Thursday, October 28, 2010

Parenting Quick Challenge: Deep Breath

Are you patient? I’m not. I’ll go ahead and put it out there. But when you have kids, you have to be. And if you aren’t naturally patient, you learn to be. Sometimes it’s so hard. Life runs on a schedule and guess what? Life doesn’t wait on you. It’s so easy to get caught up in the ‘We-have-to-go-now, get-your-shoes-on, and puh-lease-stop-hitting-your-brother!!!!!’ Whew. That’s a mouthful. And a mindful.

So stop. Take a deep breath. Let it out s-l-o-w-l-y. There. Feel better?

Here's the challenge: Try it today. Twice. You’ll feel more relaxed.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cheap fun: Around the house

So you’re stuck at home. Whatever the reason (rain, sick kid, sick mom), being stuck inside can give you the blues. Here are some ways to prevent you from hearing that phrase we all know: ‘Moooooommmmmmm, I’m boooorrrrrreeeeeddddd.’

  1. Around the house scavenger hunt- This is a great way to keep kids occupied and teach them about the alphabet. Making a list of items around the house, start with ‘A’ and hunt ‘til you drop. Get creative with older kids by giving true ‘clues’ instead of item names and having her take photos of the items (‘Find your favorite breakfast item,’ or ‘This is the dog’s most favorite spot to lay’).

  1. Go camping- Camping indoors can be a blast! Build a fort out of kitchen chairs and blankets, take a flashlight inside, and read a book. Or, pop some popcorn, put on jammies, and watch a favorite movie. Done with those? Go on a bear hunt!

  1. Make play-doh- it’s super easy and you probably have all the ingredients. Find several different recipes here.
  1. Make an obstacle course- Use your imagination on this one (but be safe)! Over the pillow, around the table, hop on one foot to the door, tag the refrigerator,… You can do all sorts of variations on this one: who’s the fastest, who can go the slowest, who can complete the course while singing the alphabet/twinkle twinkle/row row row your boat.

  1. Have a family sleepover- in the living room! Spread out the sleeping bags, put on your jammies, pop some popcorn and turn on your favorite movie!

Okay, your turn! What fun around the house activities do you do with your kiddos?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Avant Garde Parent of the Week: Jill

Meet Jill, momma to super duper cute Eli. Not only is Jill a mom and a wife, but she also runs a crazy amazing photography business- Jill Brannon Photography. Read on as she describes how she stays one step ahead of her precious ball of energy by being prepared and proactive- two tips any mom can benefit from!

Tell me a little about you- Who are you? What do you do? Hobbies? Do you dance in the car?
My name is Jill Brannon, and I married my college sweetheart Brad. Together we have one precious little boy named, Eli who is three years old. I stay at home with Eli and I also have a photography business that I do on the side. I am obsessed with taking pictures and enjoy the art of editing them. I refrain from dancing in the car because I'm pretty bad, but Eli & I often sing at the top of our lungs. His favorite cd right now is Veggie Tales and he likes a few Lady Antebellum songs (the ones that are appropriate!)

What surprised you most about parenting?
I think the thing that has most surprised me about parenting is the overwhelming desire to be good at being a parent. I want to be consistent in disciplining without being too demanding or having too high of expectations for a three year old. I want to teach him to have manners and have learned that it's best to do that by being polite yourself. I feel like there can be a lot of pressure to be the perfect parent, but I don't believe we are called to do that. Parenting has been the hardest thing I have done, but it keeps me humble and on my knees in prayer.

What one tip would you give other parents or parents-to-be?
If I had one tip for parents-to-be, it would be to do your best to be prepared. One day I had to go to the Social Security office. I knew it may take hours, and I had no other choice but to bring Eli with me. I prepared Eli on what would be expected while we were there: he had to stay in his stroller and he could watch a show on my phone. I brought snacks, a couple of books, and he was set. It's not always possible to be prepared, but if you know ahead of time that you can prepare your child for what's ahead, it's less likely that he will have a meltdown out of boredom.

How have you had to be 'Avant Garde' or innovative as a parent?
Once I realized the need for little boys to run off their energy, the better parent I became! Eli and I make it a point every single day to do some kind of activity that requires running. If we are outside, we play ball, chase, hide and go seek, or have races. If the weather does not permit, then we run up and down the hall over and over again. He can't help that he has so much energy. He's three and he's a boy...sitting quietly and coloring only lasts so long. So, once I realized he is so much better behaved when he's had an hour or two (or more) of fresh air, it's amazing the difference it makes in his attitude (and mine as well). Every day we learn something new about one another, and that's what makes parenting fun!

If you would like to be featured as an Avant Garde Parent of the Week or have someone you would like to nominate, please email me at deluna.jamie@gmail.com. I look forward to hearing from you!  


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Thought for the Weekend

"Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body."
-Elizabeth Stone

Have a great weekend :)

Friday, October 22, 2010

IT’S TIME TO GO NOW! Helping Children Transition Through Daily Tasks

As adults, we easily transition from one task to another- meeting to meeting to lunch to presentation. For children, it’s a little bit harder. Not only do kiddos not have as firm a concept of time as adults (five more minutes may or may not be meaningful to your child depending on her age), but they just aren’t used to having to go from one thing to another as frequently and easily as we do. Putting away the paints and moving to something less enticing, like bedtime, bath time, or even dinner can at times be a struggle and, at other times, be an all out battle of wills.

So how do we, as parents, help our kiddos smoothly move along the path from activity to activity while also keeping our sanity? It’s all in the transitions. And the transitions are all about preparation.

Here are some tips for preparing your child to move to the next activity:

  • Frequent reminders about amount of time until the transition will occur – ‘Five more minutes until we put away Barbies and get in the bath tub.’ ‘Three more minutes until…’ You may feel like a broken record, but your child will feel more prepared for what’s coming.

  • Deciding on a good stopping place – This works well with activities like art projects. Instead of making your child stop cold turkey at a set time, help him decide on an appropriate stopping place that he can easily pick back up from next time. Bonus: It teaches your child time management.

  • Saying goodbye to toys or places – Did you read Heather’s Parent of the Week post? When it’s time to leave the swimming pool, she lets her daughter say goodbye to the pool, fountain, and hot tub. This gives her closure to her fun time.

  • Remind your child when she can return to the activity – Let your child know that ‘now it’s time for bed / bath / school / lunch / whatever, but you can come back to this activity again _______.’ Then stick to it. Even if she doesn’t remember. This will instill in her a sense of confidence that she can trust you.

  • Leave in a fun way – If whining or the beginnings of the cry lip ensue, combat them with a quick, ‘Oh, did you want to go piggy back, upside down, or on my shoulders? You pick! And will I be a horse, an elephant, or a dinosaur today?’ Giving your child a ‘sweet ride’ to wherever he’s going next is sure to perk up his attitude!

How do you help your child transition throughout the day?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Free Hug

If you've been reading AGP for awhile, you'll recognize this. That's okay. We can all stand to be reminded of this from time to time (everyday?). If you remember one thing today, let this be it:

Parents generally: know their children better than anyone else, want the very best for their children, and are doing the absolute best they can.

Read all you can about parenting. Arm yourself with lots of tools and ideas. But in the end- do what works for you and your child. Don't let someone (expert or not) make you feel bad or make you feel like you're not doing a good job. You are.

Repeat the following to yourself at least once a day: I am the best parent for my child. Read more...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Parenting Quick Challenge: Belly Laugh

It's the greatest feeling, isn't it? That kind of laugh that comes from the depths of your gut, where you just can't stop, and your cheeks are hurting and your eyes are squinting so hard you can barely see. It's refreshing.

You can't make yourself belly laugh- that's the thing. But my challenge to you today is to be open to the opportunity for a belly laugh. I know it sounds silly, but sometimes our lives get so frazzled and busy that even if the opportunity for a belly laugh came up we'd be too busy to notice. So slow down for a second and let yourself be open to the possibility.

Oh, and did you know that belly laughs are contagious? Chances are that your child belly laughs quite a bit more often than you. Pay attention and I bet you'll see. Let it infect you. It's a wonderful sickness. :)

What made you belly laugh last??

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Everything you Ever Wanted to Know About TOYS

Well, almost.

Last week I got to have lunch with the toy gurus from Time To Play. Be jealous. Food and toys. I was in heaven.

I’m often asked about toys- what’s safe, what’s educational, what’s a good investment, etc., so this was a great chance to get the inside scoop from the experts.
Their site offers tons of toy reviews, including- get this- videos of the toys being handled and played with out of the bag/box. It’s a great way to see how the toys actually function and work before you and your child decide if a purchase is really worth it.

Another feature of their site that I adore is the safety page. It has 10 tips for keeping playtime safe and fun and also has an up to date list of toy recalls.

So, what did we talk about at lunch? Here are my three take away points:

1. Toys are like wine. A toy can get rave reviews and be the ‘it’ item of the season, but if your child doesn’t like it, then it’s not a good toy for your child!

2. Which toys ‘live’ in the closet? As Jim Silver put it, some toys ‘live in the closet,’ or have longevity. These are the toys that your kiddos keep coming back to month after month or year after year. Pay attention to these. They are a good investment and good to keep around if you have (or plan on having) more kids!

3. Keep it fun. Bottom line: toys are for play. If they aren’t fun, it’s not worth it.

What toys do your kids come back to day after day, month after month??

In case you’re wondering, I was not paid in any way for this post. I just really enjoyed my time with these nice people. They did not ask me to write about them or even suggest it. They did, however, pass along some goodies that I, in turn, will be passing along to you in the form of a giveaway. Soon. Stay tuned. It’s good. Real good. These people know toys.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Parent of the Week: Maria

This week’s Parent of the Week is Maria. The first time I visited Maria’s blog, Tough Cookie Mommy, I knew I loved her. She is exactly that: tough. And I love it. She’s a New Yorker and she tells it like it is- the good, the bad, and the ugly. She will make you laugh, cry, and think, but you will love her.

Tell me a little about you- Who are you? What do you do? Hobbies? Do you dance in the car?

I am a native New Yorker who was raised in Spain until the age of 8.  Since my return to the States I have made my life in New York City and I love it here.  Don't let anyone lie to you, New Yorkers are great people who will never judge you and accept you at your best and at your worst.  Also, if you can make it in New York City, you can make it anywhere in the world.  It is an unforgiving city where weakness is not tolerated and diversity is the word of the day. I am also a career woman.  I possess a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Spanish Language and Literature and a double minor in Education and Multilingual Journalism from CUNY.  Additionally, I also possess a Master of Science degree in Education in Literacy Studies, grades 5-12 also from a CUNY school.  I have spent the last 10 years as a Middle School English Language Arts teacher for the NYC Department of Education and I love my job!  My hobbies include reading, singing, and writing.  I don't dance in the car but I definitely sing in it.  Actually, I like to sing just about anywhere.

Tell me about your children.

It is my privilege to be the mother of two sons, ages 7 and 4, currently. They are the most important people in my life and everything that I do is for their benefit.  Both of my boys have unique and distinct personalities. My older son is sensitive and playful and my younger son is tough and independent. I am greatly enjoying watching them become individuals and interact with one another.  They are the best of friends and I love how they have become fast friends on top of being brothers.  I am so glad that I decided to have a second child.  At one point, my husband and I actually considered only having one.  Now that I see how my boys are growing up together, I know I made the right decision by gifting them with each other.

What surprised you most about parenting?

The thing that surprised me the most about parenting is how much it has taken over my life, in a good way.  It was difficult to adjust to losing my freedom to come and go as I pleased when I first had my oldest son.  I quickly realized that there was nowhere else I wanted to be or anyone else I wanted to be with besides my baby.  Despite my many academic and professional accomplishments, motherhood has truly been my greatest accomplishment and the accomplishment that I want to be remembered for after I am gone.  I want people to say that I was a good mother and I want my sons to feel that I was a good mother to them.

What one tip would you give other parents or parents-to-be?

One tip that I would give other parents is: don't be too hard on yourself. We do the very best we can to be the very best parents, spouses, employees, etc.  Sometimes, your ducks don't always line up in a row, especially when you have children.  You have to learn to roll with the punches and to pat yourself on the back for trying because it is easy to beat yourself up when everything is not falling into place the way you want it to.
How have you had to be 'Avant Garde' as a parent?
I have had to be ‘Avant Garde’ in the way that I communicate with my children and the way that they communicate with me.  I grew up in a household where children really had no say or input into what was going on around them.  As a result of this, I made a decision, early on to establish positive ways to communicate with my children in order to make them feel that their voices are being heard as members of this family.  It has not always been easy but extremely rewarding.  I am confident that this has opened the door for honest discourse between myself and the boys for years to come.


If you would like to be featured as an Avant Garde Parent of the Week or have someone you would like to nominate, please email me at deluna.jamie@gmail.com. I look forward to hearing from you!  

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Thought for the Weekend

You have a lifetime to work, but children are only young once.  -Polish Proverb Read more...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tantrum Tip: Keep it Simple and Redirect

You can feel it coming. The pressure is building. You know the flood gates are about to open and the tantrum is about to start because your child wants a toy / a toy was taken out of your child's hands / it's time to go / it's not time to go / it's bedtime / you said no to ice cream / he hasn't had a nap. Whatever the reason, your kiddo is C-R-A-N-K-Y. And a tantrum is on the way. 

A quick tip for dealing with those 'on the verge of waterworks' moments is: Keep it simple and redirect.

First, Keep it simple. Kids on the verge of tears don't have the energy or capacity to understand your long, complicated explanation for why you said no to ice cream. They care about the bottom line- no ice cream. Keep your explanation short and sweet (Another pun. I am on a roll.)- "Ice cream is for after dinner," or "Ice cream is for special occasions."

Second, Redirect. Move your child's attention to something else entirely. "Hey, look! That lady is walking a dog just like ours! Should we ask her if we can pet it?!" or (say you're at the mall) "Don't you have a gift card to the Lego store? It's right around the corner!"

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Parenting Quick Challenge: Bedtime Rituals

When I was young, my mom and I had this bedtime ritual. We did it every night without fail. At the risk of you thinking we were crazy (we were, a little), here's what it was: I would stand on my bed facing my mother, which put me at roughly at the same height as her. We had a little made up song and dance that we did. It lasted maybe ten seconds, max. It involved fist and elbow swinging along with just a tad of hip swaying. I won't sing you the song but suffice it to say that it was silly. Each night after said production, I jumped into the lying position to receive my bedtime story and 'wind down' (one terrible, fateful night, this 'jump' involved me breaking my thumb. That is another post entirely.).

The point is: I'm now twenty-seven years old a grown adult and I still remember it. Even the song. It was 'our thing.' For me as a child, it was predictable. I knew I could count on it as a part of my bedtime routine. It was comforting. Even if I had had a rotten day, singing and dancing with my mom ended it on a good note (get it?! note?! I really should go into comedy...). And it connected me with my mom. I could call my mother up this second and she could sing the song to me. 

Here's the challenge: Create a special bedtime ritual with your child. It does not need to be a full out stage production, just something quick and special that helps you and your child have a special moment at the end of each day. Here are a few ideas:

  • Have special bedtime words, for example: "Goodnight, sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite, and if they do then smack 'em, smack 'em, smack 'em right!"
  • Talk about your favorite thing that happened during the day
  • Talk about what you're looking forward to about tomorrow
What did you come up with? Do you already do this? Tell me about it!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Bedtime Woes

Do you dread your child’s bedtime? Does your kiddo coerce you to lay in bed with him until he falls asleep (which takes 3 hours because he wills himself to stay awake)? Does she wake up eleventy times during the night, wanting each time to get in bed with you? Do you wake up in the morning feeling like you haven’t slept (because you haven’t)?


I can only imagine how frustrated you are because I’m fairly certain I was that child for my parents. I used to make one of my parents sit by my bed until I fell asleep. Then, I would make myself stay awake because I thought, “Well, if I just stay awake, mom won’t leave because she said she stay until I’m asleep.” I literally have a memory of my father reading through the entire newspaper next to my bed. When I was a bit older, I used to make myself stay awake all night because I was so scared of being alone at night in my room. To this day, I have no idea why I was so scared. I ended up co-sleeping with my parents (much to their dismay) until I was about 10- and I think it lasted so long because I knew I was in charge of the situation and could manipulate it to my satisfaction.

Wanting to control a situation is extremely common in children, even very young ones. If we’re being honest, it’s common in people of all ages. I personally always recommend parents helping their children to feel in control of their world. I think about it in terms of trying to find a way to say ‘yes’ instead of ‘no.’ (did you see my post on letting your child have control in appropriate ways?) For children especially, the things they want control over may seem silly or trivial, but, for many things, if it’s not hurting them or someone else, why not? Plus, letting them have control in lots of little situations often leads to less resistance when you need to control other situations.

Bedtime is no different:
  • Let her choose the jammies
  • Let him choose which bedtime story to read
  • Let her say goodnight to her toys
  • Let him choose a special stuffed animal to sleep with each night

So what about the problems after the lights are out? From a developmental point of view, many times, 'sleeping' problems in children have less to do with sleep and more to do with what we researchers call 'goodness of fit,' which is a fancy way of saying that there may be something(s) in his environment that doesn't work for him and it manifests in the form of a problem at bedtime. That is, the symptom of a bedtime problem may be due to something completely different than bedtime. (So, for example, a child may crave more 'mom' time during the day and acting out at bedtime is a way of getting that attention.)

Where the ‘goodness of fit’ for bedtime comes in is finding a solution that works for both of you- finding a compromise by which both parties are feeling like their needs are met. Some children may need to have a parent close to them while they’re sleeping, whether at the beginning of the night or after nighttime wakings. Try making a bed of blankets with a pillow at the end of mom and dad’s bed. During the night, if she wakes up, she can come sleep on that with the understanding that she must be quiet or else she goes back to her own room. This will fulfill her need of having a parent close by and also teach her to self-sooth. More importantly, it might give her a sense of control for handling this problem on her own.

Now, I completely expect her to violate the ‘quiet’ rule a few (or many) times. I would attempt to battle that with the following: take her back to her bed and tell her she can come back to the pallet when she is ready, but the quiet rule still applies.

Here are some other ideas:
  • Routine. Routine. Routine. Have one. Stick to it.
  • Bedtime checklist. Not a reward chart, just a checklist, so that your kiddo knows exactly what to expect each night. Checking bedtime tasks (tooth brushing, bath, etc) will help her feel more in control.
  • Hear what she’s saying. Be there for her, but help her regulate. “I hear that you don’t want to go to bed. Can I snuggle next to you to help you feel better or can you work it out on your own?”
  • Bedtime guidelines like talking in a whisper or a soft voice for 30 minutes before bed will help him ‘put on the brakes’ and calm down.

Good luck, parents, as you battle bedtime. As in all matters child, I know that it is easier said than done. I hope that this provides some help and insight.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Parent of the Week: Kris

This is Kris. She and her precious adorable daughter Audrey love, love, love to cook together and Kris writes about it at In the Kitchen with Audrey. Kris always has amazing ideas for cooking with kids, so I asked her to compile her Top Ten Terrific Tips for Cooking With Kids! Drumroll please…

My name is Kris and I started cooking with my daughter, Audrey, about a year ago. She was just under two-years-old and always in the way. I noticed while visiting my in-laws that they simply gave her something to do when she got underfoot. Sounded like a good idea to me. I wanted to find a book or website to help me know what fun activities a two-year-old could do in the kitchen but had no luck. That is why I started recording our journey. Along the way I just started posting tips. Here are some of my favorites:

10. Pick a family favorite recipe, one you know how to make very well. This way you can concentrate on the toddler, not the cookbook. Audrey makes a fabulous Oven Baked Chicken recipe that requires little more than chicken, butter, and breadcrumbs.

9. Take your child shopping for ingredients if you can. Audrey loves to choose between two packages of chicken and always wants to put things in the shopping cart. They know us at the grocery store now.

8. Let her help clean up and get ready for cooking. Audrey loves to spray the table and wipe it with a rag. I filled a bottle with 1 part cleaner to 9 parts water. I also give her a dry rag as I know she will spray too much cleaner.

7. Don’t worry about the messes; they clean up. Audrey still gets flour all over the place when we bake or spills sugar as she tries to measure. I will sometimes stop a project to clean up large spills and get the rest after.

6. Keep them busy. Ask her to get a spoon out of the drawer or something unbreakable out of the pantry. This really lets children feel a part of the project and is an easy way to include them.

5. Let her try to do some of the hard stuff. Audrey loves to crack eggs. After working on it for a year she is still pretty bad. She now loves to try to fish out the egg shells. It is a part of the learning process.

4. A great tip from Rachel Ray is to always keep a trash bowl handy. I keep a kitchen towel as well. You never know what your child might try while you step away to throw something in the trash. Audrey always licks things.

3. If you can, buy her a special spatula or Curious Chef knife. Audrey has her own drawer and loves to get her utensils out to cook with. For that matter, so do I. It makes us feel special to have our own tools.

2. Be sure to let everyone know how much of a help she was with the project. Audrey once told me the reason I was enjoying the dinner was because she made it. She has a sense of pride and accomplishment.

1. Have fun! This was a hard lesson for me to learn. For so long Audrey was having a blast and I was worrying about the outcome of the dish. I always keep frozen pizzas in case of disaster. It happens to me more often than to Audrey.

I hope you are able to use some of these tips to help you have more fun with your child(ren) in the kitchen. If you need more ideas please visit In the Kitchen With Audrey to see what we are up to. We cook most days and love to share our adventures.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Thought for the Weekend

"Children are people we should be spending a lot of time talking to, listening to and helping because they're new here." -Deb Lewis


Friday, October 8, 2010

The Case for Yes...and Sweet Simplicity Designs Giveaway Winner!

I'm feverishly writing on the ideas you all gave me. In the meantime, here's the very first post I ever wrote. A long, long time ago way, way back in a time called August. Ha! I think you'll enjoy it.


All too often I hear parents remark on how much their preschooler uses the word ‘no.’ “She says ‘no’ to everything! She takes hard-headed to a new level!” or “I think the only word he knows is ‘no!’”  and in the same breath, parents also remark on how their little one “repeats everything I say- you have to be so careful!” Interesting, isn’t it, how clear the connection seems in writing but not in practice? Preschoolers say ‘no’ because they hear ‘no.’

At an age in which the transition from the helplessness of being a baby to the stark realization that the self is an independent human separate from mommy is, at best, abrupt, I think our kids need to hear ‘yes’ more. It’s time that we, as parents, evaluate why exactly we say ‘no’ as much as we do.

Maybe it’s habit. Toddlers and preschoolers have endless energy and seem to get into everything they physically can. Perhaps we are so used to saying no (“No, honey, you can’t fill the bathtub up with your spaghetti” “No, you can’t wear your swimsuit to school when it’s snowing outside”) that it becomes an automatic response rather than a well-thought reply.

Or maybe our ‘no’s’ have more selfish undertones. After all, filling pots and pans with water then throwing giant play-doh balls into them does not lend itself to the quiet, clean household most of us desire.

Whatever the reason, the truth is that ‘no’ often stifles a child’s ability to make realdecisions that affect his or her life. In order to help children become independent adults, we must allow them to (gulp) make both wrong and right decisions, for this is how they learn.

I challenge parents to start saying ‘yes.’ Yes, you can sleep with all 74 of your stuffed animals on your bed. Yes, you can wear your sweatshirt inside out if the tag bothers you. Yes, you can absolutely have carrots with your breakfast and cereal with your dinner. By not automatically refusing an idea that, to us as adults seems silly or ‘wrong’, we not only empower our children to make their own decisions but also let them know that we support and respect them as people.
One of the best real life examples of a parent saying ‘yes’ is seeing a child at the grocery store wearing his or her Halloween costume when Halloween was months ago. Why not? Instead of “no, we don’t wear Halloween costumes when it’s not Halloween,” what’s the harm in “how did you ever come up with such a creative way to get more use out of the costume I made for you? You will probably have grown out of it by next Halloween, so I’m glad you have the chance to wear it again!”?

Of course, there are times when we must tell children ‘no’ (e.g., when safety is a risk). However, most of the time a ‘no’ can become a ‘yes.’ Think of it this way: instead of sharing with a child what he can’t do, try communicating what he can do:

Instead of

-Don’t paint on the wall
-Don’t skateboard in the street
-Don’t throw the ball in the house


-Paints are for paper
-I'm happy to move the cars out of the garage so you can skateboard there
-I'd love to throw the ball with you in the backyard

Giving children real options and letting them choose what best suits their needs in situations like these not only saves us the time and frustration of, say, cleaning paint off the walls, but it also allows children to feel like their opinions matter (and they do matter!).

I suspect that children whose parents respect them as people and allow them to have a say in their life decisions will be more compliant when a parent does say no, because the child will know that your use of ‘no’ is not indiscriminant or meaningless.

Next time, before you say ‘no’ to a request your child has made, ask yourself why. Will it put my child or others in danger? Do I have a substantial reason to say ‘no’? If not, I challenge you to say ‘yes’!

Oh, the giveaway? You want to know the winner? Why of course you do! Random.org chose comment #6. (In case you're wondering, it's actually comment #7. As funny as Alicia from Ag.gray.gate's comment was, my Canadian bloggy friend was ineligible for this giveaway.)

And the winner is...

Shoot me an email, Heather, and I'll put you in contact with Liz so you can redeem your prize. A very special thanks to Liz from Sweet Simplicity Designs for hosting AGP's very first Giveaway. I'd say it was a huge success. And thank you to everyone for entering and tweeting it. Stay tuned...I've got more in store for you...winky face!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Parenting Quick Challenge: Date Night

Children make our lives complete. They are our everything. Our children are our hearts and souls, and it's difficult to remember what life was like before them. But for just a second I want you to try. I bet you had more date nights before you had kids, didn't you? 

Since young children rely on us to meet so many of their needs, it's easy to let the relationship with your partner fall to the wayside while we fill sippy cups, cut waffles, and give baths. Don't. That love is what created your family in the first place and it deserves to be nurtured just as you nurture your children.

Here's my challenge to you. Make a plan for a date night. Weekly, bi-weekly, whatever. There are a million excuses not to, but I promise you and your partner will feel reconnected and reenergized.

And just in case those excuses do start creeping into your mind:

  • Low on money? Hire a babysitter for two hours (fairly cheap) and do something free, like walk in a park, take a drive, or look at the stars
  • Really low on money? Do a babysitter exchange with a friend (you watch all the kids one night, then switch on another night), then do something free
  • Exhausted after a long week? Do something relaxing. Drop the kids off at grandma's and have a movie marathon with the hubs or go see a funny movie
  • I don't have a spouse/significant other. Plan a girls' night/guys' night. You deserve it. You need it.
  • We just don't have time! Make time. That's part of it. No easy fix for this one :)
How do you and your partner keep the love alive?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Parents of the Week: Emily and Doug

 Aren't new babies just the best? There's really nothing like them. They rest so peacefully (at first...), they have little chunker cheeks, and that new baby smell. 

On Friday, October 1, 2010, Emily and Doug welcomed little baby S. to the world. It sounds so easy doesn't it? Well, Emily labored all night and most of the day, but baby S. was knock, knock, knockin’ on Emily’s pelvis and was just not going to come out the good old fashioned way. So on Friday afternoon, baby S. entered the world via modern technology (C-Section)- healthy, beautiful, and perfect.

Right after birth, Baby S. latched on perfectly and spent some quality mommy-baby bonding time. Later, Emily, whose friends and family clearly live through real-life comparisons to television sitcoms, would sit through at least seven of the following conversations: ‘Hey- did you ever see that episode of ‘The Office’ where Pam has the baby and she accidentally nurses her roommate’s newbor-‘ ‘Yes.’

Emily and Doug head home from the hospital today, so leave them some love and encouragement in the comments. They are doing a great job so far. Isn’t this just the cutest little family you’ve ever seen?!

Fun fact: Emily is my sister :)

If you would like to be featured as an Avant Garde Parent of the Week or have someone you would like to nominate, please email me at deluna.jamie@gmail.com. I look forward to hearing from you! Read more...

Friday, October 1, 2010

Two Things

Well, three really. But one and two go together. I've been blogging for almost two months! Thank you, thank you, thank you, my readers, for checking in day after day to see what I have to say. Thank you for telling me when you agree and when you don't. Thank you for telling me about your precious children and your parenting moments of sanity and insanity. In case you though anything else, I read and reread every comment, star them in my gmail inbox, and have loved getting to know you all. For two months, I've been telling you what I think you might want to hear about. I've told you about daycare, lying, cleaning up, attachment, and lots more. So here's what I want to know:

What do YOU want to hear about?

Comment and tell me what child and parenting issues you want to read about. Admittedly, I won't know everything about all of them. But chances are, I'll at least know where to tell you to look. 

Second thing. I'm featured today over at Mommy Monologues! Not only is this blog super cute, but Kate's posts are always either hilarious, inspiring, uplifting, or just plain entertaining. She recently wrote a post on her siblings that I just loved. So go give her some bloggy love! Read more...

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