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Tips to Surviving the First Week Back At School

Summer has come and gone and Back to School time is here once again!  Getting back into the routine of begining a school day can be a little chaotic that first few weeks… Liz, from the iFamily Mom Squad, is here with some tips on Surviving the First Week Back to School!

Back To School

TIPS TO SURVIVING THE FIRST WEEK BACK AT SCHOOL

The lazy days of summer are fading away and the mornings will now be filled with school runs, finding lost shoes and attempting to get out the door on time.  Thankfully, it does not have to be as stressful as it could be.

Here are a few tips on surviving the first week back at school!

Make Ahead Dinners

One of my favorite things to do to add ease to our evening is freeze dinners ahead of time! Take time to make your families favorite meals or make extra portions in the days leading up to school. Cooking dinner will be one thing you can check off of your to do list!

Plan Lunches

Plan your child’s lunches for the week ahead and stock the fridge accordingly, eliminating any unnecessary shopping trips. Even better, have your kiddos help you with your list (with guidelines, of course). If buying lunch is an option, give them a chance to choose a “special day” to buy lunch.

Plan your outfits the night before

…even for you mom! It seems so easy, but I think we forget how this little step can make the morning routine a breeze.

Give your kiddos a to-do list in the morning!

Make a chart that will make it fun getting all tasks their completed. Getting dressed, brushing teeth, eating breakfast and gathering up their jacket, lunch and book bag!

Homework Space

Make a dedicated homework space so your child knows exactly where they should do their school work each day. This should be an area separate from the TV or any other distractions. Another idea is to set them up in the kitchen next to you while you are reheating your freezer dinner or making lunches for school tomorrow, because you are on top of it mom!

Start the first days of school with a positive outlook!

You could make your kiddo their favorite breakfast while talking with them about their first days of school. Take advantage of this time and ask them about what they are looking forward to about their day. Also, make sure to check in at the end of the day and ask specific questions about school. This also helps out in case you need to make any changes in their routines.

Whether your kiddo is starting a whole new school or just jumping up a grade we need to remind our kids that everything is going to be ok and we have their backs.  Give them your time, attention and extra hugs this week.  I hope this has given you some ideas and inspiration for starting school on the right foot.   Have a great first week back to school!

From iFamily to Yours,

 


Fun Things To Do When Your Little One Is Sick

Having a sick kid is never fun!  Ruth, from the iFamily Mom Squad, shows us how with a little creativity and a lot of TLC you can make sick time for your little one a little easier for everyone.  Take a look…

fun things to do when your little one is sick

Fun things to do when your little one is sick

It can be a challenge to keep a sick toddler happy when they aren’t feeling well. Short from the usual chicken soup and a movie, what else can you do? You could pull out a board game but it probably won’t hold attention long. You could teach them to write a sonnet, but that’s probably a bit too hard.  What about buying them a pile of snacks and gifts? That isn’t really practical and will appease them for about 5 minutes.

Here are a few ideas to keep your kiddos happy when they’re not feeling their best!

In our house crafts are a winner.  They don’t really care what kind. Hand them a piece of paper and water colors or crayons. Anything they can create with works well. Kids love making their own projects. ALL BY THEM SELF! The best part is they will come up with their own plan, no directions needed.

Another option is a sing-a-long dance party if they are up for it. We love to dance around and sing in the living room. I will play a variety of songs and we have a great time. It’s fun and exercise for Mommy too!

Play dough is always a huge hit. If the prepackaged stuff is dried out, or you simply don’t have any..there is an alternative. You can make some homemade dough.  There are many recipes online but I prefer recipes that are baby safe since we all know kids like to put things in their mouths. I found a recipe on the website powerfulmothering.com that has a great recipe for cloud dough that is edible for little ones. The ingredients are simple, flour and cooking oil. I switched mine up for texture and with a sensory component using coconut oil and sprinkles for fun. Then we mix it all together and it becomes very malleable so they can mold with cookie cutters or containers with lots of fun! If you want to see the full recipe check out HERE.

Options for keeping you little one happy at home are pretty much endless with the click of the internet. These ideas can get you started. What else have you tried at home?

From iFamily To Yours,

 


Dear Hostess with the Mostest

We all know one.  The picture perfect version of what a mom is “supposed to be”.  So, why is it that so many of us have a hard time relating to ‘that’ mom?  Here’s Gabrielle, from the iFamily Mom Squad with the question we all want to ask… “Have you ever made an adult version of that party punch?”

 

Dear Hostess with the Mostest:

Those cupcakes you made for your daughter’s birthday were divine, and you decorated them perfectly.  Who would have ever thought to arrange all the cupcakes in the shape of a tiara?  Everything was picture perfect.  You are so effortlessly creative.  I have no idea how you manage to pull all these ideas together.   I would  ask you what your secret is, but I have a secret of my own.  My secret is that I don’t care.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love attending your parties.  Your “party punch” is legendary .  The food is always delicious, and the decorations make all your guests feel like royalty.  The truth is, I could never be the hostess that you are.  The truth is I would never try.

I have a Pinterest account, but I’ve never attempted a single thing on any of the 5 personalized boards I’ve created.  I have seen pictures of those epic Pinterest fails, and I truly believe I could top every single one of them.   I see a soufflé that didn’t quite rise, and I think, “That’s still  better than the premixed cookie dough that I burned to a crisp last month.”

I did not get the baking gene, or the decorating gene.( I do, however, make a decent party punch.) I am more than happy to have all of my  parties catered by the closest pizza chain.  Our cupcakes come from the bakery at our favorite grocery store and if I buy any decorations at all, they are probably coming from the dollar store around the corner.

Because our kids are the same age, we will probably be touring the birthday circuit together.  I appreciate your attention to detail at your own kid’s party, but please don’t point out that the race car birthday banner doesn’t really match the ninja- themed plates at someone else’s party.  Instead, just try to enjoy your lukewarm pizza served on plain white Styrofoam and the not quite cold soda served in the matching cup.  The birthday parties are for the kids, and if we put enough ketchup on the Styrofoam, they’d eat that and be happy, as long as they are with their friends.

Friends is the operative word here.  We all want to be friends with you…and not just so we can have your award-winning chicken salad at the next party.  There should be more to our relationship than critiquing each other’s party themes and recipe ideas, but there is one recipe all of us have been wanting to ask you about…

Have you ever made an adult version of that party punch?

Sincerely,

Pizza Party Moms everywhere

Gabrielle


Planning Fun Family Outings With Your Kids In 7 Easy Steps

Is planning a fun family outing a chore in your household?  Today Liz, from the iFamily Mom Squad, shares some tips on how you can eliminate the chaos and put the FUN back into planning those FUN family outings!  Take a look…

Family Outings

Planning An Outing With Your Kids In 7 Easy Steps:

 

The splash pads of Kansas City are some of the easiest and fun places to take your kiddos this summer! Here are 7 tips I have found that help make this summer outing a success.

1- Avoid morning chaos by packing the night before. That seems so easy but that one extra step saves much time and frustration in the morning when everything is ready to go out the door.

2- Beat the heat! A great time To head out is around 9 am before the mid- summer sun hits its peak. Also, it’s not as crowded giving you the option to choose your bench or table in the shade. The same goes for the later in the afternoon when the sun starts to fade.

3- Timing is everything! Allow enough time to play & splash before you head home for lunch and the littles need their naps.

4- The best news, splash pads are free! Just in case things don’t go as planned you will not feel guilty spending any money.

5- Give a good pep talk. I have found with my toddler, getting her to jump up out of bed in the morning is easy when I tell her we are headed to the splash pad! She is so much more cooperative In the process of heading out the door.  She also enjoys knowing what’s going on ahead of time. I let her know where we are going, how long we will stay, what I’m bringing for snacks and what else she can expect from the morning there. In turn I let her know what I expect from her.

6- What to pack.  Snacks and more snacks. I swear my daughter is only hungry when she sees other little people around her eating.  In our bag is her swimsuit, water shoes, swim diapers, hat, towel, sunscreen, water, snacks or lunch in a small cooler & an extra change of clothes for the ride home. If you don’t want to carry an exhausted child to the car after the fun than make sure you bring the stroller.

7- What does mom wear? Be comfy, it’s hot out! You can find me in a tank, shorts and flip flops and often taking my turn to cool off in the water.  If you want to wear a suit and jump in with your kiddos, go for it mama!

There are a few great splash pads around the Kansas City area! Find one that’s convenient for your family, cool off and have fun!

From iFamily to Yours,

 


Your Ultimate Guide To Surviving The End Of Summer

Oh how we all anxiously await the sweet days of summer!  Pool days, picnics, family vacations!  But as much as well all love summer, there comes the day when we begin anxiously awaiting the first day of school just as much!  Erin, from our iFamily mom squad is here with some tips on surviving the final days of summer!

A Mom’s End of Summer Survival Guide

 

So, I’m already seeing Back to School ads everywhere but there is still PLENTY of summer left in my opinion. 3 weeks for us! That’s leaves plenty of time for me to lose my mind before the big yellow bus is in view. The days are long and the years are short, am I right moms??  You LOVE your kids and would do anything and everything for them but hands up if you need a break from the crazy, chaotic days of never ending questions, fights between siblings, constant need to be entertained, and my goodness let’s not forget the snacks!  Here’s a few things to help you survive the rest of these summer days and keeping your sanity intact!

Get out of the house.

Seriously. I know it’s hot as the devil’s armpit out there but go to a spray park or go for a short walk or bike ride and bring lots of water!

Call or text a mom friend.

Ok, so maybe you can’t always get together on a whim but I love having a mom friend or two I can send a quick text or call during nap time and vent about my day.  She understands the struggle.

Have your kids help with housework.

It is a TON of work for one person to do housework and pick up after 4 people! My kids are 2 and 7 and they are learning very quickly this summer how to pick up their own rooms, wash windows, sweep, load and unload the dishwasher and conquering the mountain of laundry.  Yes, they will probably whine and not be to happy about it. But, hey,when they whine, I wine!  And they will get over it.

Wind down.

Give yourself a few hours after the kids go to bed to take care of yourself.  Take a bath, drink a glass of wine, read a book, Netflix and chill with your significant other.  8:30 and me are BFFs!  My kids NEVER STOP during the day and I will stay up late just to get that me time in.

Hey Dads this is for you.  

Give your wife a break. Take the kids somewhere for 4-6 hours or tell her “I’ve got this!” and send her on her way to do as she pleases. I have been a working mom and let me tell you there is NO job more rewarding AND more difficult than being a stay at home parent. She needs time to rejuvenate so she can continue being the best mom she can be.

 

From iFamily to Yours,



How to Help Your Kids Deal With Emotions Using a Calm Down Box

Hello, Kansas City! Emotions can be tough to navigate, and even harder for kiddos. Our Mom Squad Ambassador, Leah, shares some tidbits of a rough patch in her and her son’s life, and what they did to cope. They opted for simplicity with a Calm Down box. Take a look!

 How to Help Your Kids Deal With Emotions Using a Calm Down Box

How to Help Your Kids Deal With Emotions Using a
Calm Down Box

Several months ago I was looking back through some old photos and was brought back to the photo below.

How to Help Your Kids Deal With Emotions Using a Calm Down Box

The photo served as a bitter sweet memory….. it reminded me of when my son and I became just the two of us and no longer the three of us. This was a very hard time for the all of us… he lost his comfort, his familiarity of having both parents under the same roof, his routine, his home, and feeling of being a family unit. His whole world was torn apart without his say so.
For the first time ever he had to deal with adult emotions within himself, yet was still only a child.
I attempted to create a place for him to feel comfortable talking, expressing emotions, and being able to be heard. He attended weekly check-ins with the school counselor, went to a divorce support group, had very supportive grandparents and aunts and uncles, and his father was amazing with communicating with him. Yet, he was still struggling with a web of confusing emotions.

Who could blame him?

I wanted to let him know he was not alone. None of us wanted this, and we would still be a family — just a different family then what he was used to. I spent hours thinking of what I could do to create a safe place for him to express himself. We lived in a very small apartment, so I knew space was an issue. However, I knew this was a necessity for his emotional well-being.

While I was attempting to find a solution I remember my favorite childhood hiding place was my closet.
The moment I thought of that it was as if a light bulb went off….. so just like that we created his Calm Down /Chill out closet. I put a little art table in there and then took him on a “Calm Down Mission”.

We spent the day finding things here and there that made him feel calm, safe, understood, and loved. We had so much fun together. I wanted him to know that emotions are normal… it is okay to be pissed off, to cry, to be angry, and not understand why things are happening.

He went into store after store, finding things to put in his “calm place.” We returned home with smiles on our faces and a memory that would last us forever. We both agreed that all of the items we bought would be strictly for his calm down space. They could only be used when he felt frustrated, angry, sad, etc. They were not meant for everyday use. He did a great job at sticking to this.

How to Help Your Kids Deal With Emotions Using a Calm Down Box
We also agreed that he could access his calm down place on his own at any time (no explanation needed).
After all, this was his place to escape not mine. He absolutely loved this idea. He used this “safety zone” for over a year. We added things here and there… but for the most part his comfort items remained the same.
I am so glad that we created something that allowed him to feel but more importantly allowed him to heal.

If you are thinking of creating a “Calm Down Space” or “Calm Down Box” for your child I highly encourage you to make it with them. Remind yourself this is for their comfort, emotional health, and for THEM to come to terms with things. This is not for you to pick a part. Let them be in control. Trust me, that in itself will help them heal.

Here is what my son put in his calm down box…

How to Help Your Kids Deal With Emotions Using a Calm Down Box

• Bubbles
• Puzzles
• “I Spy Book”
• Scratch and Sniff stickers
• Stress balls
• Blank journal
• Colored pencils
• Special writing pen
• Silly putty
• A pin wheel
• Doodle books
• Activity books
• Framed Family picture
• Family photo album ( mostly of pictures of us laughing and having fun)
• Blank index cards

I am looking forward to hearing what you and your children come up with! Here’s to building happy and healthy hearts through one family at a time! Connect with me on Facebook for inspirational posts over at Living Life With Leah.
From iFamily to Yours,

 

 

 

 

 


How to Embrace Yourself Even When You’re a Hot Mess!

Hello, Kansas City! We’re bringing you a personal (and fun) post for you from our Mom Squad Ambassador, Connie, today. Parenthood and life is just hard sometimes, and many of us feel like we’re being pulled in a million different directions. Connie reminds us all that it’s okay to be a hot mess — we’re all in this together. Take a look…

How to Embrace Yourself Even When You're a Hot Mess!

How to Embrace Yourself Even When You’re a Hot Mess!

In a society full of people who make parenting and life and working all look so easy, I am that girl. The girl who is always late. The girl who’s clothes are comfortable first, and cute..maybe. The girl who drinks sometimes and sings terrible karaoke. The girl who needs to carry post it notes to write down what she is leaving the room for so she won’t forget by the time she gets to her destination. The girl who says exactly what she is thinking, when she is thinking it, instead of thinking about whether or not it should be said. The girl loves passionately and gets excited about everything. I am that girl. And I am proud of it.
Embracing your inner hot mess can sometimes be a struggle. We all have that one friend who makes it all look so easy. Her hair is done, her clothes match, her kids look adorable and her house is clean. Ha. I am so not that girl. You can choose one or the other. Either I look put together or the house does. I have two signature looks: homeless and Sporty Spice (minus all the scary makeup and platforms). My fancy outfits usually involve leggings and Chucks. I sometimes feel like I have so much going on in my head that I will never get it all done, so I sit on the couch for an hour just pondering the complete craziness of it all and realize that I’ve just made myself late for whatever the days obligation happens to be.
I love my children fiercely and unconditionally and I try so hard to always be patient and present and the best possible mother I can be. But I also sometimes feed them microwave pancakes for dinner and yell at them for something minor because I’m stressing about something else that has nothing to do with them. I like to think that by being the imperfect mess that I am, I am teaching them to just be who they are.

Apologize for their mistakes and move on with it. Life is too short and parenting is way too hard to stress over every misstep and bad day.
I am emotional and excited about everything. Yay tshirts have armholes! Hooray, my favorite song is on the radio! QT white peach tea makes my day. I am basically a 3 year old. I am the girl who dances at the bowling alley after she throws the ball, or at the gym between sets, or in the grocery store aisle. And let’s not get started on the dance parties in the car. My car stereo is often on max volume, especially if the sunroof is open, and my kids and I are car dancing all our cares away. Now, my dance moves are not especially dignified, and I am okay with that. I’m having fun and that is all that matters. Being emotional and easily excitable means that I am often undignified and wound up. But it also means that I am genuinely enthusiastic about life and the people who are in mine.
I can’t keep track of where I am supposed to be and when. Ever. I am constantly late, not because I am inconsiderate or think that I am above being on time, its because I genuinely cannot get it together sometimes. I couldn’t figure out which shirt to wear with what leggings, and then I didn’t realize that my daughter hadn’t brushed her hair yet, and she isn’t currently wearing shoes, nor can she find shoes because her room is a disaster. And my son is dressed, but his shirt is too small and has some of his breakfast stuck to it and he’s got blueberry pancakes on his face. Then I step outside and realize I have no shoes on. Once I get the shoes, I realize I left the gift for the party or the water bottle for practice or the check for dance, and I have to run back inside and get it.
I am that girl, and I am okay with it. I have to be, because try as I may, I can’t change who I am. I will always be the girl who trusts first and gets burned later, and who shows up late to your party, but with a very thoughtful gift, and who’s kids are sweet and thoughtful and sometimes dirty or rocking some bed head. I am that girl who is doing the best I can and loving every minute of this crazy life I lead. My kids are happy and loved and just like me as far as the hot mess factor goes. I am not the girl people come to for fashion advice or tips on how to have it all together. I am not the girl who feeds her kids well balanced meals all the time. I am not the girl who never yells or cusses or drinks. I am not the girl who has mastered the art of motherhood, or adulthood even for that matter. I am however, the girl who knows how to embrace this crazy life and just enjoy it. I am the girl who can laugh at myself, apologize when I need to and defend my friends whenever they need it. Life is hard.

Parenting?!?!? Crazy hard. Having it all together, all the time? Impossible. So just embrace the mess. Own it. Know that not everyday is going to be perfect, but sometimes it’s the imperfect days that we cherish the most. And know that I see you, rocking your oversized sweats and t-shirt with baby food all down the front at Walmart, just trying to get through the day. You are my people.

From iFamily to Yours,

 

 

 

 

 

 


Why We All Need a Mentor and How to Find One

Happy Weekend, Kansas City! Our Mom Squad Ambassador, Sarah, has some great advice on the necessity of having a mentor. I think a lot of us can agree that life really does take a village, and Sarah has some great ideas on not only why we need a mentor, but how to find one. Check it out…

Why We All Need a Mentor and How to Find One.

 

Why We All Need a Mentor and How to Find One

 

Do you ever wonder how someone else would handle this situation? What other parents would do to combat the crying child in Target? Maybe you just want to bounce ideas off another person at work; someone who won’t judge or criticize you for badmouthing the guy who keeps stealing your lunch! I think about these things all the time. With my best friend 3 hours away and my Mom, Aunt, cousins and other wonderful women a phone call away, it is really hard to get that much needed face time with them; unless you actually use Facetime, which we all know can sometimes freeze if we go into bad reception!

The human resource department in my office is always about us getting this person that we can talk with; the biz calls these people mentors. As I was listening to another presentation about how we all need one of these I started thinking about all the “mentors” in my life and the fact that I have needed several and at different stages.

To begin, let’s define what a mentor is so we are all on the same page. According to the dictionary a mentor is 1. Experienced advisor and supporter, usually older and more experienced who advises and guides a younger person. A counselor, guide, or teacher. 2. A trainer, a senior or experienced person in a company or organization who gives guidance and training to a junior colleague. So why is it that we need mentors…?

…At age 20?

 

What an age! Think about it you are going through so much. It could be college and then getting a job, finding love and having babies. And that isn’t even the order most of us go in! Those 10 years of your 20’s are so dynamic. And you can argue with me till you are blue in the face but everyone is going to change during this time. What a perfect time to have a person that maybe has been there before, or someone going through the same things that you are.

…At age 30?

 

Thirties stink! And I would have never said that in my 20’s. I was positive that when I got to the big 3-0 that everything would change. My colleagues at work would start to treat me as an adult instead of a crazy, drinking-all-night, coming into work hung-over 29 year old. I would be married by 30, have kids at 31 and 33 and we would be a perfect family. Ha! I am not too concerned with the timing of everything; it is how all of those things changed me yet again. Living with someone who saw me pluck my eyebrows and bleach my upper lip was a huge thing to get used to. Pretty sure I wore makeup to bed the first few months of our marriage. I won’t go into how kids changed me (we will save that for another article!). Work was still the same, only now I had this pressure of what I was going to do in 5 years and I had no way of knowing. This is when I was blessed with a wonderful boss who actually realized before me that I was floundering and talked to me about it. I hated crying in her office; but it was a breakthrough. She became my mentor that I still talk to today about everything. And she still has the best advice and “open door” policy. Does it matter that she is in an entirely different point in her life? No! She has been through what I am going through, she has had the arguments and heard the comments from the corner office, she has been at the point of force-feeding her kids (not really, but close!) and I get all the benefit from it! I get it, you still know it all in your 20’s so you don’t need someone to help you through; but take this advice—get a mentor in your 30’s!

…At age 40?

 

Made it through! A few more wrinkles, maybe a little extra weight that creeps in, a strange ache in your head after just one glass of wine—welcome to “over the hill”! If you have kids they are probably doing things on their own now or at least spending he majority of their time in their rooms! In any case you have a little more time on your hands. Maybe work takes up a little more of that time; and now that you have the time to devote are the options still there? This mentor (and maybe it is a totally different person than at age 30) will come in handy to have those conversations with about a possible reentering of the workforce. In your 40’s you are starting to get to that place in your life where you are taking care of two generations and possibly under the same roof! You still may have kids in the house but as parents get older they are going to need a caretaker as well. This is going to require some counseling and support from someone who has been through it before.

…at age 50?

 

Welcome to an empty nest! Oh yeah and for women that amazing time of body changing called puberty in your 50’s aka Menopause. And for men, these changes that are coming with this full 180 are going to change him as well! Kids are probably out of, or close to being out of, the house and now it’s just you and your spouse. You have been dreaming about this for years and what you would do! But on day one you are sitting on the couch just staring at each other! Most will run and hide, some may find a hobby, those still in the workforce start burying themselves in work. All these activities may seem to help for a while but it isn’t going to last long term and in actuality most people don’t want it to. Start having coffee once a week with your mentor and talk these things out. It gets you out of the house and gives some direction to the changes going on in your life.

So here are some of the things that I am sure you are thinking.

 

“I don’t need a ‘mentor’ I just need to talk to my best friend.”

 

Ever heard the term “It takes a village?” We need mentors (counselors, guides, teachers—whatever you want to call them) at every point in our lives. Best friends are great and are needed just as much, but they know what happened in the village before it became a village. In other words, they are too close to the situation in some cases. A true mentoring partnership typically is someone older who has been there and can be that unbiased opinion.

“No one is calling to mentor me!”

 

“I checked my email, made sure my cell was on and still no one is calling me to ask to mentor me!” Yeah because it is up to you to make your village! No one is going to probably knock down the walls to try and get in and vice versa. You are going to have to ask to let people in. Trust me, this gives me more anxiety than anything, but a great place to find these people? At school drop-offs, playdates, at work cafeterias or PTA meetings, you have a room of men and women who are there just like you with shut doors so they can’t get away! I would have to guess that most will be more than happy to talk with you. I probably would advise not starting too in depth but eventually getting up to that point. In the long run this relationship and friendship will be worthwhile.

 

From iFamily to Yours,

 

 

 

 

 


25 Tips For Managing Holiday Stress

Christmas Eve is upon us here in the metro area and, if you’re anything like me, you’re probably frantically getting in those last minute errands that you’ve been putting off forgotten about, baking holiday treats, and cleaning the house in anticipation of loved ones later this evening (or in my case, first thing tomorrow morning). It’s okay, we can all be superheroes from time to time, right?! Don’t stress out, it’s all going to be fine…right? RIGHT? Thankfully, our very own iFamilyKC Mom Squad team member Leah shares her 25 tips for managing holiday stress with us right here on the blog. Take a look…

25 Ways to manage holiday stress

25 Tips For Managing Holiday Stress

If you are anything like me you are guilty of trying to do a thousand things at once. I find myself being  pulled between trying to locate the “perfect gift”, attempting to stay on budget, pull money out of thin air, working more hours to afford “the perfect gift”, ordering things online, and trying to create time to wrap gifts all while trying to balance my daily tasks. Needless to say this momma is wore out.

The holidays tend to add so much stress and chaos to our already over packed lives. Yet, their intention is to the opposite. This year I am determined to approach things differently. I don’t want my son to judge holidays based around how well I may or may not handle stress. We all know that kids see everything even when we think otherwise. I want to make sure he sees me handle things with grace. After all I cannot expect him to if I don’t.

It really is my goal to learn how to master stress so it does not master me. I know that I will not be able to completely avoid stress. However, that doesn’t mean that I cannot try to handle it better when it arrives. I have found some pretty simple ways to help make your holidays a little less hectic. I hope that you can find one or two them useful.

#1 Take an Epson Salt bath – for an added stress relief add essential  oils

#2 Create a daily gratitude journal- use this to remind yourself what you are grateful for in yourself and others

#3 Go outside for a walk or run- being around the sunlight can improve your mood

#4 Instead of stressing out over dinner give yourself permission to order out

#5 Turn on some good music

#6 Have a glass of wine

#7 Have a cup of tea- there are so many teas out there to help you relax

#8 Give your partner a massage then have them return the favor ( or just book an appointment at a salon)

#9 Go get your hair done… I always feel better after a good hair cut

#10 Set a budget and stick with it

#11 Schedule a lunch date with a friend  and share a good laugh

#12 Turn off your phone so you can get stuff done without being distracted

#13 Try to give out “group gifts” when you have to buy for a family. This will help you stay on budget. You can buy them a movie, popcorn, snacks, etc. Plus this encourages them to do something as a family.

#14 Pace yourself- you do not have to do everything in one day. I find it useful to break my to do list down to a daily list instead. This also helps me feel less overwhelmed.

#15 Take a break and go do something fun as family

#16 Go see some Christmas lights and get yourself back into the Christmas spirit

#17 Light some candles around the house

#18 Meditate – this is an amazing stress reliever

#19 Go to the gym

#20 Call a friend or a family member that puts you in a good mood

#21 Get some sleep

#22 Don’t be afraid to ask for help

#23 Don’t sweat the small stuff

#24 Remind yourself that if something does not get done there is always tomorrow

#25 Listen to yourself- only you know your limits

To follow Leah further please go to her page at  www.facebook.com/solaceforthesoul

From iFamily to yours,

Leah

leah_ifamilykc_momsquad25 tips for managing holiday stress

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How Safe Hearts Makes Hard Conversations Easier

Good Morning, Kansas City!

Take a moment to think about the five most important women in your life. Now think about this: Statistically speaking, one of those women will be a victim of sexual abuse at some point in her life. It could be your mother, your sister, your best friend, or your child. It could have been you. Among the many roles and responsibilities that we have, as parents, keeping our children safe is among the top. Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start when it comes to having tough conversations with your child. That’s where the new Safe Hearts program from Damsel in Defense comes in.

Safe Hearts

Safe Hearts is a proactive program that helps parents talk through tough conversations with your kids about creating boundaries – and it’s a lot easier than you think. Damsel In Defense, in conjunction with a team of mental health experts and abuse survivors, have come up with a series of colorfully illustrated books to help you introduce these topics to your child. I recently had the opportunity to share the first two stories with my five year old daughter, Charlotte, and found the books to be a really effective way to communicate with her about such an important topic.

As a mom, I always try to balance the line between encouraging Charlotte to view the world from her naturally pure perspective while also helping her to understand that there are tricky people who might not have her best interest at heart. As someone who has been in tricky situations myself, I get the importance of teaching her how to prevent someone from taking advantage of a situation. I found the Safe Hearts books to be really helpful in my mission to help my daughter protect herself. I can rest easier with the confidence that my child can identify tricky situations and that she will know what to do if she encounters one.

The first book, “My Friend’s New Toy” follows the story of Olivia, a little girl who meets a new friend in her neighborhood. While over for a play date, Olivia finds herself in an uncomfortable situation when her new friend tries to encourage her to take off her clothes while playing dolls. The request leaves Olivia feeling unsettled and unsure of how to handle the situation and that’s where the Heart Defenders come in. This team of kids (the Heart Defenders), spanning all ages, help kids to identify when something isn’t right and remove themselves from the situation. The material presents tough topics to children of all ages in a way that isn’t overwhelming for young readers. Charlotte resonated with the Heart Defenders and felt encouraged to defend her own heart after reading the story.

The second book, “Madison’s Big Brother” follows a similar journey for older readers. Isabella, the main character, finds herself in a situation where an older boy that she cares about and trusts tries to force her to kiss him. The Heart Defenders step in to help guide Isabella toward making a safe and sound decision that she can walk away from while feeling proud. I read this book to Charlotte and she understood the storyline, but I definitely think that this book skews towards older readers. All in all, though, both books can be read by children of all ages with their parents. The question prompts at the end of each story help parents and caregivers to reiterate the messaging throughout the books.

Safe Hearts Heart Defenders

The Heart Defender series currently has these two books available with more stories rolling out over the next year or so. I strongly encourage each of you to look into getting these books for your family and sharing them with friends and relatives with children. They also have a parent guide to help you understand each book, suggestions about how to effectively communicate with your children, and the overall goals that you should have going into your conversation.

For more information on the Safe Hearts program or Damsel In Defense, call Mary Hiesberger at (816) 309-3348 or email prepare2prevent1@gmail.com.

From iFamily to yours,

Holli

holli_ifamilykcteam

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