Friday, October 30, 2015

How to Help Children Express Their Emotions

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of My Happy Pillow.
All opinions are 100% mine.

Often times my kids become frustrated because they can’t find the words or they haven’t been given the opportunity to express themselves.  When a child is upset, sad, scared, or happy, it is important to encourage them to express their emotions. 
Some tips for helping kids express their feelings include:
  • Reading books with them.  Some titles I like include The Way I Feel series from Cornelia Maude Spelman.  The Pout Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen is another favorite.  As you read, you can ask questions such as: How do you think this character is feeling? You can also use stuffed animals, dolls, or puppets to help act out the emotions. 
  • Talking with them about different emotions.  Use words like happy, sad, and frustrated when helping them work through their feelings.  For instance, remind them that Mommy gets upset when she bumps her head.  When do you get upset? 
  • Show children emotion cards or pictures and talk about each one.  Children can use the cards to draw an ‘emotion journal’ where they use text such as I feel….when….. They can also use the journal and cards to non-verbally express how they feel. 
Kids themselves have a lot of insight on this matter too!

Recently, I was given the opportunity to talk with Isabella, a seven-year-old and the creator of
My Happy Pillow.  My Happy Pillows are cute, character pillows with one expression on one side and another feeling on the other. The lovable pillows provide a source of comfort for children. In addition, it has helped make bedtime less of a battle at my house.   Recently, My Happy Pillow won the Dr. Toys Best Picks award for children's products for 2015! 

To help parents understand how to help children express themselves and to learn more about the young creator of My Happy Pillow, Isabella was gracious enough to answer the following questions:

Me: How did you come up with the idea for My Happy Pillow? 
Isabella: I wanted to make something that other kids could play with and show how they're feeling. (happy or mad, and how each face looks).

Why is it important for kids to be able to express themselves non-verbally?
Isabella: Sometimes, it’s hard to explain what you're feeling.

How did you choose the emotions on the Happy Pillows?
Isabella: It’s how I feel the most or what my friends and I talk about the most. It’s how I feel most often.

What helps you calm down when you are upset?  
Isabella: The best is when I can talk to my mom. Having something to help me explain myself like the pillows still helps.

In your opinion, how can parents help children who are scared at night?
Isabella: Just being with them and making them feel safe and letting them talk.

Do you have a favorite My Happy Pillow character?
Isabella: Rosie the dog and Zee the monkey.

What helps you fall asleep at night?
Isabella: Having my mom there with me and all of my pillows and toys.

What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs like yourself?
Isabella: My mom always helps me take chances and not be scared and just do stuff.

How do you help your kids express their emotions?

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Sunday, October 25, 2015

The 12 Emotional Stages I Go Through After My Kids Break Stuff

Sometimes my kids break stuff. Perhaps, it’s because I let them play ball in the house. Perhaps, it’s because they are wild little monkeys. Perhaps, that’s just life with kids. Even though I hardly have any breakables around the house, my kids still seem to manage to break things.  Here are the 12 emotional stages I go through after my kids break stuff.


(Huge eyes) OMG!  I can’t believe it.  How can two kids possibly make such a mess while I go to the bathroom?


No one move!  I don’t want anyone to step on a piece of glass. That would hurt, plus urgent care is a nightmare on the weekends.  Go put on shoes and stay out of this room until you are 18.


Deep breaths, deep breaths…... I can’t believe you broke that!  You’re going to have to owe me allowance money for the next 50 years….wait I don’t give you an allowance. Hmmm….let me think of something else. 


Wait, no, don’t cry, mommy was just kidding. I won’t take your allowance that you don’t even get. If you stop crying, mommy will buy you a unicorn or a mockingbird. Let’s hug. Hugging solves all problems.


When am I going to have time to fix that?  When am I going to have enough money to fix that?


That was the first piece of art I bought after we got married.  I know it’s just a print from Bed, Bath and Beyond that I purchased with a 40% off coupon from Michaels (yes, you can do that). Still, who knows when I will have enough money in my budget to replace it.  Sniff.


Well it’s my fault because I’m the one who let you play ball inside the house.  I’m a horrible mother.  I should have taken you to the park to play this morning.  I should have signed you up for soccer this year. 


Who needs that piece of junk!  I never liked it.  I wanted to re-decorate anyways.

Joy I can go buy that new picture I’ve been eyeing at Pottery Barn!  It will look so beautiful over the couch with the holes and black tape on it!  Come on kids, I’ll turn on the clean up song and we’ll clean up this mess in a jiffy.


Ha ha! That Pottery Barn picture is $300. Besides, I would be really mad if the kids knocked THAT off the wall. I’ll just stick with my cheap wall art.


I can fix that.  I’ll just Google how to make a DIY picture frame from an old pallet or some twigs. A little wood glue will make it look as good as new.


(Puts picture back on the wall without frame). It’s okay kids, just keep playing! After all, it’s 100 degrees outside and I don’t really want to brave the fecal matter at the indoor playground…..just be careful!


Oh no, what did you break now?

Have your kids ever broken anything?  What did you do?

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Sunday, October 18, 2015

How to Tell If You’re an Introverted Parent

Introverts are often given a bad rap. They are labeled as unfriendly, anti-social, boring, etc. People are often surprised to find out that some public speakers are introverted. In fact, when my church pastor said he was an introvert a few weeks ago, I, an introvert myself, was surprised. If you’re wondering what an introvert really is, I like this definition from

“Introvert comes from Latin intro-, "inward," and vertere, "turning." It describes a person who tends to turn inward mentally. Introverts sometimes avoid large groups of people, feeling more energized by time alone.”

Here are few ways to tell you might be an introverted parent (although a lot of these things apply to people who aren’t parents):

You Thrive in Small Groups (or Large Playdates Scare You)

You might be an introverted parent if you enjoy hanging out with one or two parents and their children. When my daughter was young, I belonged to a playgroup with a few moms and their children. On many occasions, the playgroup consisted of just a few moms and less than five children. I found it very relaxing and enjoyable. Then, more and more people started to join and before I knew it, there were about 20 people in the playgroup. For me, this was no longer enjoyable, but chaotic. If you’re an introvert, you might enjoy small gatherings with a few close friends rather than a large party. Likewise, you probably have a few close friends rather than a lot of acquaintances.

You Enjoy Going Out but You Need Your Alone Time More

You might be introverted if you enjoy going out with your friends but sometimes need your alone time more. I love getting dressed up and going out! However, if it’s been awhile since I’ve had any ‘me time’, I will choose to do something by myself rather than go to coffee with a girlfriend. Introverts thrive on alone time. So, after a crazy week of school functions, chit-chat, and soccer games, you might decline an invitation to go out with friends for a mom's night out. After all, if you don’t get any time to be alone with your thoughts, you might start feeling overstimulated and drained. You also may stay up too late to soak in some more quiet time.  

You Dread Going to Kids’ Birthday Parties where You Have to Make Small Talk

If you dread making small talk with strangers, you might be an introverted parent. Once my daughter entered elementary school, she was invited to a lot of birthday parties.  Sometimes I felt like there was a party every weekend forever.  Since my husband often stayed behind with my younger son, this meant I went to the parties with my daughter alone.  Sometimes this was hard because I had to make small talk with a bunch of parents I didn’t know. Luckily, over the years I have gotten to know a lot of the parents at my daughter’s school, so things are much easier. If you’re introverted, you might feel the same way at your child’s soccer parties or PTA meetings. This doesn’t mean you don’t like talking to people.  It just means you’re more likely to want to have a passionate conversation rather than one about the weather.  

I also liked this quote about the difference between introverts and extroverts from Susan Cain, the author of ‘Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking’:

"Extroverts really crave large amounts of stimulation, whereas introverts feel at their most alive and their most switched-on and their most capable when they're in quieter, more low-key environments. Not all the time -- these things aren't absolute -- but a lot of the time.” 

It’s also important to remember that extroverts are not better than introverts, or vice versa.   

So are you more introverted or extroverted? Are there are any social situations you dread as a parent? 

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Sunday, October 11, 2015

When Your Emotions Take Over: Just Breathe

Sometimes, I forget to breathe. When I’m excited, when I’m scared, when I’m angry, my emotions overflow and I forget to breathe. I just keep talking, crying, shouting, and then, suddenly, I’m breathless.

On many occasions, my children have caused me to stop breathing.

I stopped breathing during childbirth, when my daughter’s heart rate slowed due to the cord being wrapped around her neck. Laying on my back, I felt helpless.  

I stopped breathing when I took my newborn son to the doctor because something just didn’t seem right and they told me his body temperature was dangerously low.

It’s hard to stay calm and keep breathing when our kids get hurt or when we feel overwhelmed or pushed to our limit.

But breathing is essential for living. Without oxygen, we will soon be lifeless. Additionally, when we don't take care of ourselves, we can’t to take care of our children. I mean, there’s a reason why the flight attendants tell parents to put the oxygen mask on yourself before you try to help your children.

As parents, we need those slow, deep breaths to calm us down, to remind us that this is just one moment in the book of life.  Tweet this:

So, when your toddler is throwing a tantrum and you feel like the whole world is staring at you, just breathe. 

When salty tears are bathing your face because you feel like you’re the worst mom and you’re not doing anything right, just breathe.  

When you’re racing around because there is too much to do and not enough time, just breathe.

Breathe in the smell of your children’s freshly washed hair when they cuddle with you at night.

Breathe in the aroma of your morning coffee, whether it be hot, warm, or stone cold.  

Breathe in the moments of beauty, the silver linings, all the small, good things.  

When everyone else has gone to sleep, breathe in the quiet night air. Breathe out all the negativity. Exhale and remember you can’t control everything. 

Remember that  it’s okay to feel anxiety, frustration, sadness,….it means you’re human.  

Breathe in, breathe out, deep, deliberate breaths, you’re doing just fine!

How do you prevent frustration and stress from taking over? 

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Friday, October 9, 2015

How to Parent with Purpose: A Book Review

Do your children throw a lot of tantrums? Do you feel frustrated when you have power struggles with your children? Do you feel like you yell too much?  

I know I sometimes feel like I’m making discipline mistakes with my kids. That’s why I was so happy to get a free digital copy of Nina Garcia’s new book Parenting with Purpose that focuses on “How to Raise Well-Behaved Children and Build a Strong Parent-Child Relationship.”

One of my favorite parts of the book was Chapter 1 where readers will learn about connecting with their children to prevent conflict.  Personally, I know I sometimes become frustrated, and my kids become frustrated, when I’m not completely present. For instance, I might be trying to blog but my kids want to play with me. Sometimes, you need to forget about all the housework, put the smartphones away, and connect with your kids. In her book, Nina suggests to “give your child your full attention, even if only for  a few minutes.” By fully connecting with your child, you’ll prevent outbursts and frustration from setting in.  

Throughout the book, Nina also gives advice on how to communicate with your child, prevent tantrums, effectively use routines, parent calmly, and more.  The book ends with 20 actionable steps parents can take to create strong connections with their kids. I love how specific the actions were and how I could start using these tips right away. Since reading the book, I have been spending less time multitasking and more time where my focus is on my children only.  

Nina’s book will be released on October 18. You can find out more about the book and download a free chapter here. For those of you who are interested in this book, I have some great news. You can snag a free copy of the ebook version of Parenting with Purpose on Amazon from October 18 to 22.  In addition, you can become an email subscriber and get a free bonus chapter along with other great information and freebies.

Nina is a fellow parenting blogger over at Sleeping Should be Easy.  If you haven’t checked out her blog, it is full of helpful advice. She’s also a working mom with toddler twins and a six-year-old, all boys.  

I hope you all get a chance to read this great book!

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Saturday, October 3, 2015

Why I Sent My Kids to Preschool

Lately, I have been seeing a lot of articles on why people aren’t sending their kids to preschool. While I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer to this topic, I’m giving my insight to help those that might be on the fence about sending their kids to preschool. Here are a few reasons we enrolled our children in preschool.

Learning to Listen to Other Adults that Weren’t Part of my Family

Being a SAHM, I have been my children’s primary caregiver. Their grandparents have watched them. They have been to Sunday school. However, preschool allows my kids to be in a setting where they had to listen and follow instructions/class rules (for a long period of time) from an adult that wasn’t a friend or family member. Likewise, I also like the idea that my kids are interacting and working together with other kids in a school setting without me. 

The Structure

My kids get plenty of unstructured social play at the park and playdates. They have had more structured experiences at story times, church, and mommy and me type classes. However, preschool provides time away from me in a more structured environment where my children have to advocate for themselves without me around.  When I say structured, I think it’s important to note that I have always thought play-based learning preschools were the best.  While there should be some structure at a preschool, structured doesn’t mean your children have to be sitting in desks doing worksheets. Yes, you can definitely provide structure for your child at home. However, I really feel like it would have been hard for me to replicate the structure that goes on in a classroom setting with 10 or so other children.  

Helping with Separation Anxiety  

My daughter never had a lot of trouble being away from me. However, my son did. I took him to Sunday school and a toddler gym class so he could get used to being around other adults. It helped a little. However, I was nervous about him going to kindergarten and being away from me for six hours a day.  I wanted to ease him into this routine. When my daughter started kindergarten, I witnessed other children having a very hard time leaving their parents. The first week of preschool was hard because my son didn’t want me to leave. However, he soon realized that preschool was fun and that I always came back. I made sure that I never snuck out, always said goodbye to him, and made sure he knew I would be back.

Being Exposed to Different Teaching Styles

I’m a credentialed teacher and we have always done a lot of educational activities at home. Furthermore, I know I am fully capable of teaching my kids counting, letter recognition, reading skills....and I do. However, I like the fact that my kids have been exposed to different teaching styles. I know the teachers at my son’s preschool are all trained in early childhood development and might have a few tricks up their sleeve that I don’t. 

Tips for Choosing a Preschool

I don't think going to preschool is a necessity for everyone.  Also, preschool can be expensive. In addition, you can focus on having structured learning time at home and giving kids opportunities to follow instructions from other adults.  However, If you do decide to send your child to preschool, here are a few tips:

Look for a low teacher to student ratio:
My son’s preschool has a very low ratio of about one teacher to every five kids. There are two teachers and about 10 students. As far as I know California’s law say the ratio should be 1:8 for three to four-year-olds. However, I noticed a lot of the other states were higher. I would also look for a lower maximum group size. Most importantly, make sure the staff is certified and trained. 

Know what you want:
Before enrolling your child, ask about the school’s learning philosophy. This
PBS article breaks down the different types. Overall, the school should have a consistent curriculum with goals. Your preschool should be open to letting you come in and observe or take a tour.  

Look for a preschool that encourages a community:
I like the fact that my son’s preschool encourages parents to come in and read at circle time. The staff is very loving and treats the children and the parents with respect.

I think all kids are different. This post is not intended to make anyone feel bad about not sending their child to preschool.  A lot of kids that don’t go to preschool will likely adjust to kindergarten fine.  However, for me, I was worried about walking my kids into public school kindergarten without having the out-of-home preschool experience.

But that’s just me.

So what are your tips for finding a good preschool?  Why did or didn’t you send your child to preschool?

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Sunday, September 27, 2015

20 Signs You're a Parent

Parenthood!  It’s a big lifetime change. Before you had kids, you might have enjoyed sleeping in and watching a little more reality television than you should. But now, things are different. Here are 20 signs you’re a parent (especially a parent with younger children):

1. You say to your significant other (feeling pretty bad ass),  I can’t believe we stayed out so late!(it’s 10:00 o'clock …..okay it’s 9:00 o’clock).
2. When you reach for the keys in your purse/diaper bag/pocket, you often also pull out some cracker crumbs, a Lego, and a Bandaid.  
3. You get excited to go get the mail, take out the trash, etc, because hey it’s alone time. 
4. You’ve had a conversation about poop or pee in the last hour. No, you’ve had three conversations about poop or pee in the last hour. 
5. Going to the grocery store feels like a mini-vacation.
6. Going to Target feels like a mini-vacation.
7. Going just about anywhere by yourself feel like a mini-vacation….now what’s this I hear about something called a kid-free weekend? 
8. You woke up past 8:00 am and no one else was up yet!  You looked around to see if there were any unicorns or flying pigs in the room.
Tweet this: Woke up past 8 am and my kids weren't up! I looked to see if there were any unicorns or flying pigs in the room too.
9. Your dinner often consists of someone wanting the food off your plate, someone else complaining ‘I don’t like this’, and maybe a third child trying to slip some peas to the family dog.
10. When you’re at the grocery store with your threenager,  you say a prayer for a tantrum-free shopping experience.
11. You stay up way too late every night and every morning you say I’m not going to do that again. You go through a lot of coffee. 
12. You find yourself humming the tunes of your kids’ favorite television programs, even the ones that you hate.
13. You can never seem to get the laundry completely done.
14. You’re amazed at how much room a toddler can take up in a king bed and how their feet always end up in your face.
15. You’ve signed more documents (for school, daycare, sports, bounce houses, etc) than the president has for his entire term. 
16. When your house is quiet (and your kids are home), you automatically assume something is wrong.
17. You sometimes play hide and seek just so you can have a few minutes of me time, or scarf down the last cookie without having to share. 
18. You can’t believe how much time you spend cleaning stuff off your walls. Before having kids, you hardly ever had to do this.  
19. You’ve held your pee or sat in an uncomfortable position because your baby/toddler fell asleep on you. You wouldn’t dare chance waking him or her up.  
20. You have a sign over your doorbell that says baby sleeping….your child is five but you just kept it up there because it sounds better than a ‘No solicitors’ sign…..if you’ve never done that, it’s a good idea huh?

I hope you could relate to some of these!  Anything else you want to add?

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Sunday, September 20, 2015

How to Be the Best Mom Ever

Do you want to be a perfect mom? I do. After reading a lot of parenting articles and research, I think I’ve finally figured out how to be the best mom ever. 


Your children should wear appropriate attire. They should match but not too much. Otherwise you will look like you are trying too hard. Mix in some stripes with polka dots so your children look fashionable. Finally, add a smudge of dirt on their face so they look as if they are getting plenty of unstructured play. 


Exclusively breastfeed your children for one year. After that, stop because it’s weird. When out in public, make sure to use a nursing cover so you don’t offend anyone. 

Be Happy 

Be happy because perfect parents are always happy. Don’t let anyone see you cry or act vulnerable. And, definitely don’t admit your imperfections.   

Watch Your Children...but not too Much 

Watch your children from exactly 15.5 feet away. Any closer and you’ll be called a helicopter parent. Any further and your neighbors might call the cops on you for being negligent.  

Tweet this: How to be the Best Mom Ever:  Watch your children from exactly 15.5 feet away.


Each day you should make and perfect at least 10 pins from your Pinterest board. Crafts, strawberry cupcakes with homemade frosting, and cornbread made from non-GMO corn.   

Have it All 

To be a perfect mom you’ll need to be a CEO of a company, the president of your school’s PTA/PTO, and do all of this at night so you can be a SAHM during the day. Drink at least 8 cups of coffee a day so you’ll be able to achieve this. 

Prepare your Children 

By age two, your kids should be potty-trained. By age three, they should be able to count to 100 and write their name in D'Nealian style script. 


Only feed your child organic food from your backyard or rooftop garden. All meals must include five different-colored fruits and vegetables. However, make sure no ones sees your kids eating organic food because you might be labeled trendy or snobby.


Swaddle your child using blankets that are 25 inches by 25 inches. But don’t swaddle them too tight or they might get hip dysplasia. Wait no, new research shows swaddling is bad.

There, that doesn’t seem too hard or confusing, now does it? Now, you are ready to be the best mom ever!

I think it’s hard to be a parent!  There is a lot of conflicting information out there and so much judgement. As much as I try not to worry about what others think and be an informed parent, I often feel people’s eyes on me.  What are your thoughts on this topic?

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