Sunday, February 22, 2015

Your Kids are Listening to You

Sometimes, I feel like my kids don’t listen to me at all.  

My son picks things off the floor and eats them. Gross!  I tell him not to but he does it anyways.

My daughter doesn't always take my advice either.
But guess what?

My kids ARE listening to me.

I realized this on the way to school one day when my daughter suddenly said,

“By the way, thanks for getting me this new lip balm mom.  I really like it.”

At that moment,  I realized that all those times when I talked to them about being thankful had made an impact. Those times when I thanked THEM had been etched in their minds.  

After all, it doesn’t mean much when I tell my kids to say “Thank you” and they simply repeat it back to me. However, when they say it on their own without any prompting, I know it’s because they have been listening.

I know my daughter has been listening when I hear she has befriended the new child at school. 

I know my son has been listening when his sister is upset and he pats her on the back while saying, “Are you okay?”

Your kids are listening to you too!

They are listening when you say, "I love you."

They are listening when you say, “I’m proud of you.”

When they wake up scared, they are listening when you stroke their hair and say, “There is a nothing to be afraid of.”

They are listening to you!

Tweet: Your kids are listening, not always, but enough that your words really do matter! @MelissaMatters1

They are waiting for your words of affirmation. 

They are listening to you….even when they don’t like what they hear and even when they are exasperated at what you are saying.

When they are faced with a decision, your words will be in the back of their minds.  They might not always follow your advice but at least it was given. 

Your kids remember your words!  

When someone tells them they are stupid or makes them feel worthless, perhaps it will be your words that remind them they are not. 

Unfortunately, when it is you that tells them they are stupid or when you say shut up….well they remember those words too.  It is those words that hurt them to their core and tear down their self-esteem.

Make each word count!  

And when you mess up, as we all do, or say something you  regret…….well, you can’t take those words back but you can help mend a wounded heart with an apology and your future words.

Your kids are listening, not always, but enough that your words really do matter! 

How do you know your kids really are listening to you?

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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Me Time: Why Mommy Needs a Break

Do you ever have one of those moments where you suddenly realize it’s been four days since you washed your hair, and the dry shampoo just isn’t cutting it anymore? Yea… too. Over the past week, I’ve been sick, my kids have been sick. There have been tantrums, skinned knees, and a messy episode of parmesan cheese all over the floor. And, sometimes, I say to my husband, “I need a break!”

Raising kids can be tiring. Here are some reasons why mommy needs a break.

Making Health a Priority

According to, “excessive stress produces cortisol.” This can cause weight gain, heart problems and even “dementia-like symptoms.” An American Psychological Association poll revealed that women tend to “feel responsible for those around them.” As a result, they often tend to be more stressed out than men. While I’m sure this doesn’t apply to all women, I know I tend to put pressure on myself to be a perfect parent (even though I know this doesn’t exist).  I want to do all the cool activities on Pinterest, have a clean house and accomplish professional goals.  With a three-year-old that needs a lot  supervision so he doesn’t seriously injure himself and an active six-year-old, this can be difficult to do.  Yet, even though my house may be a little bit messier, I’m trying to take some more “me time” so I am not as stressed.  In the end,  it’s important for me to be healthy. After all, if I can’t take care of myself, how can I expect to properly take care of two children?

Engaging in Outside Interests

I have been home for almost seven years with my kids. As much as I love having the opportunity to be with them each day, I also want time to pursue outside interests. I need time to do something intellectual everyday. I also like some time to exercise, read or see friends without my kids in tow. Thus, when my husband isn’t coaching or teaching, I try to take an hour or so to write or even take the dog on a walk without any distractions.  

Appreciating Your Kids

When I get an hour of time to myself, I appreciate my children (and my husband) more.  When I have some time to run errands and work on my own, I can concentrate on my children’s needs better when I get home. According to Ellen Galinsky, President of The Families and Work Institute, “If you shift your focus, you go back to the other areas of life with more energy.” I wholeheartedly agree with this. I don’t like to be present, but not mentally there, with my family. Having some me time makes me feel rejuvenated.  

And, as my husband says, if mommy is happy then everyone is happy!

Of course, I didn’t forget the dads! Dads are awesome and need a break too.

What is your favorite thing to do during your “Me Time?”

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Sunday, February 8, 2015

10 Life Skills To Teach Your Children

'Formal learning can teach you a great deal, but many of the essential skills in life are the ones you have to develop on your own.' Lee Iacocca 

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College isn’t for everyone.  
Don’t get me wrong.
As a credentialed teacher and college graduate, I’m going to encourage my kids to go to college.  And, even if they don’t go into a field that needs a college degree, I still want them to have one.  
At the same time, I also want my kids to be prepared for life.  In 2013, the unemployment rate for college graduates, aged 22 to 27, was 5.6 percent.  Furthermore, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says close to 48 percent of employed U.S. college graduates have jobs that need “less than a four-year college education.”
Life and certain career skills aren’t always taught at school.  Here are some I believe children should learn, eventually:
Take Public Transportation
I didn't have a car until I was 21-years-old. Until then, I took the bus to my job and the shuttle to my classes. For a while, I remember having to ride my bike across campus at 5:30 in the morning to catch a bus to take me to a school I worked at. Learning how to use public transportation was an important skill. It allowed me to be independent. When I finally got a car, I really appreciated it. Using public transportation is vital if you don't have a car.  Of course, if you have a three year old, you have a bit of time before they need to learn this skill.
Do the Laundry
In college, I remember coming across individuals who would wait until the weekends to do their laundry at home. Typically, their mother would do their laundry for them. Doing the laundry is pretty easy. Simply, teach kids how to sort darks and lights. One of the most important laundry rules I have learned is to never put a towel or fuzzy blanket in with your regular clothes.  Also, don’t wash giant comforters in a standard machine unless you want to hear that dreaded clunk, clunk sound.  Finally, don’t wash red with white unless you like the color pink.
Stick to a Budget
I'll admit that I hardly ever write checks anymore. However, I think kids need to be able to stick to a budget and learn how to spend their money wisely.  If kids are not taught about finances, it's easy to overspend and even easier to get yourself into credit card debt.  You can do something as simple as giving your child $10 and then ask them to come up with a dinner menu for your  family that stays under budget.  As kids get older, teach them about setting up bill pay and how to use a checkbook.
Check out a Library Book
Yes, digital books are on the rise. However, the library has a ton of free resources. Kids can read to their hearts' content. They can also find resources for information.
Write a Letter
I always love when I get a card or letter in the mail. Writing a letter seems to be a lost art. Even if you are writing a letter through your email, it is good for kids to know the difference between a friendly and a business letter. Writing a letter is much different than sending a text. Children need to know how to write formally.  I may be a bit biased, but I believe good writing and communication skills are important.  
Be Proficient with Technology
Your child may be great at using social media or your smartphone.  However, knowing how to code or be proficient with word processing programs can be helpful for future career endeavors. has plenty of fun activities.  Encourage your kids to make movies on Lego Movie Maker.  You can even teach them a little about SEO or, surprise,  blogging. My three-year-old likes helping me edit photos on Photobucket.  You get the “picture”.
Apply for a Job
At some point before kids go out into the "real world," I think they should have a part-time job. Filling out a job application and going on a few interviews will help prepare them for when they have that big interview for their dream job.  I also think it’s imperative for kids to research their major and look to see what fields are impacted and what fields are growing.  For instance, I got a regular, elementary teaching credential and it took me two years of subbing, and working as a part-time reading teacher, before landing a full time job.  The part time experience was good for me.  However, if I would have gotten a secondary math or science credential, I know I would have been able to get a job more quickly.  
Teaching kids how to prepare healthy meals is essential for their future. Go to the farmer's market and pick out fresh fruits and vegetables. Then, choose a recipe and make dinner for the entire family.
Swim and Ride a Bike
Swimming is a skill that can save your child's life. At a young age, get your child familiar with the water. When they are ready, consider swim lessons. Keep practicing and teach your child about water safety too.  
Similarly, riding a bike is a skill that can help you get from point A to point B.  It’s also a great way to get exercise.
Small Household/Car Repairs
Changing a light bulb may seem like a simple task. However, when children move out on their own, they should know how to unclog a toilet or turn off the gas and main water line. I personally wish I were more proficient in this area.  It would probably save me a lot in household repairs.   
Also, kids need to know a little bit about cars like knowing how to check their tire pressure and put in gas.
And while I'm at it, I'll throw in two relationship skills I think are pretty important:
Getting along with others and teaching kids the world doesn’t revolve around them.
Learning to love (and respect) yourself and others.
So, what did I forget?  What life skills do you want your children to learn?

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Sunday, February 1, 2015

Through the Eyes of a Child

Through the eyes of a child you will see the world just as it ought to be. - Unknown

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When my daughter was first learning how to walk, I took her to a big grassy area at the park. She took careful steps and when she stumbled, she sat and picked up a yellow dandelion flower. As the wind picked up, she closed her eyes, inhaled deeply, and enjoyed the breeze on her face.  

My children have a way of reminding me to enjoy the little things, like perfect weather, a beautiful sunset or a simple strawberry. And, even though I sometimes get annoyed when they waste time wandering aimlessly, because they are trying not to step on the cracks, or they’ve decided to stop to climb a tree, or they are playing an impromptu game of tag, I realize they are simply being kids.

And, then I think back and remember what it’s like to be a child, through their eyes. 

Through your eyes I remember what it’s like to be curious, to lift up rocks and wonder what was underneath.  

Through your eyes I remember the thrill of rolling down a grassy hill and stopping at the bottom dizzy, and wanting to do it again.

Through your eyes I remember that books can open up a whole new world.

It is your eyes that see a sunset and, in your words, call it a fire in the sky.

It is your eyes that see a brown box and envision a space ship or a car or a palace.

It is your eyes that remember that time I got mad at you, but those same eyes that offered forgiveness when I said I was sorry. 

And, it your laughter that reminds me that everything is going to be okay. 

So, the next time you ask me to jump in the puddles with you, I will.

The next time you ask me to read you a story, I’ll do my best to make it come alive. 

The next time you ask me to make cookies, I will, even though I just cleaned the kitchen.

Because...these are the memories that will stay with you forever. These are the moments and traditions that you can remember and pass on to your children, if you want. 

In your eyes, in your smiles, in your laughter, I can remember what it’s like to be a child.

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Even though I’m curious and excited about different things now, seeing things through your eyes helps me realize there is wonder and beauty all around me.

What do you see differently through the eyes of your children?

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