10 Essential Tips for a Successful Holiday Season

The holiday season heralds a time to connect with family and friends, get back to your roots and give generously to others. The holidays bring many things to look forward to, but they also bring stress factors that may feel unavoidable.

It’s hard to not bust your budget on presents, field intrusive family questions and balance your time and obligations. Don’t let stressors threaten to uproot your holiday cheer, though. A little organization, simplification and a proactive, positive attitude will make for a successful holiday season.



Here are 10 ways you can survive the holidays this year:

Set Ground Rules and Stick to Them

The holidays bring out the best in some and the worst in others. When stress is at an all time high, setting boundaries will be necessary to protect and take care of your sanity and health. In your house, you set your own rules, but also set your own ground rules when it comes to how you interact with others.

Say that you’ve decided not to discuss a certain topic. Don’t keep negative conversations going. Be detached to the outcome of the conversation.

Walk away, change the subject or leave if you must. Focus on something positive to get through a trivial moment, whether it’s your kids, your pet or a favorite show. Visualize a mirror which deflects drama or imagine you’re a fog that negativity wafts right through. It may take a while for family members to adjust to your boundaries, but healthy boundaries build positive relationships.


Create a Holiday Spending Plan

Create a plan for holiday spending to keep your budget balanced. Make a list of every holiday expense, including decorations, wrapping paper, cards, work gift exchanges and travel costs. Determine how much you have available for holiday spending from existing or set-aside financial resources. Prioritize spending by category and importance.

There may be ways to save money by making homemade gifts or suggesting a family potluck, for example. Your budget may inadvertently help you to choose a meaningful gift for a loved one, rather than buying several things that overextend your budget. As you purchase an item, cross it off and wrap it.


Get Your Family Involved With Useful Tasks and Fun Activities

Don’t conquer by dividing — conquer by distraction and inclusion. Finding common ground should be your holiday goal to minimize stressful encounters.

Most people want to feel useful. A family member prone to anxiety will be thankful for something to do with their hands, to help out and not engage in awkward small talk. The family member who takes over every task at holiday gatherings should be given a territory, which could be organizing gifts and checking in with family members as they come in. Play to each family member’s strengths and pair conversations and tasks accordingly.

Prepare activities for fun and distraction. Board games are usually safe bets. You could also put on a movie or the game. Give each set of activities their own space, and family members who feel stressed may retreat to their respective corners or bond in others.



Organize a Wacky Family Bingo With Friends

There are certain family situations you won’t be able to avoid, unless you opt out of an event all-together, which may create hard feelings. Tough questions and judgments are part of these gatherings for many, but it doesn’t mean you have to suffer alone.

Replace anxiety and stress by adding humor to the mix and playing wacky family bingo. Get together with friends and design your own bingo card with events that happen at nearly every family event. There’s the one family member who keeps drinking the wine. There’s the one nosey aunt asking when you’re getting married. There’s the one family member who cracks the same bad jokes. Then there’s the set of socks that you receive every year in your stocking.

Text your friends when you land a space. Make a coded checklist on your phone to fill in the events as they happen. A little humor makes it more bearable.


Have a Gimmick

Have a gimmick to use as a tool to distract or engage by your choice. Into photography? Bring or borrow a camera to capture moments at the family event. Have a guitar? Play a few songs for everyone.

Your gimmick can be as simple and silly as a tacky holiday sweater or socks to diffuse stress. Come prepared with trivia questions or talk about your favorite television show to wear out the other conversationalists.


Be Prepared for Extreme Weather

Extreme weather catches many by surprise during the holidays. Enable alerts on your phone to receive emergency updates. If extreme weather happens on the road, react wisely when driving. Every region will have unique driving conditions depending on wind, sleet, snow and ice. Let the car go in the direction it wants to go when skidding and slowly act to bring the car to a stop, for example. Quickly braking or shifting the wheel on ice or water leads to more accidents.

Research what the weather will be like beforehand and have a back up plan if you need to stay longer than anticipated. Have your car tested and serviced before driving long distances to help prevent issues, too.


Plan Meals Ahead of Time

Create meal plans ahead of time to make holiday shopping and cooking easier. Prep and freeze side dishes in advance. Use a well-stocked pantry to your advantage. Break out breads, jams and other selections for holiday snacks, and if you’re so inclined, it is okay to make something from a box, too.  

If the holidays will be too stressful for meal planning, opt for a potluck. Create a shareable file where family members see what others are bringing and can add their own contribution. This takes the pressure off of you.


Don’t Overextend Yourself

Simplify as much as possible. Once your calendar or budget has taken all it can, stop. Don’t try to fit in every event. You don’t want to stretch your energy, time or money too thin.

Practice the art of stopping. Others may whine and complain, but overextending yourself leads to grumpy you — which isn’t fun for anyone.



Positive emotions are contagious, and when you make others feel good, it boosts your mood. Let yourself laugh at any humor or irony you find.

Remember to smile, too! People are more prone to displaying positive emotions and are socially set to mirror others empathetically. Boost everyone’s mood by finding ways to bring out smiles.


Give to Yourself

In the spirit of the holidays, you often practice generosity with others but forget yourself. To be your best self, you have to remember to take care of yourself, too.

Take time away when you are stressed. Designate space for yourself in the middle of holiday chaos, and get out of dodge. See a movie by yourself. Take a long bath. Wake up at dawn and grab an early breakfast with a friend. No matter what it is, doing something for yourself will help you handle the holiday chaos.

The holidays don’t have to be stressful. Instead, the holiday season can be successful with a little planning, determination and positivity. When you let go of control and remember to check in with yourself, the beauty and humor of life is more available to you. Enjoy the warmth of the holidays, and be merry.

When Planning On The Birth Of Your New Baby – Don’t Forget This Important Detail Like I Did

Before having my first child, I read every book I could on parenting.  I studied how to care for newborns and how to get them on a sleep schedule. I obsessed over all the nursery must-haves for baby safety. I poured over article after article detailing out survival tips for making it through the first years. I even took several parenting classes at the hospital in preparation for the birth.  


Once the time arrived for my bundle of joy to make his presence in the world, the one thing I didn’t prepare for was how to nurse him. I naively thought this little being would show me how it all worked, but unfortunately, that was not the case.

After the birth and during my short hospital stay, I summoned every nurse I could to help me. I’d ask if I was nursing correctly, I’d seek advice on how to help my son latch well – but something just didn’t feel right. I could tell my baby was not getting the amount of milk he needed. He seemed frustrated after each attempt at feeding, but the nurses would reassure me that babies have small stomachs and do not need much the first few days. Once I was released from the hospital, the panic set in. My plan to nurse him was not working out the way I had envisioned.

It was very important to me to be able to nurse my son. I wanted the nutritional benefits for him, I wanted the benefits for my recovering body, and lastly I wanted the financial benefits. When the realization set in that this may not be an option, I became severely depressed. I felt like a failure. I had let my family down. When I asked friends and family for advice, everyone had a different answer. This made matters worse. Instead of getting much needed support, I was being told everything I was doing was wrong – and for a new mom that’s the worst thing you can hear.

At my son’s one-week checkup he had lost more than a pound of his birth weight and the doctor told me it was time to consider the alternative. I broke down. When I got home, I went straight for my pump. After expressing 4 ounces of breast milk, I put it in a bottle and tried giving it to my son. To my surprise he guzzled down every last drop and the fussiness subdued. I felt victorious. From that day on, I pumped every day, 5-6 times, for the next eleven months. Eleven months! I also had enough milk frozen to get him to the one-year mark formula free.

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When my second son was born I prepared mentally to do the same thing with him. But, luckily, he took to nursing quite easily. Him and I’s nursing journey lasted just over two years. When our nursing relationship came to an end, I actually mourned. Mourned that he was my last baby and mourned that I didn’t get to experience the same journey with his older brother.

Looking back, I wish I would have known more with my first son. I could have been more prepared. I wish I would have known about all the resources out there. If I had, I wouldn’t have felt so alone. One great resource, The Honest Company, provides feeding resources for both formula and breastfeeding mommas. I also wish I wouldn’t have given up so easily. That would have saved hours of my life from being a slave to my pump. The day I retired my pump was a great day indeed!

So, my advice to new moms is to never give up. If nursing is your plan – don’t stop until you and your baby figure it out together. Yes, it will be hard and there will be days you’ll think it’s impossible. Your breasts will feel like rocks and like there’s electric currents running through them at times. But, it gets better! I promise. The bond you’ll feel with your baby is unmatched. Find support groups on Facebook, there are plenty to chose from. Find other new moms in your area to encourage and support you. And finally, always listen to your mommy instincts and go with what you know is best for you and your baby. That, in the end, is what matters most.

The Importance of Self-Care & Motherhood

We’ve all been there, knee-deep in the murky waters of motherhood, desperately trying to live up to family and societal expectations. Then one day you look in the mirror and wonder who the hell is staring back at you. You’ve been lost for a while—overwhelmed and living minute-by-minute. What happened to you? That person who at one time had their life together? That person who others came to for advice on how to “have it all”? That person you once were?

As mothers we have a tendency to put ourselves last because that’s what good mothers do, right? We pass on those lovely shoes we long for because our child needs another shirt he’ll only wear once and then grow out of. We put off going to the gym, because the limited time we do have we feel should be spent with our kids. We eat standing in the kitchen, we forego washing our hair as much as we’d like (gross but true), and we fill our schedules with activities, playdates, and the like—all for our kids.


There are several reasons why we do this. First off, we love our children immensely, so putting them at the top of our priority list is only natural. Secondly, we are bombarded with social media’s perfectly annoying Pinterest moms and articles on how women need to endlessly lean in. We are expected to do it all. What happens when you lean so far in, you tumble? In our quest to fulfill this unrealistic status quo, we’ve left someone far behind—ourselves.

I lived in this miserable bubble for a while. The time I did spend with my children, I was busy thinking about other obligations. My body was participating, but my mind wasn’t. All I did was stress about the future. My husband and I started walking through life as a team, but not as partners. My work suffered; I was losing my passion. Overall, I was drowning, gaining weight, and questioning my purpose.

After years of running in this phantom race, I decided coming in dead last wouldn’t bother me anymore. The additional stress I was putting on myself was not benefiting my family or me. In order to be a good mother, good wife, good friend and good person, I needed to make myself a priority first. I needed to reconnect with who I was and who I wanted to be.

Once you realize there’s a problem, the only person who can fix it is you. So, that’s exactly what I did. I decided to put me first, so in turn, I could put my family first. I found that my kids were perfectly happy with one activity instead of three. I set time limits for work. When those limits were tested, I found a new job that fit into my life better. Because I was the breadwinner for my family, I had to dip into my 401k during this transition, but it was worth it in the long run. I reconnected with my spouse by having movie nights once a week after the kids went to bed. We started eating meals together sitting down and had more uninterrupted conversations. Sounds like a dream, right? I made a commitment to work out two to three times a week, which then became routine. I also took naps on Sunday afternoons without the guilt. Now when I spend time with my family, I’m present. I enjoy it. They enjoy it.

I realize if you don’t have a strong support system, spouse or partner, making all these changes can be difficult, if not impossible. But, you will find neighbors or friends who need “me” time just as desperately as you do. When my husband traveled for work during the week, I joined forces with a neighbor in the same situation as me. We would take turns watching each other’s kids and also cook a little extra a few nights a week to save the other person the hassle. Even having a glass of wine and talking with her as our kids played was a nice relief.

It only takes a few small steps to make a big difference in your life. Once you start making these little changes, it gets easier to put yourself first. Learning to connect with yourself and cater to your own needs only helps you be a better mother, wife and friend. You deserve happiness just as much as everyone else does, and it’s yours for the taking. Start choosing you.

Post originally appeared on Scary Mommy

Guest Post: Nutrition Advice During Pregnancy by Natalie Michele, General Physician

Pregnancy is a nine-month period which brings visible as well as hidden changes to woman’s body. One of the most distinguishable characteristics of gestation surely is the weight variation caused by the increased demands for the caloric intake that is crucial for proper fetus development.

Getting adequate nutrition during pregnancy is just as important as during the postpartum period that lasts 6 weeks after the birth. During this time, new mothers tend to forget about themselves because of the stress, “baby blues” or because newborns simply require constant attention.

The negligence of your needs cannot be manifested into anything positive and beneficial; therefore to help you embrace the nutrition habits that will not only benefit you but your loved one as well, here are some gathered guidelines and quick tips that will help you get back on track and lead to the promising future.



Eating healthy and nutritious food during postpartum helps the mother, as well as the child, achieve short and long-term benefits. Here three main prosperities that a well-balanced menu will help you achieve:

  • Keep the energy levels up, even when you are sleep deprived.
  • Production of nutritious breast milk that will keep you baby healthy.
  • Lose baby weight that is no longer needed.

Calorie intake

Food enriched with fibers, vitamins, and minerals is a fuel that helps “body engines” run smoothly and efficiently throughout the whole day.

The recommended calorie addition to the standard 1800-2000 Kcal/day chart for the postpartum period is 500 Kcal/day, which makes a total of 2300-2500 Kcal/day, depending on your current health state.   

  • Protein

Foods that have high levels of protein contain a hunger-fighting hormone that lowers the appetite making you full for hours at the time. They are also a great source of vitamin B12 and iron that boost the energy levels up, even when conquering a day with tired eyes.

Here are some foods high in protein:

  • Eggs
  • Chicken breasts
  • Oats
  • Cottage cheese
  • Broccoli
  • Tuna
  • Lean beef
  • Fish and shrimps
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Quinoa

To make sure the chosen source of protein provides all capable benefits it is advisable to keep a track on the content of saturated fats as well as to chose the leans cuts of meat over the processed products, such as sausages, salami, and hot dogs.

  • High-fiber carbohydrates

Excessive consumption of carbohydrates is one of many reasons why people gain weigh very quickly. Cutting off the “carbs” during the postpartum is not an option because they are needed for the production of breast milk. It seems as the only question remaining is how to balance the carbohydrate intake without interrupting the lactation and your baby weight losing plan.

Foods enriched with high-fiber carbohydrates take longer to break down; which means that the 6-8 hours digestive cycle will ensure your body receives all necessary components without draining the consumed meal to the fullest putting your weight at risk. Because the high-fiber nutrients don’t digest thoroughly they also provide the body with long-lasting energy without increasing the blood sugar.

Here is a list of high-fiber carbohydrates foods:

  • Brown rice, wild rice
  • Whole oats
  • Quinoa
  • Whole wheat pasta and bread
  • Peas, black beans, lima beans
  • Avocados
  • Broccoli, Brussels sprouts
  • Pears
  • Raspberries, blueberries
  • Monounsaturated fats



To lose weight in postpartum without making any negative impacts on your body and lactation, a person has to pay closer attention to the fats that certain foods consist of. The consumption of nutrients that have high levels of saturated and trans fats should be limited or replaced with monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, including omega-3 fatty acids.

A well-balanced diet that is enriched with monounsaturated fats not only helps keep the cholesterol at acceptable levels but also, according to Reina Sofia University Hospital in Cordoba, Spain, helps a person get rid of the lower belly fat that is one of the most troublesome areas when losing weight, especially after the pregnancy.

Foods high in monounsaturated fats:

  • Olives and olive oil
  • Canola oil
  • Nuts and nut oil
  • Avocados
  • Dark chocolate
  • Sesame, flaxseed

Foods enriched with omega-3 fatty acids:

  • Walnuts and walnut oil
  • Flaxseeds
  • Atlantic salmon
  • White tuna
  • Sardines
  • Fresh basil and dried oregano

Omega-3 fatty acids, according to many medical studies, help lower the different types of depression including the postpartum depression. To make sure you receive the benefits from this nutrient The Institute of Medicine advises the breastfeeding women to consume approximately 1.3 grams of omega-3 per day (1 tablespoon of walnut oil contains 1.4 grams of omega-3).

Postpartum is a stressful period that takes a toll on every mother in different ways. Some people lose and some gain weight due to the new and undiscovered parental life that is filled with trials as well as the joy. To make your weigh-loosing quest as easy and healthy as possible here are the last 4 tips you should put into practice:

  1. Eat food enriched with vitamin A, C, D, E and minerals such as potassium, calcium, and iron.
  2. Drink plenty of water.
  3. Don’ skip meals or go without eating for long periods of time.
  4. Feel free to enjoy a healthy snack between the meals.

To find more helpful information on all things maternity, visit: Maternity At Home

Guest Post: Yoga During Pregnancy — Is It Safe?

Indeed, pregnancy isn’t an easy stage. A lot of techniques, preparations and tips are involved throughout this long process. One must maintain a healthy body to ensure the health of yourself and for your future child. Eating healthy foods, taking prenatal supplements, and having regular exercises are needed.

young pregnant woman making yoga exercise at a lake

One of the most popular exercise in today’s world is yoga. Yoga relaxes your body and is easy to do. But can you do yoga while pregnant? Perhaps, yes. A lot of care and precautions are needed by someone when pregnant. Prenatal yoga is a form of yoga which is created and suited for pregnant women. Prenatal yoga also prepares a woman for an easy labor and promoting her child’s health. But further consultation in needed to ensure that yoga during pregnancy is safe for you. Because there are some yoga poses to avoid during pregnancy.

In the first trimester, there is some specific pregnancy yoga poses recommended. Because this stage is the crucial point of pregnancy and it needs a lot of caution to prevent miscarriage or complications. Check these few yoga poses that are safe when pregnant:


  • Cat Pose

In this kind of pose, you must kneel in a table position with your knees under your hips and arms are beneath your shoulder. Head faces forward and your back must be straight. Exhale, drop head and your tailbone. Then arch your back and exhale further. Next is tighten your buttocks and the abdominal muscles. Do this every evening and/or morning. This is a great way to release the stress and tension in your lower back.

This pose strengthens and relaxes your lower back, improves blood circulation, stretches your muscles along the neck, arms and back, and increases the suppleness along your spines.


  • Sitting on the floor

Is Yoga Safe During Pregnancy 1

These three poses which are recommended ways to sit. This is to reduce the lower back pain, pressure, and even discomfort.

Seated on the floor. This is to help the spine to be straight in any form of seated position. Sit with your back and resting against the wall for support. You can also sit on a folded blanket or in the firm cushion to keep the spine straight.


  • Knee rocking

It is advisable not to warm-up if you feel any discomfort in the pelvic area and in the hips.

In a cross-legged position, sit in with your leg on the top. If possible, you can lean against the wall to support your back. Then cradle your left leg with your both arms and lift it towards the chest and to your abdomen as long as you’re comfortable.

Keep your back straight and hold your leg as high, and as close to you if possible, without straining. By moving from the hip joint, gently rock your leg as if you’re just rocking a baby. After rocking it for several legs, switch leg position and repeat it with your other leg.

This pose helps alleviate the discomfort in your hip joints which probably caused by the pressure of your growing baby on the joints and nerves in the hip part, thighs and buttocks. It also improves the flexibility in the pelvic, groin area, and in the pelvic.

These just only a few safe yoga poses. Despite these poses, you’ll to avoid these poses: camel, headstands, upward bow, backbends, and balancing poses on leg unless it is supported by a wall or chair.

Is Yoga Safe During Pregnancy

To further ensure your safety, here are some recommended guidelines needed to be followed:

  • Avoid poses which stretches your muscles too much, especially in the abdomen. Because of the pregnancy hormone called relaxin, which causes the uterus to expands then eventually softens the connective tissue, you are more prone to pulls, strains, and other injuries right now.
  • If you are already attending a regular yoga class before, make sure to inform your teacher or instructor that you are having a baby and which you’re trimester in.
  • Listen to your body. If you feel any discomfort, then STOP. You will need to modify your poses as your body is changing. That’s why you’re in need of a good instructor, to help you modify your yoga to suit the stage of your pregnancy.
  • Never go into any asanas poses on the back right  after the first trimester. It can reduce the blood flow to your uterus.
  • When you are bending forward, hinge from the hips. Leading it with the breastbone and extending your spine from the crown of your head down to your tailbone. This will allow more space for your ribs to move and which makes easy breathing.
  • To avoid losing your balance and risk of injury to your baby and yourself on the second trimester and the center of gravity starts to change, do some standing poses with your heel to the wall or use any chair for further support.
  • When doing some twisting poses, to avoid putting some pressure on the abdomen, just twist more from your shoulder and back rather than from your waist. Do only comfortable twist. Deep twists are not advisable during pregnancy for it may put you at a higher risk of injury and complications.
  • When bending forward while you’re sitting place a yoga strap or a shower behind your feet then hold its both ends. Bend from your hips then lifts your chest. This will avoid in compressing the abdomen. Placing a rolled-up towel under the buttocks to elevate your body and then open your legs about a hip in width, to give a room for the belly to come in front, is often done if your belly is too big for the particular movement.
  • To help relax your muscles in the buttocks, keep the pelvis in a neutral position during a pose by engaging the abdominals and the tailbone down and in. This can help reduce or hopefully reduce the sciatic pain down to your back of the leg, which is a common effect during pregnancy. It can also prevent injury to your connective tissue that is responsible for stabilizing your pelvis area.

Yoga and pregnancy are indeed a perfect combination. Yoga is really safe. Why not try it? But always have in mind, safety must be on top of your priority.


Helping Young Children with Learning Disabilities Have an Equal Chance at Sucess

How well your child can learn and process various information determines their development during childhood. And while children with learning disabilities may seem to be at a disadvantage, through hard work, and the right motivation, they can overcome their challenges. In that respect, all children have an equal chance at success. With the right perspective, guidance, support and love, children faced with challenges will have the ability and self-confidence to build a solid foundation to pursue, and enjoy, a healthy happy life.

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Create a Loving Environment

All children require love and support from their parents and children with disabilities are no different. If anything, because of their challenges, they need even more affection to satisfy their need for attention and reassurance. With tangible displays of love, through healthy communication, touch, kisses and hugs, parents will reflect a strong level of importance their child holds in their life. A loving environment will focus their attention away from their problems and encourage them to engage in endeavors of a normal life, motivate them to learn and boost their self-confidence as well.

Personality That Defines Them

Kids with learning disabilities can easily associate with their problem, so it is important parents take every step not to let it represent who they are. Appreciating kids’ interests, dreams, and goals, will build up their character making their personality the thing that defines them. Still, kids need to be aware of the problems they face, as not to foster a false sense of reality. Yes, they are not able to absorb information as quickly as other children, but recognizing their individuality and unique perspective will drive them to work harder in reaching their full potential.


Provide Them with Structure

As do other kids, children with learning disabilities need structure and discipline that can effectively aid in their development. The challenges they face should not be viewed as an excuse, so make sure to stand back and let them do the work. Provide them with problems and stimulate them to use their resources to find the solutions on their own. Also, teach kids to set up daily and long-term goals to guide their endeavors. Incorporate activities that are engaging, and refine both their cognitive and motor skills, and then create a weekly routine. Once they adopt this structured approach, together with self-reliance, they will have the ability resolve problems and overcome difficulties on their own – which is ultimately going to help them in the long-run.

Seek Professional Help Early on

Because children with learning disabilities need more attention, they need the extra work put in into their education. Even if you are a stay-at-home parent, enrolling kids into professional preschool services as soon as possible, can be beneficial to their upbringing. Working together with teachers, you can explore the various learning methods (auditory, visual and kinesthetic) to find the ideal one for your child. With their support, you can create an alternative educational plan, tailor-made to meet their needs. Also, they will have a chance to develop their communication skills by interacting and playing with other children, which can also have a healthy impact on their social awareness.

Stressed Schoolboy Studying In Classroom With Teacher

Encourage Their Unique Learning Style

Once you know the best way your child acquires new information and skills, incorporate and encourage that learning style at home. For visual learners, use picture books, inspire them to draw and make colorful notes in class. Auditory learners might be more attuned with a song, reading out loud, listening to you read, or even recordings. Kinesthetic learners are all about movement and the use of hands and feet. Include physically active games during learning, role-playing, or encourage hobbies that make use of hands as well as the subject matter. Whatever method is best suited for your child, make sure you include yourself during study time and are creative in your approach.

Most importantly, you need to understand that academic performance comes second to success in life. Reward and cherish achievements like healthy self-esteem, creating relationships, self-reliance, emotional growth, acquisition of skills and the determination to keep trying to overcome challenges. These may not be graded on tests at schools, but will help your child realize their dreams and achieve happiness in life.


Guest Post: How To Introduce Your Child to a Green Lifestyle

The most effective way to teach your children anything is to set an example yourself. When it comes to teaching young kids about green living, you will not even have to explain a lot since most children are curious about nature and have an innate consideration for Mother Earth. When they see you volunteer your time and efforts to care about the environment, other people, plants, and animals, they will see that making a difference in the world is worthwhile, and will approach it with enthusiasm and sincerity. At times they might rebel against order and doing what is expected of them, especially when they get a bit older. But this is just a phase. As long as you keep the green practices entertaining, they will foster a healthy green attitude no matter what.

Here are some suggestions on how to start.

1. Encourage an active lifestyle


By regularly spending time in nature, your kids will develop respect for it. Spend more time outdoors with your children. Go play in the nearby park, ride bicycle with them, or go hiking. Ditch the car and walk to the store or to school together. Show them that there are nature-friendly alternatives to driving and leaving unnecessary carbon footprints. Take them to a farm and introduce them to animals. Teach them to appreciate the food that is on their table every day. Pick up garbage after other people and your children will want to contribute to a cleaner environment themselves by following your example.

2. Let them Grow Their Greenery


Spring is almost here, and it is a perfect time to introduce your children to gardening. If you do not have a yard where they could grow their own garden, a pot on the windowsill will do. When children see a plant develop under their care, they will feel directly responsible for the nature. This way, you will also teach them about sustainable living. If your kids are really small and beginners at gardening, make sure you pick some plants that can take the harsh treatment by someone inexperienced. Also, in order to avoid any discouragements, choose plants that are fast-growing, and can survive irregular watering. Bean seed is a classic choice, but it would be even better to choose a plant that gives colorful and edible fruits. Sampling the food they grew will make your children proud. They will learn to love the process and will want to do it all over again. Tomato and pepper plants can be easily grown in a pot indoors.

3. Choose toys wisely


In the consumerist society that we live in, many people spoil their children with tons of unnecessary expensive toys. Instead, think twice before buying them a new toy. Declutter their closet regularly and encourage them to give away the toys they have outgrown and that they no longer play with. Explain to them how donating can help save some of the natural resources. Discuss with them what toys they would like to have and try to find ecologically friendly alternatives. Whenever possible, pick quality toys that are more durable, but also recyclable.

4. Shop Wisely


Foster your child’s eco-friendly shopping habits. How? Start from food. Teach them to eat organic and fresh products, while restricting junk food. Take them to a farm to see where our food comes from, or introduce them to farmers at a farmers’ market. When it comes to clothes, teach them that it does not have to be branded and expensive. It is imperative that the clothes are made of quality material and comfortable, allowing your children to move freely and letting their skin breathe. You can find such clothes at online retail portals like www.swap.com, where you can easily sell old and find new affordable clothes for them. The kids outgrow their clothes fast, so that is why this is a convenient option. Another advantage of online shopping for moms is that you do not have to leave the comfort of your sofa, you can browse through clothes on the computer and do the shopping without the stressful part of running around after your children in a shopping mall.

5. Explain energy efficiency


Make it a rewarding game. Set some basic green rules and reward your kids whenever they follow them. You can even print the rules and post them in the house, together with a scoreboard where you will list all family members. Kids love competitive games. Have them switch off the lights whenever they are not in a room. Set a rule that will make them turn off the water while brushing their teeth. Some other rules you could introduce: take quick showers instead of baths; use microwave in the summer instead of ovens (this only applies if your kids are old enough); keep the lids on the pots when cooking; wash only full loads of clothes; line dry your clothes; do the laundry at night; do not keep the refrigerator door open for a long time; replace incandescent light bulbs with fluorescents; etc.

Have you already set any green rules for your kids?

The Ultimate Fun & Smart Gift List for Your Kids This Christmas

Holidays are almost here, which means it’s high time you went shopping for Christmas gifts! Don’t wait for the last-minute hunt – play smart and avoid that holiday time stress. If you would like to spend reasonable amounts of money on something that will be highly beneficial to your children’s cognitive development, you are in the right place. Here are four ideas for Christmas gifts your kids will love.

  1. Pretend Play Kits



These kits are the best possible present for your toddler or preschooler. In that age, children are communicating with intent and are using speech for communication. These toys rely on pretend play skills, and largely depend on your children’s interests and level of development. Farm sets are great for boys and girls who love domestic animals, and these are amazing for building speech and language skills. Besides that, they will learn about their habitat and life cycles, and also develop a stronger sense of identity through play. Doll houses are perfect resources for role play and creative activities. They develop social and fine motor skills. A tool set is great for boys who like to copy their dads, and these are good for improving hand-eye coordination.

  1. Math Games


Understanding simple math facts from an early age will significantly influence children’s mental math skills, making them understand and learn fast. Conducting basic addition and subtraction problems mentally will enable them to easily advance to higher levels of mathematics. Besides that, it will greatly improve their self-confidence. Kids can develop problem-solving skills with your help – there is a wide range of different games that will enhance their understanding of those problems. Funbrain math games are fun and improve your children’s cognitive development. These are particularly useful for younger ones, because they will get to love math through play. These games are educational and entertaining at the same time.

  1. Art Supplies


Art indeed provides limitless opportunities for developing speech and fine motor skills. You can incorporate anything that comes to your mind – even some items that you already have in your home can be taken into consideration. That is actually the cheaper solution. Buttons, pom poms, paper clips, clothespins, straws, homemade play dough, toothpicks and many other things can be very useful, developing creativity through playing and having fun. On the other hand, you can purchase different sets consisting of crayons, markers, clay, stickers, wooden stamps and colouring books that will make your kids more than happy. Also, don’t forget the spirograph – its interlocking gears and wheels will help them create beautiful and elegant designs.

  1. The Gift of Physical Activity


Giving your children gifts that involve movement and companionship with friends and family will motivate them to be active. There are many simple gifts that will promote activity, such as balls for basketball, baseball, tennis, and soccer. When it comes to winter, snowshoes, skates and sleds are a great choice if you want your kids to use the winter weather in the best possible way. Playing outdoors in the snow is something that children love, which is why they should have good snow pants and warm boots and jacket. However, if they prefer staying indoors, you can always pay for dance lessons or a membership to the local basketball club.

As you can see, there are so many ideas regarding Christmas gifts for your children that are both fun and frugal at the same time. These four are just a drop in the ocean of amazing presents every child would like to get. The most important thing is to keep in mind your kids’ personal interests and wishes – and you certainly will not make a mistake. Good luck!


How You REALLY Want to Respond to Unwanted Parenting Advice

If you’re a mom, you’ve received unwanted advice at some point during your parenting journey – it’s a given. Most of the time, out of politeness, the average mom will just smile and nod whenever bombarded with all the inappropriate parenting suggestions thrown at her. But just for fun, here are responses to some common unsolicited advice we all (including me!) really WISH we could say:

  • “You really should sleep when the baby sleeps.” Are YOU going come over and clean my entire house and do laundry? Didn’t think so.
  • “Why can’t you come to our dinner party that starts at 8 pm? Bring your daughter, too!” Um, how about… No! Do you know what happens to a child if they stay up past their bedtime? The nightmare becomes mine!
  • “She just frowned. She must be ill. You should take her to the doctor.” Please zip it.
  • “Why don’t you bring her to this extortionately priced place for a playdate?”  To play for an hour and be over it, and then I’m out half a paycheck? Why don’t you just stop talking?
  • “Speak to her in French/German/Swahili! Kids can pick up lots of languages super easily.” I wish you would not speak at all.
  • “She needs her freedom. Take her out of the stroller.” Your mouth is so pretty when its shut!
  • “If you feed her while she sits on your lap instead of the high-chair, she’ll probably eat more.” Stop. Please.
  • “Why do you put her to bed so early? Let her stay up and play some more!” Because I need a break, too! Seriously. Stop.
  • “Remember that awesome cake/meal you made before you had a baby? You should totally make one of those again. Today!” Do you remember that awesome time you shut up? Make your own meal!
  • “You need to stop cuddling her so much, or you’ll end up spoiling her.” I really can’t recall asking for your opinion.
  • “Hold on, I’m going to send you a really long video of my kid doing ____ and you have to watch it to the end, which is the best part.” Sure, because I have all the time in the world. No. Just no.
  • “You should try feeding her ___” (insert name of food item that I’m clearly not feeding her). Are you kidding me right now? You should try to STFU. 
  • “You need to be firmer with her. If you don’t put her in her place from now, she’ll never know who’s boss.” It’s you I need to be firmer with!
  • “Why don’t you dip her pacifier in some juice so she enjoys it more?” Please, shut your pie hole!
  • “Oh just take her out of the car seat for a while. She doesn’t like it.” Thanks Captain Obvious. Can I lock you in one?
  • Start potty training her even if she’s not ready. It’ll be a breeze.” You’re hurting my ears!
  • “The latest research suggests you should ban screen-time completely.” All I’m hearing right now is blah, blah blah. I need to ban you!
  • “Why don’t you just have another baby now, and get it all done in one go?” Why don’t you just get your vocal cords removed?
  • “Aren’t those your maternity jeans? We should go shopping this weekend to buy you a new pair.” Or… You should shut up.
  • “You really need a haircut.” No shit, Sherlock. Why don’t you watch my kid so I can go?
What are some things you’re tired of hearing?? Let’s commiserate!

GUEST POST: When Your Kid Will Poop – by Norine of Science of Parenthood

Because you can’t talk about motherhood without including a “poop” story… my lovely friend, Norine, over at Science of Parenthood, offered to share this hilarious tale of a near poop disaster. Enjoy!


When will your kid poop … or pee for that matter? Well, it sure as hell won’t be the 10 times you ask if he has to use the potty. A child will always wait till the least convenient moment. And then he’ll have to go immediately.

My son was 3 when we were flying home to Orlando after my cousin’s wedding in Denver. My husband had had to work, so it was just the two of us, knocking around the Denver airport waiting to board our flight.

“Do you have to go potty?” I’d asked when we got to the airport.

He shook his head vehemently. “No.”

“Do you have to go potty?” I’d asked before we went through security.


“Do you have to go potty?” I’d asked when we got to our gate.


“Do you have to go potty?” I’d asked as they started boarding our flight.



And so we settled into our seats in the bulkhead and fastened our seat belts. My son busied himself looking out the window at the planes maneuvering around the gates. I opened a New York magazine, I’d been looking forward to reading. (When your kid’s a toddler, how often do you get time to read something other than a board book?) I bared noticed when we pushed back from the gate and began rolling toward the runway. And then …


“Hmmm,” I murmured, absently.

“Mommy! …” he said, a bit more insistently.

“Yes?” I said, without looking up from the page.


“What???” I turned to look at him.

“I need to go potty.”

“Now?!? Why didn’t you go when I asked you to?”

“I didn’t have to go before. I have to go now.”

Of course, he did. I looked around helplessly. I didn’t know what to do, what I could do. So I rang the Call button.

A flight attendant appeared almost instantly. “What can I do for you?”

“My son needs to go potty,” I explained. “Can we just pop into the bathroom, like super fast?”

She shook her head. “We’re next in line for takeoff,” she said. (Of course we were!) “Can he hold it?”

I certainly hoped so. I had no extra clothes in my bag, and the thought of spending the four-hour flight with a stinky, wet, cold, whining child wasn’t a happy one.

I have to say the next 25 minutes were among the tensest in my life as I parried my son’s repeated potty pleas with Not yet, Soon, In a few minutes and the increasingly desperate, Almost, baby. Just hold it a little bit longer.

As soon as I felt the plane level off, I rang the Call button again.

“Can I take him now?” I begged the flight attendant. “Please!”

“The seatbelt sign is lit, so I can’t tell you that you can get up,” she said.

“Are you gonna stand in my way?”

“Nope,” she said with a smile, moving aside so I could scoop my boy out of his seat and into the lavatory.

A few minutes later, we slid back into our seats, one dry, not poopy boy and one very relieved mom.

As we buckled our seat belts again, the flight attendant reappeared. “I thought you could use this,” she said with infinite kindness. Then she placed a cup of ice and a bottle of Stoli on my tray table.


If you loved this story, you need to hurry on over to Amazon to purchase the SOP book immediately!


Norine Dworkin-McDaniel is co-author with illustrator Jessica Ziegler of Science of Parenthood: Thoroughly Unscientific Explanations for Utterly Baffling Parenting Situations released in November by She Writes Press. It’s available on Amazon and wherever books are sold. Follow Norine and Jessica on their blog, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Is Science of Parenthood coming to your town? Check out our tour schedule. Want Science of Parenthood to come to your town? Message us!