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Category : Motherhood

Self-esteem is a term used to reflect a person’s overall emotional evaluation (i.e., their personal view) of his or her own self-worth.  It is a judgment of oneself as well as an attitude toward the self.  Self-esteem encompasses beliefs (e.g., “I am smart”) and many emotions such as pride, success, depression, and shame.

Tips for Building Your Child's Self-Esteem

Why is self-esteem important?

When we have healthy self-esteem we are more likely to be happy, cooperative, and successful in many areas of our life like school, making friends, and sports.  Healthy self-esteem aids in our ability to challenge ourselves, overcome obstacles, cope with stress more effectively and pave the way for learning.  When children have a healthy self-esteem they are less likely to develop behavior problems, become anxious or depressed.

Focus on descriptive praise and constructive feedback
  • Provide descriptive praise often for their efforts and achievements. Focus on the things they do well and the effort they put in versus just the result. Praise them for studying for a test instead of simply cheering when they get an A on a test.
  • Provide constructive feedback by starting with a positive comment first. Focus on an area of strength and then provide a suggestion about something they may need to improve. “Wow, you hit that ball really hard with the racquet; now let’s spend time practicing how to serve.”
Maximize your parent-child relationship with quality time and communication
  • Tell and show your child often that you love and care for them. Spending quality time with children and giving them physical attention helps build a strong parent-child relationship.
  • Be responsive to child-initiated interactions, especially in the area of conversation and communication. Let your child know you’re listening, interested and attending to them when they’re communicating with you.
Gently remind them they aren’t the center of the world
  • Teach your child to care about others. Encourage them to play with other children, use kind words and engage in positive social interactions.
Give them freedom to succeed and to fail — and model that yourself
  • Help your child to problem solve difficult situations and deal with disappointment. Explain that everyone makes mistakes and that mistakes are an opportunity for us to learn and grow.
  • Encourage your child to be independent. Show them you are confident in their abilities to do things for themselves. Let them cook a meal, do chores around the house and walk to school with a friend.
  • Involve your child in making decisions about the family like what to have for dinner, negotiating house rules or planning a day trip. Where appropriate, let them make decisions for themselves like what to clothes to wear or when to do homework.
  • Set a good example by modeling positive behavior and talking about your own healthy self-worth.

References

  • Hewitt, John P. (2009). Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology.  Oxford University Press. 217–224.
  • Sanders., M., Mazzucchelli, T., & Studman, L.  (2003). Practioner’s Manual for Standard
  • Stepping Stones Triple P.  Milton: Triple P International Pty. Ltd. 

Written by Janet Arnold, Finding Solutions, www.findingsolutions.ca

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This post is sponsored. All opinions are my own.

You may already know and love OXO Tot brand products from their sippy cups to the Sprout highchair, but they’ve recently entered the stroller game, and let me tell you, they’re coming in hot!

OXO Cubby+ Stroller Review (+ Giveaway!)

My 18-month-old and I recently had the pleasure of cruising in the OXO Tot Cubby+ Stroller and I don’t know who was more excited – her, for the novel pleasure of stuffing Cheddar Bunnies into a fresh, clean canvas, or me, for the absolute delight in finding a dreamy hybrid of my current two-stroller fleet.

At present, I own both a hefty luxury stroller for every day and a super lightweight umbrella stroller for day trips and travel. Straight out of the gate, I find the OXO Tot Cubby+ to provide the best of both rides. It’s solid on its wheels without feeling bulky, it has a simple, streamlined profile with tons of tucked-away little features and it looks like a million bucks with only a $399 price tag. I’m smitten.

The easiest open/close function in the game

Let’s be real, every stroller claims to have the easiest open-and-close feature: “In just seven easy steps, using both arms and both legs and making sure you have a spotter for your toddler so you can give it all the focus you can muster on four hours’ sleep, this stroller closes in a SNAP!” Ha! Yeah right!

I am here to tell you that the OXO Tot Cubby+ has no doubt the simplest, smoothest, sweat-free open/close I have ever seen in the wild. It is an honest to goodness one-handed maneuver. To open, you push a release lock with your thumb and pull up the handle (bonus points for the fact that you can’t possibly do it backwards so you don’t need to worry about opening the stroller into yourself and sporting shin bruises for the rest of your life). To close, pull the small (but totally visible and accessible) release tab and handle in the base of the stroller seat and the whole thing just collapses in a graceful, non-finger-amputating way. So simple!

OXO Tot Cubby+ Stroller Review

The cherry on top? Once it’s folded, it stands up straight. On. Its. Own. No need to lean it up against a wall or worry it’s going to roll into traffic while you wrestle anyone into her car seat. Even if you forget to push the brake (guilty!), it will still stay put. OXO, you have answered my prayers.

OXO Tot Cubby+ Stroller

Hallelujah for extra pockets

And speaking of prayers, next up on my dream stroller wish list would absolutely be some extra pockets to stash keys, phone, wipes, and a snack – the small items you want to take along on a trip to the park without lugging the whole darn Mary Poppins diaper bag.

The OXO Tot Cubby+ is for sure the first stroller I’ve seen that has not one, not two, but three (!) additional built-in pockets located in the canopy and seat back. I like to keep short outings as minimal as possible so this is perhaps my favorite feature of them all. They even went the extra mile of lining the canopy pocket in a bright color so you don’t have to fumble blindly for your black phone in a black pocket. Now that’s attention to detail, people!

Let’s talk about storage

Storage is super important for me too. Even if I’ve managed to ditch the diaper bag, a girl’s gotta have her sand toys for the park and some space to peel off those outer layers when the sandbox action heats up! And then there’s the “let’s stop for milk” plan when you inevitably remember five or six other items you need and there’s a box of cookies you totally don’t need but your toddler already ripped the box top off so now you have to buy it anyway and hide it from her and then end up eating them yourself instead of dinner after she goes to bed.

But I digress. The OXO Tot Cubby+ storage basket situation is pretty perfect. It’s not incredibly deep, so those with diaper bags resembling a small duffel might have trouble stuffing everything under there, but there is ample room for the aforementioned sand toys and grocery pit stop. An additional cool function, which I’ve never actually seen before, is a fold-out component to the basket, which adds a little extra room and easier access under the seat. When folded in, it provides extra security for loose items in the basket when walking over bumpy terrain.

OXO Tot Cubby+ Stroller Basket

Seat recline

In terms of the seat function, the recline mechanism in the OXO Tot Cubby+ is a strap as opposed to the common click-lock position, which I see as both a positive and a negative – the positive being that you can recline to any position (you aren’t limited to a few standard positions), but I did find it a bit tricky to slide the strap while my toddler was seated in the stroller.

Reclining back fully wasn’t such an issue, but tightening it back up to a seated position was not easy without cooperation from her, and we all know the (very true) stereotype about toddlers and cooperation! This was the only function where the hefty luxury brand has this stroller beat, as I did have to crouch down and put a little effort in. Not a deal-breaker whatsoever, but worth a mention as I found this to be a function more similar to a travel/umbrella-stroller design.

Other notable details

Didn’t I mention that this stroller was packed with delightful little features? The foot brake definitely gets honorable mention for being both easily-accessible and sandal-friendly. The open/close functions click audibly so you know if it’s open or locked properly (love that!).

The chest straps and buckles are super simple and straightforward to adjust, as is the cinch harness feature – one strap between the legs that you can pull to tighten the chest harness evenly. It’s a common feature for car seats, but I’ve never actually seen it done on a stroller. So smart and simple!

The stroller’s canopy comes with both an extension for really sunny days and a peek-a-boo window to check on your kiddo. The chest straps and buckles are super simple and straightforward to adjust, as is the single-pull tightening feature – no need for an engineering degree here!

New Strollers for 2017

Overall, I would absolutely recommend the OXO Tot Cubby+ Stroller for anyone searching for either the luxury look at an affordable price (yes!) or a size/function hybrid between a hefty everyday stroller and lightweight travel stroller (yes!). This beauty pulls double duty at an incredible price and the good people at OXO have obviously thought through and delivered on numerous details any parent would appreciate.

Win an OXO Tot Cubby+ Stroller on Savvy Sassy Moms

Win your own OXO Tot Cubby+ Stroller

One reader will win an OXO Tot Cubby+ Stroller of their own! Please use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. You must be at least 18-years-old to enter and win. The winning entry will be verified and contacted via email. Winner has 48 hours to respond. Please allow 6-8 weeks for prize delivery. US only.

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What features are highest on your dream stroller wish list?

OXO is dedicated to providing innovative consumer products that make everyday living easier. At OXO Tot, everything we make – from our Sprout™ Chair to our Sippy Cups, is tested (and retested) – in real homes with real parents and children – including our own! Our thoughtful, “question everything” process and relentless attention to detail uncover the best solutions to help parents guide, nurture and care for their little ones. Learn more at www.oxo.com/tot.

This post is sponsored by OXO Tot in partnership with BabyCenter.

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Our new baby isn’t the only thing that has made life worthwhile over the last several weeks. In fact, I am grateful for a lot of things related to postpartum life. I’ve learned that it’s the simple things that can help a mom keep her sanity after delivery.

Postpartum Life: What I'm Thankful For

Some things never change

After the births of my children, I go home from the hospital, walk straight to my bedroom and stay there for two weeks. Some may think I am crazy, but I do it because a) it is what every woman in my family has been told to do by our mothers and grandmothers, and b) to allow my body to get the proper rest and healing. For goodness sake, I just pushed out a seven pound ball of baby! During the following weeks, I stay cooped up in the house a lot. I mostly do it for the sake of the baby’s health, but I must admit, postpartum life isn’t always easy.

We welcomed our third daughter into the world just weeks ago. As we prepared for her arrival, my husband and I realized a lot has changed in the world of babies since the birth of our second child. There are tons of new gadgets, countless moms running their own baby product shops and many strides made connecting baby gear with technology. Some things about life with a baby, especially during the early weeks of postpartum, will never change, such as: not being able to wear those favorite jeans right away, staying away from the spiciest thing on the menu (a big no-no for breastfeeding moms) and the lack of sleep, amongst other things. 

All that being said, there are so many things I’m thankful for about postpartum life. These are some from the top of my list.

Postpartum life: 9 things I’m thankful for

Friends who come over with food
Need I say more?

Social media
Night feedings can be long. Facebook and Instagram keep me entertained and awake until Baby is done. What would life be without funny memes and viral videos?

Stores with online ordering and same-day pick-up
Sending my husband to the store for items doesn’t always result in getting exactly what I requested. Ordering online and sending him to pick up the order an hour or so later is perfection.

Hot showers
Two minute showers are an escape (and some days a luxury), except for when I turn the water on and off a thousand times thinking I hear the baby crying. Darn phantom cries!

My water bottle
Hormones go absolutely nuts post-baby. Having a stainless steel water bottle keeps my water ice cold and saves me from night sweats. Is this what it feels like in the Sahara desert?

Leggings
I shouldn’t have to explain why these things are heavenly. However, if you don’t know, leggings are always comfy. They never failed me, neither during pregnancy or postpartum.

Decaf coffee
Breastfeeding means less to no caffeine, so I pretend I am gulping a cup of energy. The smell of coffee alone allows me to decompress.

Hair cap and bonnets
I have gone days without doing my hair. What better way to cover the mess on my head so I can look halfway decent for visitors?

LEGOs
Where are my kids? Oh, they are playing with LEGOs for the second consecutive hour in a row. Winning!

Postpartum life: things I’m thankful for

What has made your postpartum life manageable?

This post was contributed by Teri Watters as part of Savvy Sassy Moms Product Scouts. You can find more from Teri on her blog, MommyWifeLife.

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If you’re a frequent reader of parenting blogs (like me!), you may have heard that having three kids changes everything. You might have read that after having your third baby, your mind, body and house will never be the same. All kidding aside, let’s face it, this parenting gig is hard, regardless of how many kids you have and like any addition to a family a third baby can be quite the transition. For me personally, the hardest transition was going from having no kids to being a new parent. I won’t sugarcoat it or deny having had my fair share of “end of my ropes” moments, but three kids has received some bad press lately, so after almost a year of being a mom of three I’m sharing seven reasons why having three kids is awesome!

7 Reasons why having three kids is awesome

1. There is always a playmate

I think part of the reason that the transition from two kids to three felt a little less crazy is that unlike the transition from one child to two, my older boys had each other and kept themselves entertained.  The beauty of a house full of three boys is that there is always someone to play with… and it’s half a hockey team!

2. They learn to share

Speaking as an only child, one of the great things about having three kids is that they learn to share, in all capacities. Learning to share toys, share the spotlight, pass down clothes and gear, celebrate their siblings achievements and appreciate their differences, is essential.

3. They have each-other’s back

The new dynamic of a third boy this past year has been really fun to watch. Yes, at times, hair-raising, at times overwhelming, but many times just as heart-warming seeing the way my big boys show their little brother so much affection (sometimes too much!) and seeing my oldest become independent and a good little helper.

4. Life is never boring

There is literally never a dull moment in our house. Someone is always in need of help, there is more often than not a hockey game going on, someone is always hungry, someone always has something exciting to share from their day and it’s all amazing.

5. Three times the hugs and kisses

The saying goes, “full hands, full heart,” and I couldn’t agree more. These boys of mine test my patience daily.  Sometimes when I plop into bed, I realize that it’s the first time I’ve sat down all day, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. The hugs, kisses and sweet moments (yes, there are plenty) make it all worth it.

6. People rarely bother to give you unsolicited parenting advice

While you’ll get your fair share of “boy you’ve got your hands full” comments, by the time you have three kiddos it’s rare that anyone will bother to give you unsolicited advice. Honestly, you’re too busy to worry about it anyway.

7. You finally enjoy the ride

Yes, this is a generalization — everyone is different — but from personal experience, one of the biggest joys of parenting my third son has truly been enjoying the experience and the baby steps along the way.  While I’m still winging it daily, this time around there is so much less second guessing myself, scrutinizing every decision, general fear and worrying about what others think this time around.  I also found myself better able to roll with the punches and laugh at the chaos.

img_6960

 

Do you have 3+ kids? What would you add to the list?

This post was contributed by Rebecca Spear as part of Savvy Sassy Moms Product Scouts. You can find more from Rebecca on her blog, Mainely Mama.

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The HALO Bassinest Swivel Sleeper

I never had the opportunity to use a bassinet when I had my first daughter, Audrey, since at eight pounds eleven ounces and twenty-two and half inches, you could say I gave birth to a toddler. So needless to say she went from bassinet to crib within the first two weeks. Since I am set to have our newest little bundle almost two weeks early via c-section (due to complications) I’m really excited to have a bassinet as an option this time around and share my HALO Bassinest review with you!

First off, I had heard before how surprisingly heavy this was but not until I saw the look on the poor FedEx guy’s face did it really hit me, so FYI, it’s VERY heavy.

HALO Bassinest

Assembling the HALO Bassinest

I decided to put it together myself just to see if someone eight months pregnant could do it, and really, it was VERY easy. In all my life of assembling everything from IKEA to kids toys did I ever see a product as well packaged as this bassinet. I would not worry about having this shipped anywhere to anyone, it was actually pretty impressive. The only thing I really needed help with was moving it from my dining room to the bed room since, like I said, it’s very heavy. My husband, who was my outstanding assistant and photographer, made a good point stating that the added weight makes it incredibly sturdy. And with a curious four year old and German shepherd I won’t have to worry about it tipping in the slightest.

halo bassinest

After assembly I started playing with the features and noticed that although the sidewall goes down it doesn’t stay down like I had previously thought. It pops back up as soon as you let go. Also, initially its kind of hard to push down, I thought I was breaking it or forcing it to go down and had to re-read the instructions to make sure I was doing it right. (Reading instructions, go figure, right?) However, the more I messed with it the more it loosened up. Although, I have to say, I think I would prefer it if it went down and stayed down, but we will see if that opinion changes after the baby comes. I could be completely wrong.

halo bassinest

The HALO Bassinest Style and Features

I really love the fabric and the pattern; it’s gender neutral, fits in well with my décor and doesn’t stand out as a “baby product” which is the worst. The padding is plush but firm without being overly soft or dangerous. And the swivel itself gives many options for placement next the bed. The music is quiet so I won’t have to worry about waking my husband from a sound sleep when I use it, same with the two levels of vibration. In addition there are two brightness levels on the lights which I know will be incredibly handy. I’m curious to see how the nursing timer will work when that time comes, but if it does work I think something like would be so smart.

Lastly, it does not come with a separate removable sheet but the pad itself is made from it own patterned polyester sheet material, which can be used on it’s own or with an additional sheet (as shown in the photos). But keep in mind that not any regular bassinet sheet will work. Because of the specific “figure eight” shape of the padding, a regular bassinet sheet would be too loose around the sides so they recommend you buy the sheet made specifically for the Bassinest. (Don’t worry, the price is comparable to regular bassinet sheets. I checked.)

We thought we had plenty of time but turns out Baby Abbey had other ideas and showed up four weeks early on January 28th at 10:57AM. Since she arrived due to complications, and via c-section, I found the Bassinest to be even more G-E-N-I-U-S than I imagined. Getting in and out of bed was more that just slightly painful (and even now, two weeks from delivery I’m still in pain) so just being able to pull her close to me with one hand so I can sooth her or pick her up was extremely helpful. Not to mention the ease of pushing it out of the way when I needed to get out of bed.

halo bassinest abbey

As it turns out the fold down side is helpful, but like I first thought, I wish it would stay down at times. When you can’t use your stomach muscles it’s hard to push down and grab baby at time same time. But like I thought it would, the sidewall has loosened up a bit making it easier to grab and transition, a definite plus.

halo bassinest

The control panel on the HALO Bassinest is clearly laid out and I love the light that has two settings. Bright but not bright enough to blind the baby but still able to see when sneaking in and out of the room. The only thing I would change is if the panel itself was backlit somehow. When you’re blurry and cross-eyed from lack of sleep you end up hitting all the buttons trying to find the vibrate and the next thing you know you’ve got lights and music and now you can’t figure out how to turn them off.

halo bassinest

In the end, Abbey and I highly recommend this bassinet if you’re in the market. The quality, size, and features make this one a must have for any new mother. It’s all the benefits of co-sleeping without any of the risk in a modern, high-tech and stylish package.  It’s the best of both worlds.

Did you use a Bassinet with your babies?

Are you looking for a bassinet? Was this review helpful?

 

 Disclosure: I was sent a HALO Bassinest for review. All my thoughts and opinions are my very own.

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If there’s one thing I know it’s a good pregnancy test as I have tried them all. When I found myself surprisingly pregnant with my daughter it was more of a wham-bam-guess-what-ma’am and for the proceeding years I thought that’s what it would always be: easy.

Turns out that was not the case and when the time finally came for us to actively start trying to have a baby what followed was over three long years of doctors appointments, the always sexy scheduled intercourse and drug store baskets overflowing with every pregnancy test on the market until I found this little gem: the Clearblue Advanced Pregnancy Test with Weeks Estimator.

weeks_estimator_pregnancy-n

What is it and how does it work?

The Clearblue Advanced Pregnancy Test with Weeks Estimator is a game changer in the pregnancy testing field as it not only tells you if you are pregnant but it also tells you how far along you are from your date of ovulation. By using two different strips within the test – a low-sensitivity strip and a high-sensitivity strip – to determine HCG levels (the pregnancy hormone), you are able to get a clear digital read out in just minutes. Keep in mind that the test will only give you the estimated number of weeks since ovulation if your result comes up positive.

Clearblue Pregnancy Test Ovulation Monitor

After the initial positive result the very next thing on your mind is always “how far along am I?” Even though I had my ovulation dates clearly marked on my calendar even I had that same reaction and thankfully, this test clears up that mystery immediately. How could this not be your go-to test when so much is hanging in the balance? And in case you were wondering, I am currently eight months pregnant with a baby girl due to make her grand appearance some time in early February and thanks to Clearblue Advanced Pregnancy Test with Weeks Estimator I knew right away!

Clearview Pic

Our journey to conception was long and often times very painful and discouraging. The lowest point being when I was diagnosed with Secondary Infertility which is an umbrella term for “we have no idea what’s really wrong with you since you seem to have done this just fine before”. But now here we are, and with every ache, pain, and sleepless night I just look towards the very fast approaching finish line and remind myself that it’s all for little miss Abigail, and what better reason is there than that?

Are you trying to get pregnant?

Enter the Clearblue Pregnancy Test GIVEAWAY!

Contest is open to US residents only
Contest ends on 1/29/2014

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Get your stroller ready for winter

If you’ve ever pushed your stroller in the rain, or snow, or even just in cold weather, you know exactly what stroller mittens are for! But, do you realize how cool they are? Stroller mittens aren’t just mittens that you use to push your stroller — they actually attach to your stroller bar and stay there, so you can easily slip your hands in and out of the mittens to help your baby get bucked or to pull out your wallet to pay for a coffee. When you’re ready to push, just slip your hands back inside the stroller mittens and off you go!

5 Stroller mittens to keep warm

Stroller Mittens

 

Top row:
For the stylish mom: WarMMuffs 212, 7 A.M. Enfant, $38
7 A.M. Enfant really makes all of the rules when it comes to stroller mittens, carrying the largest variety, the most colors and stroller mittens of all different levels of warmth to keep your hands cozy no matter where you live. We can’t resist these hot pink stroller mittens, the perfect winter stroller accessory to go with your super-post stroller.

For the sporty mom: Bar Mitts Baby Jogger Stroller Covers, BicycleHero.com, $55
Designed by a company that makes accessories for cyclists, these stroller mittens are hardcore. Made from the same materials they use in the best wetsuits, they will keep your hands warm and dry as you take Baby on a run in your jogging stroller.

Middle row:
For the mild weather mom: Hand Warmer Stroller Gloves, Etsy, $38
A one-piece stroller mitten that comes in a variety of colors and fabrics (including faux fur!), these will keep your hands warm in climates that aren’t as extreme. We love that it attaches so easily onto the stroller handle, making it a breeze to throw it onto your stroller as you rush out the door.

For the mom who needs extra warmth: Tako Stroller Mittens, Stroller Boutique, $19
Providing warmth on top of warmth on top of even more warmth, these mittens have you covered for cold weather. First, you can wear your own gloves inside of them. Then, they are lined with fleece to keep you extra warm. And, in a very thoughtful feature, they have even covered your stroller handle, inside the mittens.

Bottom row:
For the handmade mom: Handmitten, Haypenny Design, $50
Custom-made mittens that cover your entire stroller handlebar… and that are guaranteed to be unique, Haypenny Design makes each pair themselves. You can contact them directly to chat about creating a pattern or color that matches your stroller!

Do you think stroller mittens are a must-have stroller accessory?
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summer vacation inferiority syndrome

Dear Sassy:

I’m dreading summer. Did you ever think anyone would ever say that? Well, I am, because summer is coming soon and we have no plans. There’s no money for a big fancy vacation or summer camp or even day camp. I have no idea how we’re going to get through all those days before school starts again. Plus, my kids know their friends are going to summer camp and to Hawaii, and they want to go too. How will I survive?

Dear Summer Unlovin’:

Seems like you are well and truly screwed. The thought of a whole summer of nowhere to go and nothing to do with my kids brings a wintry chill into my heart. If I were to spend summer this way, the children would be climbing the walls and I would be going out of my mind. You should not suffer this fate. So what must you do?

Cue “Let It Go” from Frozen, of course. Minus the ice castle.

Let go (and encourage your kids to, also) of jealousy about other people’s plans. You’ll never be able to keep up with Joneses in summer activities or anything else. Best to let them have their awesome vacations/summer camps/swimming pools/life size bounce houses in the backyard, be happy for them, and move on.

Your solution is to think of this positively instead of negatively. Focus on what you CAN do!

First, count up how many days of summer vacation you truly have, and schedule them. My kids’ school is off for exactly 69 days. Count them up for your own kids.

Now figure out the events you already have planned, and weekends maybe when their other parent is home. You can subtract those days.

Now take each week and plan something new that is cheap or free. Consider that if you are going out, you have to take time to get the kids ready, get everyone in the car, drive to the thing, and reverse all of that when you get home. Lots of time and energy is consumed, and you don’t have to worry about the school schedule, so leave yourself plenty of padding. No rushing necessary. Bonus, right?!

Add a playdate every week. Identify all the kids and families you know who will be around at least for part of the summer. Call them up and plan a playdate – invite their kids to your house or the park or the beach, and gratefully accept if they offer to host. I have a friend who has triplets – triplets – and at the beginning of the summer she maps out what they’re going to do every day of every week and plans playdates far in advance. Her kids are 6 now and she still seems relatively sane.

Next add a chore for each child to complete every week. This can be a longer household project like cleaning out the garage or a weekly task like taking out the garbage. Make sure at least some of the kids’ time is filled productively.

I do recommend planning one big special event, maybe midway through the summer, for your family to look forward to. By now you must have one special destination or activity that you all love to do together. Berry picking? An amusement park visit? Have the kids help you out with earning a little extra money towards this adventure so it will have even more meaning when it arrives.

In fact, have the kids help you out with this whole plan. Invite their suggestions and feedback, and make the summer calendar together. Make a summer wish list (but not a “bucket list,” for the love of all things inappropriate) and post it on the fridge.

Before you know it, the number of “blank” days will be really small!

Your biggest goal is to avoid having your children draped all over your house like wilted flowers, doing nothing but playing video games, watching TV, eating all the food, and whining “I’m bored,” or fighting with each other, and driving you insane. To that end, you’d better make for damn sure you build some “me-time” in there for yourself.

Stay strong, friend. Summer’s always over just when you start to love it.

Submit your question for Ask Sassy here! (Or just email me, darling. We can keep it between us. AskSassy@savvysassymoms.com) You can also follow me on Twitter or like my Facebook page, where I share pro tips on life every week.

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canadian carpool sign

Dear Sassy:

I’ve been part of a three-family carpool for most of the school year. The moms and I all trade off picking the kids up from school. There are four kids involved. In the past few months one of the moms (the one who has two kids) has been bailing on carpool close to the last minute, leaving the other mom and I to scramble to cover pickup. This has happened at least three times. Plus, her kids can be kind of obnoxious and loud in the car. I wouldn’t mind dropping them out of carpool, but I don’t want to be rude. What should I do?

Dear Carpool Queen:

Uh, hello. Someone already won the rude title and it was not you! What do you have to lose by dropping that flake out of the mix? Not her respect, because not showing up to fulfill an obligation is the number one sign of disrespect for another person, in my opinion.

Okay, okay. I’ll simmer down a bit. The last thing you need is for me to go off about how much I hate it when people flake. If you commit to something, follow through. If you think you can’t, don’t commit. It’s all I ask. Well, I ask a lot, actually. My standards are high. It’s just that I see the potential inside all of you, and I want you to be the best person you can be. The world deserves the you that lives in there. YOU deserve that you.

I ask this of you from a place of love. Honest. And also I would like for people to show up on time for things.

Putting myself in Carpool Flake’s shoes though (we’d better not see a cereal named this in a few months – if we do, you’ll all know where the idea came from). I wonder if something weird is going on with her. You say you’ve been a part of this carpool for a while now, and I assume that up until now it has run smoothly. Did she get a new job? Have an illness? Maybe she’s pregnant and not ready to tell you? Another red flag is that the kids are acting up, too. Kids are so sensitive to changes in their families – they might be reacting to whatever is going on with the mom.

Whatever the reason, perhaps knowing it will help you and the third carpool mom adjust accordingly. It is not rude of you to inquire about the changes in her behavior, especially if you note that her actions are affecting two other families.

Sure, you could drop-kick the lady out of carpool, and if she can’t ever hold up her third of the pickup and dropoff duties, maybe she should be cut loose. But if it’s something beyond her control, and she needs that proverbial village to help out, this is a great opportunity to extend a helping hand. You never know when you’ll need one. Why not treat her the way you’d want to be treated if this were you? You’d want someone to speak up, right?

About those kids: if they’re acting obnoxious in the car, by all means, tell them to knock it off. I have no problem disciplining other people’s kids when they are under my supervision, especially when I am driving and their safety is literally in my hands. I fully expect other parents to act accordingly when they are watching my children, too.

When you are collaborating on parenting duties with other families like this, you do need a certain level of trust in the other adults. If Carpool Flake mom turns out to be unworthy of that trust, she shouldn’t be held responsible for the care and delivery of your kids, and vice versa. But start by giving her the benefit of the doubt. Your words of concern might turn out to be a lifesaver to a struggling mom.

Submit your question for Ask Sassy here! (Or just email me, darling. We can keep it between us. AskSassy@savvysassymoms.com) You can also follow me on Twitter or like my Facebook page, where I share pro tips on life every week.

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girls telling secrets

Dear Sassy,

My 9-year-old daughter has been having some trouble with her friends at school. The girls have gotten into this thing where they tell secrets and whisper in front of each other and exclude other girls from the circle. My daughter has been on the giving and receiving end of this and it hurts her feelings. I’m not sure what to tell her and it’s breaking my heart.

Dear Secret Keeper’s Mother,

You’re a woman, you know how this goes down. No matter how old you get, this kind of rude behavior still happens. I was at a dinner party just a few months ago, where 10 ladies were gathered around a table enjoying the evening. But two of them whispered into each other’s ears and giggled several times throughout the night. Call me paranoid, but I wondered what the heck they were whispering about. Was it me? Did I forget deodorant that day? Was there broccoli stuck in my teeth?

The difference between me and your daughter is that I know a true friend would come out and say “Hey Sassy, you’ve got broccoli stuck in your teeth.” She wouldn’t whisper into another woman’s ear and then laugh about it. I can blow off those secretive women as people I don’t want to hang out with again, or if they are good friends behaving badly, I have no problem calling them out on it. (In this case, I chose the former. My real friends don’t act like that.)

But that wisdom has been hard-won over decades (at least two) of social conflict trial and error. And that, my friend, is what you have to step back and allow your daughter to experience.

You cannot fix this for her.

Believe me, I’d be the first in line if it was okay to march down to the school to give those kids a piece of my mind for treating my kid badly. One of the hardest things about parenthood is letting your kids go through pain, and with the advent of snotty little girls’ social circles around your daughter’s age, you’re dealing with a most exquisite and tricky form of it. There’s not much you can do about it besides modeling the behavior you want to see in her, and reinforcing your love.

Without lecturing, here are some key topics you can work into your conversations when she comes home from school or social activities, sad because the other girls are keeping secrets from her, or feeling superior because she’s made it to the inner circle:

-Empathy. When she sees her friends being mean or hurtful to another child, how does it make her feel? What would she want someone to do if she was the one being picked on or whispered about? Remember, it’s not appropriate to counsel her to bitchslap the bully, but you can encourage her to take a stand.

-Standing up for herself. Instead of having your daughter report the incidents to you so you can get to the bottom of the story – “And then what happened? And who did what?” – remind her that the only person she is in charge of is herself. If a friend hurts her feelings, it’s up to her to say “It hurts my feelings when you whisper in front of me.” That can be hard, especially for a girl who feels shy, but your job, Mom, is to at least inform your daughter of the most important tool she has: her voice.

-Respect for others. She doesn’t have to be friends with everyone, but she should at least be respectful. Having been on both ends of hurtful behavior, she now knows what it’s like to be the excluded kid. You can make your own observations about what you see go down with the girls, like “That girl looked sad when nobody was playing with her,” versus telling your daughter how to behave, to stimulate conversations about treating others nicely.

Choosing friends wisely. Alas, while parents have influence over a child’s friends, we cannot force them to pick the ones we like. You can, however, point out that “mean girl” behavior is not the kind of thing a real friend would do. Encourage your daughter to hang out with the kids whose treatment and activities seem to make her happy and less involved in drama. And then stand back and let her make her own choices.

I know that advice seems so vague that now you want to bitchslap me, but you’ve got to face it here, lady. This is a personality-forming issue and a teaching moment. (Aren’t those the worst?) It’s not something that can be fixed with a secret-dissolving spell. As exhausting as it is to model positive, character-building behavior for your daughter, this is what you signed up for. She will get through this snotty-girl storm, and the best you can do is be the steady one she can hold onto while it’s happening.

Submit your question for Ask Sassy here! (Or just email me, darling. We can keep it between us. AskSassy@savvysassymoms.com) You can also follow me on Twitter or like my Facebook page, where I share pro tips on life every week.

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