.  More →

What To Do When Positive Parenting Is Too Exhausting

What To Do When Positive Parenting Is Too Exhausting

“I don’t want a bagel for breakfast,” my five-year-old stated.

“Sorry, but that’s all we have time for this morning,” I called over my shoulder as I stood at the counter, spreading the cream cheese.

“NOOOOOO!!! I will NOT eat that bagel! I will not eat anything except a pancake!”

I spun around sharply. “Now you listen to me. If you whine one more time…”

I cringed as I said it but felt powerless to stop myself. 

My preschooler had spent the last three days griping and moaning over every small disappointment. With each new complaint he made, my patience dwindled and my voice escalated.

I was on the verge of losing it, and I knew it. More →