Life Area: Family

Category Archives: Family

Fright Night Or Fun Fest – How Do Your Kids Cope With Halloween?

Fright Night Or Fun Fest – How Do Your Kids Cope With Halloween?
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Guest post by parenting coach Melissa Hood of The Parent Practice.

Do your kids love the trick-or-treating, pumpkin carving, dressing up of Halloween? Or is it just a nightmare of of scary ghoulish faces?

Some children under the age of six find it difficult to know the difference between reality and fantasy, so for them Halloween truly is a living nightmare.

So how do you turn it from fright night to fun fest?[more]

Turning Guilt Into Good

Turning Guilt Into Good
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Is mom guilt / mummy guilt taking up too much of your valuable headspace and eating away at your happiness?

How often do you have thoughts like:

I shouldn’t be working – my kids need more attention.

I should be working so we can afford more for the kids / I can be a better role model for my daughter / I can use my brain. 

I didn’t spend enough time playing with my child today.

I didn’t get anything done today because I was playing with my child.

I let my kids eat too much junk / play too many computer games.

I’m too strict / too lenient / too inconsistent.

I didn’t make it to the gym AGAIN.

I haven’t sent out the thank you cards. 

I’ve got nothing decent to make for dinner.

I was so moody and mean last night.

It goes on and on and on….

Some guilt is pointless and soul destroying. We ‘should’ all over ourselves, ruminating over small things that don’t really matter or big things we can’t do anything about.

But can guilt actually serve a purpose? 

Could some of those guilty feelings be a signal to look at parts of your life and see where you might not be living in alignment with your values? Could uncomfortable pangs help you to pay closer attention and motivate you to make changes? Could guilt be the push you need to do things differently?[more]

Are Your Kids Over Scheduled?

Are Your Kids Over Scheduled?
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Ballet, football, gymnastics, swimming, music lessons… Do you feel like you might have over scheduled kids?

Are you shuffling them around from various clubs and activities to the point you’re exhausted and not even sure if they’re enjoying it anymore?

I recently read an article in the Huffington Post by Dr. Samantha Rodman, a clinical psychologist and mother of three.

She says that while some families thrive on a lot of activities, others don’t. It’s important to pause and have a proper think about it, rather than continue on auto-pilot.[more]

Keeping A Family Book of Quotes

Keeping A Family Book of Quotes
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Kids say the funniest things.

Once your child starts talking, they never cease to come up with questions and comments that crack you up.

You might think you’ll remember this stuff, but there’s a good chance you won’t.

My boys are teenagers now and I’m kicking myself for not keeping a family book of quotes much earlier.

I used to say, ‘I’m going to write that in my book of quotes!’ as a joke, but I never got around to actually doing it until they were six and nine.

Better late than never! Our family book of quotes is a source of great amusement to me and I turn to it whenever I could use a good giggle.[more]

Create a Family Memory Jar

Create a Family Memory Jar
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Happy New Year to you!

I love the start of a fresh new year. The wide open possibilities that lie in the months ahead, a chance to shake things up, try a fresh approach. Out with the old, in with the new!

It’s also time to empty out our family memory jar and start over again.

Last January my family started with an empty container. Throughout the year we filled it with notes about all of the good things that happened over the months.

I’ve probably added twice as many slips of paper into the jar as anyone else, but the kids have been pretty good about writing notes after we’ve returned home from a trip or a particularly fun day out and I’ve reminded them to include any awards received at school or bringing home a great report card.

The plan was for us all to gather around the jar and read all of the notes inside on December 31st.

We were away over New Year’s (creating some great final memories of the year!) so we postponed the opening of the jar until we got back and could light a fire, serve up some drinks and make a nice little occasion out of it.

We took turns drawing out a note and reading each one out loud.

It was fun to remember all of the good stuff that’s happened over the past 12 months. We applauded any merits, laughed at some of the funny occasions and were pleasantly surprised when we read out three slips of paper written by friends and extended family members who’d slipped in memories about their stay with us. [more]

4 Tips For Building Close Communication With Your Child

4 Tips For Building Close Communication With Your Child
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I’m not a parenting expert. I don’t even play one on TV. I may occasionally start talking like I know it all and the next the day my kids put me back in my place by defying all acceptable codes of behaviour.

Now that my boys are teenagers I can see one particular area where I might deserve a gold star.


It’s important that my kids know they can talk to me about anything.

I never felt that way growing up. It’s sad to read my old diaries from age 10 to 18.

I lied and kept secrets. I snuck around behind my mother’s back. I didn’t feel I had anyone I could talk to.

I don’t want my own kids to feel that way.

So I’ve always been an open book with them. I share how I’m feeling, the ups and downs of my day and stories of my childhood so they realise I was once a kid too and I remember what it was like.

I’ve told them to preface tricky conversations with, ‘I want to tell you something but I don’t want you to get mad’, which gives me a chance to take a deep breath and listen without getting mad.

And they seem to tell me what’s going on in their lives.

A good relationship with your child gets you through the hard times and creates more good times. The more connected you are with your child, the more tuned-in you become. You’ll notice the signs if something’s wrong. The more connected they feel to you, the more they’ll open up to you.

Children who feel a special connection with their parents are more likely to see them as being on their side rather than against them. This comes in very handy in the teenage years, believe me.[more]

Kids Boredom Buster

Kids Boredom Buster
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‘I’m bored.’ ‘I don’t know what to do.’   Sound familiar?

Inevitable words out of the mouths of our kids during the school break.

It’s great to organise trips, days out and social get togethers but don’t feel you have schedule their every move. Children need the time and space to transition from busy school routines to laid back livin’. It’s ok to feel a bit bored sometimes, they just have to find their own way out of it. (And that doesn’t have to mean endless hours glued to Minecraft.

A few summers ago I pre-empted the cries of boredom by getting my kids to create a Not Bored Board. It worked a treat and has become an annual tradition.

Here’s how:[more]

How to Get Your Kids to Help You More

How to Get Your Kids to Help You More
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Are you tired of feeling like the family slave? Do you feel like if you don’t do it yourself, it’ll never get done?

Wish your kids would pitch in and help, but feel like they’re too young or it’s not worth the battle trying to get them to do it?[more]

Why My Son Quit Minecraft For Good

Why My Son Quit Minecraft For Good
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When my 12 year old son told me last week that he’s quitting Minecraft for good I nearly fell off my chair.

He realised he was addicted when he found himself bored while playing it, yet unable to stop himself.

I asked him if he didn’t want to just ease out of it slowly, but he said he wanted to go cold turkey.

I explained that when we give up an addiction we need to replace it with something else or we’ll just go into default mode and carry on.

So he rattled off a whole list of other activities he’ll do on his own such as: play the piano, sing with his microphone, write a song, play ping pong against the wall, make bracelets, make a video, make a fort, etc etc…

Whew! I’m so happy it was him quitting on his own and not me forcing him to.

Now I have a confession to make.

Lately I’ve really lazy about enforcing computer time limits. I’ve been so consumed with creating my on-line programme for busy mothers (writing scripts, shooting videos, promoting, launching and now running the actual programme).

For over two months I’ve turned a blind eye to the amount of time he’s spent on Minecraft.

It felt hypocritical for me to tell him to get off our spare laptop when I myself was on the main computer and his older brother was on his laptop preparing for exams. Guilt was creeping in, but I chose to ignore it.

Although it sucks to admit it, his preoccupation with Minecraft was serving a purpose for me. [more]

What Parenting Skills Classes Did To My Family

What Parenting Skills Classes Did To My Family
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My life used to be a hot mess. My two year old ruled the roost and didn’t listen to a word I said. He and my five year old squabbled incessantly. I felt like I was losing my mind.

My husband and I disagreed over discipline and ended up having huge arguments in front of the kids. I remember him leaving on a business trip and saying he couldn’t wait to get out of there. I sat on the floor and bawled my eyes out.

This wasn’t the happy family life I’d envisioned. No one told me it would be so hard. In fact everyone else was making it look easy. Maybe I wasn’t cut out to be a mother? I didn’t seem to be made from the right stuff.

I’m ashamed to admit that I took my frustrations out on my kids. I overreacted, shouted, punished, and I was heavy handed with them more than once. I even feared a new version of ‘Mommy Dearest’ being written about me one day.

My kids deserved better, but I had no idea how to change things. I read some books on discipline and parenting, but didn’t manage to implement anything that made a difference

One day I happened to spot an ad for a parenting skills workshop run by The Parent Practice near my home in London. I went along for a free taster class, unsure if I’d actually commit to the money or time of the full 10 week course.

I found myself surrounded by mothers who were also finding parenting tough. I realised I was not alone and that there were many ways to make things better.

I walked away with some valuable tips and was able to put them into practice with immediate results. But I still dithered about whether to sign up as it seemed expensive… and I’d be missing my beloved spinning class at the gym for ten Fridays in a row….

Somehow I ended up going for it and The Parent Practice gave me [more]

How To Be A More Peaceful, Loving Mother

How To Be A More Peaceful, Loving Mother
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Do any of these sound familiar?

  • You love personal and spiritual growth, but you don’t make it a regular part of your day.
  • You want to experience the calm and peace you read about in all the books you buy, but instead you feel overwhelmed and disconnected.
  • You know your life would be better if you took time to meditate (or do yoga or journal), but you’ve already got too much on your plate.
  • You’re not looking for a major life overhaul. You want to do something small and simple that will improve the quality of your life now.

If the words above resonated with you, you’re not alone.

My online business buddy Peggy Freeh printed this on her website and it made me sit up straight and listen to what she has to say.

I’m one of those mamas who wants to be more mindful and self-aware. I crave personal growth and know that when I give this part of my life the attention it deserves I’m a much more peaceful and loving mother.

When my soul is being fed, I can begin to see life beyond the laundry pile. I feel less hard-done-by. I’m also a better wife, friend – human being. I eat better, I take care of myself. I’m fun! I have more to give and I feel so much happier.

I used to buy all of the inspirational books and I genuinely wanted to put all of the great things I read into my daily life, but then things would get hectic and I’d slip back into my old ways. I knew what I was capable of if I’d only stay focused on the positive! It wasn’t easy.

One area I knew I needed to work on was my mornings. I was a B.I.T.C.H. of a mother in the early hours and my poor kids bore the brunt of it. I’d wake up and immediately begin barking at them to get up, get dressed and have breakfast so I could get them to school on time.

I remember dropping them off at the school gates, then putting my head on the steering wheel and crying. I wanted to be patient and kind, but there was something about being on mama duty from the moment I opened my bleary eyes that made it so damn hard for me to be nice.

My saving grace was [more]

Create Christmas Experience Vouchers With Pic Monkey

Create Christmas Experience Vouchers With Pic Monkey
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Stuck for what to get your kids for Christmas this year?

Do they already have the latest gadgets and ‘must have’s’?

Or maybe money’s a bit tight and you need to find something great for not a lot of cash.

Last Christmas I didn’t have a clue what to give my teen and tween boys. When they were younger it was so easy to buy lots of small stuff plus one big ‘star’ gift. It gave them the excitement of seeing a load of prezzies under the tree and the fun of unwrapping them all.

But what do you get older kids who’ve outgrown toys, have plenty of games and certainly don’t need any more gadgets?

I put my thinking cap on and came up with an idea….  I wasn’t 100% sure if it would go down well, but I had a pretty good feeling about it.

Experience vouchers they could redeem for a whole variety of things!

I started making a list of what each of them would consider a real treat, then I got to making them. I used Pic Monkey to create the fun designs and then printed them out and wrapped them all individually so they’d still have the fun of unwrapping them all. Here are a few examples:[more]

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