Thursday, June 27, 2013

Keeping kids on track during the summer

If you have ever asked questions like:
“Who cut their hair on the couch? Why does the dog have one blue paw? Where did all the kitchen chairs go?”

You may have bored kids.
My experience as a mother of three children, including twins has taught me that it is easy to entertain a child, but not so easy to keep them busy. Allow me to explain the difference.
It’s easy to put on a movie for your toddler or allow your tween all the computer time they want. On the other hand, it takes a lot more effort to give them opportunities to grow and develop into independent, well-rounded, active young people.
Here are a few of my tips for keeping your child actively engaged in things that will benefit them and the family over the summer.

My first tip is Early to bed, early to rise, even during summer break.
Allowing your kids to set their own sleeping schedule in the summer, doesn’t do anything for them in the long run. If anything it will teach them to be disappointed adults. Sleeping-in isn’t a regular part of any productive adult’s life.
Our regular wake-up call has only been pushed back by a half-an-hour and a decent bedtime is still enforced. Everyone still enjoys a full eight hours of sleep and nobody sleeps the day away.

My second tip is Fun first, then work. Really?
Adjust your chore schedule so the kids aren’t helping in the house during the cooler parts of the day. Save the indoor chores for when the temperature climbs, that way when the work is done, they don’t refuse to go outside because it’s too hot.
We eat breakfast and then play outside or exercise, while the temperature is still enjoyable. When it gets to hot outside, that’s when we get the chores done in the cooler, more comfortable house. It may sound like putting the cart before the horse, but it’s worked for us.

Finally, Let the kids know what is expected and what they can expect.
A willy-nilly, plan-less summer doesn’t benefit mom or kids. Make chore charts and plan your day. Kids are much happier when they know what they can expect. Avoid couch haircuts and boredom, by letting your kids in on the planning of their day.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

How to Keep Kids Safe and Accountable on the Internet

Recently, I was asked how to monitor kids' computer time and teach them to use the Internet responsibly.
The first thing to teach your kids is that the Internet use is a privilege, not a right. Our family computer must have a code entered to be used. My husband and I are the only ones that know the code. Before my kids can use the computer the need to complete chores and homework, then I will type in the code for them.
Our three kids share the family computer. Each of them can take 30 minute turns. They are responsible to set their own timer, I don’t police the turns. We have a schedule and each day a new kid is “judge” over the fairness of the turns. If there is a dispute, the judge for the day decides what’s fair. The dispute can go to a “higher court” but, they don’t like the way I resolve the disputes, I just shut the computer down. All three kids are very motivated to settle disputes for themselves to avoid mom’s hard hammer of justice.
Our computer is located in the family room. The last thing kids need is privacy with their computer. The Internet is a public place just like any other. Certainly you wouldn’t let your 8-year-old wander around town alone, the Internet is no exception. Whether your child is seven or 17 move those computers out of the bedroom and back into the common areas of the house. Kids with unfettered access to the Internet run a great risk of being victims of identity theft, cyber-bulling, cyber stalkers, and pornography addiction.
Keep your kids off of social media, like Facebook and Twitter, for as long as possible. Facebook’s own recommendation is 13 and up. When you decide they are ready for their own social media account, talk to your kids about what they post on Facebook or Twitter. Remind them that what they say is public, and if it's harassing, humiliating, threatening, or disrespectful, consequences can result.
Finally, if your kids are going to be on social media, you should be to. I am surprised when I hear moms say that their kid has a Facebook account, but they don’t. Keep kids safe and accountable by being in-the-know when it comes to social media.
Now it’s your turn. How do you monitor and teach your kids to use the Internet responsibly? What’s worked for you and your family?

Friday, June 14, 2013

The best picture I've ever taken

I am so  in love with this picture. It was taken last night at a surprise birthday party we threw at my house for my friend's daughter's 16th birthday. I love all these kids, I love all their expressions, I love seeing them all in my house, and I love seeing the confetti fly! This just makes me so happy!