Me in a Tree

Archive for January, 2014

31Jan

 fish taco

Tacos are a surefire kid-pleaser! Whether you’re looking for soft or hard shell, these solutions will have your children smiling!

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/3 cup tomato paste (from a 6-ounce can)

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

4 teaspoons chili powder

1 pound ground beef

Coarse salt

8 crisp taco shells

Lettuce, tomatoes, scallions, cheddar, and lime wedges, for serving

 

Directions

Step 1

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion and garlic and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, cayenne, and chili powder and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Step 2

Add beef and 1 tsp salt. Cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until cooked through, about 7 minutes. Spoon off excess fat. Serve filling in taco shells.

Step 3

Have the kids involved in preparing all the topping and then putting the taco together just the way they like it!

 

29Jan

mom and kid talking

Do you all speak positively to your family members? Do they speak positively to you? Do you trust each other and talk openly? What can you do to improve communication?

Communication is the foundation of any relationship: friendship, romantic, or familial. Where there is poor communication, there are broken links in the relationship. Talking openly and respectfully about your feelings, thoughts, hesitations, and anything else is the key way to ensure that your relationships are healthy and happy. If your family is lacking positive communication, here are a few tips to help you improve.

·         Talk frequently. Setting aside time to spend together as a family will give you the opportunity to express those feelings, frustrations, and any other issues you may face.

·         Listen. This is an obvious tip, but it is hard to actively listen to people. It is, however, important to pay attention to what the other person is saying. It makes him or her feel loved and respected, like his or her opinion and thoughts are important to you. Try repeating what the other person is saying, so you can be sure that you understand what they are saying.

·         Use I-statements whenever possible. Too often, conversations begin with “you never” or “you always”. However, this only puts the other person on the defense. Starting sentences with “I feel” or “I am” will help you communicate what you are feeling as well as avoid an argument.

·         Be aware of your body language. The way you position your body or the tone of your voice speaks louder than that actual words you say. For example, if you are telling your spouse that you aren’t upset with them, but the tone of your voice and your crossed arms are telling them a different story.

Effective communication is hard to achieve. It takes focus, intention, and practice. But, it’s worth it.

27Jan

honest

If you haven’t guessed it already, the topic of honesty is on the brain today. And, honestly, it’s a hard concept to grasp because it’s a hard thing to do or be, rather. Being honest with yourself, kids, spouse, the salesperson at the grocery store is incredibly difficult. There are so many times in life when a little white lie, or half-truth, would be so much easier and less embarrassing than actually being honest. However, despite our fallible quality as human beings, it is important to try our best as parents and as individuals to make honesty a priority. And, I would like to offer this simple reason why: our kids look up to us. They learn from our mistakes. They will learn that sometimes it’s okay to not tell the whole truth, cut corners, fudging work, among other things if you act that way.

If you want to teach your child how to be honest, make sure that you set them up with a good role model – you! You are your child’s first teacher. Most of what they know about the world is because they saw you act a certain way, say something, or you explicitly taught them. To teach your children the value of honesty, you must first value it as well. Then, make it a priority, as a family, to be honest in every situation.

Learn to tell the truth, keep promises, be trustworthy, and take responsibility for the say you speak and act, and your children will likely follow suit.

27Jan

family support

All families walk through difficult times, whether the challenge is finances, family relationships, disease, or something else. However, it is not good for a person or family to walk through these challenges alone. Human beings are naturally social creatures. We crave community and relationship with each other, and we all face challenges of one kind or another. It is important to build a support system for both you, personally, and for you family. The people that you surround yourself with will help you through those difficult times and they will prove to be an invaluable resource at all points in your life.

The people in your support system should be as varied as DNA. You want to surround yourself with family, work colleagues, and friends. Each social group has something different and special to offer as support. Some are there to make you laugh. Some are there to offer key advice.

Once you establish your support system, it is important that you maintain those relationships. Show your friends and family that you cherish their relationship. Something as simple as “thank you” can go a long way. Communicate with each other. Keeping the lines of communication open is important because it lets people know that they are important to you and you care about them. Accept their help. Depending on the challenge you are facing, sometimes it can be difficult to accept someone’s offer to help; however, their support could be the one thing that will alleviate the stress of the situation. Don’t forget to reciprocate the support. Be there for those people who are there for you. This will also show how much you appreciate and care about them.

24Jan

friends

As your children get older, their peers become more important to them and the influence their peers have in their life is steadily increasing. Because your children begin to spend more and more time with their friends, it is important that you, as a parent, get to know the people that your children include in their social circle.

Having friends is very beneficial to your child’s life as they help your child build social skills, resolve conflict, and support and encourage them. On the flip side, however, it can be worrisome that your child’s peers are not positive influences. Peers can encourage your child to engage in risky, even dangerous behaviour. So, while you can’t control the people that your child associates with, you can be more involved in ensuring that those peer relationships are positive and good quality.

Start by being a good role model. Children, from a young age, will often imitate what their parents do. If you model good, positive relationships, they will be more likely to find friends that do the same.

Get to know your child’s friends. Invite them over to your house. Talk to them. Get to know their names. Invite them on family outings. A good way to help you understand your child’s friends is to get to know the parents. You can work together to ensure that the friendship between your children is positive and encouraging.

It’s okay to be concerned about your child’s relationships. Keeping the lines of communication open by asking open-ended questions and expressing concern with love and respect is a great way to maintain a positive relationship with your child.

22Jan

messy room

Nearly every parent has experienced this situation in some form: Mom and Dad give something to the kids, something they have to take care of, like a pet. Mom and Dad clearly outline the rules for owning that pet: they have to take care of it, or the pet will be taken away. Here is a simpler example: Mom and Dad tell children to clean their room, or they will not be allowed to watch television. However, the room doesn’t get clean, and Mom and Dad don’t follow through on the consequences. The children haven’t learned anything.

Not following through on consequences teaches children that the rules parents set are not to be taken seriously, nor do they learn to respect their parents’ authority. By not setting and maintaining consequences, parents encourage misbehaviour, and in the case of our television example, they reward it. Bad behaviour shouldn’t be rewarded as that will create more and bigger problems in the future.

Following through on consequences is vital to teaching children discipline. Kids learn right from wrong, what good behaviour is and what bad behaviour is. Children learn to be accountable for their actions. Your daughter will know that when she doesn’t pick up her toys, she won’t be able to do the things she enjoys; however, she will know that when she listens to mom and dad and picks up her toys, she will be rewarded for her good behaviour. Consequences are directly tied to their actions and choices.

Finally, following through on consequences shows children that their parents care about them. Children want boundaries, and maintaining those boundaries by providing consequences when they step outside of them will give them structure.

20Jan

winning kid

Ask any parent, and they will tell you that having a child changes your life in nearly every way. Your children become your priority. You put their needs before your own. Even if you have locked down a routine that works for your family, things will come up. So, it’s important to be flexible as a parent, and forgive yourself when things don’t get done.

Flexible parenting means being open to new possibilities, viewing situation from different perspectives, and doing what is best for everyone involved. Your children’s needs can change instantly, so here are a few tips to build flexibility into your parenting plan, courtesy of Positive Parenting Connection.

• Take inventory of what your child currently needs in order to make a decision that is best for everyone involved.
• If something is not working, don’t be afraid to change it. Don’t get stuck too much in a routine so that it is hard to work around it.
• Build some extra time in your day to make room for unexpected changes.
• Allow your child to be free to express his or her feelings, and refrain from squashing or controlling those feelings, especially if they are feelings of upset or frustration.
• Take care of yourself. You can parent better when you take care of yourself.
• Ask questions and allow cooperation instead of making demands.
• Do things much differently. Instead of getting angry if things don’t go according to plan, laugh and smile because you have awesome children!
• Say “yes” when you can, but remember that it’s okay if you have to say “no”.

16Jan

20 Minutes A Day!
We often talk about our New Year Resolutions with personal intent: I want to lose weight. I want to save money. I want to do this. I want to be that. The New Year is a time where we, as moms, dads, and families, take an introspective look at the past year and resolve to make positive change in the new year.

The New Year is a good time to ask your kids about their hopes and dreams for the future. If they are reluctant to talk, ask open-ended questions, such as “Is there anything you’d like to change about the coming year?” or “What’s one thing you’re looking forward to this year?” The practice of making New Year resolutions with your children is beneficial as they learn self-discipline, the value of making goals and imagination.

Some of the resolutions that real kids have made (courtesy of Parents.com), which can inspire your family include
• Learn new things like how to sing or play soccer.
• Improve education.
• Eat healthier
• Get more exercise, whether that is playing outside more or getting involved in extracurricular activities.
• Help mom and dad.
• Be more environmentally conscious.
• Master milestones such as potty training or sleeping through the night.
• Do good works like donating hair to a cancer resource center.
• Listen to parents and continue other good behaviour.
• Have fun!

10Jan

mommy I bored

Search “teaching kids to succeed” in Amazon.com’s search bar, and you are met with an overwhelming number of books that elaborate on how to teach kids to succeed. While these books are great resources, and should be used in context, there really is no formula to parenting, and by extension, there is no standardized manual to raising successful kids. However, there is one theory that may be useful for parents who are trying to teach their children the value of success, failure, and responsibility.

Letting kids try and fail is a great way to teach them how to succeed without trying too hard. For example, if your elementary aged child is learning to ride a bike, it might be good to let them fall. However, encouraging them try and try again will help them learn how to overcome challenges independently and take responsibility for mistakes.

Sometimes, the threat and fear of failure can make someone work a little harder to achieve success. For example, a job seeker fears losing out on an opportunity, and he takes the steps necessary to overcome that fear and achieve his goal. Your child’s failures and successes work similarly. Each failure and success should be defined as an optimal teaching moment because your child will face many challenges of all different kinds in life. You can prepare them to recognize failure, and encourage them that even though they have taken one step back, they know how to take the two steps forward. Teaching your children the value of failing, but persisting despite failure will give them the tools they need to ultimately be successful.

8Jan

Me in a Tree

In our busy world, it seems like every aspect of our lives is delegated to a specific time and place. Your children have extracurricular activities three days a week after school for an hour. Then, there is dinner time, school time, work time, chore time – I think you get the picture. Where is the family time in all of this? Too often, quality time spent with family usually gets placed further down the priority list, as in when you accomplish everything else on your list, and then you can spend time with your family. This, of course, isn’t true for all families, but the point here to stress the importance of quality family time.

Spending time with your family is more than laughing together. That is important, but family time should be play time, learning time, eating time, any time. Every time you can gather with your family and make memories is time spent well. However, it still might need to be more deliberate. Some families set aside one night of the week and call it “family night”. Maybe one family night will be an activity that mom enjoys, maybe a favorite (age-appropriate) movie. The next family night could be what one of the children wants to do, like play hide-and-seek. Family time doesn’t have to consist of elaborate or sophisticated plans. A little catch in the backyard, maybe a stroll around town, a day at the beach, or a fun board game is all that is takes to create memories that last a lifetime.

An anonymous person once said that “food tastes better when you eat it with family.” Isn’t that the truth?