When it comes to following your bliss, kids have the art down pat. Here, moms share the make-you-smile secrets they've learned from their little ones.
One day, on my way home from a run of errands gone bad, I swung by to pick up my son, Nate, then 8, who'd been playing at a friend's house. While he chattered about the fun he'd had, my mind churned through all I'd failed to get done. "Will Dad be home for dinner?" he asked. "Think so," I said. "Great! What are we having?" he asked. Good question. "Uh, how about macaroni and cheese?" I replied. A deep sigh of contentment came from the backseat. "I love my life," Nate said.
His words were like a mood defibrillator. My son's simple satisfaction lifted me straight out of my autopilot loop of worry and let me see my life with fresh appreciation: I was driving down a beautiful mountain road on a glorious summer's day with my wonderful son, with the prospect of a cozy family
Choose your mood
"When my daughter, Jessica, was a preschooler, she was learning all about choices — you can have a cookie or a scoop of ice cream, but not both; you can wear the green
— Jennifer Lawler, 41, Lawrence, KS
"My son, Jonathan, 6, is constantly teaching me how to express love -- with passion, creativity, and volume. In the supermarket, he'll shout, 'Mom, I love you more than all the blades of sand on the beach!' and plant a kiss on my cheek. While watching TV, he'll squeeze his baby sister and declare, 'You are so cute I can't stand it!' He shows me that the path to happiness is appreciating those you love and telling them so as often as you can."
— Karen Reivich, 40, Narberth, PA
Skip a little
"When my daughter, Deanna, was 5, she skipped everywhere. It didn't matter what the occasion -- holidays, parties, going to the store — she skipped. When I asked her why, she told me skipping made her happy. 'You can't be mad and skipping, Mom,' she said. And it's true! So we skip -- I skip, she skips, even my
— Daphne Bahamonde, 35, Rochester, NY
Turn to-do's into to-enjoys
"One fall, my then 1 1/2-year-old son, Brent, and I were raking leaves in our yard. As he played nearby, I was overexerting myself and practically cursing all the trees for having made such a mess. Then I looked over at my son. He was in an area I hadn't raked yet, stepping on the dry leaves to hear the crackling noise they made, and smiling happily. He taught me that some chores are pleasures if you choose to look at them that way."
--Kris Porotsky, 34, Cincinnati
"One day, my 4-year-old, Megan, went with me to the post office to mail orders for my online retail business. I was wishing I had 77 orders to mail rather than a paltry seven. Meanwhile, Megan was excitedly counting the orders into the drop box, exclaiming, 'Mommy! There are seven new people who are going to love your work!' She reminded me to take pleasure in what I had accomplished instead of being disappointed by what I hadn't."
— Beth Butler, 46, Tampa
Recapture your childhood bliss
"While swinging one day, my son, James, 3, closed his eyes and stretched out his arms as the wind blew through his hair. He had the most delightful smile — one of pure pleasure — the kind you only see on a child's face. I decided to swing next to him, closing my eyes and letting my senses guide me, just like he did. I heard the wind in my ears and felt the rhythm of swinging. In that moment I experienced complete freedom and sheer pleasure."
— Laura Lundy, 42, Nelson, BC
Go on impulse
"When my daughter was 2, she was helping me 'fold' the laundry when she suddenly stripped off her nightgown, put on a pair of her daddy's clean undies (which came up to her armpits), and started dancing. She was so carefree. It made me realize that I need to cut loose and enjoy myself more — not wearing my hubby's underpants, but in other ways."
— Pam Stahler, 45, Littleton, CO
Be a best friend
"My daughter's best friend got home from school early one day and called with big news. Both she and my 6-year-old daughter had lost a tooth on the same day, at the very same hour! I learn so much about happiness from watching my daughter with her friend — seeing the way they care for each other, copy each other, sing together, even fight and make up. They remind me of how much I love my best friend, Laura, and to always take good care of our friendship."
— Miriam Peskowitz, 42, Mt. Airy, PA
Spread joy — insist on it!
"My toddler is so crazy about carrots that he often has one in each hand all day long. Once, he really wanted me to have some, and with sticky fingers covered in yogurt, he shoved his carrot in my mouth. He was so happy that he squealed, 'Bah!' at the top of his lungs when I took a bite. It was a reminder of the happiness that comes from sharing something we love with others."
— Jennifer Margulis, 36, Ashland, OR
Pursue your passion
"Nicholas, my 9-year-old son, is quite the artist. He needs to draw every day. I still remember how a few nights before he started kindergarten, he came downstairs way past his bedtime, paper in hand, exhausted. He said, 'I'm really tired, but I just have to color!' His passion for art reminds me how happy I am to be a writer, and I think of what he said whenever I get a rejection letter."
— Jen Singer, 39, Kinnelon, NJ
Savor joy while it lasts
"My 3-year-old son, Nate, loves cars. On one car ride, he was taking in the view of zillions of cars on the Ben Franklin Bridge when, to his delight, a big purple bus painted all over in ads rolled by. He took it all in with great glee. Then he raised a hand, said, 'Bye-bye!' and turned his head and fell asleep. Nate's happiness lesson: Don't cling to moments of perfect joy, just relish them and have faith that more will come."
— Andi Buchanan, 35, Philadelphia
Parenting Tip of The Day...
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Old-fashioned Ways to Inspire Children
by Nicole Dean-
Walk through any toy store and you will see walls and walls of toys that are loud -- toys that require batteries, have flashing lights, or that look like your child's favorite movie character. But, what about those of us who want to raise children with imagination and curiosity? I'll tell you what we do. We choose to fill our houses with some of the following old-fashioned items.
No house can have enough books. Make sure your house has a representation of great Fiction Books and non-fiction books. A mix of the two is very important.
Most homes have a deficit of non-fiction books, so make sure your home is filled with Science, History and Art books. Children need to learn to read and appreciate non-fiction books in order to do well in research when they reach higher levels of study.
Children love to tell stories with felt. You'll need a felt board to start. You can make your own board from a sheet of felt or purchase a board from one of the suppliers below.
Once you have the board, let the fun begin. Go to a craft or fabric store and buy sheets of felt in all colors. Then, cut out shapes in all colors and sizes. (You'll be amazed at how quickly a child will make an alien, ship, house, or person out of nothing but a few circles, rectangles, and triangles.)
Blocks and Legos
Children can play for hours building towers, bridges, cities, creatures, and more with these toys that inspire creativity, patience, and small-motor skills. When the masterpiece is finished, have your child pretend to be a giant and smash through the blocks -- or grab a few small cars and drive around the new city! Be sure to name the city and have your child tell you all about it.
Give your child some crayons, scissors, junk mail, and glue. He or she will be entertained for hours if given encouragement. Please SUPERVISE closely if you don't want your child to have a self-induced bad haircut or attach the dog to her artwork!
Make puppets out of socks, paper bags, felt, cloth, or popsicle sticks. Make a stage and tell stories. Get out the video camera and capture your child's brilliance!
Whether your musical instruments are home-made with a comb and wax paper or store bought, making music is a wonderful way to spend the day. Teach your child that music can be made from anything, from an old oatmeal container, to scratching two pieces of sandpaper together. Go on a walk and just listen to the sounds of the world -- music is everywhere in our lives.
Get out old prom dresses, big hats, shirts and ties, old Halloween costumes (or buy extra pieces after Halloween for year-round fun!). Bring out a box of costumes and watch the shows with your children as the stars. Keep a camera handy to capture the fun. Also, keep an eye on the pets. Cats don't always appreciate wearing a sombrero. Trust me, I have the scars to prove it!
There is nothing more fun than watching your child make up stories as the family members move around in a doll house. Plus, if it is a wooden dollhouse, there is the added benefit of decorating it with some wallpaper scraps and carpet remnants! Your dollhouse could be a family heirloom if you put enough love into it.
In the Kitchen
Kids love to play Kitchen, whether it is mixing air, or getting to play with food. Give your child a great time by giving them safe kitchen utensils to play with in the bathtub. Mixing, pouring, and scooping bubbles and water entertains my children long enough for them to look pruny. Or for a fun alternative, give them puffed rice cereal and some bowls and utensils on the kitchen floor. Just plan to vacuum afterwards as there'll be quite a wonderful mess!
About the Author: Nicole is the wacky mom behind www.ShowMomTheMoney.com . Nicole also owns www.ShowKidsTheFun.com - a fun site to inspire parents to keep the lines of communication open with their children.
Encouraging Your Child to Write
Written by: Nicole Dean
Web Site: www.ShowKidsTheFun.com-
How in the world do you get your child to write? This is the battle cry of many parents. A lot of imagination, with a little bribery (or praise) is all you need to get your child writing. We'll supply the imagination. The praise and bribery is all up to you.
Grocery List: Enlist your child's help in making the grocery list. Walk around the kitchen, naming things you need from the store. Ask your child to write everything down. Your child can also suggest foods you might need from the store and he can add those, too.
Old Checks: If you've recently switched banks and have checks that need to be destroyed, first let your child play with them. Give him some envelopes and he can pretend to pay bills -- while getting him to do some writing. Of course, destroy the checks afterwards. If you do not have checks available, you can just give your child some blank pieces of paper and he can make his own checks.
Cards: If your child is interested in Pokemon or Yu-Gi-Oh cards, then give him some index cards cut in half and have him design his own cards. Encourage your child to give the characters names and special abilities on their cards.
Fictional Journal: Sometimes it is hard for children to write in a journal. What is there to write about? Instead of a standard journal, give your child a fictional journal. He or she can pretend to be anything they'd like to be and write a journal as that person. Your child could write from the perspective of an Astronaut discovering a new planet, Prince or Princess on an Adventure, Archaeologist finding a new species of Dinosaur, Famous Athlete, President of a Country, Passenger on the Titanic. Your child could write from the perspective something instead of someone, a mailbox, an animal, a pen. The possibilities are endless.
Letter-writing: Have your child write a letter to Santa, the Easter bunny, or the Tooth Fairy. Or, your child could write to their favorite athlete, fictional character, or movie star.
Alphabet Game: Take a piece of paper and write the letters A-Z in the left column. Then, choose a category from the following or make up one of your own. Vegetables, Fruits, Animals, Musical Instruments. For older children, the categories can be narrower and more difficult, like Countries, Characters in Literature, Presidents, etc. Set a timer and you and your child both list as many of the items in the category as you can for each letter. The trick at the end is that you have to cross off anything on your list that your child has listed. (for instance, if you both have "apple" for an "a" fruit, then the parent crosses theirs off.) Whoever has the most words wins.
Character Game: Tell your child to pick a character from a book or movie that he's familiar with, and you do the same. Then, ask several questions and you each write the answers to the questions on a piece of paper. When you've finished asking the questions, then have your child read the answers and try to guess who he was pretending to be. You do the same and see if your child can guess who you were. Whether you are pretending to be Peter Pan or Shrek, you and your child will have fun and your child won't even realize he's practicing his writing!
Here are the wisest commandments ever commended to parents:
1.Thou shalt be consistent: Do as you say you will. Children know where they stand when you are consistent, follow through and mean what you say.
2.Thou shalt expect children to contribute (without being paid): Expect children to help at home but don’t expect them to do so graciously all the time. Here is a question to ask yourself from time to time: What do your children do that someone else relies on?
3.Thou shalt encourage regularly and persistently: Remember that encouragement and praise will get children a lot further than criticism and punishment so be your child’s best encourager rather than his fiercest critic. Encouragement helps a child link his or her self-esteem to the process, rather than the results of what they do.
4.Thou shalt put responsibility where it belongs: Treat children and young people as you want them to be. If you want responsible, capable children then treat them as if they are responsible. The best way to develop responsibility is to give it to children.
5.Thou shalt be know that children and young people only see one side of any issue. Thou shalt take everything they say with a large grain of salt. Not that children and young people lie, but they have been known to exaggerate or see facts only from their side.
6.Thou shalt show love and affection to your children. Thou shalt say you love each of your children at least once a day. Knowing they are loveable is the basis of self worth, regardless of their age.
7.Thou shalt catch children and young people behaving well. Pay attention to your children’s positive behaviour more than their negative behaviour. What you focus on expands so if you focus on the positive behaviour that is what you generally get. Give descriptive feedback so that your children know what they did well. E.g. “That was great the way you two worked out the TV-watching problem without arguing. You both compromised a little which is smart.”
8.Thou shalt develop independence in children from the earliest possible age. Never regularly do for a child the things he or she can do for him or herself. Remember, your job is to make yourself redundant.
9.Thou shalt set limits and boundaries for children and expect that they will push against them. Children and young people need limits and boundaries as they make them feel secure.
10.Thou shalt keep a sense of humour when dealing with children. This will help you keep things in perspective. It may seem improbable some days but they will soon grow up and be out of your hair and be a living, breathing reflection of YOU.
The 11th (and most important )commandment:
Thou shalt be a good role model for your children. Show rather than tell children and young people how you want them to communicate, behave and live. Children learn what they live and, as parents, your actions speak louder than your words.
Michael Grose, a popular parenting expert, shows you practical ways to raise happy, confident, well-behaved kids and resilient teenagers. Improve children’s confidence and behaviour now and get Michael’s free ebook ’25 ways to speak so children will listen’ at http://www.parentingideas.com.au. While you are there subscribe to Happy Kids newsletter and get regular updates to build your 21st Century parenting manual.